Yan Cantonese Cuisine 宴 – Dim Sum platter was memorable! But that’s also about it…

Yan Cantonese Cuisine

#05-02 National Gallery Singapore near City Hall MRT

DSC_0756DSC_0757Sleek, modern yet not overly gaudy just like its simple website, Yan definitely gives you an impression that it strives to convey class through its less showy food, cleverly displaying its culinary finesse. Coupled with the beautiful, serene surroundings that the National Gallery has to offer and the more upmarket restaurants that it is housing, Yan definitely came across as one that gives you the prerogative to enter with a relatively high expectation. I did, and wasn’t overly impressed, except for the saving grace dim sum platter.

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DSC_0768Well, lets dive straight into what they do best here – The Dim Sum Combination Platter 六小点心组合. 6 little heroes that saved the slightly lacklustre meal that day, with every piece so daintily and meticulously prepared that each is exploding with flavours. The heavier tasting carrot cake and green steamed vegetarian one had the perfect consistency and adequate umaminess while the plump crunchy har gao was made decadent with the bubbly caviar.

DSC_0779It wasn’t an easy choice between the har gao and siu mai but taking centre stage, just as what it was meant to be, this siu mai pulled it off with the decadent, springy abalone on top. $18 for a platter.

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Steamed vegetarian dumpling filled with mushrooms and cordyceps

DSC_0787DSC_0788DSC_0786With such an extensive menu, it is really helpful to have a ‘chef’s signature’ section and this claypot of crab meat broth rice with crispy rice was ordered immediately. My ardent love for pao fan started after I had it for the first time at Lei Garden Hong Kong, which was further affirmed by Forest RWS. The one served at Yan, if not for the non-existent crisp in the crispy rice, could have otherwise been a mind-blowing bowl with its cleaner broth that is exuding with the natural seafood sweetness. I reckon the crispy rice should have been served separately to us before it gets all soggy. $28.

DSC_0763I knew it already when the roast was served. It couldn’t have been a worse idea to have dined at Mitzo the week before as that further accentuated the stark difference. Over at Yan, the Char Siew lacks texture, flavour and tenderising was apparently half-hearted while the Roast duck was decent with its crispier skin, yet unable to distinguish itself from the other hotel restaurants. $22.

DSC_0781Sauteed beef tenderloin cubes with asparagus and white pepper sauce. Drenched in such heavy sauce, we couldn’t savour the natural taste in the slightly tougher beef which didn’t make its $14 tag worthy, inevitably causing us to start doubting its signature menu. That made us turn back to its more hopeful dim sum menu which started out solidly.

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Deep fried seafood Dumpling served with superior Consomme. Fresh prawns within but the consomme surprisingly didn’t beat the chilli sauce. $6.80


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Steamed glutinous rice with mini abalone, chicken and abalone sauce wrapped with egg pancake. A different way of presenting the glutinous rice, the more intriguing egg pancake did little to lift the taste while the ingredients within were lacking the umaminess usually experienced. $8.

DSC_0794While the quality of my lunch was slightly underwhelming, the excellent dim sum platter managed to redeem the restaurant as you know that there is potential in the chefs over here. It was clearly shown in the dim sum platter, and hopefully could be extended to the other dishes. And for that, still –

Verdict: A good restaurant.

Mott 32 – Exotically high quality dim sum which reminds me of Yauatcha

Mott 32

Central MTR Exit K, inside Standard Chartered Building

Located in the modern Standard Chartered building, Mott32 is perhaps the first upmarket Cantonese restaurant that has decided to do away with all the oriental furnishings. The route into it could also be one of the most exaggerated ones as a glitzy journey has already been planned; down the long flight of stairs and escalator, that are lined with mirrors and only mirrors, projecting a seemingly infinite number of reflections.

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m1Without any single hint of oriental furnishing, it may be difficult to feel that you are indeed in a Cantonese restaurant until some roast duck hung at the open kitchen counter comes into sight. And this reminds me of the beloved Yuatacha and Hakkasanwhose interior clearly panders to gwei lou. Uncannily, food over here is as modernly plated and delicious; with very much similar vibes exuberated by these restaurants.

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IMG_8442-001The signature Crispy Sugar Coated BBQ Spanish Teruel Pork Bun was simply perfect. After Tim Ho Wan has invented such sugar coated baked char siu bun which proved too popular to be ignored, many  have tried emulating and ‘perfecting’ the recipe. Mott32 is one that has pulled off with its own rendition as its skin retained the fluffiness and there’s an evidently perfect balance of sweetness between the char siew and sugar overcoat. Yums! HKD $60.

