Is it worth $74? We try Sofitel’s limited-time hawker buffet with Janggut Laksa, Old Amoy Chendol and more, Lifestyle News

What if we told you that you could gorge on some of Singapore’s most famous hawker dishes, all in one place?

It sounds like a pipe dream for foodies, but by August 9, it’s reality.

Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa celebrates National Day with Taste of Singapore, which runs from August 5-9 and features all-you-can-eat meals from 15 beloved hawkers:

  • Kim Choo Kueh Chang
  • Janggut Laksa
  • Lee Wee and his brothers
  • Hock Lian Huat
  • Jian Bo Shui Kueh
  • Legendary Bak Kut Teh
  • Nam Kee Chicken Rice
  • Li Xin Teochew Fish Ball Noodles
  • Old Amoy Chendol
  • Rochor Original Beancurd
  • Du Du ready meals
  • Former Original Serangoon Hokkien Mee
  • Ah Ma Lor Mee
  • Hong Seng curry rice
  • Mr Popiah

The buffet, which costs $74++ per person, also includes other local delicacies such as sambal ray, satay, chili crab, and beef cheek rendang.

Seafood lovers can choose from a small but tasty selection of shrimp, clams, gong gong, scallops, black mussels and yabby.

Bespoke Singapore-inspired cocktails are also available for $25 a pop, or $57 for a flight of three.

According to Sofitel, it is Singapore’s “largest and most authentic” hawker buffet and a “one-stop destination for all lovers of local cuisine on this national holiday”.

Is it really? We went to the festival on its opening day (August 5), and here is our opinion.

What to expect

If you’re expecting a hawker center style setup, with each stall owner preparing their food fresh, you might be disappointed.

Although each hawker stall has its own stall, the dishes are actually prepared from the respective stalls and assembled on site by the hotel’s chefs.

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Nevertheless, there have been some successes. We particularly enjoyed the laksa, curry rice, beancurd and kueh-kueh, which tasted quite similar to the versions we tried on the stalls.

There were, however, a few hiccups.

The fried dishes from Lee Wee & Brothers just lacked a bit of crunch.

And one of our most anticipated desserts, Old Amoy Chendol, wasn’t as rich as we remembered, even after filling our bowl with extra coconut milk and brown sugar.

The chendol jelly, although fragrant, also struck us as a bit off. Unlike the longer strands you’d typically be served at their stand, these were a bit out of shape.

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In fairness to the stalls, it’s definitely a feat to perfectly replicate a hawker’s dish in a buffet setting.

Giving back to local hawkers and artists

While Taste of Singapore will end on August 9, the hotel says it aims to give featured hawkers a “platform to earn sustainable income with a long-term partnership”. Even after the event, you can expect to see the booths included in the hotel’s Magnificent Hawker Nights buffet lineup, which runs every Friday and Saturday starting August 12.

As well as Singapore’s hawker heritage, the five-day festival also pays homage to the local arts scene, with live music from budding artists from the Buskers Association and the work of local artist Yeni Lim-B, also known as Yenidraws.

Fun fact: Yeni is behind the adorable blurbs that adorn each hawker stall.

And if the buffet has whetted your appetite, don’t forget to keep the Taste of Singapore guide that will be given to you.

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As part of Sofitel’s Magnificent Hawker Trail contest, diners who frequent all the hawkers in the guide will have a chance to win a luxury stay. According to the hotel, this is part of an effort to drive traffic to physical hawker stalls.

At each peddler, you’ll get a completion symbol upon checkout. Once you’ve visited all of the hawkers, head to Kenneth Fish Stamps in Holland Village Center to pick up a stamp and envelope.

Then submit your application by August 31.

So is it worth it?

Back to the main draw – the peddler’s food – and the main question: is it worth it?

When it comes to value for money, we have to say it’s a no for us.

First of all, $74++ is a pretty high price to pay for a hawker meal, even if you spoil yourself with the offerings from all 15 stalls, and more.

And if you’re an old-school hawker fan with sensitive taste buds, you might be better off heading to the outlets themselves for your fix. After all, nothing beats having it fresh.

But beyond the dollar value, we absolutely love the cause, as well as supporting our local peddler heroes.

For someone who just wants to sample the best of Singapore’s hawker culture in one place and celebrate some of the stalwarts of the scene, this might be the event for you.

When: August 5 to 9, from 6 p.m.
Where: Kwee Zeen, Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa, 2 Bukit Manis Rd, Sentosa, 099891

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