The Lobby Lounge @ Shangri La Hotel does The Local Spin-off at their semi-buffet lunch

For the first time ever, 7 legendary hawker dishes come together at the luxe Shangri La Hotel's Lobby Lounge at lunch. It's as easy as choosing one main from the range before digging into the plethora of local delights on the rather extensive line-up which feature Popiah, Kueh Pie Tee, Braised Pork Belly, Ayam Buah Keluah, Cheng Tng, and finally concluding the debauchery with nonya kuehs from HarriAnns.

I applaud the hotel's ability to recalibrate something as easily accessible as Bak Chor Mee and make diners see it with fresh eyes; albeit for the convenience of choosing from the best representations in the land without the long sufferance of queueing nor enduring the outdoor elements. As a bonus, each monthly edition of new Heritage Weekend popups features a live station headlining a beloved hawker classic - Prata from Springleaf Prata Place in March and the much lauded Chendol from The Coconut Club in April (happening today!).

No expanse was spared in ensuring that replicates of the renditions matched the authentic version - this included immersion programs and unlabelled spice mixes from the hawkers themselves. In fact, as a bonus, some of the signature dishes have been further elevated with premium ingredients such as the addition of fish maw in the soup of Seng Kee's Bak Chor Mee and Alaskan King Crab in Dragon Phoenix's Chilli Crab.

The spread includes a plethora of local delights including Braised Pork Belly, Kueh Pie tee, Chap Chye and more...
Aside from the main affair, there are other things to be happy about at The Lobby Lounge, where an intimidating spread of dishes, blanket undulating counter tops. The top tier unveiling piquant local sides such as achar, century egg with pickled ginger and spicy Chinese style cucumbers, amongst many other. Dishes sticking closest to the brief of local fare do the best, The popiah's clumsy outlook is offset by aromatic spices within. Big chunks of fish are suspended in bright orange steamed fish paste in the Otak which you'll undoubtedly attempt to revisit a couple of times too many. As enticing as it looks, the Ayam Buah Keluak is dry and the stuffed nut could use more seasoning and better packing form to prevent it from dislodging during the braising. Braised pork belly on the other hand, is pure comfort.
Otak, a very deligtful spice ridden version on the line
Ayam Buah Keluak
Braised Pork Belly - an irresistible treat which you treat your weekend calorie bank to
Kueh Pie Tee and Popiah in the making
Kueh Pie Tee
Right: Chilli Crab and Mantou by Dragon Phoenix
Where mains are concerned, there are certain dishes to celebrate and certain moves to scratch your head to. The Chilli Crab and Mantou by Dragon Phoenix for instance has a bitingly sour flavor that I could not care for.  It seems that fresh tomatoes are used instead of the mainstream but understandably bastardised method of using tomato ketchup, hence culminating in an overtly tangy edge that wasn't quite a fair match for the golden pillows of fried mantou.

L: Bak Chor Mee with Fish Maw Soup by Seng Kee; R: Prawn Noodle Soup by Beach Road Prawn Mee
Bak Chor Mee, usually deemed as cheap hawker fare is animated with the addition of thread fin fish maw in the accompanying bowl of pork bone and dried sole broth which rises from under the 'sidekick' impressions to claim star power. The real emphasis tho, for me, would have to be the aromatic Prawn Noodle Soup by Beach Road Prawn Mee which would convert you into a maniac soup-sipper. It's naturally sweet, a good balance of land and sea flecked with just the right amount of tanginess from the egg noodles to wring a certain nostalgic factor.

Katong Laksa by the Original Katong Laksa (Janggut)
The Katong Laksa adapted from The Original Katong Laksa aka Janggut Laksa in Katong is top notch. Dished up with broth prawns and poached chicken (aka the traditional way), this bowl of comfort is a spice assault and will have you visiting the iced Teh Tarik to mollify the wallop of flavor.

L: Beef Rendang by Rumah Makan Minang; R: Bak Kut Teh by Legendary Bak Kut Teh
Last but not least, other ethnic groups sees representation in the form of Beef Rendang presented by Indonesian Nasi Padang specialist Rumah Makan Minang. Be warned, as that very addictive Sambal Ijo Padang will unleash certain fury upon your unsuspecting palate if you're not careful. Championing heritage cuisine is the offering from Legendary Bak Kut Teh, a family run restaurant that uses fresh Indonesian pork and Sarawak peppercorn to derive that rich, slurp worthy broth.

Assorted Kuehs from HarriAnns
It would be a damm shame if you reached the end of your meal, and are devoid of stomach space to navigate the dessert section. The hotel paying as much attention to the aesthetics of their display as they do with the sourcing of their desserts - HarriAnns and it's multitude of rainbow color Nyonya kueh looking especially enticing on Peranakan crockery. My favourites being the Kueh Talum and Pink Fairy Kueh - disclaimer: desserts tend to rotate, so don't be wistful if you're not met with your personal favs.

The Local Semi-Buffet lunch is priced at $38++ during weekdays and $42++ at weekends. Judging by the looks of it, the crowds are lapping up the latter seating, with a full-house predicament on my last visit. They would probably owe it to the longer feasting periods of 11 30am to 4pm as compared to the 2 30pm on weekdays, but faced with the comforts of those sprawling couches and no meetings to chase after, I say that this foodie deal is a no-brainer.

The Lobby Lounge
Lobby Level, Tower Wing
t: 6213 4398

Operating Hours:
Weekday Buffet
Monday - Fri: 11 30am - 2 30pm
Sat, Sun and PH: 11 30am - 4pm

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