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Thursday, 4 February 2016

[Media Invite] CNY Buffet Dinner at The Square @ Novotel Clarke Quay

177A River Valley Road, #07-00 Novotel Clarke Quay, Singapore 179031
Tel: 6433 8790

Having visited The Square @ Novotel Clarke Quay for Christmas Dinner (review here) and Indonesian Food Festival (review here), I was honoured to be invited back for Chinese New Year Buffet Dinner. This is a media invited tasting attended by representatives of Hungrygowhere, the team at Novotel, and a few other familiar reviewers.

The restaurant was decorated in a festive mode for the upcoming Chinese New Year, with plum blossom flowers, red banners etc, and this jolted my festive mood even as I stepped in. Needless to mention, the buffet dinner for this period would also consist of traditional Chinese New Year dishes, which shall be introduced shortly.

A walk around the restaurant would unravel the various delectable international cuisines being served up on hot trays,  such as the Rustic Ratatouille with 62 degree poached eggs, Grilled Chicken with onion marmalade sauce, Lamb Tangine and smooth Chicken & Barley Broth.  These items are heavier in flavour but nonetheless, tasty.

The Chilli Crab needs no introduction.- robust flavour tinged with spiciness and powdery, tender flesh. The Roast Peking Duck had a crispy skin flanking succulent flesh. The Shawarma was deliciously swathed in a smokey tinge as well.

Now the Stars of the Night - traditional Chinese New Year dishes such as the Mushroom with Sea Cucumber, braised to a lovely tenderness and redolent of the shitake mushroom's strong earthly aroma. The Longevity Noodles was well-moistened but not soggy, skillfully stir-fried. There is also Chicken Bak Kwa sitting amongst the Salad Counter for the taking.

The Yusheng (raw fish with tossed vegetables) was displayed at a counter of its own, looking prim but pretty for the taking. It would be an interesting way of eating Yusheng, buffet style.

The Salad Counter comprised lots of vegetables, a huge variety of olives in different preparations and an assortment of appetite-whetting dressings. Sharing the same counter as the Salads, herein lay Beef Salami, Smoked Salmon, and Chicken Ham etc cooked items for those who would prefer not to touch the raw food at Japanese section.

Or how about the Cooked Salad / Asian Salad section? There were interesting fusion dishes such as Asian Angel Hair Pasta Salad, or You Tiao Salad. For a healthier choice, there was the Tomato Salad that was utterly nectarous.

The Seafood Counter was made up of fresh and saccharine Oysters, Mussels and Prawns. I mainly refilled my plate with Oysters - so fresh, I had them without the usual Tabasco sauce.

The Fruits and Desserts counters were the most colourful, filled with a comprehensive assortment of tropical fruits, cakes, tarts and marshmallows, as well as Durian Pengat and Bread & Butter Pudding, etc. The Durian Pengat was smooth, rich and creamy, immersing the eaters in the wonderful aroma of durians. Asian delights such as Kueh Lapis and some Chinese New Year cookies / tartlets also formed part of the sweets section.

After an introduction and welcome speech by Chef Jeremy Lim, sharing with us more on what was instore for the evening, we proceeded to busy ourselves with food-hunt.

But firstly, there was a Yusheng set aside specially for us all to toss together to a great year ahead, laden with loads of auspicious phrases and greetings.  The Sashimi Fish used was a "distant-cousin of the Tilapia", freshly-prepared and also the sashimi of the night under the seafood section.  The vegetables and dressing were extremely sweet and fresh, making for a tantalising plate of Yusheng.

We also loved how The Square @ Novotel has thoughtfully prepared an informative card describing and explaining each ingredient of the toss - the perfect cheat sheet!

I had a little bit of everything, loving some enough to go for seconds - such as the fresh Oysters, Sashimi, Laksa, Angel Hair Pasta Salad, assortment of pickled Olives, mini Egg Tarts and Durian Pengat.

Service was as effiicient as always, and the ambience basked with happy festive vibes; making the meal even more enjoyable. Thank you The Square for a sumptuous pre-CNY dinner and immaculate hosting, and thank you Hungrygowhere for the invite.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

The Nuptial Series (xvi) - Meeting the Solemniser

Photosource: https://www.rom.gov.sg/

In Part 2 of the Nuptial Series, I described in detail the procedure about getting the solemniser and filing the Notice, etc.

After contacting various solemnisers via email - a variety of Justice of Peace, Drs and grassroot leaders - we shortlisted a couple of them to meet up with. Okay, you need to contact them around 3-4 months before the actual date, because many of them don't plan their schedule in advance for more than 3-4 months. Some would not be able to make it on your preferred date, and then some don't get their license renewed / are pending renewal.

