The Park Hotel Clarke Quay is located just minutes away from some of the best bars and restaurants in the area. When I checked out the dinner buffet at Brizo previously, I did not see a Chinese restaurant on property so when I actually saw an invite to try out their Chinese New Year menu, I was intrigued. Just to clarify, there is no Chinese restaurant at the Park Hotel Clarke Quay (well, not now anyway) and the dishes created by Banquet Chef James Wong will be served at the hotel's function rooms. Honestly, the food that was prepared by Chef James surprised me thoroughly. Considering how the hotel does not have an actual Chinese restaurant, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of food that was served - I dare say it is better than some established Chinese restaurants out there!
Like all other Chinese New Year dinners that I have been to, the first dish is always a Lo Hei (or a Yusheng). Park Hotel Clarke Quay's version comes with seven different types of fruits that are arranged in a beautiful fashion with generous amounts of lobster and fresh crab meat. This is one of my favourite yushengs this year and it's surprisingly affordable. In fact, I would go as far and say that it is actually one of the most economical ones I have seen this year. The Rainbow Lobster & Crab Meat ‘Lo Hei’ is available in both small (4-6 persons) and large (7-10 persons) versions which are priced at S$68++ and S$98++ respectively.
The next dish that I have sampled was also really good. The red garoupa was fresh and the flesh of it remained delicately firm. The soybean crumbs also added some texture to the dish which I thought was a nice touch since it was not overpowering.
The Herbal Emperor Chicken from Chef James was hands-down, my favourite dish of the night. This traditional dish has been given a contemporary twist by first deep-frying and baking the chicken before finally steaming it in a basket with seven different types of herbs. The result of this tedious process? A fork-tender chicken that is perfectly seasoned while still remaining moist.
The following dish was yet another success - the Stir-fried Jumbo Tiger Prawn in Salted Egg Yolk Sauce truly makes me question the hotel's decision on not having a Chinese restaurant. Fresh jumbo-sized tiger prawns are deep-fried to a perfectly crisp state before being bathed in this delicious salted egg yolk sauce. You could practically eat the prawn whole (with the shell intact) if you like.
When compared to everything that was served, the Deep-fried Prawn with Green Tea Mayo Sauce for me personally, did not meet that crazy high benchmark that the Chef was setting. Do not get me wrong though - the dish itself is still delicious but following a successive streak of amazing dishes, I thought this dish was good at best. Perhaps, I am just not a fan of mayonnaise personally but people around me adored this dish!
I really enjoyed the Braised Sea Cucumber & Ling Zhi Mushroom with Broccoli as well. Firstly, I love the Ling Zhi mushrooms (especially when the braised sauce is delicious) since they do absorb some of the sauce. I also love the texture and crunch of the broccoli when these two components are put together. While you do not see the sea cucumber in the photo (since they are all hidden underneath), I can assure you that there is plenty to indulge in.
For the final dish before dessert, a simple but delicious Seafood Mee Sua (Rice Vermicelli). One thing I really like about the Chinese New Year (2016) menu at Park Hotel Clarke Quay is that is food is absolutely unpretentious but consistently good. The Seafood Mee Sua was such a delight to eat - even though I did joke that there was more seafood than the carbohydrates itself.
No points for guessing who the King of Fruit actually is. For dessert, the deep-fried durian was another crowd's favourite (unless you didn't like durian of course). Since the fruit itself is seasonal, Chef James actually utilised a paste instead of the fresh fruit for a more consistent presentation and taste. While it was delicious, I would have preferred it if the dessert was seasonal but with that being said, there was nothing I could have faulted on with the dish - it was light and crisp on the outside while the insides were just bursting with flavour.
Did I love the Chinese New Year menu at Park Hotel Clarke Quay? My answer is a resounding yes. To be honest, I did not come here thinking I would be impressed - especially since there isn't a Chinese restaurant - but I am blown away. The dishes presented were honest, delicious and surprisingly affordable. If I had to select a dark horse for the Lunar New Year this year, the Park Hotel Clarke Quay has to be it!