Last Updated: January 23, 2015
Once again, Spring is upon us – this is celebrated by the Chinese as a new beginning to a bright new year. The best way to celebrate the dawn of a new season, like most Chinese, is to have a sumptuous Chinese New Year tasting dinner with family and close friends. I had a fortuitous opportunity to do so at Li Bai Cantonese Restaurant at Sheraton Towers on Scotts Road.
Li Bai is well known in Singapore for serving Cantonese cuisine within its opulent décor and grand table setting of jade, silver and fine bone china.
Named after the famous Tang Dynasty poet, Li Bai, the restaurant with the same namesake is headed by Executive Chinese Chef Chung Yiu Ming, a native from Hong Kong who has resided in Singapore for almost 20 years.
Lobster Yu Sheng Loh Hei Platter.
With the appropriately named theme, Splendours of Spring, Li Bai starts your Chinese New Year dining experience with their Lobster Yu Sheng Loh Hei Platter. The fanfare of mixing, “Loh”, is to bring, as high as possible, all your aspirations and wishes of the year, “Hei”. The next thing that matters is the taste of the platter.
I found that the loh hei taste to be a little underwhelming in terms of the sweetness – this may not be a completely negative point, as I have always advised my patients to reduce their sugar intake in all their gastronomic adventures. However, for those who prefer a more flavourful loh hei may request for the taste to be adjusted accordingly (more sauce perhaps).
Double-Boiled Chicken Soup with Fish Maw, Morel Mushrooms, Pearl Meat, Bamboo Pith and Tientsin Cabbage.
The Cantonese take pride in their soup and Li Bai’s presentation of their Double-Boiled Chicken Soup is one great example – the jade coloured ceramic container reminds me of the superior soup served to Chinese Emperors of the ancient times. I was enthralled with its lavish contents – the mixture of fish maw, morel mushrooms, pearl meat, bamboo pith and Tientsin cabbage, that gave this soup such good value-for-money.
Sautéed Lobster served in Crispy Rice Basket.
In Chinese cooking, particularly that of the Cantonese, the breath of the wok, “wok hei” is paramount. Li Bai’s Sautéed Lobster served in Crispy Rice Basket showcases the expertise of the chefs – the “wok hei” brings out the aroma of the capsicum, water chestnut slices and the lobster so well. Eat this quickly before the breath of the wok evaporates – and then ask for more!
Eight Treasures Duck with Abalone.
Li Bai’s Eight Treasures is an obligatory Chinese New Year dish. By combining duck meat with South African abalone with the rest of the Eight Treasures, such as sea cucumber, broccoli and mushroom, Li Bai has managed to bring this dish out of a mundane Eight Treasures dish by giving it a different texture.
Nian Gao and Water Chestnut Cake.
The Nian Gao and Water Chestnut Cake is one of Li Bai’s repertoire of dessert offerings. Cold jelly, impregnated with crunchy water chestnut is a tongue-tantalising prelude to my favourite, the Nian Gao. However, I was left a tad disappointed with the preparation of the Nian Gao as I felt that more effort should have been made to coat it, for example with more egg batter during the pan-frying process, to enhance its taste and texture.
Renowned for its hospitality, Li Bai is open for both lunch and dinner. The Sunday Yum Cha (literally, drinking tea) is almost a weekly ritual for the Cantonese. A small sample of Li Bai’s Dim Sum Combination is all it took to convince to go back this Sunday for more!
Li Bai has 5 set menu designed for 8 to 10 pax, with prices ranging from $868 to $3998; and 4 set menu with more affordable pricing ($138 to $588) to cater for smaller groups of diners of 2 to 6 pax. All these menu will be available from 2nd February till 4th March.
Expected damage: $110 – $400 per person (depending on menu package)