Ellenborough Market Café: Good Ol’ times of Asia
Reviewed by : Viviane Then. Other Foodadvisor Writers?
Swissotel Merchant Court places itself amongst the top buffet venues in Singapore through its main spread of Asian and Peranakan dishes. Backed by a distinct Nonya cooking style, Ellenborough Market Café lands itself into favourite choices of Singaporeans and foreigners, appealing to the nostalgic and the curious.
- The Vibe
Aptly located alongside Boat Quay, it takes just a little imagination to travel back in time to a rustic 1960s Singapore . Set in dark wooden furnishings and an old shop-house front, nostalgia overwhelms as Ellenborough Market Café reminisces of coffee-shops from half a century ago. Tiled floorings, wooden platforms and push-cart style buffet counters, together with framed paintings of Chinese ladies dressed in cheongsams, further contribute to the vintage feel of Ellenborough Market Café.
- The Food
The sumptuous spread of lunch buffet ($26.90+++) over a span of four separate counters was a visual food heaven to every diner. Leaning towards the Asian fare, there was no lack of choices as diners could choose amongst Western salad servings, Chinese-style clear soups, Asian dishes, Peranakan delights, Western or Nonya styleddesserts, and indulge in chocolate fondue.
It was easy to tell individual's preferences from their plates. Whilst some will choose to feast on multiple servings of meat and Hong Kong fried noodles, others can pile their plates high with greens and salad toppings. Spicy food lovers can also hand-pick their way and start on the Peranakan dishes – of Asam fish , Ayam Buah Keluak,and sweet chilli sauces.
More popular favourites include the Broad Bean Fish , Ayam Buah Keluak and Kueh Pie Tee. The whole Mediterranean cod fish, steamed to perfection and doused with tasty bean paste produced a silky texture upon the tongue. Smooth in texture and flaking off in equal slices of fish meat, the salty bean paste combined with sweet chilli whets the appetite for a second helping.
A dish common amongst the Peranakans, the Ayam Buah Keluak consisted of braised tender chicken beneath a classic Nonya-style sauce. Strong to the taste-buds, a spicy pepper after-taste lingers in the mouth after the first bite. Kueh Pie Tee, served with braised turnip and pork belly, is a snack self-made by diners. This dish provides satisfaction in creating one's own mixes. Sweet sauce, spicy chilli sauce, springy prawns and crumbly boiled eggs make up the main ingredients, to which combine to produce a myriad of tastes upon one's first bite.
The all-famous Durian Pengat is a must-try dessert for all durian lovers. A creamy smooth mousse which slides down the throat, it is akin to real durian flesh minus the seeds and its thorny exterior.
Swissotel Merchant Court also showcases its home-prepared bak kwa by hotel chefs, oven-barbequed minced pork cut into round slices boasts no charred sides. With its meat a little redder and more minced than what one might find in Bee Cheng Hiang, it is easy to chew off and tempts multiple helpings with its honey sweet glaze.
- The Service
There is no lack of staff to replace plates and bowls that disappear within a blink of the eye. Smart in their uniforms and professional in their service, Ellenborough's staff will make dining there a comfortable and relaxing experience for every diner.
SD Food Advisor's take on Ellenborough Market Cafe:
For the price of $26.90+++ for a lunch buffet and $33.90 for a weekend dinner buffet, Ellenborough provides quality food at a very reasonable price. A popular dining choice for families, office executives and tourists alike, one has to place bookings at least two weeks in advance to avoid disappointment for weekend buffets.