Update: This restaurant has ceased operation w.e.f. 26 June 2016.
Most of you in Singapore have probably heard of 1 Market by now. Or perhaps you would remember seeing pictures of Chef Wan whenever you pass by this restaurant while at Plaza Singapura. That’s right. 1 Market (a clever word play on Chef Wan’s name) is Chef Wan’s maiden F&B venture in Singapore. This halal-certified restaurant boasts a huge 11,000 sq ft, 500-seater space and offers a plethora of Asian delights as well as the usual buffet favourites of Japanese fare, seafood, desserts and more.
The foodie gang headed to 1 Market for their lunch buffet because J bought a Groupon deal at S$75 for 4 persons which worked out to be S$18.75 per person (original price was about S$37.50 per person so it was like 50% off with the deal). How incredibly affordable could that be for a lunch buffet? Perhaps they were merely serving mediocre Asian food?
I was so wrong. The array of eats was truly impressive and way exceeded my initial expectations. There was a chilled seafood bar with snow crab legs, spanner crabs, flower crabs, gong gong, mussels, clams and prawns. I spotted a Japanese food section that had sashimi, sushi, tempura, soba noodles, chawanmushi and more. There were Asian appetisers of pre-mixed salads like Thai Seafood Salad, Acar Minang, Squid Salad and Traditional Malay Bean Sprout Salad. And a never-had-I-seen before DIY salad bar of cabbage, long beans, bittergourd, etc that we could eat with kerisik (toasted coconut) and sambal.
There were so much food to eat that I wasn’t sure if I got to try everything but since we loaded our tiny table with food, I just had a bite of whatever was there, lol. If you like chilled seafood, then do not miss out on their flower crabs (sweet & meaty!) and prawns (sweet & crunchy!). The rest were either briny or tasteless. Everything from the appetisers section was delicious – the pre-mixed salads were packed with spices and flavours – it was a fantastic way to lift those senses and whet up that appetite. The seafood salad had such a generous serving of assorted seafood in it!
For the sashimi, I thought the marinated salmon tasted the best. The rest were quite sinewy. The tempura had a soft and soggy batter as they had been left out for a while – what a shame.
The roast chicken was dry and the baked fish had an intense muddy smell that put me off.
I enjoyed most of the hot food selections especially the sweet & sour chicken, sambal goreng, beef rendang and mashed potato. Tasty!
The black pepper crabs & prawns were my favourite. They were probably the best black pepper crabs I ever had in Singapore. No kidding. The sauce was robust, spicy, peppery and finger-licking good! Whenever the chef brought the crabs out, it would always be the first dish to run out. In fact, there was often a long queue waiting just for the crabs. So if you want to try that, you just have to be quick. Some people would just fill up their plates with the crabs so in the end a service staff was assigned to stand next to the chaffing dish and he would serve 1 crab and 2 prawns to each diner just to make sure no one go overboard.
The next must-try dish would be the curried crayfish. Again, the sauce was just so flavoursome and the crayfish were perfectly cooked too.
The satay (chicken and beef) were moist, juicy and smoky with a good balance of spice flavours. The peanut sauce was also good. I enjoyed the keropok as well that were fresh with no reused oil smell. Could eat them with the dhal curry or peanut sauce.
The rojak that we made ourselves was not bad. Just that we only did that in the end so there weren’t many ingredients left so my advice is to make your rojak early if you want to try it.
My recommendations from the desserts section would be the chocolate eclair and canele. The rest were pretty much middle-of-the-road stuffs. Anyway, I came here for the Asian food, not so much for desserts so it didn’t really matter much to me.
When we were there, the restaurant was almost full house. It was very crowded and noisy just like a marketplace but good thing was, it was spacious so it didn’t feel tight to move around and also the replenishing of food was really quick which was another bonus. I would say this buffet was definitely value for money in terms of variety for the price we paid. Though it was mediocre standard for many dishes, there was still a good number of hits that I kept going back for seconds and thirds.
The table size for 4 was rather small. Really not much space to pile up used plates as plate collection was not fast enough. We often walked back to our table with plates in our hands because no one managed to clear our table in time.
Do note it was quite difficult to get through their phone line to make reservations. Somehow it was always engaged or simply no one picked up.
Will we be back? Sure, why not. But only if they offer such great deals again.
1 Market by Chef Wan
68 Orchard Rd
#04-45 to 49 Plaza Singapura
Tel: +65 6341 9159
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/1marketbychefwan
11.30am to 2.30pm (lunch daily)
6.00pm to 10.00pm (dinner daily)
3.00pm to 5.15pm (high tea on weekends only)
Click here for buffet prices