Since Carlton Hotel Singapore’s grand opening in 1988, Wah Lok (the hotel’s award-winning Cantonese restaurant) has continually been ranked as one of “Singapore’s Best Restaurants” as well as “Singapore’s Top Restaurants” by both Singapore Tatler magazine as well as Wine & Dine magazine respectively. If you are looking for the most delicious Pen Cai (or Treasure Pot) in Singapore, look no further - it is here at Wah Lok in Carlton Hotel Singapore!
Last year, I sampled the restaurant's signature Alaskan Crab "Lo Hei" and this year, to mix things up a little, we got to try a completely different Hamachi Yu Sheng that is done in 'Soon Tak' Style. As some of you may already know, the Shunde District is located within the Guangdong Province of China and it is known to be one of the most affluent counties in the country. Instead of using sweet ingredients, the "Soon Tak" style yu sheng is a comparatively savoury one - it uses slightly different ingredients as well but the significance of this dish remains the same and that is for good fortune and abundance in the coming lunar new year.
One of the dishes that I always look forward to at Wah Lok is the BBQ Pork Bun (or more commonly-known as Bo Lo Bao amongst the locals). The Hong Kong-Style Pineapple Bun (菠蘿包) is definitely the best you can get in Singapore - the outsides are fluffy and the insides are warm and packed with delicious BBQ pork. The Steamed Vegetarian Dumpling with Bamboo Fungus in Truffle Oil features an extremely-delicate crystal-skin that takes absolute skills to make - I love the hint of truffle oil in this dim sum as it isn't too overpowering.
The Double-boiled Sea Whelk & Chicken Soup here at Wah Lok may look simple but it is brimming with flavours. The soup which is the result of hours and hours of careful preparation is clean on palate but yet complex at the same time. I love the sense of comfort that the soup gives me - I can't say that everyone feels the same but good Cantonese soups always remind me of a warm hug.
One of the newest additions to the Lunar New Year menu this year is the Marinated Fortune Chicken with 8-head Abalone (S$245). This dish can potentially be a substitute to the traditional treasure pot and it comes with a generous number of 8-head abalones as well as a whole fortune chicken. I love that luscious braised sauce that goes over and under every single ingredient in this pot - it really helps to bring all the different components together to create one unifying dish.
In between two very heavy dishes, a simple but carefully-executed Braised Asparagus stuffed in Bamboo Fungus was served. While it may not seem like much, the braised sauce here is the star and if you have eaten in Wah Lok Cantonese Restaurant, you would know that the sauces here are impeccable and faultless.
As mentioned earlier in the article, Wah Lok Cantonese Restaurant in the Carlton Hotel Singapore has what I would like to think is the best treasure pot or simply pen cai in Singapore. The Longevity Poon Choi is jam-packed with expensive ingredients and not only is it filled with abundance, it also smells divine. Granted it isn't the most affordable pen cai around in Singapore (since the regular one starts at S$408), it certainly is one of the most delicious ones around. After all, if you do have to indulge, you will simply want the best.
This three-layer Longevity Poon Choi comes with premium ingredients like whole abalone, scallops, sea cucumber, dried oysters, roasted duck, pan-fried fresh prawns, pork shank, dace fish balls, mushrooms, black moss, 'Tianjin' cabbage, radish as well as yam. The regular sized one (S$408) feeds approximately six adults while the large one (S$688) feeds up to 10 very hungry adults.
Another dish that Wah Lok Cantonese Restaurant has introduced this year is an alternative to the traditional nian gao - the Tuxedo Nian Gao comes with both 'black' as well as 'white' components (hence the name) and they are made out of nian gao as well as a almond cake. Being in the industry for close to 30 years now, Wah Lok has cemented itself as one of the best Cantonese restaurants in Singapore and even though it may not receive accolades from international critics on a regular basis, the locals know this is exactly the place to be if you want well-executed food without the fluff that goes behind plenty of Cantonese restaurants these days.
This was an invited media-tasting session, though all views expressed are my own.