Last month (September 2015), Shang Palace within the luxurious Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore welcomed her brand new Dim Sum Chef Li Shou Tao. With a team of seven chefs, Dim Sum Chef Li will be responsible for conceptualising the 40-year-old Cantonese restaurant's established brand to delight diners with his blend of innovative ideas and traditional dim sum making techniques. Prior to joining the Shangri-La family, Chef Li has had over 23 years of culinary experience across hotels in China and renowned F&B groups in Singapore.
The first dish I sampled was the Steamed Lobster Dumpling with Bitter Gourd. Firstly, how adorable are the little baskets?! I really like the translucence and the chewiness of the dumpling skin. What I like more is the generous serving of freshly-cooked lobster with the crunch of the bitter gourd.
The next dish was a trio of three different dim sum combinations. Firstly on the top left hand side, the Barbecued Pork Buns - the contents were really delicious and the fluffy (yet crispy) outsides of this pork bun puts the famed-Tim Ho Wan to shame. Next, the Steamed Boletus Aereus Dumpling is an interesting one. Having a similar dumpling texture to first dish that I have sampled, this dumpling comes packed with the highly-prized Queen Bolete mushroom. Finally the Turnip Pastry with Foie Gras which is shaped like a carrot has an excellent filo pastry on the outside - what is lacks however is a more pronounced and refined taste of the foie gras.
One can argue that a staple to any good dim sum restaurant is this - the Steamed Siew Mai with Fish Roe, Prawn and Mushroom. Packed with fresh prawns and flavourful meat, the siew mai was a delight to eat but yet at the same time, it doesn't exude any form of reinterpretation. With that being said, I strongly believe that Chef Li wanted to keep the essence and authenticity of this very dish since it can very well define an entire dim sum experience (I kid you not!).
A trio of yum cha favourites was served after - the Pan-fried Bun with Chilli Crab Meat truly blew me away (in the best possible way) - the contents were bursting with flavours and the bun was crispy and unbelievably soft inside. The Steamed Turnip Cake with Egg White and Conpoy (which is reminiscent of a Japanese chawanmushi) was quite interesting but it definitely goes better with a touch of XO Sauce.
In conjunction with the current Hairy Crab season, we managed to try the Braised Tofu with Hairy Crab Meat and Roe. Instead of getting your hands dirty, the best parts of the Hairy Crab have already been extracted for your enjoyment - the consistent and smooth roe is integral to that flavourful thick broth that goes perfectly well with the silky tofu. This is definitely a dish I'd recommend to try!
Finally, for the main carbohydrate, I tried the Braised Hairy Crab with "Shiso" Leaves on Glass Noodles. I have to say that even though I really disliked getting my hands dirty for the crab, that glass noodle and thick broth were both excellent. I really like the texture of the noodles - unlike the usual ones that you are used to - and how chewy it actually is.
For dessert, a medley of Steamed Layer Cake, Coconut Combination with Ginger Tea and Glutinous Rice Ball were served. It is not uncommon to find the hairy crab dishes being paired with hot Ginger Tea. The Chinese believe that the cold nature of the crabs have to be paired with something of a "heaty" nature in order to achieve balance.