Rediscovering one’s roots is particularly significant for me at this point. I’ve been away for some time, out of the blogging scene, as my father has recently passed away. This series of articles to come commemorate the life my father once had, and that while the passing is physical, the soul lives forever. When Ah Yoke from the Straits Times recommended the Heritage Eurasian Buffet at Town, Fullerton Hotel on Friday, I thought this was a particularly apt moment to connect the dots of my own ethnic heritage through the flows of gastronomic class. Eurasian cuisine in Singapore is far and few between. Therefore, when there was a mere mention of a Eurasian buffet in town, I was immediately intrigued. This scion of gastronomic cuisine is mostly painstakingly prepared at home, with plenty of details going in, and each family and chef with their own personal touch to it. For the spread to now make their way to the buffet table, it was definitely something worth mentioning and taking a closer look. Almost like a closely guarded secret, unveiled as a surprise for the week, in endless proportions.
I also thought this would be a good way to rediscover my own heritage with my family. An important milestone now that the mantle of Chef de Cuisine in my family’s recipe books was passed on to me.
The Fullerton Hotel is always a magnificent sight. Formerly, the General Post Office where my great-grandfather used to work, this colonial icon is now a stunning hotel with impressive columns projecting a sense of glory. My last visit to The Fullerton Hotel was in 2010, for my 20th birthday celebration at Jade for their dim sum buffet. I hear the restaurant is still serving up a delectable spread of dim sum delights, and I look forward to making a return visit some day to once again connect the dots.
Entering Town Restaurant in the midst of a dwindling sun over the horizon, one can almost become enraptured by the stunning glow of warm golden hues and crisp light falling into the restaurant.
Chef Sunny De Costa is the culinary genius behind the spread of Eurasian dishes served up at Town over this week. A Eurasian from Malacca, Chef Sunny grew up learning the tricks of the trade since young. He used to pen down recipes while diligently observing the dishes being cooked in the family. The dishes featured on the buffet table features recipes from all over the family and is definitely a treat to be able to try so many in a single sitting.
Counter full of Eurasian delicacies
First on the menu is the Roasted Beef Marinated with Spicy Vindaloo Spices. This Eurasian classic is given a twist with the spices infused deep within the meat, and then roasted to an aromatic delight. The traditional Vindaloo Curry features coriander, cumin, tumeric, chilli and mustard though I would say that the spices have been tweaked a little to better bring out the flavours of meat. Pair this with the side of beef jus that is also lovingly spiced up and a great complement.
The next classic is the Sebak. Braised Pork Belly with Dark Soy Sauce and Spices is served into chunky slices and tossed with a selection of lettuce, tau kua, tomatoes and a special chilli dip from Sunny’s dad. Star anise, cloves and cinnamon scent the braised pork gently, although my grandmother noted that the notable pig’s ears were missing from the dish.
Sebak in a bowl
I have to give top marks for the tangy and spicy chilli dip. The sauce is of good thickness with the zest of vinegar and a loving hot kick at the end in soury notes that simply complement the salad well. Makes me tempted to create my own sauce.
Assam Prawns at this table sees the prawns deep fried to a crisp perfection and then tossed in tamarind sauce for that sweet and sour finger licking flavour. While I would personally have prepared a thicker and more robust gravy to go with rice, I would say this was a finely executed portion that was a good introduction to the classics on the dinner table.
And now for the Semur. This particular take on the traditional Eurasian meat stew features pork belly as the main ingredient in a slightly more peppery gravy. My family on the other hand is familiar with the darker blacker version with the good use of beef. That said, I thought this was a delicious concoction, with the stew very enjoyable, thick with rempah and a slight note of vinegar tanginess at the end. Dip the pork belly with some sambal belachan by the side for that complete experience.
The Chicken Stew Eurasian Style is one dish that would be well accepted by the young and old alike. The sweet scented gravy that carries flavours of star anise and cinnamon is unmistakably delicious, and well infused into the pieces of chicken meat. Chunky potatoes and rings of onions adorn the entire dish from top to bottom.
