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Home / Chinese Cuisine / Hot Stone: Steamboat & Grill Buffet – Too good to be true!
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Hot Stone: Steamboat & Grill Buffet – Too good to be true!
By Alfred August 29, 2009
Readers' Rating
7.69
(29 rated)
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Editor's Rating
7.80
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Hot Stone: Steamboat & Grill Buffet – Too good to be true!
Fast Facts
Food:
Buffet Steamboat
Type:
Chinese Cuisine
Setting:
Restaurant
Price Range:
S$11 - S$20
Rating Range:
7 to 7.9
Location:
Punggol
Food Centre:
N/A
Recommended For:
Dinner
Reviewed by:
Alfred

Punggol is one of those places in Singapore where very very few Singaporeans have been to. Why I’m saying so is because a lot of people I’ve spoken to about the old days of Punggol have not a clue what I was talking about. Well I’m referring to the Punggol End area where now only stand a jetty and a coast guard post. For those who have not been to this part of Singapore in the old days, in the past there stood 2 restaurants(though looked more like kopitiams), Punggol Choon Seng and Punggol Hock Kee and they were dishing out extremely authentic Cze Char food like Chilli Crabs, Deep Fried Baby Squid, Har Lock( black sauce prawns), Mee Goreng(Punggol is the birth place for Chinese style of mee goreng.) and many other seafood dishes.

Back then Punggol was still an ulu place and you have to travel single lane roads from Hougang area all the way to the end of Punggol, which used to be something like 1 hour journey. The scene was quite terrific whenever we were there, with cars jamming up the whole place and I distinctly remembered there was even valet parking offered by by one of the restaurants there though my father was always worried whenever he handed over his car to those ‘Ahmads’ because you don’t know whether will your car or your car keys be safe in their hands!

Sometime in the 90s, Singapore gahment decides to ‘chase’ these 2 restaurants out of that place because of the Punggol 21 project blah blah blah and so ended were also this legendary seafood hideout place at the Punggol End. What happened next was that very few people know where these 2 restaurants moved to and then a lot of imitations start popping up in other parts of Singapore putting ‘Punggol Seafood’ in their signboards scrambling for Choon Seng and Hock Kees’ ex regulars.

I have no idea where Choon Seng moved to but Hock Kee moved next door to an open space beside a construction area which is where the Punggol Marina stand today. When Punggol Marina was completed, Hock Kee moved into it and upgraded itself to become a high end restaurant. All in all I’ve dined there about 3-4 times and the last time I went, I realised the menu has completely changed and I were to find out later that Hock Kee’s boss had passed away. The family then sold away the business and well known Taiwanese Huang Ching-biao was the head chef there. And that was to be the last time I dined there.

Now Punggol Hock Kee’s banner still hangs proudly somewhere along the road today as you drive towards Punggol Marina and the signboard in Punggol Marina still calls itself the original Punggol Seafood, probably hoping to attract back again the nostalgia customers of yesteryears but yet we know that the business had changed hands a few times now.

Punggol Marina is the only country club in Singapore that’s open to public. That’s only because the place is too far out of the city and so it’s opening themselves up hoping to attract people to go there to do fun activities like prawning and yachting.

So such places undoubtedly would have eating outlets sprucing up. Indeed if you are into buffets, there are 3 restaurants there for you to choose. Near the entrance would be the newly opened Sakura and it’s concept is Charcoal Grill And Shabu Shabu which is something different from the rest of it’s outlet. Walking towards the pier, there is one that calls itself Hot Stone though I’m pretty sure they have nothing to do with the Hot Stones at Clarke Quay. Further in, there’s one that’s called Boatel Beer Garden & Steamboat. Not sure if it’s the same Beer Garden that once stood at Marina South but they look very similar. Then if you’re not into steamboats, there are also a couple of Cze Char stalls right at the end.


Seafood spread left side


Marinated meat spread right side


Seafood spread right side

Of the lot, the best value meal has got to be Hot Stone. Sakura was really impressive with their spread though the price of $28+ was putting us off. Hot Stone’s grill and steamboat buffet was going for $13.50++. Now that is the kind of price that will make you wonder what kind of food you’re going to get right? After walking through the spread we were so shiokadodoly impressed! For that price we saw things like half shell scallops, half shell mussels, fresh bamboo clams and even abalone! Every kind of seafood you can think of, it was there. And not only that, the meat section can almost put Seoul Garden’s spread to shame! Almost! Every kind of meats were there and marinated in many different flavours. Then there is a fridge that has all kind of vegetables you can think of. I dare say that’s the biggest spread of vegetables in any buffets I’ve ever eaten all my life. You can even find things like Enoki mushrooms, Abalone mushrooms. Now these kind of things aren’t exactly the cheapest in the market so you can imagine our big wide grins as we were walking through the spread. And that’s not the end yet. There were also a cooked food section where there are miscellaneous food like Stir Fry Vegetables, Fried Rice, Fried Bee Hoon, deep fried finger food like nuggets, chicken wings etc etc, sushi, and even pastas! All that for $13.50++! I don’t know about you but we were all thinking it’s all too good to be true. It definitely did feel like we were suddenly teleported to the most ulu part of Malaysia.


