On my first visit to the Ellenborough Market Café, I ate so much durian pengat and other assorted desserts that my parents barred me indefinitely from returning.
That was fifteen years ago.
Of course, I was thrilled when I received an invitation to its dinner buffet recently: First, I was excited to finally eat that forbidden dessert again, and second, I was curious about how the restaurant looked after its extensive renovation.
After a four-month makeover, the restaurant dazzled with its new look. While many familiar dishes were still on the menu (including its signature durian pengat), it had become a lot more spacious, served an even wider array of dishes, and impressed with its pretty interiors (the place was now divided into three dining zones with their own themes).
The restaurant had also scored celebrity chef Louis Tay to helm its kitchen, and I’m happy to report that this has paid dividends. Almost every dish on the spread was well-executed. The exception was the chilli crab that night—the flesh wasn’t very substantial nor firm. Still, this did not detract from the overall menu and the restaurant’s several impressive made-to-order stations.
There are only a few places on this island you can visit to have someone dexterously pull noodles a few metres away from your face. Their La Mian station served up piping hot bowls of noodles in a comforting and savoury broth, together with hearty crab and pork meatballs.
I am usually unimpressed with seafood, so I was surprised when I scarfed down two stir-fried slipper lobsters in short order. At the seafood station, it was all I could do to rein in my baser impulses and wait patiently as the chef glazed and stir-fried the slipper lobsters in black bean sauce.
The restaurant would faze most everyone when it comes to dessert. I was faced with a tyranny of choice at the sweets section—there were nonya kueh, ice cream, cakes, puddings, rolls, panna cotta, and its widely imitated durian pengat.
Fifteen years after that fateful episode of gluttony, I finally savour the rich, creamy, and fragrant durian paste served atop chilled bandung pudding. It is so good that I do back for a second round. Then a third. Shorn of parental supervision at the dessert section, I now know why my parents had to take such a drastic measure to contain me all those years ago. Because the durian pengat at the Ellenborough Market Café is really that good.
Thank you Swissotel Merchant Court for the invitation.
|Ellenborough Market Cafe|
|20 Merchant Road|
Reservations: 6239 1847
Buffet High Tea: