The St. Regis Singapore's highly-acclaimed Yan Ting has a new Executive Chef (Tony Wun Shun Kong) to helm the award-winning Cantonese restaurant, Yan Ting, as well as the Chinese Banquet. For over a decade, Chef Tony has led and managed various teams of chefs at international five star hotels and restaurants and has even served dignitaries like former President of the United States of America, Mr. George Bush as well as Singapore's Minister Mentor, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. To celebrate his newly appointed position in The St. Regis Singapore, Chef Tony is presenting a selection of his specialities as well as an exquisite 8-course set menu (S$168++ per person) which is featured in this post.
The 8-course meal started with a Trio of Appetisers that contained a Shanghai-style Smoked Fish, Cucumber with Olive Oil as well as Marinated Jelly Fish with Scallion Oil. The smoked fish was my favourite appetizer although I do believe there was nothing much to shout about.
The second course is the Double-boiled Sea Whelk Soup with Black Garlic served in Teapot - also known as 功夫茶 which translates into Kungfu Tea. The soup is rich in flavour while holding a depth of flavours. If you go beyond the intense taste of the broth, you will find the sweetness of the sea whelk and black garlic. It is said that black garlic (which is achieved through a fermentation process) holds medicinal properties and it is starting to be used as a key ingredient in many Chinese restaurants these days.
The third course is the Macau-style Oven-baked Pork Ribs and Barbecued Pork Neck. It is safe to say that unlike other cuisines, Cantonese-style cooking focuses on the depth and intensity of flavours. The barbecued pork neck has succulent while remaining supple and pliable. Similarly, the oven-baked pork ribs was delicious and left me wanting for more.
The 小黄鱼 which directly translates into Little Yellow Fish is a species of croaker (or Sciaenidae) that is native to temperate waters. It is often believed that majority Chinese find it blasphemous to deep fry a good piece of fish. Therefore, little is usually done to a piece of fresh seafood and steaming is generally preferred. The preserved vegetables in this dish was well-balanced and had the right level of saltiness without competing with the sweetness of the flesh from the croaker. This is however a difficult fish to eat since it contains a lot of little bones - be careful if you are taking your kids!
Wagyu beef has long been utilised in restaurants to (pardon the pun but) beef up prices. Chef Tony's version of the Cantonese-style Stir-fried Wagyu Beef while being delicious with black pepper and garlic makes me wonder whether it was truly necessary to use it in the first place. With such excellent seasoning, perhaps it would have been more true to the roots of Cantonese cooking by using a different choice of beef.
The Braised Mushroom filled with Dried Scallop is one of my favourite dishes in this 8-course menu. The dried scallop (which is huge!) is practically stuffed into the braised mushroom and no, it does not actually fall off easily. The mushroom is thick and succulent while the braised sauce is delicious and rich. Even though the mushroom did not need any more flavours, the dried scallop provided texture that was typically lacking in similar dishes elsewhere. Besides, don't you think it looks absolutely beautiful?
The Wok-fried Rice with Sea Urchin and Fish Roe was one that I was personally very excited about and actually had high expectations. However I thought that it was slightly under-delivered as the sea urchin component of this dish seemed to be lacking. The flavours were great but I guess it just fell short of expectations.
The Steamed Caramel Ginger Milk (which ironically is served cold) puts a sweet end to this 8-course menu prepared by Chef Tony. Ginger which is believed to aid in indigestion and to promote healthy blood circulation, is used in Cantonese cuisine quite a lot. Ginger juice is extracted, cooked with milk and sugar and then left to cool in a fridge before serving it.
It is definitely interesting to see what else Chef Tony is going to come up with at Yan Ting in The St. Regis Singapore. Having over a decade of experience under his belt and exposure across so many different restaurants, I will definitely be keeping my eye out for him.
This was an invited food-tasting session.