The Place The idea of having local Singaporean delights at a five star hotel in Singapore may sound gimmicky and pricey, and here is the constant challenge – how do you guarantee that the local dishes stay true to its authenticity and flavours? The answer it seems, is to collaborate directly with renowned hawker stalls in Singapore and bring them into your hotel. I have been curious about The Lobby Lounge at Shangri-La Hotel Singapore since it introduced its local theme semi-buffet lunch late last year, and I finally managed to check it out recently.
Having been to the other restaurants within the hotel such as Nami and Origin Grill, the most striking change in the past one year other than the new F&B concept is the major revamp of its lobby. The new lobby lounge area looks more much inviting than before, complete with lush greenery indoors and white marble finishing which breathes a new lease of life to the property.
The Food The main highlight of the semi-buffet lunch at The Lobby Lounge is that you get to choose from one of the seven main courses, which are all local dishes. The two new dishes which will be introduced by the end of March are Bak Kut Teh by Legendary Bak Kut Teh; and Beef Rendang by Rumah Makan Minang. This adds on to the 5 existing mains which are Chilli Crab and Mantou by Dragon Phoenix; Bak Chor Mee with Fish Maw Soup by Seng Kee Mushroom Minced Meat Noodle; Katong Laksa by The Original Katong Laksa (Janggut); Prawn Noodle Soup by Beach Road Prawn Mee; Hainanese Chicken Rice by Shangri-La Hotel Singapore. At S$38++ per person for weekdays and S$42++ for weekends, it is a relatively reasonably priced semi-buffet in town.
That said, not all the dishes are the original renditions as there are some modifications to it to justify the premium price for hawker food. Take the Bak Chor Mee as an example, where premium fish maw is added to its soup. The same goes for the Dragon Phoenix’s Chilli Crab, where Alaskan King crabs are used.
We tried both new dishes, Bak Kut Teh and Beef Rendang. The former is served in a white porcelain bowl with a small fire beneath to maintain the heat of the soup, which is very tasty and it really surprised me that there is a good quality control in this buffet setting. The notes of the soup is not too peppery, which uses Sarawak peppercorn. The tender pork is from Indonesia.
For the Beef Rendang, it is actually prepared first at the hawker stall before it is delivered to the hotel. Rumah Makan Minang has a long history in Singapore specialising in Indonesian Minangkabau cuisine.
Other noteworthy selections from the mains I tried are the Bak Chor Mee where the fish maw soup itself almost stole the thunder from the noodles, as well as my favourite Katong Laksa from the The Original Katong Laksa.
I was also lucky to encounter the first Heritage Weekend Pop-up series during my visit. Held once a month, there will be a live station helmed by a local hawker and for us, we witnessed the team behind Springleaf Prata Place tossing and making prata in the air. The second edition of the Heritage Weekend Pop-up will be happening on 21 and 22 April where there will be hot steamed rice cakes from Queenways Lau Tan Tutu Kueh.
The buffet spread continues the local cuisine theme, with selections such as popiah, kueh pie tee and nyonya kuehs.
A noteworthy mention is that the Nyonya Kueh and Pulut Hitam are by HarriAnns, a renowned local confectionary.
At the end of the meal, you can choose to have the Kopi Tarik or Teh Tarik.
Rants The buffet selection itself is not extensive in terms of the number of dishes and variety, though it does make up for quality.
Will I Return Again? At S$42++ per person for weekends, it is a competitive price for semi-buffet lunch in town, though some may argue if it is justifiable to pay for the premium price when you get your hands on the same hawker food at their original stalls. It is the ambience really, where you can tuck into the hawker dishes comfortably and the biggest surprise for me is that there is very good quality control here. I am already planning my next visit.
Taste bud: 4/5
Hole in the pocket: 4/5
Overall Experience: 3.5/5
The Lobby Lounge
22 Orange Grove Road
Lobby Level, Tower Wing
Tel: +65 6213 4288
Local Semi-Buffet Lunch
Monday to Friday: 11.30am to 2.30pm
Saturday to Sunday: 11.30am to 5pm
Ranted by The Ranter