When I learnt that I wouldn’t be able to join my family on their Hokkaido vacation later this year, I was a little despondent. After all, I had grown up watching Japanese infotainment programs that featured Hokkaido’s food, culture, and sights, and it would have been a treat to finally visit Japan’s northernmost province. Yet life has a funny way of working out—this week, I savoured an array of Hokkaido dishes at Triple Three’s annual Hokkaido Harvests buffet (19th – 30th October 2016). While I was unable to make a like-for-like comparison with the food one would get in Hokkaido, Triple Three presented a compelling case for Japanese food lovers to try its buffet.
Even though the event is into its fourth year, Triple Three did not let up on its efforts to launch its annual extravaganza with a bang. For the launch event on 19 October, the restaurant brought in a 46 kg Kindai Bluefin Tuna as a showcase. Raised from hatched eggs, the sustainably farmed fish was so hefty that it took three chefs to slice it in front of spellbound diners.
Six VIPs then took up wooden mallets and broke the cover of a Japanese sake barrel in a hallowed 300-year-old Japanese tradition called the kagami biraki. What started out as a ritual to bless the Shogun’s war efforts during Tokugawa-era Japan has evolved into today’s Japanese equivalent of the western ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The Sake gets distributed
The bread selection featuring some Japanese-inspired breads
The cheese selection
Agemono (deep-fried dishes)
Kani Miso Soup
I had read reviews of past Hokkaido Harvests that questioned the restaurant’s commitment to really showcasing a range of distinctively Hokkaido dishes, but there is no doubt that this year’s edition is truly an excellent reflection of Hokkaido specialities and Japanese-inspired dishes. I like to try a buffet’s seemingly modest dishes, since they are an indication of the restaurant’s commitment to meticulousness and quality. On these counts, the high standards of the appetisers, breads, cheeses, agemono (deep-fried dishes), and miso soup exceeded my expectations.
Hokkaido Buta Don
The Hokkaido Buta Don was another dish that belied its humble appearance. Served piping hot, the perfectly prepared onsen egg sat quivering in the centre of a bowl of premium Japanese rice topped with pork simmered in a sweet and savoury sauce. I don’t usually eat a lot of carbohydrates during buffets, but I made an exception this time around and went for seconds.
Freshly shucked New Zealand Oysters
Seafood lovers would be delighted that the restaurant has improved and increased its seafood line-up from previous editions of Hokkaido Harvests. Besides succulent king crabs, snow crabs, New Zealand oysters, white top shell, lobsters, and Hokkaido Chirashi (bite sized sashimi and creamy avocado served atop rice), the buffet has also introduced Onsen Tamago with Uni (Soft Boiled Egg with Sea Urchin) and a snow crab gratin, which I didn’t fully appreciate, since the cheese and breadcrumbs did not allow the taste of the crab to fully come through.
The chef prepares flame-seared lobsters
Snow crab gratin
The robatayaki station was a crowd favourite: the chefs had their game faces on as they grilled batches of sizzling meat, seafood and vegetables over charcoal.
The wagyu was buttery and tender
At the live cooking stations, the chefs served up excellent wagyu beef, Hokkaido ramen, Hokkaido beef curry, golden-brown croquettes, and agemono.
Oven roasted Hokkaido Beef
Steamed Hokkaido Beef with Ponzu Sauce
Madara Agedashi Shirako (deep-fried codfish sperm)
Intrepid diners should also consider sampling deep fried codfish sperm (Madara Agedashi Shirako)—I was excited to finally try it after reading so much about the dish; unfortunately, I found it plain and unremarkable, probably because the batter overwhelmed the codfish sperm’s delicate taste.
A wide selection of Japanese cakes
Finally, diners must try the extensive and inventive Hokkaido dessert selection. Given its recent popularity, Triple Three has cleverly included Hokkaido Cheese Tarts in its line-up. These tarts join other heavyweight choices such as the gelato made from fresh ingredients imported from Japan, Hokkaido Yuzu Cheesecake, and Sesame Yuzu Swiss Roll. The Dango (small ball-shaped mochi dumplings) are also worth one’s stomach space, being pleasantly chewy and not too sweet.
Almost without exception, the Hokkaido Harvests buffet at Triple Three Mandarin Orchard features high quality food and an extensive selection of dishes. I recommend it strongly. The Hokkaido Harvests promotion will only run until 30 October, so diners should hurry. It is priced at $118/128++ for adults and $48++ for children (aged 6-12 years), with DBS/POSB card members enjoying 50% for every second adult diner (up to 8 diners per card).
For reservations, contact Triple Three restaurant at 6831 6288.
Thank you Triple Three for the invitation.
333 Orchard Road
Reservations: 6831 6288/6271
|Hokkaido Harvest Promotion|
Wednesday, 19 October to Sunday, 30 October 2016
6.30pm to 10pm dailyPrice:
Sundays to Wednesdays: $118++ (Adult), $48++ (Child 6 to 12yrs)
Thursday to Saturdays: $128++ (Adult), $48++ (Child 6 to 12yrs)
Enjoy Kirin Draught Beer at only $5++ per glass during the promotion