May 14, 2024

A Fooking stuffing

Pin It

The Gastronaut has a new project in town, working with Shangri-La Hotels to open a restaurant focusing on Hokkien cuisine in Island Shangri-La. In spite of being a not-insignificant part of the local population, restaurants serving Hokkien cuisine aren't exactly on every street. In fact, other than the numerous branches of Putien (莆田) in Hong Kong, I'm really not aware of any place that is removely upscale. So... is this a gap that needs filling?

I had heard mixed reviews from friends on their experiences at Ming Pavilion (茗悅) so I wasn't in a hurry to check it out for myself. But the Gastronaut came and asked Foursheets to join him for a meal, which was how I found myself as the "plus one" at dinner.

I hadn't done any research on the dishes so I left it to the boss to decide, but I did make a couple of requests.

Our meal started with a cup of fragrant rose tea.

Deep-fried five spice pork roll (閩香五香卷) - I couldn't imagine the Gastronaut putting together a menu here without ngoh hiang (五香) on it, and here we go. Unlike the ones I usually see in Singapore, this was pretty dainty in size. I do love the big chunks of water chestnut in the middle, though... Overall this was pretty nice with the spices in the mix.

Deep-fried hand-chopped prawn roll (香酥脆蝦棗) - likewise, this was more elegant in presentation as the tofu skin is twisted at the ends the way candy wrappers are.

The tofu skin was ertainly very crispy and nice.

Deep-fried eel with red wine lees (紅糟鱔魚) - we got an off-menu treat. I'm normally not a fan of eel at Chinese restaurants because they still retain their muddy flavors. With this traditional Hokkian preparation of deep-frying with a coating of red lees (紅糟)-infused batter, it should have helped neutralized the unpleasant flavors from the eel. Unfortunately, though, the kitchen has decided to tone the flavors of the red lees way down - as the locals have complained about the "original", more "authentic" tastes. So... I had to resort to using the accompanying chili sauce to cover up the mud. Sigh.

For me, it would have been better to stick to using the tiger prawns as originally designed, or simply using pork as it's commonly done.

Fried oyster pancake with seaweed and baby leek (香脆紫菜海蠣煎) - I had to order this because it's just so classic. Just feels like home for me... even though mom never made it at home herself.

I do love this combination, as the flavors of tiny oysters, leeks, and seaweed work so well together with the batter.

Xiamen ginger duck (廈門薑母鴨) - the duck was fatty and nice, but it tasted just like a soy sauce braised duck and nothing special. The kitchen had, once again, toned down the ginger flavor after the locals objected to this flavor profile, so now it's just a sweetish soy sauce duck, made with a Chinese yellow wine reduction.

Stir-fried Fuzhou "shan shu" with crispy pork lard (福州山蘇菜) - another dish I ordered, because I simply LOVE bird's nest fern (山蘇). That it came with crispy pork lard (豬油渣) was just icing on the cake.

Steamed mud crab with glutinous rice (飄香紅蟳蟹糯米飯) - while the flavors were fine, the rice itself was more on the wet side, and my personal preference is for it to be more dry and chewy.

Traditional peanut sweet soup (花生湯) - I was really happy to see the peanut soup on the menu, as it's almost never seen in Hong Kong. It's nowhere near my favorite dessert soup, but I just felt the urge to get it once I found it.

This was served with deep-fried cruller (油炸鬼), which I dipped into the soup.

Homemade black sesame mochi (手工黑麻糍) - this was really nice, with crunchy, deep-fried dough stuffed inside.

I didn't want to drink very much tonight, so we just ordered wines by the glass.

Kuheiji Crémant de Bourgogne - not too much acidity on the palate and a little tart. Quite a simple drink.

Well, I'm happy that there's now a fine dining representative of this important Chinese cuisine, but it looks like they've diluted the flavors in some of the dishes in order to suit local palates, which is kinda disappointing. Surely there are enough people with Hokkien heritage in this town to appreciate the authentic flavors of their own cuisine?! But then again, most of them are probably too cheap and wouldn't pay this kind of pricing...


Anonymous said...

There is also 新福記in North Point.

Peech said...

I actually lived next to 新福記 for 4 years and never went in. From the outside, the menu looks just like a Cantonese 酒樓, other than their advertising as being a 佛跳牆 place...


Related Posts with Thumbnails

TripAdvisor Travel Map