Is it worth $74? We try Sofitel's limited-time hawker buffet featuring Janggut Laksa, Old Amoy Chendol and more

Is it worth $74? We try Sofitel's limited-time hawker buffet featuring Janggut Laksa, Old Amoy Chendol and more
PHOTO: AsiaOne/Kimberly Anne Lim

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

It sounds like a foodie's pipe dream, but from now till Aug 9, it's reality.

Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa is celebrating National Day with Taste of Singapore, which runs from Aug 5 to 9 and features free-flow food from 15 well-loved hawkers:

  • Kim Choo Kueh Chang
  • Janggut Laksa
  • Lee Wee & Brothers
  • Hock Lian Huat
  • Jian Bo Shui Kueh
  • Legendary Bak Kut Teh
  • Nam Kee Chicken Rice
  • Li Xin Teochew Fishball Noodles
  • Old Amoy Chendol
  • Rochor Original Beancurd
  • Du Du Cooked Food
  • Old Original Serangoon Hokkien Mee
  • Ah Ma Lor Mee
  • Hong Seng Curry Rice
  • Mr Popiah

The buffet, which costs $74++ per pax, also includes other local delights such as sambal stingray, satay, chilli crab and beef cheek rendang.

Seafood lovers have a small but tasty selection to choose from: prawns, clams, gong gong, scallops, black mussels and yabby.

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

According to Sofitel, this is Singapore's "biggest and most authentic" hawker buffet and a "one-stop destination for all local food lovers this National Day".

Is it really though? We dropped by the festival on its opening day (Aug 5), and here's our take.

What to expect

If you're expecting a hawker centre-style set-up, with each stall holder whipping up their dishes fresh, then you might be disappointed.

While each hawker stall has its own booth, the dishes are actually catered from the respective stalls and assembled on-site by the hotel's chefs.

Nevertheless, there were some hits. We particularly enjoyed the laksa, curry rice, beancurd and kueh-kueh, which tasted pretty similar to the versions we've tried at the actual stalls.

There were some misses, though.

The fried items from Lee Wee & Brothers were missing just a little bit of crunch.

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

The chendol jelly, while fragrant, also looked a little off to us. Unlike the longer strands you'd typically be served at their stall, these were a tad misshapen.

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

Giving back to local hawkers and artists

While Taste of Singapore will end on Aug 9, the hotel says it aims to give the featured hawkers a "platform to earn a sustained income with a long-term partnership". Even after the event, you can expect to see the stalls included in the hotel's Magnifique Hawker Nights buffet line-up, happening every Friday and Saturday from Aug 12.

Besides Singapore's hawker heritage, the five-day festival also pays tribute to the local art scene, featuring live music from budding artists from the Buskers Association and the work of homegrown artist Yeni Lim-B, also known as Yenidraws.

Fun fact: Yeni is behind the adorable blurbs which adorn each hawker booth.

And if the buffet has whetted your appetite, be sure to keep the Taste of Singapore Guidebook you'll be given.

As part of Sofitel's Magnifique Hawker Trail Contest, diners who patronise all the hawkers in the guidebook will stand a chance to win a luxury staycation. According to the hotel, this is part of an effort to drive traffic to the hawkers' physical stalls. 

At each hawker, you'll obtain a symbol of completion upon payment. Once you visit all the hawkers, head over to Kenneth Fish Stamps at Holland Village Centre to collect a stamp and envelope.

Then, mail out your entry before Aug 31.

So is it worth it?

Back to the main draw — the hawker food — and the main question: is it worth it?

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

First off, $74++ is a pretty steep price to pay for a hawker meal, even if you stuff yourselves silly with the offerings from the 15 stalls, and then some.

And if you're an old-school hawker fan with sensitive taste buds, you might be better off heading down 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 the support for our local hawker heroes.

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

When: Aug 5 to 9, from 6pm
Where: Kwee Zeen, Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa, 2 Bukit Manis Rd, Sentosa, 099891

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