Wednesday, January 7, 2009
St Regis Yan Ting's CNY Treasures of the Sea
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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). 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 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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!).
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)