Journey through Southeast Asia at Marina Bay Sands’ RISE Restaurant

Published - 22 March 2022, Tuesday
  • RISE Restaurant

Marina Bay Sands’ signature restaurant RISE has unveiled an all-new buffet concept celebrating Southeast Asia’s most treasured delicacies. Nestled at the lobby of Hotel Tower 1, RISE invites diners to feast their way through the jewels of the region beginning with Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore.

The soothing tones of emerald blue, jade green, light ash timber and a touch of elegance with bronze create a lush dining sanctuary that allows guests to feel right at home at RISE, (pictured above) as they relax in plush booth seats partitioned by undulating timber screens.

Led by Executive Chef Colin Thumboo who brings more than 40 years of culinary experience around the region, RISE is a culmination of expertise collective of its 52-chef brigade, giving rise to a glorious line-up that celebrates the region’s most authentic flavours.

In addition to lunch and dinner1 , guests can enjoy comforting breakfast dishes like Vietnamese pho and Singapore style laksa, as well as nasi lemak and lontong, among other pan-Asian and Western favourites like premium cold cuts and cheese platters.

Diners are whisked away to distinct parts of the region as they are greeted by buffet ambassadors dressed in colourful ethnic costumes by the staff-served stations. Traverse the vibrant streets of Thailand and experience the unique charm of Vietnam’s floating markets, or satiate cravings for spice in Malaysia before tucking into familiar wok-fried signatures and Peranakan dishes in Singapore.


Hailing from the Land of Smiles, Sous Chef Aumpha Jarutus from Bangkok, Thailand, shares legendary recipes from his family and culinarians he has met through the years before moving to Singapore in 2011. As a child, he used to pound mint leaves, shrimps and spices in a wooden mortar for hours – essential ingredients that are soul to his signature green papaya salad and green curry with chicken. (pictured above)

Enjoy the bowl of goodness with Vietnamese rice paper rolls with prawns, slow braised pork belly and lotus sprouts salad, or with responsibly sourced grilled threadfin fillet, a superior protein marinated in quintessential Vietnamese spices like lemongrass and blue ginger.

The star of the show is the Australian beef cheek rendang, (pictured below) layered by Minangkabau herbs and spices which contribute to its extravagantly complex flavour. Pair it with the beautiful blue butterfly pea nasi lemak, or choose from a variety of complementary sides like crispy ikan bilis, peanuts, sambal goreng tahu tempeh, rolled egg omelette and fried chicken wings. The station also houses a variety of curries made using Indian handi pots, such as lamb vindaloo, chicken tikka masala, butter chicken, as well as a whole grilled seabass tikka.


Finally, come home to Singapore and indulge in the city-state’s iconic local delights, from succulent chilli crabs and har cheong gai (fried prawn paste chicken) made using a whole spring chicken, to Singaporean chef Stella Tan’s grandmother’s recipe of Chinese rojak at the live station.

Here, Chef Thumboo presents the unique Peranakan Tok Panjang, a traditional, extravagant feast starring his family’s recipes of ayam buah keluak (chicken in spicy tamarind gravy and native keluak nuts) and bakwan kepeting (pork & crab meatball soup), complete with babi pongtay (Nyonya-style braised pork), ikan gulai (fish curry), Nyonya chap chye (braised mixed vegetables), kerabu bok nee (cold black fungus salad) and nasi kerabu (blue pea glutinous rice).

Cocktails lovers will delight in tipples (S$20++ per glass) such as the Miss Joaquim, a Tanglin Orchid gin-based cocktail shaken with laksa leaves, flower blossom, aperol and fresh lemon juice, and the refreshing Siam Margarita, starred by a Cointreau infused kaffir-chilli and lemongrass concoction steeped for days, before being shaken with Patrón Reposado and fresh lime juice.

Guests can also enjoy creative mocktails (S$12++ per glass), from Memories of Saigon, featuring a house-made avocado concoction with Vietnamese coffee and milo, to Penang Jem, a unique blend of sugarcane juice, lemon juice, egg white, nutmeg and longan.

a. 1 Bayfront Avenue, Lobby, Hotel Tower 1 Singapore 018956

e. [email protected]

w. RISE Restaurant Website

t.  +65 6688 5456​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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RATED 7.5 / 8

When I received an invite to Rise at Marina Bay Sands I was curious about how it would turn out. I hadn’t been to a buffet experience for so long. In fact I could not remember the last time I had eaten at a buffet - probably at one of the hotels when we last had our family holiday, definitely before the Pandemic hit.

