When you walk down South Beach Avenue, the F&B enclave still mostly unheard of even to Singaporeans, you might stumble across a curious bunch of satisfied patrons with puffed out tummies towards the end of the stretch, a silly grin on their faces. It’s likely that they, like us, just engaged in feasting at Beach Road Kitchen, the primary dining room at the freshly-minted JW Marriott Hotel.
Not all of them will sport oversized panama hats, entry-level DSLRs, and $300 protection eyewear, of course – that’d be silly. International buffets aren’t something you go to only when abroad on a sun-soaked beach vacation. They are also a weekend indulgence for the local foodie, if only to prove a stubborn belief that quantity and quality aren’t mutually exclusive.
Beyond its tinted glass walls – which allows for a flood of natural lighting – and unassuming entrance lies perhaps the most gorgeous buffet restaurant in the city yet, rocking an uninhibited elegance with refined marble panels, glass cabinets, and a bold palette of brass, black wood, and white marble. The exquisite selection of cuisines, developed by the hotel’s Executive Chef Stefano Di Salvo, is in part inspired by his native Italian roots, his previous stint at JW Marriott in Seoul, and family (his wife is South Korean).
If you are familiar with the art of the all-you-can-eat buffet, you will know to start with the cold and light foods first. That would be the fabulous vertical salad bar right by the entrance, which includes full and plump tomatoes and cucumbers that are good eaten as it is, whole. Help yourself to the wide spread of Italian antipasti in the special cold room next door, from cod fish brandades to smoked salmon apricots and Italian anchovies. On the way back to your seats, you’ll pass the European charcuterie and cheese display. Take the tasty cold cuts and skip the latter – for now. Divine order ordains that cheese should only be eaten with or before desserts. Don’t flout it.
Seafood is quintessential in any international buffet, though Beach Road Kitchen’s custom-built seafood room – decked out in a marble onslaught, no less – is a marvel to gape at. The temperature-controlled space sees sizeable oysters from the Northern and Eastern waters of France, shucked in front of you upon order with the ‘liquor’ still intact, the sweetest Spanish mussels, and succulent Canadian Lobsters perfectly dismembered into body, claws, and legs – a haven for claw-lovers like myself. I’m talking plump and juicy meat that pulls clean out of the shell.
The pizzas – specifically the signature mushroom pizza topped with fragrant black truffle paste and mild creamy Stracchino cheese – are splendid, naturally. Baked in an impressive full-sized pizza oven in the middle of the restaurant, this is also where you will find fresh breads Stefano grew up with – piping hot and crisp if you head over just at the right time.
There is a juicy kalbi (Korean barbequed short ribs) over at the charcoal grill section, marinated to a tee like how the Koreans do it, alongside some very tender Australian wagyu tomahawk. Try a fish of your choice, seasoned with simple salt and grilled to optimum charred-ness, to order. I like the sea bass best for its impeccable crisp skin, though there are also sole fish and trout. The same goes for the large king prawns and octopus, which are delicious with some sambal chilli.
Every so often, a trolley comes by with small servings of food that are otherwise off the menu. I was doled a generous helping of flavourful roasted suckling pig carved table-side, as well as a delectable braised pork belly ‘bun’, only the traditional lotus leaf-shaped steamed bun is replaced by a prawn cracker. I’m told there is something different each day, so that’s something fun.
The dessert showcase is a little wonderland on its own, where decadent cakes, eclairs, and profiteroles are stacked up in glass cabinets, creamy house-made ice cream cups (get the coconut or white chocolate flavour) are kept in a stylish freezer, and jelly beans, marshmallows, and fruity gummy bears fill up huge glass jars. A dedicated chef, or should I say candy man, stands by to make hot waffles and crepes to pair with a variety of compotes and sauces. And to top it off, a cool panning machine that looks like it could belong to Willy Wonka’s factory coats freshly roasted macadamia nuts with cocoa dust.
It’s easy to say that the service here is flawless, because it really is. From being greeted by every member of the floor team to an impressive familiarity with everything on offer, the staff has communication and attentiveness down pat. Beach Road Kitchen provides an experience that many similar buffet establishments would do well to emulate, demonstrating that taste need not be sacrificed for hunger. Finally, at the risk of sounding trite – or worse, like a millennial – can I just say how Instagram-able the space, with its sleek interior decor, slates and wooden boards, is?
Beach Road Kitchen is located at 30 Beach Rd, JW Marriott, Singapore 189763, p. +65 6818 1913. Brunch available Mon-Fri 11.30am – 2.30pm, Sat-Sun 12pm – 2.30pm. $58++ for lunch, $108++ for Sunday Brunch.
On Sundays, top up $70++ for free-flow Tattinger Brut champagne, selected housepour wines, and Peroni Draught beer, or $90++ for free-flow Tattinger Rose and Brut champagne, selected housepour wines, and Peroni Draught beer. Both options also come with free flow Bloody Marys and Martinis (3 flavours).