It has been a year since EMPRESS by The Privé Group opened up within the Asian Civilisation Museum and I remember my last visit to this amazing space has left a lasting impression on how good the food actually was. Therefore, I was really excited to be given the opportunity to check out the Valentine's Day (2017) menu here at EMPRESS before anyone else got to sample it. From 13 February 2017 to 14 February 2017, indulge in intricately-prepared Cantonese fare with a romantic view of the iconic Boat Quay as you celebrate the season of love at EMPRESS.
EMPRESS houses an impressive space that features design from Takenouchi Webb that harmonises traditional Chinese elements and modern design with a view to boot. Be sure to make your reservation for Valentine's Day (2017) early to get one of the tables with a view of Boat Quay - you will also benefit from an early-bird discount if you make your reservation before 06 February 2017!
For two days only, the Valentine's Day menu at EMPRESS is a 7-course meal with a choice of shared main that diners can select. Champagne-lovers can also benefit from ordering a discounted G.H. Mumm Cordon Rouge Brut at just S$108++ (U.P. S$138++) when dining on this special menu. Alternatively, a glass of this said Champagne is also available at S$28++ a glass (so save yourself some money and order the whole bottle instead).
Diners who choose to indulge in the Valentine's Day menu will be able to enjoy the perfectly-executed Royal Peking Duck from the Live Station - you will also be able to go back for seconds (or more!) if you do not have enough but I would advise you to take it slow as you are in for a treat with this specially-curated menu by Executive Chef Ricky Leung.
The second course is a duo of Caviar, Hokkaido Scallop & Yuzu Salad and the iconic Singapore Chilli Crab which is done in a more modern but more importantly, less messy style. Served on top a crispy prawn cracker, the Singapore Chilli Crab was done well and it was convenient to eat so there is no need to embarrass yourself in front of your date on a day like this. While the chilli crab was delicious, the salad was truly a nice surprise - I absolutely love how all the flavours come together. Firstly, the inclusion of fresh fruits like raspberry, mango and strawberry helped to make this dish a lot more refreshing (that zest from the Yuzu too!). Secondly, the natural sweetness from the fruits, complemented by the saltiness from the sesame dressing was a beautiful contrast. Lastly, I loved the savoury flavours from the caviar and the perfectly-executed Hokkaido Scallop which really made this dish a winning one for me personally.
After tasting that insanely-delicious King Prawn Dumpling in Supreme Broth from EMPRESS during my last visit, the soup in this Valentine's Day menu was highly-anticipated by me. Unlike the supreme broth that I have previously tasted, the Double-boiled Conpoy, Cabbage & Chicken Soup in Young Coconut is incredibly refreshing - the ingredients are placed into a freshly-cracked open young coconut (with the coconut water still intact) before steaming it for at least 1.5 hours to create a delicious soup that has both depth and flavours.
If the sight of abalones do scare you a little bit (considering how Valentine's Day is pretty close to the Lunar New Year), you would be glad to hear that the 8-head Abalone from South Africa here at EMPRESS is done to perfection - that braised sauce with black moss is delicious and that prawn paste-stuffed tofu pocket underneath it provided more texture and structure to an otherwise familiar dish.
Diners of the Valentine's Day (2017) menu will be given a choice of main for sharing - you will be able to select from one of three carefully-presented duo of dishes:
- Duo of Giant Tiger Prawns: Pan-fried Prawn Meat and Deep-fried Prawn Heads
- Duo of Live Green Wrasse: Traditional Steamed Fish Meat and Braised Fish Head
- Duo of Grass-fed Beef: Braised Beef Cheek and Black Pepper Seared Beef Tenderloin Cubes
The mains photographed above are of tasting portions and are not representative of the actual portions that you will receive on the actual day - the above sizes are individual serving portions only. My personal favourite has got to be the Duo of Grass-fed Beef and the Live Green Wrasse comes a close second but obviously fish bones are expected in the braised fish head component. The Braised Beef Cheek was a particularly good one - the cheeks were fork tender, the flavours were pronounced and delicious but more importantly, that sauce would have been perfect with a bowl of beef tendons. Don't get me wrong though - the prawns were still executed really well but I personally think that the beef and fish were both amazing.
If you are still not full by now, your carbohydrate component in this 7-course dinner is an Egg Fried Rice with olive bits, Chinese sausages, sakura baby shrimps and dried scallops. Having a meal in a Cantonese restaurant without having rice is almost unfathomable for me - I am absolutely in love with the version of fried rice here at EMPRESS. Every single grain of rice seems to be coated in the right amount of egg and flavours - the generous inclusion of Chinese sausages and olive also make every single spoonful a perfect one. I really liked how Chef Leung has topped off the dish with some crispy sakura baby shrimps and dried scallops to give the rice more umami flavours.
The specially-curated Valentine's Day (2017) menu at EMPRESS is available at S$108++ per adult for a 7-course meal and honestly, I think that the price is really quite reasonable (especially on a special occasion like this where other restaurants are charging an arm and a leg for less impressive food). If you do make your reservations before 06 February 2017, you will be able to enjoy an early-bird discount at just S$98++ per adult.
The article was created in collaboration with EMPRESS and Nikon Singapore for Valentine's Day (2017).