Funny story about our review at Hotel Jen... We went to the wrong Hotel Jen at first. We autopiloted towards Hotel Jen in Tanglin because we had been there before and assumed we'd be dining there again. But when we finally made our way to the right Hotel Jen at OrchardGateway, it got our appetites raring to go.
Much like their Tanglin location, Hotel Jen at OrchardGateway is also a quirky, modern hotel with a very young and innovative facade.
Makan@Jen is the most appropriate name for their restaurant which serves some of the best dishes from around the southeast Asian region. Makan means eat in Malay and once you see the spread here, all you want to do is makan sampai gemuk (eating till you're fat).
You don't even have to look very far to find sinfully good treats to makan. As soon as you enter, you're welcomed by an ice kacang machine and a generous selection of toppings for the popular local dessert. Then as you walk through the brightly lit dining area, you will also pass by tempting food stations serving popiah, chicken rice and their house-special of fried laksa fried rice. This local spin on the hotel buffet is a special offering by the hotel for the months of July and August.
The rationale is that often many tourists who stay at the hotel don't know where to go to get good local hawker food. Hence, Hotel Jen at OrchardGateway has decided to bring the best of local hawker food to its guests. The laksa fried rice carried the very distinct laksa flavour to it and was very appetising.
But a must-try is the Hainanese Chicken Rice as it is a local favourite and I believe Makan@Jen does a decent job of preparing this dish.
During these two months, Hotel Jen OrchardGateway will have live cooking stations set up on the terrace of Makan@Jen with chefs cooking up hawker dishes on demand. The hawker promotion is available during the dinner buffet and will feature hawker favourites like roti prata (or canai, as it is known to Malaysians), hokkien mee (the Singapore rendition, of course), chicken satay and oyster omelette.
The ingredients used to cook these dishes are of the highest quality, and as such, Makan@Jen actually serves its hawker fare with a slightly 'atas' twist to it.
The oyster omelette we had is a good contender for any other version out there in Singapore hawker centres. We enjoyed the fresh oysters in the omelette but didn't fancy the chilli sauce very much. Since the omelette itself was tasty enough, we could forgo the sauce.
The chicken satay was marinated and cooked perfectly. What I liked most about the satay was that it didn't come with a lot of fatty parts, which is something we commonly get outside. Even though the fatty bits tend to be a sinful indulgence for many, I have always found it too oily and compromises the seasoning of the meat. So, this chicken satay was just the way I liked it.
Also, we had a really friendly chef preparing the food for us and that made the food all the much better!
Apart from the local fare, Makan@Jen offers a wide spread of fresh seafood like clams, mussels, prawns as well as freshly sliced sashimi.
For dessert lovers, there is also a local addition to the usual buffet spread - nyonya kueh, bubur cha cha with durian and kaya toast. We enjoyed the kueh very much - I have a weakness for the ang ku kueh and the colourful ones!
But if that isn't sweet enough for you, there is a huge spread of ice creams with toppings that range from gummy bears to chocolate balls to chewy sours.
Dining at Makan@Jen is nice because you get quite a nice view of Singapore's glittering skyline after sunset.
The Singapore Hawker Promotion is ongoing on Mondays to Thursdays from 6:30PM to 10PM until August and is priced at $42++.
Makan@Jen Level 10, Hotel Jen OrchardGateway 277 Orchard Road, Singapore 6708 8888