Last Updated: November 22, 2020
Unless you live in the vicinity of Raeburn Park, you probably haven’t heard of The Garden Kitchen, a lush flowery restaurant serving generous platters of fresh seafood and zi char (cook and fry dishes). Until I got there myself, everything about them confused me—the incongruity between the Chinese-sounding menu and cafe-like garden-inspired interior setup, the sheer variety of dishes offered, and the eyebrow-raising prices.
The Garden Kitchen offers an All You Can Eat a la Carte Buffet from only S$19.90 onwards, with over 40 dishes to choose from. As keen as I was at the prospect of indulgence limited only to my stomach capacity, I won’t deny that the staggeringly affordable price had my eyes narrowed in scepticism.
Nevertheless, the dishes did sound attractively appetising to my breakfast-less stomach as I read the menu while riding the East-West line down to Outram.
I walked in to a spacious restaurant generously decorated with verdant hanging plants and flowers that gave justice to their name. Even though I found the design a little incongruous to the family-sized round tables that you’d typically associate with stuffy Chinese restaurants, it all worked out to be a comfortable place to dine in.
I’ve got to admit that I’m pretty much a seafood rookie after four years of vegetarianism. Even after, as my sister calls it, ‘sinning’ again, seafood has not been very high up my list. Regardless, I’d like to think my relative indifference to seafood can be an impartial judge of The Garden Kitchen’s quality.
The first thing on the table was the Mentaiko Baked Scallop, which I regarded with a mix of apprehension and anticipation. Mentaiko, which is marinated Alaskan pollock fish roe, has often overwhelmed me by its briny umaminess even in seasonings.
As I expected, that rich flavour came through. Coupled with the creamy baked scallop, this tiny bite-sized morsel still managed to fill the mouth and nose. Unless you’re a big fan of all things seafood, this plate of four is definitely one to share to avoid a flavour overdose.
Feeling quite encouraged, I moved on to the Wasabi Mayo Prawn, which involved three dainty little fried prawns lined up on an even daintier boat-like plate. Fried in crispy batter and coated with a light green mayonnaise sauce, the prawns retained enough crunch and chew at the same time. I had mentally prepared myself for a rude mustardy hit from the wasabi (Japanese horseradish paste), but it turned out milder from being tempered by the creamy mayo.
The black sesame seeds and capelin fish roe also added lively bits of texture that kept the palate engaged throughout.
Nothing on the table would’ve beat the Cold Seafood Platter With Oyster in terms of the apprehension it caused me. As we know, raw seafood can be a hit or miss.
The first bite immediately allayed that apprehension. Without a doubt, the seafood had the icy freshness that would have any seafood connoisseur reaching for more.
Though I did wish there had been some seasoning or flavouring to add dynamism to each bite, the lack of such distractions certainly kept all my attention on the freshness.
It wouldn’t feel like a complete seafood experience at The Garden Kitchen without the Signature Black Pepper Crab. This whole mud crab is slathered in a dark black pepper sauce that is spicier than you’d imagine. What I’d imagined would be a benign kick turned out to be a fiery burn that really needed a lot of crab meat to temper.
In fact, I found it so unexpectedly spicy that I was doubly relieved to have the Buddha Jump Over The Wall to turn to next.
This clear broth with its mild sweetness was a much-needed salve to my burning tongue. With pieces of fish maw, mushroom, wolfberry and parsley, this soup spelt a distinct contrast of textures.
Because of the inferno caused by the Signature Black Pepper Crab, the volume of soup went down so rapidly that I was sorry there wasn’t another bowl on standby.
Thankfully, we took a break from the spicy food for the Cheese Baked Lobster, a robust platter of melted mozzarella and cheddar pooled inside the lobsters.
The combination of lobster meat and salty cheese felt like a playful break from the rest of the dishes on the table. The melted cheese had me feeling like a child munching on my ham ‘n’ cheese sandwich again. Yet, the unmistakable lobster meat kept the whole dish feeling refined, creating one of those dishes that reminds me of childhood with a nod to the present.
The Garden Kitchen definitely delivered on quality and freshness in their seafood, even at such affordable prices. If you’re enthusiastic about robust flavours, a generous feast, and of course, premium fresh seafood, The Garden Kitchen is a great place to spend your time.
Their All You Can Eat Ala Carte Buffet starts at S$19.90 onwards, with the option of a premium upgrade from S$10nett. What’s more, for the dinner buffet, one dines free with every three paying adults.
Despite its obscure location, The Garden Kitchen was actually teeming with patrons when I got there. After trying the food, I can see the attraction—it’s hard to turn away from the prospect of an affordably priced fresh seafood buffet, even in the middle of a weekday.
With such popularity, reservations are highly recommended. You can make your booking here, choosing between the Lunch (11am to 2.30pm) and Dinner (5pm to 9.30pm) timeslots. For more information, you can also contact +65 8125 8827.
Alternatively, The Garden Kitchen also offers islandwide delivery here.
Expected Damage: The All You Can Eat a la Carte Seafood Buffet is available from S$19.90 onwards
*This post is brought to you in partnership with The Garden Kitchen.
Our Rating: 4 / 5
The Garden Kitchen
10 Raeburn Park, #01-28/29/30 , Singapore 088702
10 Raeburn Park, #01-28/29/30 , Singapore 088702