In celebration of Master Chef Lai Tong Ping’s (黎东平) outstanding 10 years in Hai Tien Lo (海天楼), a carefully curated menu featuring handcrafted creations is now available at the award-winning Cantonese restaurant. The six-course menu consists of 10 items that showcase Chef Lai’s culinary finesse. Each course is presented to create a visually picture and present complementary flavours resulting from handmade ingredients.
The first of six dishes is a symphony of three different flavours. On the extreme left hand of the dish is a Crispy Prawn in Sesame Sauce. I particularly like the balance of flavours in the Sliced Barbecued Duck with Shredded Jelly Fish dish. It has a golden brown crispy skin that was air dried for six hours and barbecued for 45 minutes for a crisp finish with a sweet accent from malt sugar coating. The Pine Mushrooms in Chef's Signature XO Chilli Sauce is a popular menu item in Hai Tien Lo and one that I really enjoyed during the Weekend Dim Sum Buffet (click HERE to access the post on Hai Tien Lo's Weekend Dim Sum Buffet).
My favourite dish is definitely the second dish - Braised Fish Maw with Dried Scallop in Supreme Chicken Stock. The soup is simmered with carrots for eight hours, giving it a natural golden hue while preparation and cleaning of the fish maw takes up to two days. Locking in rich flavours, the supreme chicken stock is extremely comforting to drink.
The third dish of this special menu features the Sea Perch in two different cooking styles. Having a firm and fine texture, the fish is chosen to showcase its versatility. I personally prefer the steamed version - Sea Perch Fillet Steamed with Green Minced Onion Sauce. The green minced onion sauce is created by steeping minced onions and garlic for six hours for the flavours to fully develop. This results in a delicate dish with woody and fresh flavours. The Deep-fried Sea Perch with Signature Homemade Champagne Sauce in contrast has a buttery smooth sauce with notes of sweetness. I'm not a big fan of the latter cooking style as I personally think some of the flavours are lost. Besides, the Chinese have a rather purist way of preparing fish - good fish should only be steamed not fried.
The fourth dish is the Braised Pork Ribs with Preserved Vegetables and Deep-fried Bun. You should not be expecting Pork Ribs in this dish (although the name suggests otherwise). It actually looks like a leaner portion of the Pork Belly with a great meat to fat ratio. The meat is marinated a unique mix of Chinese herbs for two hours before being braised for four hours to achieve a melting consistency in the mouth.
You should always expect the last dish to be one with carbohydrates when you go for a Chinese dinner. The fifth dish (being the final dish before desserts) is the Wok-fried Fish Noodles with Sea Cucumber and Scallop. The dish is carefully prepared and presented in a paper parcel. The unique consistency of the fish noodles is achieved by simmering it in a rich broth for up to two hours before it is wok-fried to achieve a light charred flavour. Adding a touch of indulgence to the dish, the sea cucumber is soaked overnight before it is braised in stock and baked with the fish noodles for the flavours to fully bind together.
The final dish is a dessert to really seal the deal.Three handcrafted desserts were presented to refresh the senses. The smooth blend of Mango Sago is a fragrant concoction made from ripe mangoes and soft sago, To be honest it was rather ordinary and did not stand out as much. On the other hand, the Avocado Cream really made an impression. The cream with smooth and flavourful, packing a velvety punch. Finally, the Osmanthus Jelly is a light ambrosial flavoured dessert that is boiled for two hours with osmanthus flowers to fully extract its delicate flavours.
This celebratory six-course menu is available from 7 July 2014 till 31 December 2014 at $108++ per person for lunch or dinner.
This was an invited food-tasting session.