We were never big fans of hotel buffets. Quality of food with mass production was one thing. Sharing tongs at food stations where food displayed lay uncovered and hygiene risk didn’t impress us. The worst was food wastage which saddened me greatly, seeing piles of food on plates left unfinished at many tables. 

On arrival, we were greeted by Daniel, GM at Rise,who also hailed from Australia. Sylvia our other Expat Choice contributor and I connected immediately with him and our love for Southeast Asian food. It was like we hit the jackpot as 70% of food showcasing at Rise were specialty cuisines in this Region. 

Chef Colin Thumboo, the man behind the scenes, showed us around different food stations - Western, Chinese, Malaysian/Peranakan, Indian, Thai and Vietnamese. Gosh what a lay out and a dessert counter too. 

A separate small station which provided salads with organic fresh home-grown herbs displayed on a shelf that resembled a little greenhouse. Creative! From the baker, German pretzels to mini Chinese pork floss buns. We would probably have to skip these carbo-filling but yummy delights.

As with many buffets, the most popular station was right at the entrance of the restaurant. Spectacularly strewn piles of seafood on ice and colourful Japanese sashimi/sushi, this counter was enticing. Our tummies couldn’t help but rumble. We were ready to sit down and dig in. This was going to start our meal. 

On the weekend brunch and dinner, with a little extra premium price, lobsters and oysters were thrown in. A worthy consideration for seafood lovers! There were tuna and salmon sashimi choices and many different Maki’s from California rolls, tuna mayo, Tamago (Japanese rolled omelette) and Unagi (grilled eel) sushi. A special rainbow coloured maki too which was the signature creation at Rise. I thought of my daughter who would have loved even just the look of it.

What caught my eye was that all these food stations were protected by tall glass panels with a little window outlet for chefs to pass food to diners. Bingo! That’s how I like my buffet! They should have done this a long time ago. I also felt there would be less food wastage because diners were served a portion and could come back for more. Such an improvement from the old days! 

Highlight of this buffet was starting with the seafood platter. Every table received a one-time but huge plate of seafood containing generous amount of fresh prawns, yabbies, mussels, clams, huge crab claws and meaty giant crab legs. Presentation of this plate and quality of seafood blew me away. 

Crab meat was sweet and juicy, yabbies were firm in texture and flavourful while prawns were amazingly fresh too. This platter was already worth half the buffet cost on top of all the other yummilicious offerings we had yet to try. An amazing value deal! 

I must say the 3 sauces provided for the seafood platter were brilliant. There was the traditional thousand island mayonnaise, a piquant Thai green chilli sauce and a Chinese-style vinegary seafood dressing. Every sauce fit the seafood served, so hats off to whoever came up with this trio sauce idea. We were guessing Chef Thumboo!

After the scrumptious and luxurious starter, we were ready for the specialty cuisines packed with different spice kicks. Bring it on! The Chinese station offered Singapore signatures like Hainanese chicken rice, an elevated version made with GGTM French Poulet (Anxin chicken). The first in Asia to receive certified humane certification, this was just another quality find at Rise. Most restaurants did not use premium ingredients due to costs, let alone serve it on a buffet. So this was no ordinary Hainanese chicken rice! 

We moved on to the Thai / Vietnamese station where green mango and pomelo salad were authentic and refreshing. An unusual dish of Vietnamese lotus sprouts salad captured most of my attention as the crunchy texture was such a delightful first time encounter for me. We initially thought it was Chinese cabbage! 

Then more starters like Pandan leaf chicken and fish cakes, freshly made Vietnamese rice paper rolls with prawns and lemongrass chicken skewers. All executed to perfection! We could really taste the fresh, quality ingredients used in all dishes which overwrote my past ordinary buffet experiences. 

For mains, the all-time favourite krapow (Thai basil stir-fry with chicken / pork mince) so outstanding served over rice. Green chicken curry with its distinct flavour from Sous Chef Aumpha Jarutus’ legendary family recipe. All these dishes such a perfect match for rice. No place for noodles! We had to skip our favourite Vietnamese Pho. There would have to be a next time….

