Saturday, July 12, 2008

One Ninety

It was a visit high strung with expectations. After hearing so much about the famed Wagyu burger from One Ninety, my gf and I popped down for dinner one weekday evening. Ironically, it wasn't the ala carte Wagyu burger option we settled for, but the dinner buffet, which serves up limitless portions of food from a variety of 40 dishes on the small bites dinner menu. Think tapas sizes. According to the manager, this is probably the only western buffet in town which prepares your orders when you place them.

Interior & Menu

Located at lobby level of the classy Four Seasons Hotel, One Ninety exudes casual chic with its open display kitchen and wooden floors yet retains its warmth and homeliness through the use of ambient lighting. Such a setting makes One Ninety ideal for that intimate dinner for two and group dinners alike.

Complimentary Bread

Its the first time I've seen bread dished up in a pan, or a square pan for that matter, whose main purpose was to keep the bread warm. The bread was of two different variants - the plain bun and the bun with sweet potato filling. Personally I prefered the sweet potato one as it was, well, sweet.

Chicken Consommé with Shrimp Dumplings & Mushroom Cappuccino with Roasted Porcini

Soups to start off our meal. The clear chicken consommé was light on the palate with a slight tinge of tomato after taste which I personally found refreshing. The shrimp dumpling that found its way into the soup was chock full of huge shrimps that were crunchy to the bite. Very good.

The relatively thick mushroom cappuccino hinted very heavily of mushroom (duh!) but did seem a little too bland for my liking. If you like lighter stuff, then this is probably for you. As for me, a dash of salt will do the trick.

Portobello Tempura Fries with Horseradish Dip

This is a rather interesting dish and is essentially portobello mushrooms coated with tempura batter and deep fried. The batter wasn't too thick which meant less oil absorbed and allowed the taste of the portobello to permeate through. Add a drizzle of sweet sauce (Terriyaki I believe) and you have a nice sweet crispy mushroom dish. Great as a snack!

Coriander Tuna with Sesame and Citrus Pea Salad

Cooked on the outside yet rare on the inside, the tuna slices were void of the overwhelming fishy aftertaste that usually plagues tuna dishes. A dash of sesame seeds give it aroma and a slightly oily texture. A nice dish but didn't exactly wow me because for one, I've had better.

Honey Glazed Duck Breast with Périgord Truffle Sauce

I like all things duck so I'm probably biased when I say this dish was quite good. The right amount of chewiness sans the strong fowl taste had me relishing the duck slices. A pity it was a tad too dry.

Risotto Balls with Kikorangi Cheese Dressing

The first disappointment of the day and it had to be the risotto balls. Risotto with Kikorangi cheese (a New Zealand blue cheese) encrusted with flour and deep fried I believe. Terribly bland with the risotto a tad too mashed up for my liking. Between the 2 of us, we finished half a ball. Guess that says a lot, doesn't it?

Angus Beef Cheek with Beetroot Mash and Shiraz Reduction

Melt in the mouth tender and served on a bed of beetroot mash that tasted like a sweet version of mashed potatoes. Whats not to like about the Angus beef cheek?

Green Lip Mussels Casino

The green lip mussel, which hails from New Zealand, was recommended to us by our wait staff. And although I don't really like mussels, I must say that it was a good recommendation. Coated with what seemed like garlic spread and baked till the spread hardened and turned a beautiful golden brown, the mussels had not so much a hint of the raw seafood taste. Only gripe I had was the excessive salt levels in it.

Black Soy Prawns with Pumpkin Confit

Undoubtedly the pièce de résistance of our mains, I am unsure where or how to begin complimenting this dish. The prawns were huge, succulent, sweet and carried tons of bite. And the accompanying sauce gave it a light artificial sweetness which complimented the inherent sweetness of the prawn. Second servings are highly recommended.

Organic Pork Belly on Tropical Asian Salad

The ubiquitous pork belly and a personal favourite of mine. The skin was crackling crispy without the meat being too salty and the fats gave it a nice chewy texture. However, the health conscious me would prefer a leaner cut. Talk about being 自相矛盾.

