I just wonder sometimes why I would go crazy with buffets especially when I love variety but I’m never able to eat so much at one setting compared to the husband. And my appetite seems to shrink as I grow older (another sign of aging?) but my weight remains the same (unfair!). Buffets are just not worth it for me anymore but after going to Straits Cafe @ Rendezvous with the husband one Saturday, I decided to bring the parents there the following Saturday too. Just because of one thing that got me really hooked on. And I was sure it would be something that could impress the fussy folks too.
The Straits Cafe is located on ground level of the Rendezvous Grand Hotel and it serves up a decent spread of Asian delights and Singaporean favourites.
A quick glimpse of the buffet spread:
At S$40++ per pax for the weekend high tea buffet, the available variety of food is rather impressive. Besides cold appetisers, salads (and DIY ones too), sashimi, sushi, chilled seafood (prawns, flower crabs & conch aka ‘gong gong’), cheeses, dim sum, popiah & kueh pai tee stations, kebab corner and desserts, there are also live stations for kopi & teh tarik (coffee & tea), roti prata and their award-winning laksa.
The prawns and flower crabs are fresh but they are just not sweet which is a common trait of chilled seafood at buffets anyway. Neither am I a big fan of the gong gong which tastes like overcooked, chewy escargot with no flavour. The salmon sashimi is not of the best cut as I could taste the sinews in some of the pieces. The octopus is pretty good though. Nicely poached, tender and sweet. And of course, the husband never forgets his sushi which is of pretty normal standard.
I didn’t manage to try every single thing of course so these are just pictures of what all of us had on our plates. I particularly like the bak kut teh (with a nice peppery flavour), made-it-myself kueh pai tees (still not as good as Carousel’s but not too bad) and grilled meat from the kebab station. The rest of the items are pretty much mediocre, nothing exceptional.
I was a bit disappointed with the so-called ‘award-winning’ laksa as I felt it lacked punch and spices. Even after I’ve mixed in a tablespoonful of sambal chilli, the gravy just fails to excite my taste buds. The fragrance from the coconut milk is there but it just doesn’t taste complete. I wonder if the chef is now different, that’s probably why the standard has dipped.
What I like here which I haven’t seen in other high tea buffets is the live drinks stall (that looks like an olden days street food stall) that serves up freshly pulled milk tea aka teh tarik which is one of the best I’ve had. It is not overly sweet and has the right balance of tea flavour versus milk.
The roti prata which is prepared upon order is sadly chewy and lacks the fluffiness and crisp of a good prata. The curry gravy is decent though, rich in flavour and not too oily.
Desserts section is a joyful sight of decadent cakes, assorted nonya kuehs, milk chocolate and white chocolate fondue fountains (two chocolate fountains at one buffet – what a treat!), ice cream (including potong ones on sticks), tropical fruits and a side chiller filled with everything durian! And yes, this side chiller is the thing to go for in this buffet! It contains durian pengat (durian puree), durian cakes and durian puffs. When you slide open the glass door, you get an intoxicating whiff of durian up your nostrils. Heaven.
I have never been such a big fan of durians before but the durian pengat really kind of made me go crazy. I just lost count on the number of shot glasses I had. If one can ever get drunk on durians, I must be dead pissed on both days when I had it. The richness of the durian is unbelievable. I have tried so many durian pengats before and most of them are obviously diluted with water and coconut milk but this durian pengat is strong in flavour and solid in taste. And I wasn’t wrong. The folks (except the husband of course who doesn’t really appreciate durians as much as we do) could compete with me in a durian pengat eating competition. Our table was filled with plenty of empty shot glasses and we weren’t even embarrassed by it.
I enjoy the traditional nonya kuehs too and of course the chocolate fondues. Desserts are probably the best part of this entire buffet for me and it’s also the first time I actually prefer desserts to savouries in a buffet.
My verdict? There are probably more misses than hits for me but the desserts really make up for it. I probably will not return again (two consecutive weekend sessions are already good enough to kill all my cravings for durian) unless there’s any special promotion that may entice me to go.
If you love your durians and you enjoy local food as featured here, it is still worth a visit but you shall have to decide if it’s worth a return. Bon appetit!
Level 1, Rendezvous Hotel
9 Bras Basah Road
Reservation hotline: 6335 1771 / 7
High Tea: 3:00pm to 5:30pm (Saturdays, Sundays & Public Holidays only)
Price: S$40++ per adult