Update: Cafebiz is now known as J65.
Goodbye Traders. Hello Jen.
If you’ve not heard about the news, well, the former Traders Hotel on Cuscaden Road had been rebranded as Hotel Jen Tanglin Singapore (not to be confused with Hotel Jen Orchardgateway Singapore) since September last year.
The old Traders Hotel had been one of my family’s favourite to-go places for weekend high teas back in the 1990s. I remembered its relaxing atmosphere and this waterfall which we could see in full view from the dining hall through the glass window.
So to celebrate my mum’s birthday, I decided to bring the folks back to Cafebiz at the same hotel with a new name. And instead of high tea, we were here to try out their brunch buffet.
The moment we stepped into Cafebiz which still kept its name, it really felt a little nostalgic for me. It was as though the place had changed but not quite fully transformed so we could still see traces of that little piece of history then. It was a shame the iconic waterfall wasn’t there anymore.
The weekend brunch buffet (available from 12pm to 3pm on Sat & Sun) is priced at S$63++ per pax. If you make payment via UOB, OCBC, DBS or Maybank cards, there is a 1-for-1 promotion which works out to be approx. S$37 per person after taxes.
Let’s have a little tour of the dining hall:
Besides water, coffee and tea, pineapple juice and red tea were also available. The red tea was made sugar-free on purpose so we could flavour it with syrup of which we could pick from 3 different choices. There was also a cup sealing machine next to the drink dispenser so we could seal the plastic cups like how it would be done at a bubble tea shop. I wished there were tapioca pearls and milk too so we could concoct our own bubble teas – would be fun!
There were also soups, Indian food and many more other hot dishes at the hot food section.
From the seafood selections, I loved the huge, bouncy prawns that were fresh, sweet and crunchy as well as the lobster claws that were meaty & sweet though slightly briny. While the clams were decent, the mussels were just bland. The scallops were also miserable – too little flesh and it stuck to the shell so it was difficult to get off. Do note the prawns go really quick because I spotted at least two tables of patrons having only prawns on their tables and nothing else, tsk tsk so you gotta be fast if you want some prawns.
The sushi and sashimi were ordinary too. Somehow I thought the maguro tasted a little too fishy.
Among the salads, I liked the cocktail prawn salad best. The sweetness of the melon paired perfectly with the fresh, crunchy prawns. The pasta salad was forgettable. The mango salad was too sour. The crushed potato salad was normal but I did like the extra bits of smoked duck in it that gave it more flavour.
For the roast meats, we had a mix of roast duck, roast chicken, char siew and roast pork with various sauces/condiments to go with. None of it impressed me much. Everything was just cold, tough and chewy. The roast pork was probably more palatable than the rest.
There were two types of soups – mushroom soup and watercress chicken soup. I tried the former which was rich, creamy with a lot of mushroom bits in it and I loved the buttery & crispy croutons a lot too.
The rojak which I made myself was pretty good. The sauce itself was mildly sweet and wasn’t overly fishy too so I didn’t get too sickly from having it. The you tiao and tau pok were crispy. I grated a lot of ginger flower in it for that added fragrance. It was a pity the ground peanuts wasn’t toasted so they didn’t have that lovely nutty flavour.
The hot food section had a number of hits and misses too. The baked fish fillet with pineapple coulis was tender and creamy but it wasn’t seasoned enough. The roast chicken (rotisserie style) was moist and the brown gravy was savoury and flavoursome. The hummus mash was bland – it’d be nice to have some cumin in it or packed with a bit more Middle-Eastern punch.
What was truly the bomb was the braised pork knuckle with meat that easily fell off the bone. It was so nicely cooked that the braise had penetrated the meat thoroughly so every mouthful was just rich and delicious.
I enjoyed the sweet and sour fish too which was first deep fried to a crisp before being doused in the sauce.
To my surprise, the Indian food fared well. Loved the naan that was light, fluffy with a slight chew. The papadum was a little overdone (burnt) but it was crispy and fragrant. The fish curry was tender, smooth and not fishy at all. The dry chicken curry with potatoes and dhall curry were pretty tasty. The briyani (basmati) rice was also fragrant and fluffy. The chicken tikka was nicely executed, had an excellent smoky flavour and was redolent of spices.
Other dishes which I didn’t try were spaghetti bolognese, butter market greens, fried kway teow, green curry chicken, wok fried clams with black beans (all the clams were closed up!), kangkong belachan, chicken rice, steamed white rice and dim sum (chicken char siew buns & soon kueh).
At the noodles station, there were laksa, chicken or beef noodles. I tried the laksa that was quite a weak & watered-down concoction with a lack of laksa leaves fragrance.
I loved my bowl of plain congee topped with picked cucumbers, floss, ikan bilis & peanuts, fried silver fish and spring onions. So much going on in there and I just enjoyed the contrasting textures and flavours.
The kueh pie tees which we had to make ourselves were normal. The carrot cake wasn’t worth the calories.
Do try the braised eggs and firm beancurd that were nicely braised and robustly flavoured. Seems like their braised dishes really did shine.
For the cheeses, I spotted camembert, brie and the 3rd one was probably edam or gouda – no labels provided. It was only until I finished my cheeses that I realised there were dried nuts and fruits on another side of the buffet line. Wouldn’t it make more sense to place the cheese platter next to the dried nuts & fruits? Duh.
Desserts time! There were assorted cakes, cupcakes, nonya kuehs, bread pudding with custard, muah chee, waffles, ice cream, ice kachang, puddings, bubur terigu and of course, the chocolate fountain – from what I saw at the start of my meal since our table was just next to the desserts.
By the time I was ready to hit the desserts, there were no cakes left for me to take and it took a long while before everything was replenished. The funny thing was, the cakes weren’t even that fantastic. The only one that was a real knockout for me was the chocolate cake – so rich and chocolatey – I love! The pandan kaya cake was quite delectable too. The durian mousse cake could do with more durians though it didn’t taste too bad.
The chocolate from the fountain wasn’t too sweet which was good. And there were ingredients like choux buns, 2 types of marshmallows, grapes and honeydew to go with it.
I thoroughly enjoyed the ice cream which reminded me of the same ice cream from those mobile ice cream carts. There were sweet corn, vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and coconut flavours. Sweet corn, chocolate and coconut made the best combi for me, lol.
After desserts, I went walking another round and noticed I hadn’t tried anything from the bread section so I took a mini baguette roll, some bread sticks & crisp breads with sesame seeds and 3 different types of spreads. So glad I did. I loved the garlic butter just like the classic spread on garlic bread. The anchovies butter was a tad too fishy for my liking and I didn’t like the taste of the olive butter too. I was happy with just my bread and garlic butter, lol.
Overall, I thought the buffet was just average with no wow factor. I didn’t think the variety was huge plus there were obviously more misses than hits for me. The price is probably still acceptable with the 1-for-1 promo but to pay S$63++ per person for this meal, it’s absolutely not worth it as there are better buffets elsewhere at the same price. Also, on the day I was there, some company was having a group lunch so the whole dining area was really packed and noisy. Food went quick and weren’t replenished fast enough. But I would still recommend their chilled prawns, steamed salmon, braised pork knuckle, bread with garlic butter, sweet & sour fish, rojak, Indian food and chocolate cake. My folks were fussy eaters and they still managed to stuff themselves silly with countless servings of lobster claws, prawns and desserts, lol. Well, at least I didn’t receive any complains, lol so I presumed all was good.
Lobby Level, Hotel Jen Tanglin Singapore
1A Cuscaden Road
Tel: 6831 4374