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IMG_8441-001Next up that got us swooning over was the Barbeque prime Iberico Pork with Yellow Mountain Honey. Limited to just a few servings daily, we made sure we placed our orders as quick as possible. So disconnected the meat fibres are that it tasted super tender; a conscientious tenderising technique is apparent here without the use of any chemicals. And beautifully finished off with a lightly sweet honey glaze, we raved about this char siew for quite a while, even on the verge of getting another slab if only there was S$2000 to spend. HKD $295.

IMG_8447-001Siu Mai – Kurobuta Pork, Soft Quail Egg and Black Truffle. I was not as intrigued by the black truffle as the Quail Egg that was positioned nicely in this pasty siu mai. It was an initial bland taste which builds up really quickly when the heavier tasting quail egg yolk gets exposed and combines perfectly with the truffle scent. Very unique, queer yet delicious. HKD $60.

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IMG_8451-001Soup Dumpling, Conpoy and Diced Seafood. Usually already served in a soup in most restaurants, this huge Dumpling was prepared differently at Mott32 with the decadent broth contained within. Transferred to a bowl, break it open and there we go – fresh lobster, diced seafood. So refreshingly delicious this intense stock is, especially when paired with a little vinegar! HKD $95.

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IMG_8460-001Prawn Cheung Fen with Crispy rice paper. By now, most would know this has always been my top favourite when it comes to dim sum. Fresh, succulent prawns served definitely while the crispy rice paper wrapped around it was thin, fragrant and incredulously crispy. HKD $80.

IMG_8462-001No, its not the shell of a lobster but really a simple dessert made highly detailed. Crispy egg flour made refreshingly sweet with the yuzu-infused honey. HKD $55.

Well, I say trust the waiters there as 50% of the dishes ordered was recommended by the very knowledgeable and helpful waiter. A wide range tasted and we were both super satisfied with the outstanding quality. Indeed, Mott32 has given elegant Cantonese food a different but splendid definition!

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m2Some facetious shots after the exciting meal…

Verdict: An excellent restaurant.

Wen Dou Sek 搵到食 – Very cheap dim sum fare with an outstanding quality

Wen Dou Sek 搵到食

Near Aljunied MRT

wds7Cheap, delicious and worth down to every cent spent over here, it is no wonder why Wen Dou Sek 搵到食 is a super hot favourite in this neighbourhood. Fully packed already when we arrived, its flow of customers has never ceased even as lunch hour has passed. A very small squishy restaurant, exuberating a strong Hong Kong flavour already when you literally need to tuck in your tummy to get past the narrow aisle. But service, is still pretty friendly and amicable. And for air-con avids, this place does have an AC.

wds8 wds10Huge menu it has, we got the classics as S and G from the other part of the world preferred that. Unexpectedly delicious actually as the fillings were crunchy, fresh and substantial. The only gripe – the skin for the steamed snacks could be made better as it turns sticky relatively quickly. Everything was a favourite, but the unanimous excitement was found with the Tom Yum Siu Mai – very flavourful with a light dash of tom yum spices in it; this new creation worked.

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And its Jin Dui, made with an adequately chewy mochi skin with thick molten chocolate in it was also delectable. I still prefer molten sesame in it though.

wds12Herbal chicken for dim sum was my first at a dim sum restaurant which tasted very flavourful and fragrant with the strong herbal taste. The other outstanding dish was the seemingly ordinary cheong fen that is drizzled on with an extraordinary sauce. So intense, and beautifully permeated with the fragrance from the fried shallots, this sauce is no common light soy sauce that you get at all other restaurants. More viscous, greasier and much more fragrant, a lot of effort must have been put into concocting it. Yums!

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wds4 wds3And after the delectable lunch, it was a crazy 3h standing to secure the ‘best’ position for the fireworks display! With much patriotism punching in our hearts, we bellowed almost every song with gusto!

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Happy SG50! One more week to go before the actual celebration! And yes, very cheap tickets to HK have been secured (yet again), looking forward to seeing the fun HK peeps soon!