Crispy Crab Cakes with Black Pepper Sauce and Asian Greens

I'm rather partial towards crab cakes so it didn't bowl me over or anything. Made with real crab meat, the crab cakes were savoury without being too fishy. I guess thats how good crab cakes are supposed to be like, no?

Thinly Sliced Turkey Breast with Blueberry Vinaigrette

Salty. That was the first word that came to mind as I chewed on a slice of turkey breast (more like ham really). The taste of the blueberry vinaigrette was very faint and when eaten with the turkey, virtually non existent. Rocket leaves with walnuts are nice though.

Seared Foie Gras Celeriac Puree and Truffle Foam

Foie Gras is the epitome of sin in terms of food indulging due to its adverse impacts on the waistline and the heart. The seared foie gras offering had a slightly crispy exterior but was a little too soft for my liking. I would like to think that One Ninety's foie gras was worth it but sadly, though decent, it isn't something that I'll want to order again. The health and taste equation just doesn't tally.

Grilled Grain Fed Sirloin with Creamy Fondue and Guinness Sauce

Grilled to medium well instead of medium rare, the sirloin was still reasonably tender and tasty. But it did seem a tad too dry though. Overall a decent but forgettable dish.

Lobster Thermidor

The lobster was fresh and crunchy with a slight milky taste to it. Lacked the distinctive thermidor taste (derived mainly from mustard) though. I would have liked this member of the crustacean family better if it was bigger but hey, its a buffet, so I can order as many as I want, never mind the hassle.

Crispy Cod Fish with Oriental Mango Slaw and Wasabi Aioli

You can seldom go wrong with cod fish as the fish itself has a very smooth texture. This simple dish accentuates the smooth flesh by encrusting the fish in flour to contrast the soft slick smoothness of the flesh to the crispy exterior. Nicely done except that it was a wee bit too oily for my liking.

Seared Scallops with Avocado and Pimento Coulis

Topped with roe, the scallops were a tad too soft for my liking and could have done with more searing in my humble opinion. Honestly, I couldn't quite decide if the pimento coulis (cherry pepper sauce) added any flavour to the scallops.

Peanut Butter Chicken

A very interesting dish created by marrying peanut butter with chicken. The result? Tender chicken cuts dunked in a creamy concoction with the occasional peanut chunk that hinted very strongly of salty peanut butter. Not exactly my cup of tea really as I can't really accept the salt + peanut butter combination.

Hazelnut Royaltine Cake

Excellent would be most apt in describing the hazelnut royaltine cake. Crunchy biscuit base with finely toasted hazelnut paste and rich chocolate just the way I like it, not too sweet. The accompanying scoop of ice cream was excellent as well, smooth and milky. As with the soy prawns, second helpings of this is strongly encouraged.

Raspberry Breton with Passion Fruit Sorbet

Another excellent dessert, the raspberry breton had nice smooth mousse slouching atop raspberries and a soft biscuit base with a milky undertone (ps: Can anyone tell me what breton is? I'm guessing its a brand of biscuits). The passion fruit sorbet was sour sour sour!

Traditional Vanilla Crème Brûlée with Wild Berry Compote

I couldn't quite make out the vanilla beans in the Crème Brûlée but I'll give it the benefit of a doubt due to its rather impressive quality. The layer of sugar wasn't too thick or overburnt and didn't stick to my teeth when chewed on while the pudding was smooth and light. On a side note, the wild berry compote tasted sweet.

Warm Chocolate Cake Served with Passion Fruit and Lemon Sorbet

I know of many people who are suckers for warm chocolate cake and yours truly falls within that category. However One Ninety's rendition failed to ignite any sparks. Vicious and not too sweet chocolate enveloped by a semi hard cake crust, the cake's texture tended a little more towards the pudding side which was a little discomforting to me. And yes, I've had better ones.

Folding Layer Mango Tiramisu

The second disappointment for the night and one of my well liked desserts, the humble tiramisu. For starters, the sponge was a little too hard and there was no trace of alcohol whatsoever (I'm an alcoholic). However, what was interesting was that the faint sweetness from the mangoes permeated through. If only the sponge had been moist.

