ALL YOU CAN EAT: The Knolls at Capella Singapore serves a Sunday brunch buffet that gets its seating capacity filled up to 75 per cent on average.


    Aug 29, 2016


    WHO can resist brunch - a meal of comforting breakfast food that goes well with the licence to wake up late on weekends?

    Its popularity has spawned a new culture in weekend dining.

    These days, brunch in Singapore no longer means just eggs and waffles with speciality coffee.

    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.

    It launched a Saturday Bottomless Brunch (starting at $52++) featuring an a la carte buffet and an option for free-flow sake this month.

    Karen Seah, chief executive of F&B group Refinery Concepts which owns Kinki Restaurant & Bar, said it had always been a challenge to attract traffic on a weekend since the outlet is situated near the Central Business District.

    So to draw more customers on weekends, it started a new brunch menu and has 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," said Ms Seah.

    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.

    He sees a turnout of 300 to 400 people every weekend for brunch alone.

    He said: "Singaporeans and expatriates love to eat and socialise. Brunch provides the perfect opportunity to do both."

    He acknowledges the importance of offering choices, good service and something unique to attract customers.

    That view is shared by executive head chef Nicky Ng of contemporary Cantonese restaurant Mitzo Restaurant & Bar, which is often fully-booked for brunch on weekends.

    Its brunch menu starts at $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 and their families.

    Said 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."

    Hence, it is 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 $100 per person per three-hour seating.

    Some even charge as high as $400 per person.

    Even so, most are so crowded on many weekends that reservations are almost necessary - an indication of how much Singaporeans are willing to shell out for good food.

    For instance, Ritz Carlton's Vintage Champagne Brunch ($188++ per adult) is often fully booked on Sundays.

    The Knolls at Capella (from $128++ per adult) is usually filled up to 75 per cent on average.

    Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore's The Line ($158++ per adult) frequently fills up 85 to 90 per cent of its 400-seat restaurant every weekend.

    Fabien Gastinel, executive assistant manager of food & beverage at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore, said: "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.

    He feels that brunches are "a must-have" for hotels in this day and age.

    Incidentally, the newly renovated Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel is rolling out a Borderless Sunday Brunch.

    General manager Vincent le Gorrec believes the brunch "will be very profitable and will attract a steady number of guests due to its unique offerings and wide variety of food".

    Even Capella Singapore in Sentosa has had a good response to its brunch since its launch in 2009.

    But general manager Alejandro Helbling cautions against establishments resting on their laurels, especially in the increasingly competitive market.

    He said: "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."