Royale Mercure Bugis is a fairly new establishment in the Bugis district. The modern hotel sits behind the Bugis+ building which is beside the iconic Bugis junction and Bugis MRT station. The restaurant is located on the third floor of the hotel building. You do not require a key access card to access the common restaurant floor.
The Royale Saturday weekend dinner offers their biggest and largest selections. At first impression, the restaurant does look pretty fancy. It has a royal (Royale) theme with a mix of white and gold trimmings which liven out the otherwise small and compact restaurant seating areas. Seating is offered through a mix of booth seats with really comfy bench seats and regular style dining tables.
Cooked food offerings
Moreover, Royale prides itself food offerings of an International Buffet spread. Offerings at around the mid-tier price range at about $75/head. On offer is small simple counter selection of cooked Chinese dishes. Here, you can find plain rice, beef stew, a choice of soup, fish fillets and fried pumpkins. Their fish slices are not bad and one of the best offerings on the buffet. Judging from the red fish skin, it is highly likely that red snapper is being used It is cooked in white cream sauce.
Additionally, another recommendation is their Beef stew, which you can find in the Chinese style cooked food section. They are braised in brown sauce and are really juicy and chunky.
In addition, starters include a small section of bread and French loaves with a self-help breakfast bread toaster. There is a salad bar, but the greens are not exactly what you call fresh. The cabbage and lettuce are mostly all yellowish with brown edges.
Interesting Mala section
Furthermore, the self-help Mala section is probably a new thing I am seeing here at the Royale. You blanch an assortment of Mala stick items in a choice of three different pot stock flavors. Here you have spicy mala broth, tom yum or Herbal chicken (Pretty nice to savor on its own too). Items on-stick includes delicacies such as fried cubed luncheon meat or sausages, mushrooms or fired dumplings.
Moreover, I found this section bit overwhelming in terms of the variety of food offered for the amount of space it takes in the already cramped restaurant.
Tiny Seafood selection
The Royale offers a Sashimi tray comprising of plates full of Tuna, Salmon Sashimi and sliced Tako (octopus). The cold counter is similarly shared with the seafood section with cooked prawns and fresh Oysters.
The Sashimi is not really top quality. The salmon is rather pale and the Tuna is pretty mushy. But, quality of the cooked prawns is good, if you can actually find any left.
This brings me to a main gripe I have on my visit. I found most of the food counters always empty. Food goes out very quickly. It takes ages for the restaurant to replenish them. For instance, the Tuna and Sashimi section spend more than half the time on my evening remaining empty. This is even on dinner time before 8pm for a buffet which runs till 10pm daily. It was quite a disappointment.
The same can be said for more popular dishes like the Chili crab. You only can enjoy the dish with fried mantou bread. However, the crab are really small is quite impossible to eat them, considering that the restaurant do not have enough crab shell cracking tools to distribute to all tables.
Good Roast and Udon counter dishes
The Royale offers two selections of dishes from a chef-manned counter. Over the counter, you can order Udon soups and three types of roast meats. You can have roast chicken, duck or pork chopped to servings you desire.
Notably, the Asian roast is one of the better meat offerings at the restaurant, a redeeming factor I thought, though you will be hard pressed to find a staff manning the counter there to serve you. The duck is tender and well marinated though tad too bony to my liking. The roast pork is crispy without being too oily. Lastly, your Udon is served with cubes of tofu and topped with a small piece of Japanese fish cake.
Wrapping up the cooked cook offerings is a BBQ section. On offer is an assortment of grilled clams, squids, mushroom, chicken wings, as well as vegetables. It is a sector stashed away from the main buffet spread identified in a corner of the restaurant with a “BBQ” neon sign.
Similarly, most of the foods were never replenished. I never had to try their grilled mushrooms and chicken since they were depleted from 8pm that evening. I only had one try of their Clams and grilled squid before they were completely wiped out.
Dessert selections includes a mix of mini cakes, tarts, and ice cream. There is also a fruits platter with offerings of Honey dew, watermelon and pineapple cut fruits. A dessert recommendation is their fresh durian puree, it is rich creamy without being too overpowering durian. It is best paired with their refreshing mixed Logan cold dessert. Moreover, to top it up, there is a chocolate Fondue with marshmallows and strawberries.
For drinks, you have a selection of coffee maker drinks with a tea box of about 5 different assortments of tea flavors. You have a choice of English, peppermint, green tea and oolong. Water are self-serve., though the hot water for your tea always runs out, which is always a disappointment. I was surprised the entire restaurant has to share a small glass dispenser jug for water.
Moreover, the restaurant is notably understaffed and stretched. Serving staff and cooks are already struggling were struggling to serve a restaurant 60% filled. For instance, there was not one staff at the front counter to serve you on arrival.
Also, about a third of their dishes at any point of time are always empty. New batches of food come out late, plates and cutlery never gets refilled, and empty dishes on your tables are not cleared in a reasonable amount of time. It is not uncommon to return to your table with your old empty dishes still sitting on your table. The experience in the lack of food is worse than that I experienced at Triple three Mandarin Orchard.
Though I am fine with self-help of cutlery and water. I find the long times to replenish dishes, especially early into the evening, 2 hours from the buffet closing is rather unacceptable.
Available 1-1 deals, if you dare
Notably, Royale regularly runs 1-1 deals through banks or reservation site Chope. It does pull in the crowds. But it is questionable if restaurants with such offers are actually capable of handling such influx of customers at the expense of food and service quality. My recommendation is to avoid these restaurants, unless they offer a full international menu or have your research completely done, even more if they are running 50% or 1-1 discounts.
All in all, for $75 per head, there are much better international buffet choices out there with much better spreads, food quality and service. I would recommend Square at Furama riverfront or Asian Market Cafe at around the same price range, but below the premium sub-$90/pax buffet range. The restaurant ought to improve on their severely understaff crew during peak weekends. My experience at Royale at Bugis makes it difficult for me to recommend the establishment. It is quite a letdown.
Must Go! | Worth Trying | Shortlist Optionally | Should Avoid
Royale Resturant Mercure Bugis
Level 3 Mercure Singapore Bugis
122 Middle Road,