Bitter Chocolate Mousse with Lemon Curd

An unremarkable but decent enough dessert. Smooth and lightly bitter mousse coupled with sour lemon curd which smacked strongly of what tasted like alcohol.

Strawberry and Tomato Cobbler with Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Another most interesting dessert. The strawberry and tomato cobbler had a nice oven baked flaky pastry covering which revealed a warm mixture of strawberries and tomatoes when broken into. Overall it tasted like very well made apple pie except that it was tomato and strawberries in lieu of apples. I must point out that although I am not a fan of tomatoes, this dish really impressed me. And the icing on the cake came in the form of the smooth and wonderful vanilla ice cream which was made from vanilla beans.

Walnut Napoleon with Espresso Ice Cream

There are only 2 positive things that I can think of with regard to the walnut napoleon. First, the amount of walnuts present was generous. Second, the espresso ice cream was smooth and didn't come down too heavy on the coffee taste. Other then that, this whole dessert tasted normal.

Soy Bean Panna Cotta with Sesame Tuile

To be honest, the panna cotta would have tasted rather bland if not for the red beans, which fortunately, were a little sweet. But therein lies the problem. The taste of the red beans overwhelmed and suddenly, its like eating red bean with pudding! I liked the sweet sesame tuile that came atop the shooter glass of panna cotta though, but not the mochi wannabe that was stuffed with crushed nuts and came across as way too dry.


One of the best dinners I've had this year cost about $122 for 2 pax. I will make no attempts to hide my disdain for buffets but for this case, I'm more than happy to put my prohibitions and reservations aside. From my understanding, this buffet is still under evaluation and will run till the end of July before the management will decide whether to extend its run or take it off. In my humble opinion, with food, variety and aesthetics this good, the buffet is here to stay. Coupled with excellent and non condescending service (especially to a guy who was wearing shorts and flip flops), One Ninety has truly shown its mettle and ranks top on my return list.

Likes: Great food, great ambience, great service, can redeem for parking
Dislikes: Nothing

Final Verdict:
Value for money:7/10


Address: Lobby Level, Four Seasons Hotel, 190 Orchard Boulevard

Contact: 68317250

Opening Hours:

Breakfast: 6:30 am – 10:30 am daily

Lunch: 11:30 am – 3:00 pm daily

Dinner: 6:30 pm – 10:30 pm daily

Brunch: 11:15 am – 3:30 pm Sundays

High Tea: 12:00 noon – 5:00 pm Saturdays


Addendum: As of 1st Aug 2008, One Ninety has upped its prices from $52++ to $68++.


red fir said...

Woa! You ate so much and didn't feel nauseous at any one time! :P

Oh, the breton here seems to be a misnomer coz Far Breton is a traditional dessert from Brittany France. It's a custard flan, something like a custard tart sans base. I'm not sure why the raspberry breton here is named so though.

Is this buffet available at lunch? So very interested. :)

Anonymous said...

omg! you are really tempting me with this. everything looks nice, except the price tag. Kind of broke now, will see how : )

Anonymous said...

Great review. This is definitely one of the more unique and exquisite buffets around; tapas styled. $52++ is quite reasonable for dinner i thought. The Line already cost $55++ for lunch. May try it soon. Thks!


fatpig said...

Ice: the power of small portions :P
I think its available for lunch too but call them just to double confirm.

Rata: Thanks for the compliment!

His Food Blog said...

Evil! You just gave me good reasons to indulge in another buffet and another excuse to expand my waistline.

I reckon this will be definitely more worth it then vibe at orchard pan pacific. ;)

Anonymous said...

I would say very worth the money for the food eh.. :)

fatpig said...

Yea its worth the $ IMHO.

Camemberu said...

Omigosh, it's quite rare to see you ladle praise on any establishment, so this made me sit up and pay attention! The dishes look fantastic! Thank you for this superduper bumper post!

fatpig said...

Thank you for your kind words camemberu! =)

HairyBerry said...

was tempted to try the wagyu burger.

now, i'm kinda distracted but that set you had. absolutely gorgeous. at only about $50+ somemore! ;)

fatpig said...

