Do you have a clear-cut favourite buffet restaurant in Singapore? I thought I did.
Whenever I'm asked to recommend a buffet here, I would – without hesitation – tell the person to check out Carousel at Royal Plaza on Scotts.
The food there is consistently well-cooked and well-seasoned, and it offers a lovely spread of fruit and nut cheeses. The desserts too are delicious.
But after recently trying out the fare at Edge in Pan Pacific Singapore, there is now a strong competitor for my buffet affections.
Edge was launched in September 2012, following an $80 million hotel-wide renovation. It won the title of "Best Buffet" at the Epicurean Star Award 2014, organised by the Restaurant Association of Singapore.
I went to Edge for lunch earlier this month, and started with its salads.
These were simply displayed, and came with very generic names: Tomato and cheese, green apple, duck, and Thai pomelo.
Because they were all so humble in title and appearance, I was surprised by how tasty they were.
For the green apple salad, in particular, the tartness of the green apples was enhanced by cider vinegar and yet balanced with the sweetness of fresh strawberries.
I went for the laksa next, and was glad that Edge allows guests to customise their laksa. I had a bit of everything – prawns, shredded chicken, wanton, and even some pieces of duck meat.
It was a very greedy concoction, and I'm pleased to say that the individual ingredients retained their flavour even in the face of the strong-tasting, chilli-based coconut gravy.
To cleanse my palate after that, I went for a serving of chawanmushi, also known as Japanese egg custard. Like the salads, it looked unimpressive, with nary a sprig of parsley typically used as a garnish atop.
But taste overruled presentation once again. The custard had a velvety texture and I thoroughly enjoyed how it was infused with the flavours of dashi stock, mirin (rice wine), and soya sauce.
With this tucked into my tummy, I then wandered about the other “food theatres” - as the hotel terms the different stations of cuisines – and picked up an assortment of items.
The homemade sticks of beef, chicken and mutton satay were very yummy, having been seasoned with an in-house marinade before being barbecued. The pieces of baby squid were well-battered, crisp and went nicely with a tangy chilli dip.
If quinoa, barley, mushroom gratin or pan-seared seabass are available as part of the offerings on the day you are there, have some. They all tasted great.
At this point, I wandered over to the desserts section to gauge if I should continue with the savouries or move on to sweets. A quick glance there left me without doubt that I had to use up the remaining space in my belly for the delectable sweet treats on display.
I started off with Edge's signature homemade durian pengat – fresh durian pulp mixed with fragrant coconut milk and cream. It was fantastic. Served chilled, this was creamy, fresh and very addictive. I could have had another serving if not for the presence of other competing desserts.
The crème brulee was a marvellous blend of textures. The egg custard was thick and smooth, and the layer of browned sugar crystals on the surface had a satisfying crunch to it. Like the durian pengat, I could have had seconds.
I also enjoyed the coffee financier, crafted from a mixture of ground almonds and coffee extract. It was nutty, chewy and aromatic whiffs of coffee emanated with every bite.
If you still have space, cut yourself a slice of the pistachio buttercream cake, where morsels of pistachio are coated in lightly-whipped cream and generously interspersed within the cake.
Finally, let the happy memories of your wonderful buffet lunch linger with a cuppa, and pair your tea or coffee with Edge's handcrafted chocolates, which come infused with either rum, premium matcha or raspberry.
I tried matcha - the slightly bitter matcha powder is balanced out by the milky sweetness of the chocolate.
If you, like me, are a visually particular person, suspend your criticism about the presentation of the dishes at Edge. Judge them by their taste, not their appearance, and you will have a truly satisfying experience.
I know I did, and left with my return visit date already in mind.
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Where: Edge, Pan Pacific Singapore, 7, Raffles Boulevard, Marina Square, Singapore 039595
When: Lunch, Mondays to Fridays, noon to 2:30pm
Price: $48 per adult, and $24 per child (below 12 years of age)
Edge is also open daily from 6am to 10am for breakfast, and 6.30pm to 10.30pm for dinner.
Saturday brings a four-hour treat with A Long Long Lunch from noon to 4pm, featuring Singaporean favourites, including char kway teow, teh tarik and durian pengat.
For the ultimate indulgence, Sunday Champagne Brunch is a convivial affair from noon to 4pm with traditional roasts, crustacean on ice, freshly-made pasta, 30 types of cheese and 20 varieties of dessert.
Reservations and enquiries: Phone 6826-8240 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org