We all know that Singapore is a true foodie’s paradise and one where so many “live to eat”. There’s a pretty good chance you can find any cuisine on earth right here in our cultural melting pot, but if you’re a newbie to Singapore (or have visitors decending!) there’s a whole world of food that often goes unnoticed: local food! Sure, we’ve all had our fair share of hawker centres and tried the likes of popular treats like satay, noodle soup, and dim sum, but there is still so much more to try. What a shame it would be if you lived in Singapore and didn’t get to try everything this foodie haven had to offer…
Well, check that off your bucket list now, mama because we’ve found a solution to your dilemma. Say hello to AquaMarine – where Asian delights meet international flavours. What better way to explore the island’s best-kept secrets than at this renowned weekend buffet (the kids are invited too!).
Located on level 4 of the 5-star luxury hotel, Marina Mandarin Singapore, AquaMarine is a unique concept restaurant featuring a resplendent spread of Asian and international cuisines (all with Halal certification too). Featuring a sumptuous buffet of perennial favourites such as Fried Japanese Tofu with Pickled Ginger and Roasted Goma Dressing, Poached Tiger Prawn Salad with Citrus Dressing, Singapore Chilli Crab, Lamb Rogan Josh, Seafood Au Gratin and a mouth-watering array of desserts, there’s so much here to tickle your taste buds, mama. There’s also a wide selection of à la carte dishes including local signatures like Jumbo Laksa and Hainanese Chicken Rice. Surrounded by clear glass panels, AquaMarine gives diners a complete view of the hotel’s plush atrium, as well as a little touch of nature with textured stonewalls and a water feature at the outdoor terrace. Contemporary and bright, the show kitchen is the real highlight here – it allows diners to view the chefs doing what they do best… cooking!
We recently decided to check out the weekend buffet for ourselves and are happy to report that while the place does deliver the internationally local food that it promises, it’s also a great venue to bring the kids along to as well. The buffet is divvied up into several sections, the highlight being the extensive seafood spread. Apart from the usual must haves like fresh oysters, prawns, Boston lobsters, scallops, and black mussels, I was thrilled to see stone crab claws and sea whelks on offer too! Another special addition to the seafood spread, and one that I must mention, is the Whole Poached Salmon, complete with condiments – so good! Once you’ve had your aquatic fix, head to the Japanese bar, where a selection of sushi, sashimi, cold noodles, and tempura await. Of course no buffet is complete without a salad bar and the one here offers unusual items such as edamame and lotus root. Healthy food for the fam — check!
My kids were more than thrilled with the Pizza and Pasta station, with its über cheesy slices of Hawaiian and Margherita pizza — not exactly the local fix I was hoping to introduce them to, but who can argue with pizza! That being said there’s a lovely selection of main meals that you can also go for if you want to divert your kids away from the usual…. try the DIY stations of Lor Mee noodles, or the crispy baskets of Kueh Pie Tee, filled with a traditional Peranakan vegetable filling. My favourite dish was the pepper crab, which was complemented by fragrant garlic fried rice or glass noodles. The drunken Chinese prawns were also hugely popular, as were the lamb chops and teriyaki chicken. And if you’re craving Indian, the fish and lamb curries are beautiful, served with hot butter naan breads and condiments. It’s also worthy dropping past the BBQ station, where you can get your fill of roast chicken, grilled vegetables, chicken wings, sausages, and grilled prawns.
Moving past the savoury selection and onto dessert, there’s plenty of assortment here with a full cheese spread, or if you prefer to save your calories, there’s the delightfully rich dessert buffet. In addition to typical Nonya delicacies such as jellies, kueh lapis cakes and egg custard tarts, there’s treats like tiramisu toffee torte, oreo cheesecake and the gorgeous mini salted caramel chocolate tarts. They’re so small and enticing – I couldn’t get enough of these bad boys! The warm apple crumble served with a rich and creamy vanilla sauce was the perfect end to the meal. But if you have more adventurous taste buds, try the restaurant’s most popular signature desserts – the durian mousse cake and the durian pengat — a sweetened durian pulp, akin to having blended durian made richer by the addition of coconut milk. Did I mention that there is a separate section just for ice kachang? Kids can operate the ice shaving machine by themselves and dress up their icy treats with the generous selection of syrups and toppings on offer (we didn’t say it was healthy, but it sure is a big hit with the little ones!).
So the next time you’re craving somewhere that rolls out a truly unique Asian-meets-Western dining menu, try AquaMarine. You won’t regret it, mama!
The weekend buffet dinner from Sunday to Thursday is $68++ (adults) and $34++ (kids) and $78++ (adults) and $39++ (kids) on Friday and Saturday.