Wong Ah Yoke Food Critic recommends

Beach Road Kitchen's delicious buffet spread, Japanese brunch at Keyaki and more

JW Marriott Singapore South Beach
JW Marriott Singapore South BeachPHOTOS: JW MARRIOTT SINGAPORE SOUTH BEACH, WONG AH YOKE

DELICIOUS BUFFET SPREAD

JW Marriott Singapore South Beach has opened an all-day dining restaurant called Beach Road Kitchen.

The name may not sound inspired, but the food is. The highlight is the daily buffet for lunch and dinner, with its lavish spread of international dishes that range from local laksa to grills and pizzas. The food quality is good and the price - at $58 for lunch and $78 for dinner - very attractive.

The selection is more lavish during dinner, with additional lobster and wagyu items.

Helmed by the hotel's executive chef Stefano Di Salvo, the buffet features a number of dishes from his native Italy. These include seafood and vegetable antipasti as well as an excellent mushroom pizza with black truffle paste.

The grills are definitely not to be missed, especially the Australian wagyu tomahawk, which is juicy and tender with just the right balance of meat and fat. Also check out the Korean barbecued beef short rib or kalbi, which is as good as what you find in Korean BBQ restaurants here. The chef was previously with JW Marriott in Seoul and is married to a South Korean, which perhaps explains why.

Make room for a bowl of laksa, which boasts a gravy that has the right amount of spice and is not overly rich with coconut milk - which is how I like it.

The eatery offers an a la carte menu with local and Western dishes such as chicken rice and steak frites. But the buffet is the draw for me.

WHERE: Beach Road Kitchen, Level 1 JW Marriott Singapore South Beach, 30 Beach Road MRT: City Hall OPEN: 6am to 10pm daily; lunch buffet: noon to 2.30pm (Mondays to Fridays), noon to 3pm (Saturdays); dinner buffet: 6 to 10pm daily TEL: 6818-1913


JAPANESE BRUNCH

For those looking for a weekend brunch with a difference, Keyaki may be it. The Japanese restaurant in Pan Pacific Singapore has relaunched its kaiseki bubbly brunch for Saturdays and Sundays with new items.

The meal comprises eight courses, with five selections for each one.

Some dishes are better than others, so how your meal turns out depends very much on your choices. I had some hits and misses myself.

Get the Grilled Salmon With Soya Milk Skin (photo), which has an interesting contrast in the textures of the fish and the crispy beancurd skin.

The Deep-fried Scallop With Minced Prawn is interesting too. It reminds me of Cantonese dim sum, with its filling of crunchy minced prawn. It comes with a shishito pepper, the green Japanese chilli, to spice up the flavours.

Steer clear of the Steamed Chicken Topped With Orange Sauce. Pairing chicken with a sweet orange sauce is an odd idea that does not work for me. What is even more inexplicable is that it is listed under the sashimi course.

The meal ($75 without alcohol, $135 with alcohol) comes with a choice of drinks such as Laurent-Perrier Brut NV champagne, sparkling Akazaru sochu and Mio sparkling sake.

WHERE: Keyaki, Level 4 Pan Pacific Singapore, 7 Raffles Boulevard MRT: Promenade OPEN: 11.30am to 2.30pm, 6.30 to 10.30pm daily; bubbly brunch: 11.30am to 2.30pm (Saturdays and Sundays) TEL: 6826-8240


HAR LOK WITH A TWIST

The Quarters, a casual eatery in Icon Village serving Singapore dishes with a twist, has started a communal dining menu in the evening.

Called The Quarters Experience, it is available on weekends at $68 a head and requires advance reservation by Wednesdays.

The 10-course menu comprises mostly dishes that are not regular offerings. They are inspired by local dishes, but are reinterpreted by chef-owner Chung Deming, who also runs the Kush foodtruck at Timbre+.

I'm not crazy over every dish, but some items by the young man, whose grandmother is Peranakan, do stand out. Among them is Bibik's Chicken (photo), chargrilled boneless chicken thigh with buah keluak sauce. The chicken is nicely grilled with a pleasant smokiness and the sauce is rich with the flavour of the black nut.

I also like the chef's version of Har Lok, a dish from my childhood. Instead of frying the prawns with shell on, he grills and shells them. But the sauce he drizzles on them reminds me of my mum's version, a blend of oyster sauce with a hint of chopped ginger.

WHERE: The Quarters, 01-09 Icon Village, 16 Enggor Street MRT: Tanjong Pagar OPEN: 9am to 10pm (Mondays to Saturdays), 9am to 6pm (Sundays); The Quarters Experience starts at 7.30pm on Fridays and Saturdays, groups of 12 or more can request the menu on other days TEL: 6834-4174


PLAYING WITH TEXTURES

LaBrezza, the poolside Italian restaurant at The St Regis Singapore, has a new chef - Armando Aristarco - and, judging from a tasting of his first menu, his light cooking should find fans here easily.

I like the play on textures on many of the dishes, which keeps things exciting for the palate. And yet, the dishes look simple, with clean and attractive platings.

My favourite dish from his $128 six-course degustation menu is an upscale version of a panzanella salad (photo, $45 a la carte), with pieces of Boston lobster and some burrata cheese added to the traditional tomato and bread salad. It has multiple layers of textures and flavours and is just the thing to eat on a hot day.

Another interesting dish is the carnaroli risotto with sea lettuce, Hokkaido scallop and a little scoop of Baeri caviar ($48) that is delicious. It is cooked without any cream, making it both gluten- and dairy-free. The raw scallops are sliced almost paper-thin and form a cream-like layer on top, while the chopped sea lettuce, a kind of algae, has an appealing crunch.

WHERE: LaBrezza, The St Regis Singapore, 29 Tanglin Road MRT: Orchard OPEN: Noon to 10pm daily TEL: 6506-6884

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 17, 2017, with the headline 'Food Picks'. Print Edition | Subscribe