The best buffets in Singapore
"Craft cocktails" and "free-flow" are usually contradictory concepts but not at Manhattan. After all, the swanky bar reigns supreme on Asia's 50 Best Bars 2017 list. Forking out $150 nets you all the cocktails you want (well, wines and beers too) and free play in the Bloody Mary room that's decked out with a mind-boggling array of condiments from crudites and bak kwa, to pickles and hot sauces.
The cocktails at brunch differ from the usual bar menu; they’re generally on the refreshing end of the spectrum (think seasonal bellinis, fizzes and sours), but that’s quite brunch-appropriate. The buffet spread reflects the bar's American identity, down to the deli counter with freshly made bagels, cream cheese schmears and American cheeses. Among the highlights: shrimp cocktails and Maine lobsters, latkes with caviar, glazed cronuts and banana cream pie. And because it’s Manhattan, there's also negroni creme brulee and margarita dome.
From $150 per adult, available Sundays, 11.30am-3.30pm.
Salted & Hung's brunch buffet menu numbers just 13 items (excluding the charcuterie counter). But that's 13 faultless dishes that are all are generously sized. Aussie chef Drew Nocente’s food is inventive yet familiar, and very ingredient-driven. The Freemantle octopus is sublime for a texture that's both chewy – like octopus should be – and yielding. A smoked halibut crostini crowned with caviar retains the natural sweetness and clean flavours of halibut but also carries the smoky nuances signature to the restaurant. The handmade pasta and wagyu ragu is elevated by incredibly moreish beef fat crumbs. We suggest sitting by the counter: to kaypoh and also because spying other tables' food is the easiest way to keep your appetite whet.
From $58 per adult, available Saturdays and Sundays, 11.30am-4pm. Add $30 for free-flow alcohol.
In an era where most Chinese restaurants tend to charge a premium for dim sum buffets by including pricier goodies (think lobster, abalone and the like) and zi char – often at the expense of quality – Hai Tien Lo is the best all-rounder. It's reasonably priced at $68 and generous with most items being free-flow, including double-boiled soups and barbecued meats, all while maintaining pretty stellar quality across its wide-ranging menu.
The dim sum is excellent – the har gau is exquisitely pleated with sheer, delicate skin. The roast meats are comprehensive and succulent, particularly the soy sauce chicken, siew yoke and roasted duck. Zi char favourites like yang chow fried rice and pork ribs with bittergourd are more than decent too. And with braised abalone and mini Buddha Jumps Over the Wall on the premium list, it's definitely a bang for your buck. But service can be slow, so you’d best order in large batches.
$68 per adult, available Saturdays and Sundays, 11.30am-2.30pm. Free-flow alcohol from $30.
Bountiful. The international spread at Carousel is bountiful and worthy of any buffet hunters, even without its halal certificate. The seafood section alone is staggering, with oysters, tiger prawns, lobsters, snow crabs, a whole assortment of clams and more. The Japanese section is also formidable, encompassing both a sushi-and-sashimi counter and a live-action teppanyaki counter. While it's possible to be completely stuffed with just those two sections, there's plenty more to tackle. The salad bar explores beyond the usual greens with an assortment of grains and pulses while the Mediterranean counter is heaving with the likes of braised oxtail stew, salmon en papillote, and lamb-stuffed aubergines; and there's both a carving station and a kebab stand. The Chinese and pasta counters are a let-down, but at least that leaves space for dessert. Gun for the house-made Thai milk tea and salted egg yolk ice-cream.
Kinki's 43 item-long order chit doesn't look like much. But it’s a curated a list of greatest hits and there's a lot to love. The sashimi is generously cut and the nigiri sushi (also available aburi-style) is more seafood than rice, just the way it should be. Other notable appetisers include century egg tofu with snowcrab, edamame, shishamo tempura and gloriously sweet and juicy momotaro tomatoes. Mains are limited to one per person, which is a bit of a bummer, but at least they're gratifying, especially the wagyu foie gras donburi. You can only choose one category for the free-flow booze add-on – sake, shochu, prosecco or beer – but at $35, we don't mind.
$58 per adult, available on Saturdays, noon-3pm. Add $35 for free-flow alcohol.
The recently renovated Mezza9's champagne brunch wins hands down for its superb quality. Everything at the seafood bar – from the Fine de Claire oysters to Maine lobsters to Spencer Gulf king prawns – is certified sustainable. The Asian section isn't a letdown either, especially with char-grilled meats and seafood at the Thai corner. But the ultimate winning factor is its grill station. Instead of leaving hulking roasts to languish under the heat lamp, the meats – think tomahawk steaks and lamb ribs – are grilled in small batches so that everything is always perfectly pink and succulent. We also highly recommend having the gin fizz meringues, prepared a la minute in a liquid nitrogen bath, as a palate cleanser before moving onto desserts and cheese. There's quality sloshin' beyond the standard fare too, with craft gins and tonics.
From $108 per adult, available Sundays, 11.30am-3pm. Free-flow alcohol from $40.
Nonna-style cooking and an introduction to Italy’s finest artisanal products – that’s what’s in store at Sunday brunch at Basilico. Everything’s been thoughtfully sourced to showcase Italian diversity, which explains the antipasti table with 10 choices of olives and eight cold cuts (just a tip of the iceberg), or that room of more than 40 cheeses from all over Italy. The seafood bar is perhaps the best in town – everything tastes perfectly steamed and poached – and you'll find it hard to stop at one when it comes to the focaccia pizza with molten mascarpone. Or that luxurious wagyu beef lasagna. But there’s still dessert, and more importantly, the cheese room to conquer – it's so extensive, they had to have separate counters for burrata (truffle burrata! wine-soaked burrata! burrata with caviar!) and gorgonzola that you can have wood-smoked, beer-infused, or even with dark chocolate and chilli.
$105, every Sunday, noon-3pm. Free-flow alcohol from supplementary $33.
Those $20-odd Korean BBQ buffets are decent when you’re a broke student, but when you're ready to upgrade to ritzier cuts of meat, Seoul Restaurant is the way to go. And it's not that splurgy either if you plan it right and go for the lunch buffet (even on weekends, it's only $39.90). The barbecue's charcoal-fired, and you get a good selection of beef, pork, chicken and seafood. Seoul takes so much pride in their meats that the staff will insist on changing grill plates when you switch from marinated to non-marinated meats – so that you can taste the beautiful marbling. There's a premium buffet category for $28 more, but it's more economical to order a few premium meats to share since even a 130g portion of top-of-the-line galbisal is only $18 more. The cooked dishes are fabulous too, especially the seafood pancake, seafood stew, and cold buckwheat noodles. Go hungry.
From $34.90 per adult, available daily.