A real struggle for Sylvia and I to tackle this buffet with good strategy as everything looked so appealing. A good problem to have that I am sure you will encounter too. So many dishes to try, you’d need a large cast iron tummy to savour it all. 

The classic dishes like rendang and lamb curry were somehow elevated with better and fresher ingredients, topped by legendary family recipes from one chef to the other. It was a brand new Southeast Asian cuisine experience for us. We were definitely coming back with friends and family as everyone could have what they wanted! 

In case you are a meat lover, amazing roasts and cuts were on offer too at the chef’s corner station. With seasonal carvings like NZ lamb, Australian rib-eye  or 200 days grain-fed Tomahawk, how could anyone go wrong?

Despite rounds and rounds of satisfying savoury delights I was still geared up for dessert. No way I was walking out of this buffet without desserts, especially for someone with a sweet tooth like me! I was told that cempedak goreng was a must-try. From the jackfruit family, cempedak hails from Malaysia and Indonesia. Not available all year round this seasonal fruit had a very distinct flavor. Like durian you either loved it or didn’t. 

I must say this was a real star on its own. Having tried all kinds of fritters in my life this topped it all. Such an unusual creamy taste. They were made in small bite-sized pieces. I reckon I could have popped at least 7-10 pieces down easily. But I had to keep space for other fare! Drooling just thinking of it! 

Out of the 7 amazing cakes on display I picked strawberry shortcake and a lemon meringue tart. Sylvia was stunned by the latter especially the ultra-crunchy tart base, something we had not experienced anywhere else. 

As for the strawberry shortcake, I spotted vanilla beans on the thick layer of fresh cream which explains the extreme aromatic vanilla aroma and taste. It was definitely not just any artificial vanilla essence. I was blown away by the quality details found in these cakes. 

One more dessert worth mentioning was the ice chendol. Sylvia and I had to share one but it was by far the best chendol I had ever had. Yes, best chendolfrom a buffet station! It’s hard to believe. Chendol in my past memories were either too powdery or too doughy. 

The chendol texture here was soft yet chewy, with a tiny bit of stickiness. It then further melted in my mouth, freshness is all I could taste. Pure Gula Melaka syrup made me slurp this down in seconds, despite my belly which was about to explode. 

Rise offered such a comfortable space for an ultra-smooth dining experience. Natural light coming through high ceilings and windows in the hotel lobby provided for such a cozy atmosphere. I could easily get in holiday mood while enjoying various delicacies on offer. 

I noticed a trolley of wines and spirits passing by offering drinks to diners. My memories of travel suddenly surfaced. We were catching up on missing links for the last 2 years! 

Thanks to Chef Thumboo the new buffet concept at Rise completely overwrote my underwhelming buffet experiences in the past. With these amazing quality cuisines this was going to be my regular spot to come back to with friends and family. 

Why crack my head thinking of a restaurant to go to when I could have so many cuisines under one roof! I’ll bet you will feel the same when you do try it out yourself.


RATED 7 / 8

Elegantly set up with a buffet spread, boasting stations for different South East Asian cuisines, Rise is located at Tower 1 of Marina Bay Sands. I was there to taste an all-new buffet put together by Executive Chef Colin Thumboo.

Appealing to all my visual senses, it was a lovely sight to step into this naturally lit space and see such an extensive buffet. Fibre glass panels skirted around buffet counters as part of Covid protocols, so diners could feel safety and hygiene around food displayed.  

It was an honour to have Chef Thumboo walk us around the buffet showcasing every station that represented dishes of the Region. Accompanied by our other Expat Choice contributor Arisa Chang, we needed a strategy around this buffet. It all looked so good we didn’t know what to omit.

Rise made some decisions for us. Every table received a cold seafood platter on arrival, prawns, Australian Yabbies, mussels, clams and crab topped on ice. A wonderful start to this ever so reasonably priced buffet of $62++ for Sands Rewards LifeStyle members (which is free to join).

Rise was full to capacity on this weekday afternoon. I was not surprised. What a great experience of top quality food, great service and an exquisite ambience. It was a warm feeling and lovely sight that I had missed over the last two years. I felt in celebratory mode, hopeful for a future that would have people connecting again.

