From bottomless brunches to all-you-can-eat Asian fare, buffets in Singapore have come up with all sorts of glutton-friendly concepts that keep free-flow feasters coming back for more.
But I’m gonna be frank: what always has me dashing off for seconds (and then some) is the seafood selection, to the point where the mains are often of diminished priority on my must-eat list. “Seafood buffets are nothing new,” you say? You’re absolutely spot-on.
That’s why Lime at PARKROYAL on Pickering has piqued my curiosity, with a new buffet concept that swims against the current.
Recently unveiled as What The Shell, this seafood feast in the hotel’s restaurant isn’t your run-of-the-mill seafood buffet, but one that shines the spotlight on all sorts of shellfish.
As you would expect (and eagerly so), laid out on the spread is an essentially infinite bounty of lobsters, crabs, prawns, clams, crayfish, scallops, oysters, and even escargot which is a rarity in average buffet selections.
The long open kitchen facing the grass-blanketed interior of Lime is proof that everything prepared for the buffet is fresh, as seafood and shellfish should be. At first glance, the spread can be intimidating for those not an empty stomach, though it’s hard to keep your eyes away from a selection this staggering and presentation this mouthwatering.
But intimidated we were not, as we dug into plate after plate of these seafood delicacies — here are some of our favourites.
A sure-fire way to get your appetite roaring is the light yet generous Seafood Bouillabaisse, served with prawns, mussels and clams.
Unlike the traditional fish stew you’d expect from the French dish, the base of this, instead, features lobster as its primary ingredient. This makes this dish creamy, aromatic, and with a rich lobster taste, without any heaviness that fills you up too fast. Chances are, given how addictive this is, you’ll lick this plate clean.
As for the seafood within, it was all fresh and well-cooked — no mushiness or sliminess.
Speaking of soup-based dishes, one standout signature from the What The Shell spread is Lime’s Flower Crab And Shellfish Claypot Congee, which came highly recommended to us. As someone who loves porridge, I got this in a heartbeat.
Similar to Cantonese congee, the texture of this comforting dish is silky smooth and not too dense. Boiled with flower crabs, prawns and clams over a few hours, this dish locks in an intensely savoury taste that will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Like all dishes with carbs, you might wanna save this for last lest you run out of stomach space.
Often, when you order escargot in a French restaurant, you’re presented with a half dozen, or dozen at most. Naturally, we didn’t attack this free-flow serving at a snail’s pace.
The Gratinated Escargot With Pesto Sauce had us popping them into our mouths one after another; a rich gulp of garlic and butter with each slurp. Squeamish with the thought of eating snails? These are cooked ’til firm and fleshy; no gooey textures here.
Beyond European and Cantonese influences, the key shellfish dishes here also borrow from local recipes.
The Maine Lobster Laksa was simply extraordinary; a brilliant rendition of the hawker food staple. With a robust coconut milk flavour, the broth was flavoured just nice for those who can’t handle excessive spice (it comes with extra chilli paste if you live for the heat).
The noodles were firm enough to be twirled up with a fork like pasta, yet they absorbed the tantalising laksa broth perfectly. The lobster? Absolutely divine, and not drowned out by the mish-mash of strong flavours.
Another dish that’s bound to get your hands dirty is the iconic Singapore Chilli Crab. Similar to the laksa, the eggy, tomato-based sauce was not too spicy, but will have you soaking it up with the mantous regardless.
While the meat inside was firm and subtly sweet, these are relatively small crabs, and your reaped rewards might not justify the amount of cracking and digging you’ll inevitably do. Then again, this is a buffet after all; why stop at one?
You’ll want to scamper around after all that munching to shake off the bloats, and Lime will keep you moving with their Hourly Surprise at 7.30pm and 8.30pm, when mystery dishes are unveiled along the spread for a limited time.
One of these rare dishes is the Maine Lobster With Jalapeno, Garlic And Butter. We felt that this was slightly overcooked, and the subtle spice of the jalapeno didn’t do much to elevate the dish. Still worth a try for anyone who’s loopy about lobsters though!
A toast! Cheers to wolfing down all of these like a beast. What’s on the drinks menu? How do 12 shots of Oyster Shooters sound? We heard you gulp.
Every night, three diners will get a chance to conquer this challenge — full-sized oysters submerged in poisons of all preference, ranging from prosecco and tequila, to vodka and even a Virgin Mary.
Bragging rights aside, why would anyone do this? If you can down all 12 shots in under three minutes, you’ll clinch a spot on Lime’s Shell Of Fame, and even have dinner on the house.
Unfortunately, it even bested us.
The most stupendous part about all this is that this buffet doesn’t just serve you shellfish. In fact, you’ll get the full works.
A Japanese sashimi and sushi counter, a pasta station (with enormous servings), a Chinese food section with dishes like Sweet And Sour Pork With Lychee and Wok-Fried Tilapia With Black Bean Sauce, a local food corner with Satay and Kuih Pie Tee, a dessert spread with goodies like Creme Brulee and Nyonya Kueh — and this isn’t even all of it.
What The (S)Hell? Yes, Lime, you’re really outdoing yourself now.
p.s. And if you do attempt the Oyster Shooters challenge, Godspeed.
Dates & Times: (Daily except Mondays) between 22 September 2017 & 15 October 2017, (Tue – Thu) between 17 October 2017 & 16 November 2017; 6.30pm – 10.30pm
Expected damage: $99 per pax (includes unlimited servings of coffee and tea), $59 per child (between the age of six and 12)
Lime’s What The Shell: PARKROYAL On Pickering, 3 Upper Pickering Street, Singapore 058289 | Tel: +65 6809 8899 | Opening Hours: (Daily) 6.30am – 10.30am, 12pm – 2.30pm, 6.30pm – 10.30pm | Website | Facebook | Instagram
*This post was brought to you in partnership with PARKROYAL on Pickering