Wednesday, January 7, 2009

St Regis Yan Ting's CNY Treasures of the Sea

20 comments:
 
"Lo-hei" of the prosperity Yu-Sheng with Salmon
Christmas is barely behind us, but it's time for yet more feasting! The lunar new year is almost here, and the Chinese love to start the year right - with family, food and friends!

Flickr organised another outing to Yan Ting, the Cantonese restaurant at St Regis (we had mooncakes there last year). The highlight this evening was their Chinese New Year (CNY) menus focusing on Treasures of the Sea.

Our tasting menu for the evening
This is what we had. This is a shorter version of the six-course Abundance menu (S$108++ per person). I think ours skipped the main dish - crispy soft-shell crab with pan-roasted rack of lamb scented with Uigur spices.

Lo-hei is apparently a custom from Shunde?
We started with Prosperity Yu Sheng with Salmon. My first lo-hei of the year! I always admire (but can never memorise) the detailed steps in this feel-good ritual. Every ingredient is a homonym for some blessing and is chosen for good luck. You can read about it here.

Elegantly light on the palate
While it's an auspicious dish, not many people actually enjoy it because it can be cloyingly sweet and sometimes pointless in terms of taste. However, Yan Ting's version is elegantly light on the palate. The salad ingredients are very refreshing. Chef Chan Siu Kong's plum sauce is enhanced with apple, orange and pineapple for natural fruity sweetness.

Steamed radish cake and fried yam cake
We were also served appetisers of steamed radish cake and fried yam cake (both available as festive takeaways). The radish cake is soft and delicate, but punctuated with flavour from bits of Chinese sausage. The yam cake is a bit dense but not oily. Both went very well with the chili bean sauce.

Homemade XO sauce
Worthy of special mention is their "homemade XO sauce" (available at S$30 per bottle). So delicious! I like its spicy bite too! The chili bean sauce is also available in a bottle (S$15 each).

Double-boiled shark's fin with three treasures (shiitake mushroom, bamboo pith, and dried scallop)
Double-boiled shark's fin with three treasures (shiitake mushroom, bamboo pith, and dried scallop). This is a dorsal fin that has a unique name in Cantonese meaning "skirt fin", as it has the coquettish curl of a flouncy skirt.

The fin was thick and gelatinous, the broth sumptuously rich
The fin was thick and gelatinous. The sumptuously rich broth warmed both body and soul. This nutritious tonic took many hours of preparation. They also serve braised shark's fin if you prefer it not in a clear soup. All this talk about shark's fin will probably have shark enthusiasts up in arms, but don't the Chinese make full use of the whole shark (meat, bone, skin, and even the head)?

Prosperity oyster with braised sliced abalone
Prosperity oyster with braised sliced abalone. Gratin oyster with shrimp mousse! Incredibly rich, creamy and intensely umami. The oyster is a semi-dried type, sitting atop a bed of very pungent sliced onions and some "fa chai" (name for hair moss fungus which sounds like "prospering" in Chinese). Lovely slice of abalone in a clean-tasting braised sauce.

Wok-fried glutinous rice with wind-dried sausages, and steamed coral trout "tong sing" grouper
By the time we got to the carb dish, we were surprisingly full already. But oh, I love glutinous rice. Wok-fried glutinous rice with wind-dried sausages, and steamed coral trout "tong sing" grouper (in the background). The sausages are good, the rice tasty, but the fish less than ideal. The meat was a little tough, and my cut came with lots of small bones.

A delightful Schlossgut Diel Riesling Kabinett specially chosen to pair with chinese food
Wine lovers will find Yan Ting stocked with selections specially chosen to pair with Chinese food. Here's a delightful Schlossgut Diel Riesling Kabinett which was light, dry and sweet.

Crispy glutinous rice cake and snacks, with bowl of azuki bean soup
Chinese-style dessert is usually a simple affair. In the glass we have one strip of glutinous rice cake (the darker one) and crystal water chestnut cake, both deep-fried in crispy batter that evoked memories of banana fritters. In the center, a piece of fried sesame ball, cutely called "Smiling Joe" in Cantonese, thanks to the crack that looks like a smile. Next to it is a fried mini-puff filled with sweet, crushed peanuts. These are all available as festive takeaways too.

Traditional azuki bean paste / soup using 30-year old vintage citrus peel
A comforting warm bowl of azuki (red bean) soup rounds up the meal. Chef Chan has specially sourced and used vintage citrus peel (30 years old!) for this. But its flavour is not overpowering. Interestingly, the azuki beans appear whole but melt in your mouth.

Nian gao or new year cake
Yan Ting also features a nine-fish New Year Cake (S$68++), symbolising the everlasting unity and bonds of a family. Twin fishes are also available.

Other set menus include a vegetarian one, a Golden Jade 8-course menu (S$128++ per person) and a Fortune & Prosperity 8-course menu (S$218++). If you prefer not to follow set menus, the dishes are also available a la carte. In fact, there are 20 special CNY dishes to choose from.

The CNY set menus and dishes are available for dinner from the eve of CNY (25 Jan 2009), for lunch and dinner throughout 26-28 Jan, and on Everybody's birthday or 人日, 1st Feb 2009. Retail items available from 1 Jan to 9 Feb 2009.