As I sipped on a glass of Pinot Grigio, the trio of sauces that accompanied this seafood platter seemed to have something for everyone. Black vinegar usually served with a hot and sour soup was my pick, beyond the usual Thai spicy and traditional Thousand Island ones.

Executive Chef Thumboo came by to explain that some of the Peranakan dishes were cooked from his grandmother’s recipes. We decided those were must-try dishes. But first, our strategy was to dive in to some starters from all counters.

Thai fish cakes, chicken wrapped in pandan leaves, prawn on sugar cane and Vietnamese spring rolls, all so fresh and tasty. We had to have some salads – papaya and pomelo too to fire off our taste buds.

The popular sushi and sashimi counter was also laced with a queue. We got some on our way back as the crown thinned out, a way of working through food stations without wasting time. We were on a mission to try the variety on offer.

The Peranakan station beckoned to us first. We had some blue pea rice which had a fantastic texture of chewy and soft, made to perfection. This went so well with the mother of all Malaysian dishes, a beef cheek rendang, truly a stunner. Having lived in Malaysia for a big part of my life I felt this was very authentic.

Another must-try was the Bakwan Kepeting (pork & crab meatball soup), Chef Thumboo’s grandmother’s recipe. I love clear soups as it cleanses my palate. This was light but full of flavor. Likened to a double boiled soup that is cooked for hours, I could imagine these clean flavours nurtured over a slow fire to extract what I conveniently spooned into my mouth.

The infamous Ayam Buah Keluak, another hot favourite with a very unusual tasting sauce was no different. Hard to crack I could imagine chefs behind the scenes scraping bits of paste inside the nut which form the sauce for a dish. A typically Peranakan dish, this is revered by those who love this distinct taste. The Buah Keluak tree is indigenous to Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore and produces a wrinkled dark brown nut with a tar-like flesh inside.

If I had a double tummy I would have had a plate of nasi lemak which is rice cooked in light coconut milk to give it a light fragrance paired with at least six condiments that looked so delicious. But it was something I knew I had to reserve for the next round, as with the mouth-watering noodles at the Vietnamese and Thai stations.

Since I was on the spice trail I thought it best to attack the Indian station next. It was beckoning with delicious treats like lamb vindaloo, chicken tikka masala, butter chicken and seabass tikka. How could I possibly not try this? They were some of my fav dishes. Very finely put together with superior marinades and sauces, a must try especially knowing how hard it would be if you had to attempt cooking these at home.

Unlike many buffets where food is thrown on counter tops for volume, the spread at Rise was top quality. Coupled with an ambience of natural sunlight streaming through high glass ceilings, Arisa and I could have sat there all day, taking in casual afternoon hues. A seriously wonderful spot to chill with a few friends anytime of week.

While there were loads of dishes on the Western and Chinese counters, I could not fit another morsel in. Ready for dessert I sauntered down to grab a chendol (shaved ice with coconut milk, brown sugar, kidney beans and green rice flour strips), a typical Peranakan dessert. With less sugar this hit the spot.

Refreshing from the spicy food before this, was a great accompaniment of ondeh-ondeh (glutinous rice balls coated with coconut shreds filled with brown sugar). Just for something Western I had one of my all-time favourite desserts, a slice of lemon tart. I loved the crunchy tart pastry - sign of a great pastry chef! I would head back to this dessert again next time round.

Coffee ended this amazing array of food that I had just consumed in two hours. So worth it I did encourage friends as soon as I got home, to rock on down to Rise if they were wondering where to go to next.

Included in the buffet are free flow sodas at the beverage bar which include about six varieties – lemon ginger, passionfruit, spicy mango to name a few. Sugarless sodas are also available for those watching their waistlines so check out the beverage list.

General Manager Daniel gave us insights into background information we would not have known. A herb garden for instance, growing outside Rise, for use with cocktails and mocktails. Fresh from the garden I guess. How much better can it get? We decided a walk through after lunch would be a good idea.

Calling it a day we looked around to find that most tables had been vacated. We were in our own little bubble tucked away from the noise of life in these lush surroundings. Rise truly lived up to being a plush and relaxing getaway.  

This all looks absolutely delicious. I've always loved visiting MBS but usually the sky park and bars at the top - but this brings a whole new level of engagement to having a long lunch, or dinner under the massive interiors the foyer location has to offer guests. Great write up 😊🥰👀👀👀

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