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Located along the prestigious Tanglin Road belt, Orchard Parade Hotel, which houses this restaurant looks a little dark and dated, but some refurbishment work will change all that soon. The restaurant is designed with Chinese touches like ink paintings, decorative wood panels and lacquer artwork. There are seven private rooms which can accommodate different group sizes, making this popular for family celebrations and corporate luncheons.
The extensive menu, with clear images of the dishes, is thoughtfully divided under headings like Specialities, Live Seafood, Boutique, Delicacy, Soups & Bisque and Carvery. Start with the lobster prepared two ways. What arrives is a delightfully tasty piece of lobster pan-fried with a signature sauce and beside it, a mini watermelon bowl filled with a cocktail of fresh fruit and topped with sweet lobster meat.
The double-boiled sea whelk soup with black garlic and tender pieces of chicken gets our vote. As the soup is double-boiled, all the nutrients and flavours of the ingredients are sealed into the soup, so every drop is precious. The Peking duck here satisfies with crisp skin wrapped in thin pancake. Spring onion and sweet sauce are served on the side, so you can add as much or as little as you like. You are given a choice as to how to cook the duck meat. If you go with the fried rice option, you’ll get a reasonably sized portion that is filled with egg and edamame in addition to the moist meat.
Fans of live seafood can choose from Alaskan king crab and Scottish bamboo clam to the more exotic Canadian geoduck clam. The fish is prepared in various styles — from sautéed star garoupa fillet with broccoli and lily bulbs to braised soon hock with bittergourd and beancurd in claypot. As the speciality of pan-fried Norwegian salmon isn’t available, we try the steamed soon hock with Shanghai-style chilli sauce. What arrives is a dish of fish fillets doused in a pale green broth. While the fish is fresh, the appearance and lack of flavour make this a forgettable dish.
Instead, go for the sautéed scallop which is served atop fluffy egg white redolent with truffle. Presented in a deep-fried potato skin “basket” with tangy emulsion sauce and cranberries, this is an interesting combination of flavours that scores for creativity and presentation. You won’t go wrong with Chinese restaurant classics like barbecued suckling pig, Sichuan-style diced chicken with dried chilli and braised Dong Po pork with deep-fried buns.
However, if you’re tired of the usual fare, the chefs know how to put an Asian spin to Western ingredients. The foie gras dish is one example. A plump, creamy piece of foie gras is pan-fried and layered over crisp beancurd skin and a sliver of cucumber. Lavished with a special sweet sauce, it is presented on a pancake that you roll up to savour the winning combination of textures and exquisite taste.
There are two house red wines and two house white wines available by the glass, and a decent selection of full bottles to complement your meal. For something stronger, pick something from the list of Chinese wines, but be warned, some of these have up to 60 per cent alcohol content. There is a small selection of hard liquors, but there is always the option to bring your own, at a charge.
Service is friendly, attentive and prompt. Waitstaff and managers regularly make their rounds through tables, ensuring teacups are full, side plates changed and the meal is going well. Food is brought out quickly, which is excellent if you only have an hour for a work lunch. However, the pace may be a little too quick for a leisurely family meal on a Sunday as food ends up sitting on the table and getting cold while guests are still enjoying earlier dishes.
A starter, main and dessert averages $25 per person for lunch and $50 per person for dinner. A family meal for four including a whole fish, lobster, scallops, duck, foie gras and soup and a selection of dim sum will cost about $250, which is really good value for money. If you bring your own drinks, expect to pay a corkage fee of $30 per bottle for wine or champagne and $50 per bottle for hard liquor.