A right royal feast
NEW Chinese restaurant Royal Pavilion has been picking up buzz since it opened 21/2 months ago. No surprise, because it boasts some veterans in the industry.
Helming the kitchen of the restaurant at Park Regis Singapore hotel in Merchant Road is executive chef Chung Ho Shi, previously executive chef of Golden Peony at Conrad Centennial Singapore hotel.
Fronting the service team is director Ken Ang, who used to manage Pavilion Paradise restaurant at Marina Bay Financial Centre.
They make a good team: Ang charms diners with his gift of the gab, while Hong Kong-born Chung wins them over with his cooking, making Royal Pavilion one of the best Chinese restaurants to open in a while.
The food is mostly Cantonese, but there are also some Sichuan dishes, which the chef probably picked up during his last posting at Millennium HongQiao Hotel Shanghai before returning here last year.
Hong Kong chefs have a particular talent for taking the heat out of spicy Sichuan dishes without losing the flavour and aroma.
Chung does this very well in the Szechuan Poached Chicken ($12.80), a cold starter called koushui ji (saliva chicken in Mandarin). The chilli oil poured over the smooth and juicy pieces of meat is fragrant but does not burn, which makes the dish a hit with everyone at the table, including those who cannot stomach the authentic fiery version.
Another good dish to start with is the Wok-fried Carrot Cake With Royal Pavilion's "Lao Gan Tie" Chilli Sauce ($8.80). Lao gan tie, which means old godfather, is the name of a blend of spicy sauce from China and is the equivalent of the XO sauce which many other restaurants use for this dish.
But what is also good here is the texture of the radish - not carrot - cake, which is soft but not mushy.
You should also order the Royal Smoked Duck With Lychee-wood And Leaves ($35 for half a duck). It looks like roast duck, but has the added allure of a smoky flavour infused into the crispy skin and juicy, tender meat.
The smoking also cuts down the oiliness. Despite a visible thin layer of fat under the skin, it tastes lighter than a roast duck.
The shark's fin, bird's nest and abalone dishes - which can easily cost more than $50 a person - are too expensive for a family meal for most people, but it is worth splurging on a steamed live fish.
The Marble Goby Steamed In Supreme Soya Sauce ($90 a kg) is excellent. Cooked just right, the meat is smooth and sweet, with the sauce enhancing the flavours without overwhelming them.
Other dishes I tried - such as the Sauteed Asparagus With Wild Mushroom In White Truffle Oil ($28) and Wok-fried Beef Cubes With Sliced Garlic In French Style ($24) - are decent, but don't stand out.
Leave room for dessert, especially the Homemade Walnut Cream ($6). It has a lovely aroma of freshly toasted nuts and is not overly sweet. Few restaurants serve this, so it is a rare treat.
SundayLife! paid for its meal at the eatery reviewed here.
Level 1, Park Regis Singapore, 23 Merchant Road, tel: 6818-8851
Open: 11.30am to 2.30pm,
6 to 10.30pm daily
Price: Budget from $60 a person, more if you order live seafood