The sambal belachan served up is definitely different from my own family’s take on the famed spicy dip. This particular one was a little on the mild side with sweeter notes enveloping the chilli. The Salted Fish Pickle on the other hand was an excellently crafted dip. I kept going back for more, although I suspect not many people knew about this classic sitting nonchalantly by the side with its partner, the Mango Pickle. Almost like my great grandmother’s recipe!
To pound away
And next up is the Devil’s Curry. Chef Sunny prepared this dish two styles. The traditional features back bacon bone and sausage, while the other variant is made from chicken. Pork bacon bone is definitely a delight on its very own, and its use in the dish delightful flavours the gravy to a slightly salty, smoky, savoury touch. The only thought is that this is one Devil’s Curry that is mild and accepting for most guests. I would have expected a burning, almost fiery sensation. Still, a good enough dish for me to want to cook up something with my grandma another day.
Curry debal with ‘pranchise’ or rice.
The Baked Fish with Sambal, Lime and Tumeric Leaves is one of the nicest baked fish I’ve tried as yet. The smoky fragrance from the lime and kunyit leaves are excellent aromatics and permeate well into the meat. The sambal a gentle touch of spiciness by the side, and as an overall, enjoy everything with the chinchalok for that extra deeply scented salty flavour.
Candlenuts and Star Anise
Snapper Fish Curry with Green Mango
Eurasian Chap Chai
Curry Pementa (Stingray in Pepper Curry)
Stir fried French Beans with Shrimp and Pork Belly
The buffet at Town Restaurant comes with three different pricing categories. At $53++, one can enjoy the Eurasian delicacies ontop of the existing buffet line. At $69++, there is an addition of baked lobsters as part of the buffet line, served a la minute. Finally at $89++, there is a grill station on top of the Eurasian buffet and baked lobster, with a selection of beers and drinks to go along.
The Baked lobsters were well coated with cheese and scented lovingly with thyme. And this is not to mention that each lobster was gorgeously sized for a King, with options for repeated requests!
The Bread, Soups and Cheese Counter
The Salads, Antipasti, and Seafood Spread
Japanese counter with Sushi, Sashimi, Cha Soba
Laksa and Mee Siam Counter
The Dessert Counter
I thoroughly enjoyed the Sugee Cake by Chef Sunny. Light and fluffy, with a good texture, this was sugee that could be eaten over and over again.
Bread and Butter Pudding
Me and Chef Sunny
A family photo of my great grandmother’s Annerita birthday celebration provided by my Uncle Eisler. My great grandmother is a great cook!
My late grandfather Joseph is at the foreground, playing the Ukulele
The greatest takeaway for this dinner is how mum and grandma recollected the past from all these Eurasian dishes. My grandma was especially chatty last night as she tried a good selection of dishes and would pipe in her comments every now and then on how similar (or different) it used to be prepared in the family. It was like the good ol’ memories making a return for my grandmother.
The Eurasian Buffet selection at Town is the first for me in the line up of heritage cuisines dished out by The Fullerton Hotel. I am quite impressed by the excellent array of Eurasian delights presented by Chef Sunny and his team. For that spread, I would say that a good amount of effort is placed within. No short cuts are taken when it comes to preparing wholesome Eurasian food, and everything down to the chilli paste and rempah is conscientiously prepared by hand. The amount of effort that goes into preparing each dish therefore makes the buffet well worth the money spent. All this, on top of the existing selection on the buffet line. Eurasian cuisine is already a rare treat, with it prepared delicately as part of the buffet, makes the spread even more delectable. The Taste of Eurasian Heritage Buffet is running its final day of the promotion today, the 30th of June for both brunch and dinner.
The Fullerton Hotel
1 Fullerton Square
A Taste of Eurasian Heritage