Nic, I'm going back real soon to try the wagyu burger, which incidentally, is on the lunch menu.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I've just called to find out if the buffet is still available in Aug and I was told that the price will increase to $68 ++ for Aug.

fatpig said...

wow they bumped up the price real fast, an increment of $11.80 after taxes. Now I got to think hard before trying it again :S

Anonymous said...

Yup and they emphasized that the price is for Aug so I suppose it will just keep going upwards?? anyway.. i've made reservations for next week.. hopefully it's money well spent.. oh ya.. there's a credit card discount of 10%... not sure which credit cards though and applicable for which days cos i'm going on National Day Eve so discount not applicable.. shucks...

Anonymous said...

oops forget to mention that don't have lunch buffet.. only dinner...

fatpig said...

Hope you enjoy yourself! =)

red fir said...

woa price hike so fast! hmm...must be bcoz of your review FP! you hinted it was very reasonable!
-> cheap... Hmmph. :(

fatpig said...

It was an honest mistake :P I shouldn't have posted the review. :S

red fir said...

anony: Do note the items that are served! Thanks! Coz I expect One-Ninety to reduce the variety of the ala carte buffet after feedback and price increase. Then your money won't be exactly that well spent!

FP: I think you should make an addendum to your review at the end to warn your readers about the price bump. :O

fatpig said...

Okay, have added the price change in my entry! :D

Anonymous said...

Hi.. I'm the anonymous that left earlier comments... I went last Friday.. Spent about $188.30 (we were charged $24 for 2 large bottles of Evian which we foolishly ordered)

Excellent service and great environment! As for the food... I couldn't get used to the taste of some of the appetizers like Baby Spinach and Baby Octopus.. Luckily I was saved by Chicken Consommé and Mushroom Cappuccino. There was nothing I did not like about the main dishes.. loved the prawns and beef cheek.. yummy! My fav for the dessert were Warm Chocolate Cake and Crème Brûlée!

Thanks for the recommendation!

fatpig said...

Anonymous: Glad you liked it! =)

Anonymous said...


After reading your review, I thot of giving it a try. But when I call up, they say they do not serve buffet dinner. Only semi buffet for lunch. Did they stop the buffet?

fatpig said...

Hi anonymous, I'm not sure if they stopped it recently but if you read the previous comments, someone just went to try it on national day. Either the staff made a mistake or they stopped it really recently. =)

Anonymous said...


I gave another try. Asked the guy again whether they serve buffet dinner. He still say 'No'. I asked whether they stop the buffet cos I was certain they had in in July and Aug. Then he said that was a small bite buffet(which is still on-going). Are they trying to encourage a-la-carte orders by saying there is no proper buffet?

But, yippee! I still managed to reserve a table.

fatpig said...

Maybe the guy was just being sticky. Their ala carte stuff isn't really expensive and the mini bites buffet is now 68++. :S

Anonymous said...

Yeah,I enjoyed myself and will go back again. In fact I intend to try their ala carte order of seafood tower($208) which they state is good for 2-4pax. It comes with both warm and cold seafood. It has abalone, lobster, crab, clams, osyters. Cannot remember the rest.

fatpig said...

I was eyeing the seafood tower as well, alongside the wagyu burger of course :P

Anonymous said...

They have the best Sunday Brunch around. Cost about $207 for 2, sans champaign. can't remember the champaign brunch price. The Line may have the quantity but when it comes to quality there's no competition. For brunch if you want a bright morning feel go for the Line. For food go for FS.

The staff did not make a mistake by saying there's no more dinner buffet. The small bite dinner is in essence not a buffet. I almost made it to the small bite dinner just when they launched it at the promotional price of S$50something but was told it was full house. Now that the price has been adjusted not too sure if I should just stick to their brunch.

Newbie Foodie said...

Doods, the small bites buffet is no more. lol, just check it out and you'll find out.

Anonymous said...

Indeed the small bites buffet dinner is no more. They even denied serving previously! $68++ is for ala-carte set dinner only for 4 courses which is over-priced!

fatpig said...

Thats rather sad. Looks like inflation is kicking in.