Steamboat BBQ Buffet by the pier


The pot on the grill


The pot on the grill

So while taking our seats, we were wondering how they’re going to make money with this kind of ‘ho liao’ and we were saying that there’s only 2 possibilities. Either it’s an illegally ran buffet where they don’t pay rental or they are renting that area cheaply from Punggol Marina. Of course there is also another possibility that we did not discuss much though we were fully aware that it’s the 7th month. Well for that I volunteered to come back to the same place the following week to check whether is this a real buffet or just a plot of empty land and nothing else!

Jokes aside, our steamboat arrives with the fish flavour’s stock which was what we chosen. There were also Tom Yum and Chicken stock for you to choose. As greedy as we can be, we retrieved almost everything that looks good on the counter. And the funny thing is this, the food tasted very good! Definitely not some cheapo standard, if you’ve been to Marina South to eat bbq buffets, it’s even better than that. The cooked food was delicious and the flavour was seriously authentic and it’s something I’m even happy paying $13.50++ for without the steamboat part.


Vegetables


Marinated meat


Abalone, seafood


Grilled half shell mussels


Grilling meat


Grilling prawns

Things started to get fishier and fishier. I mean, such good food at such good price, I almost wanted to pinch myself to see whether am I in a dream. Suddenly, a thought came to mind. As all the tables were lining up beside the piers without any shelters, it left me wondering, what would happen if it starts to rain and I was telling my friends that it would be interesting to see how they manage this.

By now we were getting into the thick of action, grilling the food and enjoying the wonderful steamboat. Oh have I mentioned that the fish stock was fantastic? It was so good that I kept shaking my head while drinking it. And I haven’t told you that there was 2 big pieces of fish maws that came in the pot right? And the fish meat that we retrieved from the shelf is grouper’s meat!

Fishy.

Extremely fishy. I was sure that there’s no way they can make money on this. Not even if they don’t pay rent for it. Not even if those staffs are working for the company without wages!(There was about 15 staffs).

But before my mind wanders further, or rather before our mouth can continue munching away the delicious food, tragedy struck. We started to feel raindrops. I then looked at the sky and it indeed was quite dark. I turned to my back and what greeted me was this ferocious rain that came horizontally along the pier like wanting to wipe all of us out for good! It almost looked like a Tsunami out of the sea. Every single person(almost 60 to 80 people) eating the buffet scrambled for shelter and barring a few coconut trees, the nearest shelter isn’t exactly very near and we all found ourselves drenched inside the Punggol Marina building. Ah ah! So that’s the catch! No wonder it’s $13.50++! It was indeed quite humourous. The funny thing was the staffs were no where to be seen and it’s as if they’ve all went into hiding. All that was left were the empty tables and the food and the whole place somewhat looked like an illegal buffet being busted LOL! With that we have no choice but to leave though not exactly full. But of course we are going to come back again. For $13.50++, that’s seriously the best buffet I’ve eaten for that price and what’s more, I was extremely eager to find out is this a 7th month thingy at work or what.

A week later I came back. This time we were armed. I already checked the weather forecast and made sure that it’s not going to rain. Unexpectedly what greeted us at the entrace was a different price. It’s $17.50++ now and the staff was saying they have to do so because of higher material cost blah blah blah. Of course it’s still going to be bloodie worth it considering how much I enjoyed my meal the other time though it was ‘free’ then.

My second time there was shiok though the first time was better, for some reasons. We got the refill with Tom Yum soup and it was disappointing. Tasted somewhat like some stock with a only a slight hint of lemon grass and chilli in it, not power enough. The fish soup is seriously highly recommended . There are about 6 types of chilli sauces and it’s the first time I’ve seen belacan being served at a steamboat buffet. If you’re going, I’ll suggest you go earlier like about 6pm so you can enjoy that sunset moment while enjoying your delicious food, otherwise if you pop in at around 7 to 8pm, all the fantastic views cannot be seen and also you’re going to have difficulities telling whether the food is cooked or not.


The vegetables fridge


Vegetables fridge night shot


Meat and Seafood fridge


Chilli sauces area


Steamboat by the pier night view


Signboard, was $13.50++ only a week ago


Signboard, now $17.50++ already!