Signs of satisfaction
This was a good meal. Many thanks to Yahoo for hosting this, and to the St Regis team and their PR agency for their excellent hospitality. Service at Yan Ting is always excellent, and the ambiance nothing short of classy.

I am glad I got to meet Nic (finally!), Kelvin and Bossacafez. Also happy to see Dimsumdolly, MissyGlutton, NinjaHelloKitty, and Superfinefeline again. All of them are great photographers! It was quite fun, we took photos not only of our own food but other people's too (grass always looks greener on the other side!).

YAN TING
St Regis Singapore
29 Tanglin Road, Singapore 247911
Tel: 6506-6866 for reservations
Open daily 11:45 AM - 3:00 PM;
6:00 PM - 11:00 PM (last order at 10:30 PM)

20 comments:

  1. OMG, you are fast! haha!

    glad to have finally met you and we should go makan!

    that was one helluva shark's fin that went well with the clear broth, i must say.

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  2. Wow, that is quite a good spread... and your pictures are so fabulous...

    Just out of curiousity... you don't seems to be using kit lens nor macro... May I know wat lens are you currently using? It seems to have nice colours under low lighting...

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  3. Yes, Nic, let's go makan! :D Hurry and put up your photos too!

    Fen: I am using the kit lens, but it's the one with image stabiliser. You are right about low lighting - Yan Ting is nice and cosy but the lighting is very challenging!

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  4. Looks delicious! Thanks for posting all those great photos!

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  5. Wow, it is amazing how your pictures look under low light with only kit lens... I always end up with extremely reddish or yellowish pictures...

    Nice capture... and I am so envious with the feast you have...

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  6. Hahaha! I've not even uploaded the photos yet.

    Great shots!

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  7. wow super nice. so sad i couldn't make it!

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  8. That's early?!
    Are you sure there was enough food? Portions look small.

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  9. hahahaha all the famous food bloggers gathered around. nice! i haven got the opportunity to meet nic yet! soon soon. haha

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  10. Anne: Thanks!

    Fen: Yes, I get the yellowish photos too. Still need to tweak after taking.

    NinjaHK: Hey thanks! I am waiting to see yours!

    Southernoise: Yeah lor...should have come!

    Tigerfish: yeah, it's amazing, the menu and the portions looked small but even the guys were full! I can't imagine if we had to eat the main course as well.

    LIC: It was very nice indeed. Nic is a great guy, you should meet soon!

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  11. Wow! Your pics never cease to amaze me! I wish I can take pics as well as you but I still have a ton of practising to do!

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  12. Thanks, SFF! I am still learning myself! Haven't gotten very far from using the DSLR as a point-and-shoot (old habits die hard)!

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  13. Hee hee! I agree! I think a die-hard DSLR user might try to clobber me with their lens for making DSLRs look worse than P&S. I can't help it...the P&S is more idiot-proof which is important for a tech-idiot like me!

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  14. no, they do not use the whole shark. majority of the sharks have their fins removed and are disposed of, or thrown back into the sea.

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  15. if you have the time, try to watch "Sharkwater". it's a great documentary, and a real eye-opener.

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  16. Wow the dishes look really delicious! Nice pictures!

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  17. Love that action shot. All the food looks great!

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  18. The lighting there would cause yellowish pictures :) and it's nice with the yellowish look or it might look slightly weird.

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  19. Wow! Now, I'm craving for Yee Sang! Great pictures too and Have A Happy Chinese New Year.

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  20. Hi! Happy CNY!

    I am an RSS subscriber to quite a bit of food blogs, and yours is one of them. It is always enjoyable to read on great eating experiences and find new recipes for food along the way.

    This blog entry on Yan Ting is a wonderful read - great pictures!

    I do have a comment on your take on shark fin:

    "All this talk about shark's fin will probably have shark enthusiasts up in arms, but don't the Chinese make full use of the whole shark (meat, bone, skin, and even the head)?"

    While the whole shark can be used for cooking, the shark fin in the shark fin's soup you enjoyed was most probably procured as it is - a shark's fin.

    So what happens to the rest of the shark:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2UKgLsOhRM

    The truth of the matter is that the shark's fins are more valuable to fishermen than the sum of its whole carcass. There is really no need to hold on to the body of the shark. Only the fins matter. Just slice the fins off and dump the rest of it back into the sea.

    The sharks die drowning. If it can't swim, its gills can't draw in water and breathe.

    Sharks are magnificent creatures of the sea. I have dived with a baby whale shark and it came to me, full of curiosity before going back down to the depths of the ocean.

    The point of my comment here is this. Under freewill, nobody can be forcibly coerced into eating something that they don't like. Give a person something that is perceived as a delicacy, and match the taste experience with the expectations involved and the person will walk away reasonably happy. Will people stop eating sharks fin soup? Will restaurants stop serving such a lucrative dish? What is the value behind such a food item when there is no sustainable process in the procurement of its main ingredients and with detrimental effects on the ecosystem?

    If you are a person who is greatly engaged in food, then you must be concerned as well on what goes on behind the preparation of your food.

    Or is it just means to an end?

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