Japanese food remains one of my favourite cuisines; so when Triple Three announced a Hokkaido-themed buffet for a limited time, I knew where my next dinner was. Presented by Group Executive Chef Shigeru Akashi of Meritus Hotels and Resorts with ingredients specially flown in, expect nothing short of ultra fresh seafood and authentic cuisines from Hokkaido.
When navigating my way to Triple Three for dinner, I got lost. I found it odd that the ground level lobby of the hotel (which I would assume is where most guests enter the hotel from unless they got an airlift) is a small area serviced by a few staff and elevators. There were not many conspicuous signs but I eventually saw that the hotel lobby and restaurant was on the fifth floor.
Do not be fooled by the restaurant’s odd placement of its entrance, walking further in opens up to a huge dining area. The setting of the restaurant exudes a nice romantic ambience, which is quite rare for a buffet restaurant.
However, the second dining area further in is half a level lower; this might come across a little condescending to more sensitive guests who are being seated at a lower level than other guests. Even further in, the romantic ambience of the restaurant is lost. The mood lights were replaced with bright fluorescent and it felt like I was back in Din Tai Fung for dinner.
Buffets are always a challenge. One needs to do a preliminary walk around first to evaluate all the dishes served and plan accordingly. No fool is going to start with fruits first. Proper planning leads to satisfaction on both your tummy and wallet.
I started off with the sashimi – always a great way to warm up the appetite. The sashimi is guaranteed freshness, as the chefs stationed at the counters would slice for you when requested. It must have been a long day because the chefs did not seem too pleased when placing the sashimi on my plate.
The scallop sashimi was amazing. Given Hokkaido to be a place of fresh seafood, it came as no surprise how tasteful the scallop was. (If I was forced to swallow silk on day, I am pretty sure this is how it would be like.) The scallop was succulently sweet and it went down the throat ever so smoothly.
The Hokkaido Chirashi looked like a practice place for junior chefs learning to make sushi. It was a huge bowl of rice served with bits of sashimi and vegetables. It looked messy, and to my horror, I found a scale in my dish. I would have at least expected the junior chef to have scaled the fish properly!
Next up was the fresh seafood section. The king crabs were the highlight of the seafood and have all been cracked open for easier consumption. Despite the huge size of the crabs, the flesh was still firm and sweet. Every joint, from the pincers to the legs, was filled to the brim with meat (unlike those hollow crabs you often find in markets).
The oysters tasted fine, and the top shell ‘stubu’ (a first time for me trying the dish) tasted mildly marinated to the likes of fish eye.
I then moved on to the Fried Seafood section. My adventurous nature took control and I decided to try the deep fried cod fish sperm.
The fish sperm was a little sticky in texture when chewing, and the sweet chili dressing helped to mask any foul taste it may have.
The Mentaiyaki lobsters, which the counter chef claimed was really good, were definitely a must try. The dish was served with melted cream sauce over it, which complimented the lobster meat well.
With the fried items, there are two options of sauces – Tonkatsu and Mayonnaise. The former has a very sharp taste to it, so I would recommend using it sparingly. Mayonnaise is mayonnaise. I’m sure you don’t need me to review it.
The tonkatsu sauce goes best with the deep fried salmon, but I felt the batter of the salmon was a tad too thick and over fried. The tonkatsu sauce definitely helped to mellow it down. The Kani Cream croquet was nice, but the dish could have been better if they went easy on the cream filling. The grilled cod fish was firm and sweet, but it was cold.
I suspect my eating pace might have been too slow, it was near closing time and the dishes began finishing and were not replaced. Additionally, most of the food was getting cold. I took some food from the “Ghengis Khan” station, which was probably the only thing I could get freshly cooked.
While the food came piping hot, the overpowering garlic shadowed the taste of the food. The beef, prawns and vegetables were surprisingly similar in taste of garlic, but of different food textures.
The Indian food section was surprisingly good, and my only regret was not having it sooner. While the Fish Curry was cold by the time I had it, I could still taste the rich flavours that went perfectly well with the roti prata.
The Wagyu beef, as tempting as it sounded, was laden with a huge amount of fat on the top. I would have thought wagyu beef meant that the beef was well marbled with fat all around; but this excessive amount of fat on top of the meat was too much to handle. Looking past the fat, the beef was tender and juicy, cooked to a medium rare consistency.
The ramen there was nothing spectacular, and is definitely worth a miss unless your stomach is a bottomless pit. Save space instead for the Hokkaido chawamushi – it was cooked just right. The chawamushi was like liquid egg that somehow managed to hold its shape when eating.
Finally, it was desserts. The ice cream was a specialty as it was hand made by the chef. It came in 6 flavours, of which the sesame and yuzu were the must tries. The yuzu had a refreshing fruit taste to it, while the sesame ice cream gave an interesting and unique flavour. The salted ice cream may have sounded interesting, but it is just vanilla ice cream with salt.
It is most unfortunate that my small stomach was already filled to the brim at this point and was unable to stuff any more food. There was a wide array of desserts, but as it was near to closing time, most were finished. Nevertheless, the pictures look alluring enough; and I welcome any comments if you have tried the other desserts.
The Hokkaido Fair is only available for dinners and Sunday brunch. At a price of $138++ per person, it may come across as an expensive dinner. However, an additional $28++ per person would entitle you to a flow of Stone Haven wine, Sapporo beer or chilled juices. Additionally, DBS Cards entitle you to a 2-for-1 deal that makes the buffet $69++ per person. Now that looks like a good bargain given the vast amount of high quality food the buffet promises.
Looking past minor setbacks, that included certain dishes not being replenished and food getting cold nearing to closing hour, the Hokkaido Fair is definitely worth a revisit. I was most impressed that the food was prepared only as you order to ensure freshness of the dishes. My parents are huge seafood lovers, and I am certain they would enjoy the meal at Triple Three. Now where did I put my DBS card again?
Did it turn us on?
Triple Three definitely shed a new light on buffet standards!
333 Orchard Road
Tel : +65 6831 6288
Dinner: 6.30pm – 10pm
Sunday Brunch: 12pm – 3pm