Tin Lung Heen 天龍軒

Tin Lung Heen

Ritz Carlton Hong Kong @ International Commerce Centre

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Glamour and Glister – That’s the first impression when I stepped into this luxurious hotel and restaurant. Located on the 102nd floor, the view at Tin Lung Heen is definitely unrivaled! This restaurant has just recently been promoted to two michelin stars and I thought it’s a must visit when I am in Hong Kong. Definitely, I kept comparing it to Lung King Heen and although I felt that LKH food might have been slightly better, this is a restaurant that has secured a place in my heart. It is one that I will definitely return to when I am back in Hong Kong. A really great view and atmosphere to immerse yourself in and tbh, it’s the second dim sum restaurant that beats those in Singapore. Indeed, it was very worth the visit and actually exceeded my expectation. We ordered slightly more than 10 dishes and everything was a hit except for one.

IMG_6208 The view from my seat. Very breathtaking isn’t it.

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IMG_6207 The interior of the restaurant which looks really lavish!

IMG_6237 My other view. It would be a much better view if air was not that hazy.

IMG_6243The glitter that sparkles everywhere in the restaurant. Really makes this restaurant very opulent.

IMG_6212The prawn har gao that we started with was the miss! It may look really exciting with the gold leaf there and everything looks rotund and symmetrical. But, skin is really thick and it gets super sticky after a while. As this was my first dim sum, I thought that it is a restaurant that only has outer beauty but my hopes were quickly restored after having subsequent dim sum! HKD $86.

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IMG_6216Slithery char siew cheung fen. Char siew is sweet and savoury while cheung fen is thin and slithery. This cheung fen differs from other restaurants as they don’t wrap diced char siew in it. Instead they put big chunks of char siew in it which makes the filling more substantial. I like the way this is prepared and also presentation is upped one level by 2 asparagus. HKD $98.

IMG_6219Like how Lung King Heen has their signature siu mai, Tin Lung Heen also has theirs. Scallop and large prawn siu mai. We got two baskets of this to share and each siu mai is huge! I can’t finish it in one mouth which I usually do for siu mai. Scallop and prawn are both really fresh and succulent while skin is of the right thickness and the meat in it is very substantial. Yums! HKD $96 per basket.

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IMG_6226Yes, it’s the snow skin char siew bao again that has been raved all over HK and Sg. Though it may look similar to the one in Tim Ho Wan, it is actually quite different. The crust is not as sweet but fluffier while the one at tim ho wan has a much sweeter and thinner crust. I like both renditions but somehow I prefer the one over here though some bloggers may not like it. It really depends on what kind of crust that will make your day. Char siew is of the right sweetness for me and I love it. yums. HKD $86.

IMG_6221Abalone zhen ju gai. Super delicious zhen ju gai here. Every grain of rotund rice is uniformly fragrant, very fragrant actually while abalone is springy – love the texture. There’s also tender chicken and egg yolk in the rice. Very delicious! HKD $98.

IMG_6223Turnip cake which was interestingly plated. The cake is quite smooth but not gooey while the condiments on top of it makes it really fragrant. Don’t really know what the condiments are actually but it makes this turnip cake quite unique. HKD $86.

 

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IMG_6225If you still remember, I also had this abalone puff in Lung King Heen. While the one in Lung King Heen has diced chicken in the pastry, Tin Lung Heen uses roast goose which makes it SUPER heavenly. The roast goose has a slight pepper taste which makes it super fragrant and definitely tastes different from chicken. The abalone sauce is also rich and soothing while abalone is thick and has a super good texture. Puff was also very fragrant. I really don’t mind having two of this. HKD $174.

IMG_6228E fu noodle with crab meat. Though it looks bland and unappealing, it actually is very delicious. This dish is meant to be light but together with it, the noodles were actually surprisingly fragrant. Crab meat is smooth and noodles are uniformly quoted with the fragrant sauce. Very special way of preparing e fu noodles and it is the first time I taste such a rendition. Yums. HKD $248.

IMG_6229And then we came to dessert. The egg tart is nice but just the usual egg tarts that we can get from other places. Crust is thin while the custard is very buttery. Good. HKD $78.

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IMG_6234I believe most people wouldn’t have guessed what’s in the sesame ball before biting it. Yes, it’s the super fragrant lao sha! Very delicious fragrant runny salty egg custard in this sesame ball. This is my first time eating this and I like it! It should be quite easy to imagine the taste for such a combination. HKD $68.

IMG_6230Never would I have thought that I would order a bowl of mango puree with pomelo as it is something that is easy to make but this was highly recommended by the waiter and I like it. The special ingredient added was the aloe vera actually and it’s high quality pomelo. Creamy puree with all the fresh ingredients tasted really refreshing and is a cut above most mango puree. Yums. HKD $88.

