1. Crystal Jade Prestige
From a whole smoked peking duck ($88) to various types of dim sum, Crystal Jade Prestige’s menu is extensive and full of variety — as with most Asian establishments.
Be sure to try out thir baked barbecue pork with sesame pastry ($6.20 for three) that’s served with pine nuts, not sesame and boasts a soft, buttery pastry. Another favourite is the deep-fried crispy beancurd skin roll ($6.20) that has a beancurd skin much crispier than the ones served in most other restaurants. The springy shrimp paste wrapped in the skin is delightful too.
#02-01, Marina Bay Link Mall, 8A Marina Boulevard
Text and Photo: Wong Ah Yoke/Straits Times
Cosily nestled in the Asian Civilisations Museum looking out to the Singapore River, EMPRESS is a mix of unhurried elegance and vibrant energy.
And this is translated in their Cantonese flavours with modern touches as well. Their express set lunch comprises a meat, soup and rice — satisfying yet affordable.
Text: Pinky Chng/The Finder
Like at other Chinese restaurants, the suckling pig is first served whole. The crispy skin on its back is shaved off into thin square slices, which are eaten with spring onion, cucumber and sweet sauce on a steamed wafer.
The rest of the pig goes back to the kitchen, but it comes back later – first chopped into chunks of meat from the flank and thigh, and then as meat fillet oven-baked with lemongrass. I especially like the freshly chopped-up meat, which is tender and juicy.
The suckling pig needs to be ordered a day in advance, but if that does not work for you, get the Roast Pork Belly ($14) instead. This comes from a mature pig, so the crackling is thicker and the meat not as tender, but it is good too.
Or try the Barbeque Honey Pork ($18 for small), which is prepared Hong Kong-style, with slightly fatty meat that is tender and juicy.
#05-02 National Gallery Singapore, 1 St. Andrew’s Road
Text: Wong Ah Yoke/Straits Times
4. Sum Yi Tai
Its name means “third wife” in the dialect and evokes a young, vivacious free spirit married into richness. Most poor men, one can safely assume, would not have a third wife.
But the bar, which occupies the ground floor of a shophouse, does not quite look the part of wealthy decadence.
There are attempts at Oriental kitsch via red lights, birdcages turned into lamp shades and a wall covered in mahjong tiles. But the music, comprising mainly Cantopop hits from the 1980s and 1990s, is pretty wholesome. And so is the food.
So while the soothing tones of Danny Chan or Sandy Lam waft through the bar, munch on dishes such as Frog Legs With Chilli & Pepper ($18) and Maple Honey Glazed Char Siew ($12).
The dishes are mostly Cantonese, with a bit of Sichuan, but there are also a few original items that stand out. They include the Lunch Meat Chips ($9), thinly sliced luncheon meat deep-fried till crispy. It is a simple but tasty idea and, though a little salty, goes well with drinks.
The Signature Golden Ginger Chips ($10) are a winner too. They are not as crispy, but are less salty. There is only a bit of fire left in the ginger, but that is enough to pique the tastebud and you’ll find that you’re unable to stop popping slice after slice into your mouth!
25 Boon Tat Street
5. Xin Yue
The Cantonese restaurant, which opened in 2015 at River Valley Road, is headed by Fung Chi Keung, former group executive chef of the Paradise Group. He repeats many of the popular dishes from the group’s flagship, Taste Paradise, in his eatery.
Among them is the Shark’s Fin In Superior Broth ($38.80 to $88 a person, depending on the fin quality), which he serves in a stone bowl, accompanied by a long and slim spring roll.
He had created the dish when he helped to open Taste Paradise in 2006.
Another popular dish at Taste, though not exclusive to it, is the Fried Carrot Cake With XO Sauce, which is available in two versions here.
The one from the dim sum menu costs $6.80 while the one from the a la carte menu, which is cooked with a better- quality XO sauce, costs $7.80.
But there are new dishes too.
Among the dim sum, for example, is a Curry Cheong Fun ($5.80), something that is very common in Kuala Lumpur, but not served much here.
The steamed rice rolls are covered in curry gravy, though the version here is closer to a laksa as it contains fried pig’s skin and beancurd puffs. In Kuala Lumpur, the curry sauce is usually plain.
#01-51/54, 207 River Valley Road
Text and Photo: Wong Ah Yoke/Straits Times