The Summer Pavilion at The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore needs no introduction - it was the first Cantonese restaurant in a hotel to receive One Michelin star in Singapore and the food has always been consistently good. I have been to the restaurant on multiple occasions (usually in the day) and the lighting has always been great but unfortunately this time, I was stuck with a dinner tasting of the Chinese New Year menu and therefore the images do not do the food any justice.
Anyone who has been to Summer Pavilion at The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore would be able to attest to the quality of food served in this restaurant. Like any good restaurant, the dining experience is further complemented with exemplary service that is not commonly-found in Singapore restaurants.
The Abalone and Black Caviar Yu Sheng here is not for the faint-hearted and I love how the black caviar is only added after the symbolic tossing has been completed (otherwise you will never be able to find them in the mess!). As you would imagine, the yu sheng here had the perfect balance of sweetness, sourness and also savouriness that came from the caviar as well as abalone. In fact, what made the entire experience more memorable was the fact that the person saying the auspicious greetings in Mandarin was not actually Chinese!
There are a few Yu Sheng versions here at Summer Pavilion and the Abalone and Black Caviar version (S$138 for small and S$276 for large) is top of the indulgent list. The restaurant also provides the regular salmon (as well as a vegetarian) version for approximately half the price. Additional ingredients could also be added to the Yu Sheng to make it more decadent if you so desire.
One of the most memorable dishes that I have ever sampled here at Summer Pavilion is the Double-boiled Superior Chicken Soup, Fish Maw, Bamboo Pith, Chinese Cabbage (which I last tasted back in 2016 when the restaurant was award one Michelin star). The Double-boiled Japanese Geoduck, Clam Superior Soup, Broccoli, Bamboo Pith, Bean Sprout and Black Medlar however, was the opposite of that. While the broth remains flavourful, I somehow miss the thickness and richness of the chicken soup that I have had years ago.
The use of quality ingredients is something that Summer Pavilion takes plenty of pride in - the Steamed Soon Hock Fish, Dried Beancurd Skin and Minced Garlic is the perfect representation of that. While the ingredients on their own do not seem to be exceedingly luxurious, the execution and timing of this dish requires experience. The natural sweetness from the fresh fish is complemented with the savouriness from the sauce underneath it and the finely-minced garlic provides the dish with little bursts of heat as you chew through this delicious combination of familiar, yet, somewhat remote flavours.
Eating prawn heads is definitely not something that most people are used to - especially if you are not Cantonese. The Pan-fried Prawns, Head and Tail, Soya Sauce Sautéed Prawns, Fungus, Chives and Black Medlar features an ingredient that is done both ways and even though I was personally not too keen on eating that prawn head, I found the flavours to be extremely pronounced (even though I probably should not take a cholesterol test right now) once you get past the trouble of biting into it. While the photo above may not really seem like it, the presentation of this dish was simple and elegant but the the flavours were complex and intriguing.
If I had to pick a personal favourite dish during dinner, it would most definitely have to be the Hokkien-style Fried Rice, Duck Meat, Prawn, Conpoy and Chicken. The dish reminded a lot of us of Mui Fan (烩饭) and with my limited food knowledge, I dare say it does resemble that dish a little. With that being said, the Hokkien-style Fried Rice here is so much more than just that - the rice do not clump together at all and they remain separate from each other while that delicious gravy brings everything together. If this dish does not bring out the true values of the Chinese New Year, I do not know what else would
The food at Summer Pavilion is as good as I remember it to be - I dare say that it is the only Cantonese restaurant in Singapore that I see a stark difference in execution and presentation. While the new menu introductions were delicious, I do miss the thicker soups that chef Cheung Siu Kong used to prepare - I am sure it is still part of the a la carte menu but I personally feel that those dishes are what give Summer Pavilion the character that it is known for.
This was an invited media-tasting session, though all views expressed are my own.