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Let's do brunch
WHO can resist brunch - a meal of comforting breakfast food except with the licence to sleep in on a weekend morning. Its popularity has spawned a new culture in weekend dining, and these days, brunch in Singapore no longer means just eggs and waffles with speciality coffee.
More and more restaurants - even those that do not traditionally have a claim on brunches - have also come up with their own menus to attract the growing brunch-loving crowd.
One of them is Japanese restaurant Kinki, which launched a Saturday Bottomless Brunch (starting at S$52++) featuring an a la carte buffet and an option for free-flow sake just earlier this month. Karen Seah, CEO of the F&B group Refinery Concepts which owns Kinki Restaurant & Bar, says the reason is that it had always been a challenge for them to attract traffic on a weekend, being situated near the Central Business District: "Human traffic dampens compared to the weekdays."
So to draw more customers on weekends, they started a new brunch menu and have since observed "an increase in regular weekend brunch-seekers", despite the meal not being typical of Japanese tradition. "Sashimi orders are really high during our Saturday brunch, so we don't think raw fish is, or ever was, an issue for brunch," says Ms Seah.
Growing appetite for brunch
Mexican Street Food eatery Super Loco has been running an a la carte brunch menu since December 2014, and co-founder Julian Tan can attest to the growing popularity of it since he sees about 300 to 400 people come through its doors every weekend for brunch alone.
He says: "Singaporean locals and expatriates love to eat and socialise. Brunch provides the perfect opportunity to do both. We live in a fast-paced world and busy corporate city where many are caught in the daily grind on weekdays; so brunch offers a good opportunity to catch up with friends and family over hearty bites."
He acknowledges the importance of offering diners choices, good service, and something unique in order to attract customers; and that view is shared by executive head chef Nicky Ng of the contemporary Cantonese restaurant Mitzo Restaurant & Bar, which is often fully-booked for brunch on weekends.
Mitzo's brunch menu starts at S$68++ per adult, and focuses mainly on dim sum and roast meats. However, it also has items such as Hokkaido milk cheese tarts, and this diversity appeals to both younger brunch-lovers as well as their families.
Says chef Ng: "There are so many choices out there and well-travelled locals are now more demanding than ever. This is the main reason Mitzo didn't want to just offer a standard Yum Cha buffet. Diners have become more discerning on how they spend both their money and time. These days, time is equally as valuable or even more so than dollars and cents."
Hence, it's no surprise that price is not a deterrent either. In fact, many hotels in Singapore offer lavish buffet spreads boasting multiple cuisines, live stations and free-flow champagne that can cost upwards of S$100 per person per three-hour seating, some even going as high as S$400 per person.
And even so, most of them are so crowded on most weekends that reservations are almost always necessary - an indication of how much Singaporeans are willing to shell out for good food.
For instance, Ritz Carlton's Vintage Champagne Brunch (S$188++ per adult) is often fully booked on Sundays, The Knolls at Capella (from S$128++ per adult) is usually filled up to 75 per cent on average, while Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore's The Line (S$158++ per adult) frequently fills up around 85 to 90 per cent of its 400-seater restaurant every weekend.
And brunch is making waves not just in Singapore, but in the region as well, observes Fabien Gastinel, Executive assistant manager of Food & Beverage at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore. He elaborates: "It appears that brunch is also very popular across Asia, much more than in Europe. I believe that this can be attributed to the dining out trends in Asia, especially on a weekend when one can spend quality time with family and friends over an extended meal."
Even with the gloomy economic climate, Shangri-La's vice-president and general manager, Reto Klauser, has not observed a drop in the popularity of its Sunday Champagne Brunch, which has been running for over 10 years; and feels that brunches are “a must-have” for hotels in this day and age.
Incidentally, the newly renovated Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel is about to launch a “Borderless Sunday Brunch” starting this weekend. General manager Vincent Le Gorrec believes “the Borderless Sunday Brunch will be very profitable and will attract a steady number of guests due to its unique offerings and wide variety of food”.