You can get references for some solemnisers here:
(1) ROM website for all licensed solemnisers
(2) Best Solemnisers on Ideal Singapore forum
(3) Top 40 most popular Solemnisers on KiasuBride forum
(4) Top 35 most popular Solemnisers on DailyJambo

Note that these lists are merely for reference, and who is "good" or "not good" may be based on case-by-case basis.  Solemnisers do not charge fees for services rendered - you give a goodwill angpao, so don't expect great service from everyone who use their spare time to help out. The ROM will never have enough rooms or solemnisers to attend to everyone otherwise.

We met up with Solemniser 1 (a grassroot leader),  a nice, unassuming gentleman with a pleasant disposition. He readily agreed to solemnise our wedding for us on the selected date and venue. The venue of meeting was at an MRT station, where we shook hands, introduced each other, and signed the form. He chatted with us briefly, and asked for some details, but that was about it - a hurried meeting where he went off for his business after confirming date, timing and venue once again.

Then I met up with Dr. Leo Tan Wee Hin (NUS professor, and more). He was more formal, preferring to meet at TCC over morning coffee. After the formal introductions were over, he chatted to understand us a little more, and described his profile in detail. Being a counsellor as well, he touched on some salient points of making the marriage work, and told us in detail about the registration, filing and solemnisation process. I was very comfortable with him and his manner of handling things, therefore we decided to use him for the Actual Day instead.

I do not know why he is not listed on the Top most popular lists - but then he has only switched to providing solemnisation for about 2 years now. It also makes me deduce that the "lists" are really more for reference, based on a few reviews. There are probably many solemnisers out there who have rendered good services but never commended, because the couples they helped were not active social media reviewers.  Therefore, do base on your own judgment and interaction with the various parties to make your own decision - after all, it is your Big Day.

Remember to ask your potential solemniser for their Buddy Solemniser's contact, just in case something crops up.

For the rest of the Nuptial Series:
Part (i)  - The Proposal
Part (ii) - Solemnisation procedure
Part (iii) - Solemnisation venues
Part (iv) - Finding the right photography studios
Part (v) -  Hunting for the suits and gowns
Part (vi) - Bespoke (tailored gown) - Review on Kelly's Bridal
Part (vii) - Pre-wedding photoshoot in Vancouver, Canada
Part (viii) - Pre-wedding photoshoot in Singapore - Loov Production
Part (xii) - Decorating the Wedding Banquet Ballrooms
Part (xiii) - Guest Lists and Inviting the Guests
Part (xiv) - Dowry and Demands Discussion
Part (xv) - Food Tasting for Banquet Dinner Menu

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

CNY Buffet Lunch at Plate @ Carlton City Hotel

1 Gopeng Street, Level 3, Carlton City Hotel, Singapore 078862
Tel: 6632 8888

Having been to Plate @ Carlton City Hotel (review here) when it first opened, I was pleased to be heading back, this time for their buffet lunch for Chinese New Year.  The usual buffet lunch for weekday is SGD$38.00++ but I believe the CNY menu now costs more. Service was rather professional and polite; they were also very efficient at clearing used plates.

Ambience was as I remembered it - dimly-lit to create atmosphere, dark earthly hues to lend a sophisticated air, and well-spaced. Pool view was abundant on the front, and a beautiful alfresco terrace sits at the back. They serve International buffet for their lunch and dinner, but there's also an ala carte menu available if you would prefer not to have buffet.

I started with some Seafood - mussels, scallops, prawns etc. The seafood was saccharine with sweetness, and flesh was springy.

Sashimi and Sushi were next to the seafood section, and I enjoyed the items in this section as well - these were the 2 stations I refilled my plates with.

The Cooked Food section comprised of a larger variety of items - Vietnamese spring rolls, seared Tuna, Korean pancakes, etc. Quality was upheld in these sections as well.  On that day, they served two types of soup as well - Cream of Mushroom and Shark's Fin Soup.

The festive / Chinese New Year section comprised of Yam Ring stuffed with lots of other ingredients, fish, tofu, Sea Cucumber dishes, bak kwa dishes etc.  There were also fragrant (lotus leaf?) Glutinuous Rice.

Finally, desserts. I loved this section  because there were lots of variety - from cakes and kuehs to Chinese dessert soup to Ice Kacang and ice-cream.  The array of colorful sweet foods tantalised us even as we just looked at them; some of them were too sweet, but I liked the cakes.

Overall, standard of food and service here were great, coupled with the ambience - this is a place I would recommend.