Buffets can be found at almost every hotel in Singapore but to find an international buffet with a decent spread that caters to everyone's taste buds can be a bit challenging.
Over at Mandarin Orchard's Triple Three restaurant, the dishes that were served for their dinner buffet on a Saturday night when we visited were one of the best that we've had so far. Not only were we impressed by the food, and at how clean the food stations and dining tables were, service was also fast and efficient, something you don't normally expect on a busy weekend night.
Diners will be spoilt for choice at the award-winning restaurant. Although the buffet line is not tremendously long, you could tell that a lot of thought was given into the selection of dishes to give a wide variety of cuisine that consists of Japanese, Indian, local and Western cuisine. Considering the number of international guests who stay at the five-star hotel, giving them options is a must.
Of course, the highlight was their fresh seafood spread, which Triple Three has taken pride in serving.
Instead of just placing their sashimi and oysters on ice platters, Triple Three has taken the effort to designate kitchen staff who will prepare them for you on the spot. Over at the sashimi counter, just tell the staff your preference - raw tuna, salmon, salmon belly, swordfish or squid - and in less than a minute, they'll whip up a nice platter of sashimi. Of course, this also means you'll have to keep returning if you want more as every serving consists of about three to four slices of each fish.
The sushi counter works the same as well and besides making nigiri sushi on the spot, other types of maki sushi are also available next to the counter.
Oysters are freshly shucked on the spot, so you know you won't be eating from a platter that has been left out for long. However, other shellfish such as Alaskan crab legs, scallops, red prawns, mussels, clams and Boston lobsters are served on ice platters.
We tried every seafood item that was available and although I always have a soft spot for sashimi, the crabs stole my heart. Served cold and fresh, the Alaskan crab legs and claws here are fleshy, sweet and salty at the same time. I found myself returning for more. The restaurant also made it easy by ensuring that the crabs were easy to eat with minimal effort by removing most of its shell.
The plump and sweet prawns were also a delight that were neither too raw nor overcooked.
Although the seafood hit the right spot, some of the main dishes were a hit-and-miss. The noodle station, which whipped up laksa, Hokkien mee and prawn noodles on the spot, was so-so. As for the pasta station, which lets you customise your pasta, it served good macaroni and cheese, but when we returned for a second serving, the new batch was undercooked and inedible.
However, the other main food stations, such as the Teppanyaki, roast meats, Indian and grilled seafood stations were up to the mark. Most of the food that you get here are cooked on the spot and are not left out in food warmers. Perhaps this contributed to the quality of the food.
The desserts included an assortment of cakes, cheeses and a chocolate fondue station. But it was the ice cream popsicles that diners kept going back to and it helps that the four flavours - chocolate, coconut, mango and strawberry yogurt - looked pretty sitting in the freezer. Here's a tip: Go straight for the chocolate and skip the other flavours.
We liked that the ice cream were served in popsicles as it helped to keep the area clean from unhygienic ice cream scoops used for multiple flavours.
Cleanliness was something that we noticed at Triple Three. Not only were the tables spick and span, the various cooking stations were kept clean all the time, no matter how busy the cooks were.
As for service, the staff there were very attentive and constantly checked in on us about the food and whether we needed anything. They even brought out a "choir" and a round chocolate cake for diners who were celebrating their birthdays that day.
Triple Three distinguishes itself from the rest of the hotel restaurants by ensuring that its service is up to par and that it gives diners a comfortable and pleasing dining experience. For a hotel that has been around for over four decades, one would not expect any less.
Mandarin Orchard, Level 5
333 Orchard Road
Opening hours: Daily 6.30am - 10am, 12pm - 2.30pm, 6.30pm - 10pm
Price: Buffet dinner on Sun to Thurs costs $88++ per adult and $98++ for Fri, Sat, eve of public holidays and public holidays