Off the mainland, even Capella Singapore in Sentosa has had a good response to its brunch since it launched it in 2009. But general manager Alejandro Helbling cautions against establishments resting on their laurels however, especially in the increasingly competitive market. He says: “Sustaining the brunch business is a different ball game. As the Singapore palate is discerning and sophisticated, restaurants are challenged to offer memorable dining experiences of quality food complemented with world-class service.”
Brunches off the eaten track
Weekend brunch at Long Chim
12pm to 4pm, (every weekend)
YOU know brunch culture is making waves when even celebrity chefs are jumping on the bandwagon. Just earlier this year, David Thompson's Thai street food restaurant Long Chim launched its own weekend brunch menu, going at S$60++ per person for sharing portions of at least nine different dishes, plus a choice of beverage.
These dishes are popular items taken from its a la carte menu, such as the dried prawn with ginger and toasted coconut wrapped in betel leaves, spicy pork with rice cakes, grilled lamb ribs with chilli and cumin, grilled eggplant with dried prawns and steamed egg, and coconut cake for dessert.
Yantra Brunch Buffet
11.30am to 3pm (every weekend)
FANCY exploring Indian fine dining for an unusual brunch date? Head down to Yantra by Hemant Oberoi, a three-month-old restaurant featuring traditional Indian dishes reinterpreted in a contemporary setting. Their weekend brunch starts at S$49++ per person, and features live stations, desserts, and salads, as well as main courses such as Murgh Beet aur Khatta Pyaz (chicken, beet, with pickled onions), Martabaan Chole (chickpeas in a pickling spice jar), and Lucknavi Gosht Biryani (lamb biryani from Lucknow).
Weekend Brunch at Super Loco
10am to 3.30pm (every weekend)
If you're tired of the usual Eggs Benedict with hollandaise drizzled over poached eggs on smoked salmon, then maybe try out its cousin Huevos Benedictos instead. This Mexican-styled brunch favourite is served with pork carnitas and chipotle hollandaise (S$19), at the Mexican restaurant Super Loco in Robertson Quay.
They also serve a Taco de Desayuno (breakfast taco, S$7) with egg, potato, parsley, tomato salsa, and queso fresco and Zucchini Quinoa Fritters (S$22) with Mezcal-cured salmon and pineapple habanero salsa.
Kinki's Bottomless Brunch
12pm to 3pm (every Saturday)
Call 6533-3471 or visit www.kinki.com.sg
WHILE most restaurants offer champagne brunches on weekends, modern-Japanese eatery Kinki Retaurant and Bar has a different focus - bottomless Japanese liquor brunches.
Their basic brunch package is an a la carte buffet at S$52++ per person, featuring seven food sections - sushi, sashimi, maki, cold, hot, mains, and desserts. Signatures include Hotate Aburi, Maguro sashimi, and Wagyu Foie Gras Donburi. Diners can choose to top up S$5++ per person for free-flow soft drinks, tea, still and sparkling water, S$25++ for beer, or S$35++ for either sake, shochu, or prosecco.
Mitzo Weekend Brunch
11.30am to 2.30pm
Every weekend and public holiday
Call 6603 8855 or email email@example.com
WHO says brunch has to be a young, hipster affair? Families would feel right at home when dining together at the progressive-Cantonese restaurant Mitzo, which offers a range of traditional dim sums and roasted meats alongside modern creations and beverages.
Their weekend brunch menu costs S$68++ per adult, and offers classics such as the Mitzo special barbecued pork, char siew bun, har gao and siew mai, as well as some new items such as escargot cheese puffs, black pepper cod fish dumplings, and Hokkaido milk cheese tarts. Diners can add S$60++ per adult for free-flow cocktails, Veuve Clicquot champagne, wines, and beers.
Weekend Brunch at Baba Chews
10.30am to 3pm
Every weekend and public holiday
Call 6723 2025 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
IF you want local fare in a modern setting, then head down to the new Baba Chews Bar and Eatery in Katong, which offers a semi-buffet brunch at S$28++ per person. Their menu covers a Continental Breakfast Pantry as well as cook-to-order dishes from the Breakfasts Clipboard Menu, but they also carry two rotating hot local breakfast items every day, such as wonton mee, mee soto, nasi goreng, roti prata or prawn noodles.