Straits Kitchen, Grand Hyatt Hotel, Singapore

When I first arrived in Singapore, I watched an episode of Anthony Bourdains “The Layover” where he spends something like 36 hours in Singapore and gives what even he admits is a surprising amount of praise to the Grand Hyatt and in particular their local buffet restaurant Straits Kitchen. I had planned on taking my parents when they visited but we never quite got around to it, they preferred eating at the real hawker centres than a hotel version of it and to be honest I quite forgot about it until one of my guests at work invited me to dinner there to say thank you for a party I had arranged for her.

We were amongst the first to arrive at 6:30pm however the restaurant quickly filled up and queues began to form for the most popular items. We started with popiah and laksa, the popiah in particular were excellent but I have to admit I don’t really “get” Laksa, although their version was just fine. We then had a selection of beef, mutton and chicken satay BBQ’d to order as we waited. \

Whilst Straits kitchen doesn’t have the same atmosphere as Lau Pasat, the satay (mutton in particular) were very tasty and the satay sauce just the right combination of sweet and spicy. I passed on the double boiled herbal chicken soup (made with black chicken) and moved over to the Indian section where I tried naan fresh out of the tandoor, chana masala, tandoori chicken in mint marinade and some tandoori fish as well as some paneer and a very nice dry vegetarian curry which I neglected to get the name of (stupidly) I can never get enough Indian food and all the dishes I tried were very good (although I prefer the chana masala at my local hawker centre!)

The Otak Otak was a great example of the dish, almost still in fillets as opposed to being a paste and the other Malay/Peranaken dishes I sampled (mostly vegetarian items) were all very good too. Even as I type this I am embarrassed by how much I ate (in my defense I never had a plate bigger than a side plate and took literally a spoonful of everything I ate, so it was really more of a tasting than anything else!) but I still found room for some fresh fruit and a little sago pudding with gulu malaca and a spoonful of very good durian ice cream.

The dinner buffet is $54 and I really think this is excellent value – yes hawker stalls are cheaper but the quality of the cooking and the selection of dishes is excellent and something that you should definitely do with friends visiting from overseas as well as taking them to real hawker centres of course.

We sat next to a couple of Americans on a business trip who we got chatting to and talked them through most of the dishes there, every time we went to the buffet we would get something for them to try and explain which was great fun and really sums up the Singaporean attitude to food which I love. The lunch buffet is even cheaper at $44 – so really you have no excuse not to visit.

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