We’re a nation that’s big on celebrity chefs and most folks would happily dine at any eatery helmed by a big name. In the case of Malaysian TV star Chef Wan, this devotion is hardly justified. His halal buffet restaurant 1 Market by Chef Wan has attracted flocks of adoring fans from Singapore and around the region since its opening—so much so that we only managed to get dinner reservations on our third attempt.
Priced at $23.80 (lunch) and $35.80 (dinner) on weekdays, and $29.80 (lunch) and $39.80 (dinner) on weekends, the place offers diverse options: There are charcuterie, seafood and Japanese sections, as well as an entire bar dedicated to Asian home cooking. You’d think there’d be at least a handful of dishes at 1 Market by Chef Wan that would make us come back for more. Sadly, the gulai ayam (curry chicken) was mediocre at best, the tempura (zucchini, crab meat, eggplant and pumpkin) cold, and the expected stars—grilled sambal stingray and beef rump—impossibly dry. Luckily for us the place had not yet begun to fill up so we could have a leisurely time—turns out the service staff thought the same.
Table service was sloth-like and many parts of the display were empty. Eventually, things got so desperate we had to gesture for things like grilled salmon, fresh prawns and even rice to be replenished. If you play for the quality-over-quantity team, best to sit this one out.