For $13.50++, it was going to be the best value buffet for me. For $17.50++, maybe. The canned drinks are selling at $2++ each, so it all depends whether you need to drink a lot. If you do, your bill may escalates to quite high. All in all, this meal looked like an Marina South kind of grilled buffet but ‘upsized’ in terms of value since they have all kinds of seafood. The only thing that’s missing from the seafood selection is crab. But Boatel Beer Garden & Steamboat at the end of the pier has crabs in their spread so if you’re a crab person then maybe you should head that way.

Price: $17.50++

Recommendation: Fish flavoured stock for the steamboat.

Conclusion: Would have been extremely good value for $13.50 though $17.50++ is still quite good. Surprisingly the cooked food has a certain level of authenticity. I’m suspecting a good chef is doing the work. The buffet spread for steamboat is fantastic. All kind of seafood that can cost quite a bit in the market. Clearly Hot Stone is sincere about delivering value though I must say that this style of BBQ is very similar to those previously at Marina South, maybe 2 notches higher in terms of value. Hygiene wise is very similar.

Likes: Soup and seafood selection.

Dislikes: Tom Yum soup was bland. Would be good if the grill can be done without the aluminium foil, surely will taste better.

Address Overall Rating


Hot Stone (Operate by silent Pte Ltd)
Marina Country Club
600 Ponggol Seventeenth Avenue
Singapore 829734
6pm to 3am daily


Food:
8/10 ★★★★★★★★☆☆ 

Value:
8/10 ★★★★★★★★☆☆ 

Service:
7/10 ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ 

Ambience:
9/10 ★★★★★★★★★☆ 

Cleanliness:
7/10 ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ 

Overall:
7.75/10 ★★★★★★★¾☆☆ 


Readers' Comment(s) : 19
Pinky says:

Wow. It was only $12.80 when I visited it beginning of the year. The food is not bad but not relaly that fantastic also.

Posted August 31, 2009
TY says:

Weekdays and weekend same price ?

Posted August 31, 2009
Shaiful says:

that area is call punggol point..famous for fishing and catch crabs.

Posted August 31, 2009
Alfred says:

Really, then they’re definitely quick on the increment. The food is not the best but 2 notches above borderline for me.

Posted August 31, 2009
Alfred says:

Yeah, nothing mentioned for weekday or weekend price difference. Anyway we went on weekend.

Posted August 31, 2009
Alfred says:

Yup Punggol point.

Posted August 31, 2009
Jasmine Tan says:

The spread looks good and I am a lover of steamboat! Also I like alfresco environment while eating steamboat. Will give it a try 1 day soon.

Posted September 2, 2009
Jasmine Tan says:

I think the stall increase the price from $13.50 to S$17.50 1 week later cause they learnt their lesson that customers run away after the heavy rainpour so they factor in this risk before increment! HAHAHA.

Posted September 2, 2009
Alfred says:

Well i just tried the sakura charcoal grill at punggol, it’s head and shoulder better. Wait for my post.

Posted September 5, 2009
Alfred says:

i think $13.50 was a temporary price only. I knew they couldnt sustain the business on that price.

Posted September 5, 2009
wei says:

Nice reading about the good old punggol…i rememebered there used to be 4 seafood restaurants at punggol end, plus one indian shop selling drinks and mee goreng just beside the bus terminal…missed those days…

Posted January 10, 2010
Alfred says:

4? That must be very long time ago, possibly before I was brought there.

Posted January 10, 2010
jac says:

Went there excitedly after reading yr entry on hotstone! but upon reaching there, we couldnt find hot stone!!! ): theres only sakura and sunset pier there. any idea what happened to hot stone?

Posted January 24, 2010
Alfred says:

What time were you there? I don’t know what is sunset pier. Possibly closed, I’ll give it a check soon.

Posted January 27, 2010
Eagle says:

After reading your recommendation i make a trip down to Marina Country Club.Wanted to have a ‘good’ feast as well as to feel the ambient.

To my disappointment, i search all over the country club, try asking around.Answer to me is ‘i’m not sure’ ‘there isn’t such store’.

Conclusion, this restaurant is no longer exist.

Posted March 18, 2010
huii says:

so is hotstone still there? is there sunset pier too?

Posted August 10, 2010
heng says:

how much is the buffet now? it’s still there right? anything to eat there from noon time?

Posted December 13, 2011
Rinzrihanz says:

Is Halal Certified?

Posted January 6, 2012
=3 says:

it’s 7th month when alfred went thr guys~!! nw we wont find the hot stone store yet since hvnt 7th mth yet hoho!!

Posted January 8, 2012
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