To set the theme for the year, Hai Tien Lo at Pan Pacific Singapore is launching a refreshed menu consisting of Cantonese flavours starting the 1st of March 2017. The Chinese restaurant is known to constantly present new twists to classics and I was there not too long ago to check out the sizzling claypot specialties. The new Cantonese specialties at Hai Tien Lo as a whole places greater emphasis in seafood. A fine wine list is even available for wonderful pairing experiences.
I was recently invited for a media luncheon at Hai Tien Lo. It was my first time to dine in one of the restaurant’s private rooms and I was impressed by the huge dinner table that could easily accommodate 20 people.
We started off with a combination platter consisting of Deep-fried Crispy Prawn with Mango and Pomelo Sauce ($12 per person) and Barbecue Honey-Glazed Pork with Foie Gras ($16). To be honest, I am perfectly happy with their Crispy Prawn with Wasabi. The new fruity coating that went with the prawns this time was an interesting change and obviously a much sweeter one that provided for a sharp contrast to the prominent crustacean flavour. The highlight to me however was the crispiness which was consistent with what I tried previously, albeit with a different coating. The honey-glazed pork on the other hand was topped with some seriously sinful foie gras. While the two components were wonderful when consumed separately, I thought there was more contrast in the texture – silky and melt-in-your-mouth against the springy meat – rather than in taste.
The Double-Boiled Fish Maw with Bamboo Pith in Fish Bone Broth ($68 per person) is a must-try. The broth is actually meticulously prepared. It is first simmered with fish bone for up to six hours while the cleaning and preparation of the fish maw takes up to two days. The result is a hearty and thick soup with plenty of collagen and a sweet and robust flavour. I am usually partial to fish maw soup but the one from Hai Tien Lo deserves to be tasted.
A different take to to bamboo clams which are usually flavoured with lots of garlic, the Stir-fried Fresh Scotland Bamboo Clam with Chef’s Signature XO Chilli Sauce ($13 per piece, minimum 2 pieces) is cut up into a few pieces and sprinkled with mushrooms, a bit of vegetables and finally, the addicting Hai Tien Lo XO Sauce. Make sure to try the deep fried golden mushrooms that come with it!
For those familiar with the iconic Beggar’s Chicken, the Salt-Crusted Traditional Stewed Chicken with Dried Scallops in Lotus Leaf ($88 for a whole chicken) provides more than a faint reminder. Again, this dish requires hours of preparation. The chicken is wrapped in lotus leaves with a range of premium ingredients such as dried scallops, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, carrots and Chinese Angelica and encased in a layer of salt crust which seals in all the aromas and flavours. It is then baked for an hour and upon cracking open the baked salt crust, the tender and juicy meat is revealed.
The poultry itself has a very distinct herbal aroma and is not stuffed. In that respect, it differs with the traditional Beggar’s Chicken. Do note that you have to order in advance if you wish to try this.
While the bulk of the new menu focuses on seafood, veggie lovers have the option of trying the Stewed Egg Bean Curd with Diced Chicken and Aubergine in Fragrant Vinegar and Spicy Bean Paste Sauce (starts at $24 for small portion). I loved how flaky the crust was and the tofu went very well with the bean paste sauce. Like the dishes preceding it, you would be reminded of a familiar Chinese dish – in this case it would be mapo tofu – but with a twist.
There seems to be a trend in incorporating udon into crustacean dishes. That is why I suddenly thought of a lobster dish I tried at Wan Hao upon being presented with the Steamed King Prawn with Inaniwa Udon in Egg White and Chinese Wine ($18 per person). The udon came thin and smooth although overall the broth was relatively light on the palate. Nonetheless, it is a refreshing change to your typical carbohydrate dish.
We ended the meal with a trio of desserts – Chilled Glutinous Rice Rolls with Mao Shan Wang Durian Paste ($24 per person), Chilled Osmanthus with Snow Swallow ($8 per person) and Steamed Egg Custard Buns with Cheese ($16 per person). The glutinous rice rolls was notable and my tummy is grumbling now as I reminisce that creamy durian filling within the sticky glutinous roll. The custard bun on the other hand was rich with the egg yolk molten into a savoury liquid. The cheese was evidenced via small chunks that came with it although the cheesiness was not too strong.
You can check out Hai Tien Lo’s new ala carte menu, which is applicable from 1st March 2017, here.
Hai Tien Lo
Pan Pacific Singapore
7 Raffles Boulevard
+65 6826 8240