Even as a local, wandering the narrow streets of Chinatown can get quite daunting, not knowing which restaurants serve the real deal when it comes to Chinese cuisine.
Will it taste authentic? Is it overpriced? Questions like these crossed my mind when I heard of Orchid Roast Fish (花千代), a first-of-its-kind 3D dining experience that attempts to take you to different locations around the world via its vivid image projections.
Be surrounded by moving images of popular city destinations, mountain ranges, cultural performances, and of course, underwater scenes, while digging into a piping hot plate of roasted fish.
I was informed that the concept derived from the goal of marrying comfortable dining with technology. Some might find the novelty gimmicky, but the most important question is still: how good is the food?
Diners can choose from two different hotpots from Seafood Hotpot ($48/$68/$88) and Seafood Lobster Hotpot ($98). Then, you can choose your seafood to be cooked in three options of sauces, from Fragrant Spices, Original Spicy or Signature Extra Spicy.
We chose the smallest Seafood Hotpot with Original Spicy, which we expected to be of a modest portion.
But holy crap, we were literally served an entire crab (although not huge, but still), a couple of crayfish, prawns and scallops, all doused with immensely aromatic herbs.
The base was very similar to the popular mala, which I couldn’t resist slurping by the spoonfuls. The seafood was super fresh and sweet, and the crab, although small, was bursting with succulent meat. Of course, we devoured everything.
We had to order their famous roast fish, which diners can order by first choosing the type of fish, from four choices. We went with Sea Bass ($38). Then, you can choose from nine different broths (no extra charge), such as Pickled Chilli, Chicken Broth With Mushroom, Black Pepper Sauce and Original Spicy.
We went with Fragrant Spices. True enough, the dish was so fragrant that when it was served, it made us drool in anticipation.
The fish was tender, flaky and melted upon the tongue, while the sauce had heavy nuances of green chillies, peppers and chilli oil.
But wait, the fish feast doesn’t end there. There’s no such thing as wastage here, as you can also select small sides to cook in the leftover broth (read: the roasting trays can be electrically heated, so you can keep your seafood constantly warm!).
We savoured this opportunity to indulge in Lobster Balls ($4.80), Sausages ($4.80), Luncheon Meat ($4.80), Quail Eggs ($6.80), Pork Belly ($12), Chinese Cabbage ($3.80), Wide Vermicelli ($3.80), Tender Beancurd ($3.80) and Enoki Mushrooms ($4.80).
We simply couldn’t get enough of how the flavours permeated throughout small bites; however full we were, we tried our very best to clean out the entire tray.
My verdict on this seemingly tacky concept? If you don’t pay much attention to the light show splashed across the walls, you’ll find real joy in the food. They have got the recipe right with the signature roasted fish and allowing diners the option to sop up every last bit of broth.
Expected damage: $60 – $110