Late November last year, I found myself back in Singapore for the year end budget meeting. These annual events are bouts with high levels of stress and anxiety and the only antidote is a good meal right after.
A colleague from Singapore suggested that we recuperate from the rigours of budgeting with a buffet meal at 1 Market at Plaza Singapura. This is the latest venture by TV personality and celebrity chef Redzuawan Ismail, more popularly known as Chef Wan.
I enjoy Chef Wan's shows on the Asian Food Channel so this was a good chance to try out his cooking (although I knew that as a celebrity chef, he was certainly not going to be in the kitchen, slaving over the hot stoves).
1 Market labels itself as the BIG Buffet but once inside, I realised it is definitely smaller vis a vis our local buffet standards.
This cut out of Chef Wan would be the closest I would get to him today!
Prices are slightly higher for dinner and on week-ends. These are not hawker centre prices but still seemed quite affordable, since it is a buffet after all.
The ambiance is very casual and despite the fact that it's a week night, the rather large restaurant is quite full. Servers are a bit harried and not always up to speed in keeping up with diners' demands.
I see tables left uncleaned and used dishes stacked up on top of each other.
Lest you forget that this is his restaurant, Chef Wan has his cookbooks, copies of newspaper reviews and photos spread out on the counters and shelves. Talk about merchandising!
There are various stations for different kinds of dishes -- but mostly they seem to be heritage favourites from the main cuisines of Malaysia ... Chinese, Indian and Malay. There is also a small station for a limited number of Japanese dishes but these are mostly shrimp and vegetable tempura.
I make a beeline for the appetiser section that has a lot of savouries like samosas, spring rolls, tofu, dumplings and fish balls. How can you go wrong with anything that's deep fried?
The Indian station featured my favourite lentils and boneless chicken tandoori. Sadly, the lentils had been sitting out for too long and had turned cold and lumpy.
I glanced over at the hot dishes section where I saw rendang, satay and other meat dishes. 1 Market is a halal establishment so they do not serve nor do they cook with pork or pork by-products; there is just beef, lamb, chicken and seafood.
There are prawns, blue crabs (alimasag), clams and mussels on ice -- which you can have cooked, any way you want.
Unfortunately, my celebrity buffet was a bust!
I dislike posting negative reviews on this blog but after experiencing 1 Market, I have 1 piece of advice for Chef Wan ... please spend more time in this kitchen!