Steamboat is like a national affair in Singapore and during weekends you can see long queues in many of the speciality steamboat restaurants. From the early days of steamboat and barbeque buffet at the old Marina Bay to the recent craze for Chinese Mala hotpot, Singaporean don’t seem to get sick of this cuisine at all. Many might only know Crystal Jade as a Cantonese style restaurant but the Holland Village and Plaza Singapura outlet also offers steamboat buffet in the menu.
The layout of the restaurant is typical of the Crystal Jade branches but the difference for these 2 outlets is that the tables are fitted with glass induction plates which is used for the customers who chooses the steamboat option. For normal customers, the table can be used as per normal; as long as the induction is not switched on.
The buffet is at SGD 30.80 before GST per adult during weekends and $23.80 for children. The meats, vegetables, drinks and other ingredients are all free flow except for the prawns which are capped at 100g only. You can choose up to 2 soup base and they have 6 choices of soup base like the pork broth soup, spicy miso, tom yam, tomato and superior chicken soup. We chose the pork broth and the tomato soup base.
There is a main station where you can get your vegetables, meat balls, mushrooms, bean curds skin, noodles and many others.
The ingredients are very fresh and are topped up regularly so you don’t have a situation where the stations are empty. I found the selection very sufficient and interestingly they have small plates of minced fish/squid/pork glue which you can scoop into balls or any shape you like with the tiny spoons provided into your soup to cook.
The complimentary prawn is served to your table and the meat is served to you once you put in an order to make sure they are fresh. You can choose between beef, pork and chicken. There is also a drinks station and sauces station where you can get your own dipping sauce. The drinks station provides the usual dispenser soft drinks as well as 1 very interesting drink the cucumber lemonade which was very refreshing amongst the steam boat soup. They have the usual spring onion, garlic, chilli, vinegar, peanut sauces but 1 sauce I liked was the Belachan sauce and Singapore chilli sauce which is what we eat with steam boat at home traditionally.
The pot takes about 8 mins to boil which is considered acceptable in terms of speed. I have visited some restaurants where the pot takes forever to boil. Overall, I find the tomato soup very light with quite a bland tomato taste, I think Hai Di Lao has set the standards of the tomato soup across the industry although the Hai Di Lao soup does leave me thirsty thereafter. The pork soup is quite tasty and the ingredients are all fresh and of good quality. When it is raw, the meats look very thin which is very similar to the ones at Japanese Shabu Shabu restaurants and I find this cut to be just nice and not over whelming.
At this price, the variety and quality of the food provided is considered not too bad but my only comment is the service should be improved. As a buffet restaurant, they should take customer feedback for a bigger table so we can put the ingredients on the table with more space. Instead their answer to us was; “this is just nice for you” and when we tried to get attention from other service staff, they pretended we were invisible. We can understand if the restaurant was very full but there were obvious empty tables and we were trying to fit our drinks, sauces and raw and cooked items including the huge pot within a 2 seater table so we were not as relaxed as we hope to be. Although it is not a show stopper, I do hope they would pay more attention to us as customers. Would I still return? Maybe if I cannot get a table at Hai Di Lao.
Address: Plaza Singapura Level 2, Unit 32
Operating hours: 11.00 am to 10.00 pm