PARKROYAL on Kitchener Road served a Peranakan buffet recently.
It was well-received and I heard many people gushing about it.
So when the hotel introduced a Japanese buffet (right), I was curious to see if they can successfully make the switch, especially since I like Japanese food as much as I do Peranakan.
The hotel dubbed its Japanese buffet 'Ichiban! Because It's That Good'.
Unfortunately, it wasn't amazing the night I was there.
Of course, as part of a buffet spread that didn't cost the earth ($30.50 on weekdays, $32.50 for weekends), it was more than fine.
But when you know they did a good job with a trickier cuisine (Peranakan), you expect more from the restaurant.
However, the Japanese buffet spread is a comprehensive one, especially for its price tag. It comes with tempura, sashimi, teppanyaki and cold noodles, among other items.
Let's start with the good: The cold buckwheat noodles were tasty and firm. The dipping sauce was refreshing and it was a pleasure starting the meal with it.
Another good item was the ramen in miso soup - simple but hearty.
I also liked the tempura.
The batter on some items was too thick and obscured the flavour, but generally, it was light enough.
The teppanyaki items were limp, probably from being left too long on the counter and, as mentioned earlier, some of the fried items also failed the test of time.
The sashimi was fresh enough, with a small selection that includes staples such as tuna, salmon and swordfish.
The fish didn't have that sticky feeling of being left out for too long.
The other offerings such as chawanmushi, baked oysters and gyoza didn't quite hit the spot, though I must add that the waiting staff are constantly replenishing the items, so others in the restaurant must be enjoying the food.
The curry dish was disappointing though. Japanese curries are mild and sometimes sweet.
However, it was always flavourful.
The hotel's version was bland and tasted like it came from a tin.
When I asked a Japanese at my dinner table for her overall impression of the meal, she just smiled.
I don't know if it was polite reticence or if the food took her breath away, but I think it was likely to be the former.
The food may not be the main draw this time round, but the good service is certainly the star.
The restaurant is a good cooling break after a day of shopping at the busy Mustafa Centre, which is right behind the hotel.
The hotel tells me it's bringing the Peranakan buffet back in April, so I'm looking forward to that.
It is great when restaurants experiment and try new things.
But for me, it is better when they stick to what they know best, and then do it better.
Parkroyal on Kitchener Road,
181 Kitchener Road (near Farrer Park Exit H)
Buffet is available till 30Apr, nightly from 6.30pm to 10.30pm
Tel: 6428 3160