“Vintage Cantonese Restaurant”
I was kindly invited to The Regent Singapore to sample Summer Palace, a classic Cantonese restaurant as old as the hotel itself. The Regent hotel has retained much of its original heritage styling, but has through the years done modifications and minor refurbishing to keep with the times. Taking the lift, I was for some reason especially drawn to the old, plastic square lift buttons that were so common in the past, but rarely seen these days. Simply classic.
Having only 2 of us, the 5 course Power Lunch Set Menu ($52/person, minimum 2 person) was recommended to go under the scrutiny of my taste buds. Yummy, yummy scrutiny.
Chef’s Dim Sum Selection. From left: Prawn Dumpling with Spinach infused skin, Bird’s Nest Dumpling and BBQ Pork bun. The first dish served was this delectable trio of dim sum which varies daily according to the Chef’s mood. The spinach infused siew mai dumpling provided a lighter more refreshing taste compared to the traditional yellow skinned type. The meat was also very fragrant and juicy.
The bird’s nest dumpling was pretty novel, but frankly bird’s nest on its own doesn’t add much taste, but still provides a jelly-like texture that makes the dumpling more interesting than usual.
I preferred the lighter, crispy sugar crusted bun from Tim Ho Wan, but this BBQ pork bun was still rather good effort by the chef- just a different style.
Double Boiled Seafood Soup served in Golden Pumpkin. Definitely my favourite dish of the day. Being of Cantonese dialect but not being able to speak Cantonese, at least I retained my stereotype of loving Chinese soups.
A clear soup double boiled to really get the flavour essence concentrated, it paired lovely with the stronger sweet, soft flesh of the pumpkin bowl that could be easily scooped with a spoon. The crab meat, prawns and scallops inside were also soft and tender, meticulously cooked separately due to varying ingredient cooking times.
Pan Fried Wagyu Beef with Soya Sauce. My personally preference for Wagyu or any high quality beef is to just sear and use basic seasoning to best allow the natural flavours to shine.
Being a Canton restaurant though, this is a distinctively Chinese dish with a premium touch to it. Take note also that quality beef is not just based on breed, but also what meat cut it comes from. The beef was definitely tender and thankfully the soya sauce was not overpowering enough to mask the beef flavour completely. Using sliced beef also makes the mouth perceive a juicier bite compared to cubes.
Fried Rice with Seafood. Chinese multi-course dinners always end with a staple of either rice or noodles to make sure diners are full. This was the rice to make sure you couldn’t walk. By this time my dining partner already surrendered, but I soldiered on. Topped with dehydrated deep fried rice grains, the fried rice had a crunchy bite that brings an element of surprise to this common dish. A simple dish that can’t go wrong.
Combination of Desserts. From bottom: Osmanthus Jelly, Mango Pudding with Pomelo, Sago Dessert. Another Chef’s special, the first 2 are time-honoured Hong Kong desserts that anyone who trained in Hong Kong needs to know. Special highlight to the Chef’s own creation of a Sago dessert, containing lemongrass jelly, aloe vera and lime juice with bits of fruit. A very refreshing jelly that clears your palate after the meal.
Thanks to a very hospitable Irene from Four Seasons for hosting me at Summer Palace. It was truly a treat to review a good semi-fine dining Chinese restaurant amongst all the Western and European restaurant tastings.
The 50 seater restaurant’s décor reminiscences nostalgia and is a showcase of traditional Chinese restaurants with wooden fixtures and prosperous red highlights. An immensely popular pick for wedding dinners, Summer Palace also makes an excellent business lunch venue if you want to let your client sample Chinese Canton cuisine.
Expected Damage: $60/pax