IMG_6233And then they gave us the complementary gui fa gou and cookie. Gui fa gou wasn’t overly sweet and tasted slightly fragrant too.

So after saying so much, I guess the verdict of this restaurant is apparent – a MUST go! Creativity can be seen in some of the dim sum dishes, if not they are cooked to perfection. Service here is also very attentive as they will keep refilling your cup of tea and the waiter who kept serving us has tvb charisma and is quite knowledgeable. His recommendations were good and it was like a cantonese chit chat when we asked what the far away islands are. They also gave brochures to us about their CNY menu but I would be in Singapore already regrettably. Very good service indeed! Given the service, ambience and quality of food, I must say that this restaurant is one to look out for. I am really impressed by the way Hong Kong manages to make their traditional food so upmarket and opulent really! This is by far, the best overall dim sum experience. And yes, Merry Christmas from Hong Kong!!

Verdict: An excellent restaurant!

 

Peach Blossoms Restaurant

Peach Blossoms

Mandarin marina

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The entrance of Peach Blossoms and there’s a life singing bird hanging there. Very pleasant to the ears.

ImageXO carrot cake. This dish is not excessively greasy and you can still taste the XO sauce. I like how the carrot cake are chopped into chunky cubes and yet its core doesn’t lose its flavour. Satisfied: checked.

ImageHoney roast pork cheung fen is slithery, silky and smooth. Though the presentation looks flat, meatless and bland, this dish was actually delectable. You don’t feel that there’s not enough char siew as the cheung fen it is wrapped in is thin. satisfied: checked!

ImageHar Gau. The prawn used in each har gau was very fresh, succulent and chunky. Har gau should always be eaten hot so that the skin does not stick to the paper and tastes fresher, however the crystal clear skin of this har gau did not turn gooey even after it was left for a while on the table. satisfied: checked!

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Steamed crystal dumpling with dried shrimp paste. Besides its fanciful name, this dish wasn’t very exciting. Felt like I was having har gau all over again with some shrimp paste. Don’t really like the combination as the shrimp paste somehow is a little overpowering. Mediocre: Checked!

ImageXiu long bao. Xiu long bao here is just so good. The skin was thin, and the soup was sweet and filled with pork fragrance. Meat wasn’t tough or too chunky but sufficient and that makes it a good bite size snack. Interestingly, they do not use ginger with vinegar as the accompanying sauce but chilli and vinegar. Quite a different presentation from the norm. Satisfied: checked!

Imagechar siu bao. Char siu bao is always a standard dish at dim sum restaurants but this one is slightly different as it incorporates pine seeds. Together with the fluffy bao and the moist, not over sweetened tasty char siu, the pine seeds add a bit of crunchiness to the bao. It’s quite an interesting tho not totally exciting addition to the usual char siu bao. Its just something new and fresh and makes the bao more tasty just by a bit. Indeed, it’s really quite a feat to beat the already usual delectable honey roasted bun. Satisfied: Checked!

ImageInari filled with diced chicken, prawns, mushrooms and vegetables in superior broth. Broth is clear and tasty while the inari feels like a healthy snack. Though this snack doesn’t stimulate my palates, I still enjoyed it.

ImageDeep fried assorted seafood shaped into a pear. The name might have sounded more interesting than how it actually looked and tasted. Felt like a fried mashed and couldn’t decipher what is it made up of. A little too complicated for me and sometimes I just prefer to keep things simple.

ImageLiu sa bao. Though the custard is more viscous than other restaurants, it is less sweet and I like that as it makes this delicacy feels healthier. A good dim sum to round off everything! satisfied: checked!

ImageTo my surprise, we were served a yuzu drink at the end of the meal to cleanse our palates and the yuzu simply tasted lovely. It is the first time I have a palate cleanser after a dim sum meal. Very good service indeed.

ImageNo wonder they boast so many culinary awards! They deserve them!

Peach Blossoms is indeed a reputable dim sum restaurant. The interior resembles a place for fine dining yet the prices are very reasonable. I spent a total of $38 and with such good service, it calls for another visit to Peach Blossoms in the near future. The other main courses on the menu are definitely much more expensive and can set you easily back by the hundreds but go for their dim sum and you will definitely not regret it. I knew my visit would be pleasant the moment I stepped into the hotel and heard the life birds chirping away. Its really clever of the hotel to make use of their architecture as an acoustic enhancer while the birds chirp away happily. Makes one really relax after a disappointing week at work but am rejuvenated now! Finally, one more addition to my favourite dim sum places.