Need a Cantonese restaurant for a big family dinner? We've sussed out four of our favourites around Singapore.
From zi char-style grub like XO carrot cake, to exquisite dim sum and roasted suckling pigs, these are the best spots in Singapore to tuck into Cantonese food.
#01-03 Asian Civilisations Museum, 1 Empress Place, tel: 6238-8733. The Prive Group's restaurants have always exuded sophistication, but this one at the Asian Civilisations Museum seems the most stunning of them all. The floor-to-ceiling windows, the sweeping vista of Boat Quay, the expansive high ceilings all live up to the restaurant's grand name: Empress, a reflection of its Empress Place street address. It's an elegant amalgamation of the oriental, the colonial, and modern design aesthetes - rattan-backed dining chairs, Chinoiserie-inspired mirror screens, minimalist Scandinavian-style light fixtures and jazz music. Yet it doesn't take itself too seriously either, retaining the group's trademark laid-back charm. Dining here would feel like a chi-chi holiday, and you can also feel right at ease bringing Junior here because the tables abound with families with toddlers. Did we mention that it's spacious with plenty of room for strollers too? The menu is contemporary Cantonese, drawing a mixed crowd of locals and expats. That also means that the weekend dim sum is turned into a champagne brunch affair ($58/adult, additional $48/person for free-flow alcohol with Mumm champagne; $28/child under 12 years, free for children below 5). Think of it as a semi-buffet of sorts, 4-course meal supplemented with unlimited portions of dim sum. The selection is considerably brief in comparison with conventional Chinese restaurants, but there's still plenty to keep patrons full and satisfied. The 4-course menu comprises a soup-of-the-day, your choice of Singapore chilli king prawns with golden mantou or crispy-battered sea grouper; a roast platter or salt-baked sesame chicken; and either mandarin & calamansi granita or peanut-coated black sesame "mochi" balls for dessert. The dim sum selection comprises favourites like har gau, siew mai, steamed seafood and spinach dumplings, bbq pork buns, porridge and more. We particularly loved the steamed seafood and spinach dumplings which were packed with diced scallop, prawn, crab meat and spinach. And the golden molten egg custard ticked all the right boxes ─ fluffy, salty, and very much molten. Make sure you try the peanut-coated sesame "mochi" balls. It's an avant-garde presentation with black sesame as the theme: a peanut-coated mochi ball filled with black sesame; a rich, nutty black sesame ice cream; a pillowy square of black sesame steamed cake, paper-thin sesame wafers; an inky, smoky sesame sauce for garnish; and soft, melt-in-your-mouth clusters of peanut "snow". The attention to detail for this creation was mind-boggling, and contemplating all the flavours and textures was such a delight. Text: Mia Chenyze / Simply Her Photography: Jasper Yu Art Direction & Styling Nikki Ho #02-01 Marina Bay Financial Centre (Ground Plaza), 8A Marina Boulevard, tel: 6509-9493. This latest addition to the Crystal Jade Group portfolio is actually the chain's first restaurant in the financial district. Its Marina Bay Financial Centre address may be right in the heart of CBD, but the floor-to-ceiling windows enjoy a surprisingly relaxed view of the Promontory and Marina Bay. Crystal Jade Prestige - Roasted Baby Suckling Pig rolled with Black Truffle Pearl Rice While the menu largely stays rooted to Cantonese favourites, Crystal Jade Prestige also paints bold, modernist strokes with intriguing combinations like Pan-Fried Siew Mai with Foie Gras Sauce ($12.80), and Roasted Suckling Pig Rolled with Black Truffle Pearl Rice ($20/piece, min 5 pieces; $168/half; $328 whole). The latter has the crackling shaped into a roulade and stuffed with truffle-infused Japanese rice ─ crisp, unctuous and earthy qualities coming together in beautifully lacquered rings. And don't mistake the side of Thai-inspired apple salad for mere garnish. Its feisty counterbalance of sweet, spicy and sour notes lends vigour to an otherwise too-rich dish. But the pièce de resistance is the Tea-Smoked Roasted Duck ($40/half; $78/whole), which arrives to the table perfumed with premium pu-er. Each duck takes a whopping 30 hours of marinating, air drying, smoking and roasting to get that indulgent combination of crisp skin and thin slivers of fats. It's mesmerising to watch the servers carve up the duck table-side and wrap up dainty parcels with housemade crepes. Pan-Fried Beancurd ($8.80) sounds unsexy, even with the promise of black truffle sauce, but save the judgement till you've actually tried the dish. The silken tofu is made in-house with squid ink and a kombu-based broth, as evident by its greyish hue and the wispy flecks of kombu. Textural contrast comes from its breadcrumbed exterior and a smattering of hon shimeji mushrooms. Laid in black truffle sauce, this homely-seeming dish is sumptuously umami. Similarly, the Baked Crispy Glutinous Rice with Scallop ($12) is no plain jane either. It sits elegantly on a scallop shell, golden with a crust of puffed rice. Every bite is party in the mouth, with dried scallops, dried shrimp, Chinese mushrooms, salted egg, and those addictively crunchy rice pops. The dessert choices largely tread the familiar path with items like Chilled Mango Puree with Pomelo & Sago ($6.50), and Almond Cream with Snow Lotus ($6.50), but if you have a fondness for the thorny King of Fruits, share the Deep-Fried Durian ice Cream with Mango Puree ($8.50) for the finale. It's almost like durian-meets-mango sago: A hefty scoop of durian ice cream, battered and deep-fried, and swathed in a luscious "soup" of mango puree. Text: Mia Chenyze / Simply Her #05-02 National Gallery Singapore, 1 St. Andrew’s Road Like at other Chinese restaurants, the suckling pig is first served whole. The crispy skin on its back is shaved off into thin square slices, which are eaten with spring onion, cucumber and sweet sauce on a steamed wafer. The rest of the pig goes back to the kitchen, but it comes back later – first chopped into chunks of meat from the flank and thigh, and then as meat fillet oven-baked with lemongrass. I especially like the freshly chopped-up meat, which is tender and juicy. The suckling pig needs to be ordered a day in advance, but if that does not work for you, get the Roast Pork Belly ($14) instead. This comes from a mature pig, so the crackling is thicker and the meat not as tender, but it is good too. Or try the Barbeque Honey Pork ($18 for small), which is prepared Hong Kong-style, with slightly fatty meat that is tender and juicy. Text: Wong Ah Yoke / Straits Times #01-51/54 UE Square, 207 River Valley Road The Cantonese restaurant, which opened in 2015 at River Valley Road, is headed by Fung Chi Keung, former group executive chef of the Paradise Group. He repeats many of the popular dishes from the group’s flagship, Taste Paradise, in his eatery. Among them is the Shark’s Fin In Superior Broth ($38.80 to $88 a person, depending on the fin quality), which he serves in a stone bowl, accompanied by a long and slim spring roll. He had created the dish when he helped to open Taste Paradise in 2006. Another popular dish at Taste, though not exclusive to it, is the Fried Carrot Cake With XO Sauce, which is available in two versions here. The one from the dim sum menu costs $6.80 while the one from the a la carte menu, which is cooked with a better- quality XO sauce, costs $7.80. But there are new dishes too. Among the dim sum, for example, is a Curry Cheong Fun ($5.80), something that is very common in Kuala Lumpur, but not served much here. The steamed rice rolls are covered in curry gravy, though the version here is closer to a laksa as it contains fried pig’s skin and beancurd puffs. In Kuala Lumpur, the curry sauce is usually plain. Text and Photo: Wong Ah Yoke / Straits Times
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