Last Updated: June 13, 2015
It was not too hard to find Cove99 – just being five minutes from the MRT and one of the first few shophouses nearer to the main road, I could envision families doing away with complicated car logistics and just heading together on the train for a meal together in this little hub tucked away at Tanjong Pagar.
They specialize in Chinese seafood with a modern twist, matching the best of tradition and contemporary for a unique specialized array of dishes. The dishes we sampled here are a combination of that derived from the 2 menus for the Father’s day promotion, with some that were even specially created just for this occasion.
We started off our meal with something more traditional, a Double Boiled Shark’s Fin and Abalone in Fresh Ginseng Chicken Broth ($98). Shark fin soup is a signature of Chinese cuisine and is hence very telling of the restaurant’s food and tradition. Generous ingredients aside – something you can easily infer from the picture, the double boiling was done right.
The chicken oil had went right into the broth, with stings of ginseng in between amidst a very savory soup that maintained a clear consistency. Very well done. It is one thing to have quality ingredients and another to know how to do it well.
The Braised Whole Fish Maw with Sliced Black Truffles and Seasonal Vegetables in Superior Broth ($38/piece) was very impressive when served; one large fish piece of maw decorated with some truffles and broccoli drenched in a simple abalone sauce. However, taste-wise I felt there was no use for truffle.
The superior broth was thin and lightly salted, something the fish maw picked right up. I guess I was hoping for something more exciting execution wise from this dish. The ladies will definitely be excited about the collagen though.
Stir-fried Venison with Hon-Shimeiji Mushroom in Yellow mustard sauce ($24) was very intricate presentation-wise too, with a little bamboo tree in the backdrop and fried curry leaves plated like a garden. I like how Chef Pang is very meticulous when it comes to presentation.
The slightly sour yellow mustard goes nicely with the venison strips – complemented by the juicy shimeiji mushrooms that even out the dry, savory texture. Munch on the curry leaves for an extra crunch. It was very interesting to have western mustard with something so oriental and I loved the combination.
Sadly, the Braised Boston Lobster in Creamy White Wine Sauce (Seasonal, now at $88/kg) failed to impress. I loved the fruit salad that came on the side, grapes mangos and a little bit of basil topped in between. The lobsters were not ideally firm and had a mildly fishy taste.
The creamy sauce was a tad too strong that it overpowered the taste of the lobster. I would have preferred a sauce somewhat lighter that focused more on enhancing the lobster’s texture and perhaps the chowder downplayed a bit so the different tastes could work more in tandem.
When it comes to seafood, I always prefer the ingredients to be something simpler and primarily focused around your crustacean/fish of choice. The De-shelled Chilli Crab with Deep-fried Mantou ($58/kg) encompassed just right that. A very simple lightly sweetened chilli sauce with a ridiculous serving of crab meat in between. Just grab a mantou, scoop the sauce up and enjoy.
Who said having crab had to be a messy deal? It is impressive how Chef Pang was able to lock in the taste of the crab despite the deshelling prior to cooking and a very clever move to use mantous that were denser to match the chunky crabmeat in a thin chilli sauce. A perfect marriage of textures, tastes and execution, this was truly exemplary culinary skill.
Clearly, it is deserving of being Cove99’s signature. Sadly, Cove99 only serves the chilli crab deshelled as only the chilli crab cooking process permits the deshelling and placement of tastes.
The Stewed Rice Vermicelli and Glass Noodles with Seafood and Bitter Gourd noodles ($16) were very ‘Q’ and I liked the pairing of fresh prawns and scallops against the bitter gourd for contrast.
The stewed rice vermicelli was matched with the garlic noodles where the worked in tandem to balance each other out. There was a lot of form and cohesion to this hearty dish which made it very apt in ending the savory aspect of this meal.
I personally do not have a liking for durians so I asked to switch my durian pudding for a chilled black glutinous rice with coconut ice cream ($4.80). It was like a westernized bubur hitam with the coconut ice cream in the sea of black glutinous rice that provided great nibble factor. It was a simple idea, simple execution – great in taste.
For the most part, the dishes across the different menus faired pretty well. With some hits and misses in between, the better dishes compensated for the other less enticing lackluster dishes. You may refer to a copy of the father’s day promotion here (starting from $268 for a 6 course meal for 5 pax )
What I love about Cove99 is the flexibility they offer, if you don’t happen to particularly favor the Boston lobster like myself just speak to the staff and have them switched it for something else – price subjected to change based on the new dish of course. If you have a special occasion and a budget to work around, just drop them a call and they’ll design a set course meal for you.
Overall, the food here mostly a traditional chinese cuisine, I definitely can see how this is a place both young and old will love where Chef Pang showcases his talents, making it perfect for family occasions especially for special occasions.
Expected Damage: $30 – $50 per pax