It is two weeks to Christmas, and for many, the season to celebrate that special time of the year with our loved ones is upon us. Yet for all the roast turkeys or honey glazed hams that will find its way onto the dinner table, it is definitely something else altogether to dine with Cantonese cuisine for the period as a departure from the norm.
Cassia, the luxurious Capella Singapore’s Cantonese specialty restaurant, promises just that with a Christmas lunch and dinner set menu specially arranged by Executive Chinese Chef Lee Hiu Ngai for Christmas eve and Christmas itself. Priced at $98++ and $168++ for lunch and dinner respectively, each menu presents 6 courses that highlight the menu’s signature dishes. Notably, the lunch and dinner sets are largely different with wagyu and lobster being available in the evening. Dinner also promises each diner a glass of Taittinger Champagne.
Amuse bouche of seasoned cherry tomato. Sweet, bursting with flavour, umami rich. Amazing!
Start off the meal with a Combination of Crispy Suckling Pig with Avocado and Crispy Beancurd Skin, Chicken Wing Stuffed with Minced Shrimp, Steamed Lobster Dumpling with Gold Flake. The use of avocado surprised me, and yet when it is paired with the crispy suckling pig, the flavours melded well together reminding me of a certain familiarity in both savouriness and buttery goodness. My favourite had to be the Chicken Wing Stuffed with Minced Shrimp. The mid-wing comes deboned and chock full of a sweet, meaty prawn paste that is marvelous with each bite.
I highly recommend pairing the meal with a side of homemade XO Sauce condiment. The flavours of prawn, chilli, amongst other special ingredients, are well concentrated here. Each portion is punchy with flavour and provides a texture that gives a satisfying mouthfeel. I absolutely loved the xo sauce.
Double-boiled soups are perhaps one of the most well-known examples of Cantonese cuisine. When I saw on the menu that we were going to have the Double-Boiled Thick Chicken Broth with Sea Cucumber, Fish Maw, Dried Scallop and Sea Whelk, i was unabashedly excited. Like a child returning home to the loving arms of his family, the flavours from the broth were deeply comforting and satisfying. Although the collagen-rich stock was just a touch thin for my preference, I savoured each bite from the gelatinous fish maw and sea cucumber.
The Wok-fried Australian M9 Wagyu Beef with Black Pepper Sauce is without doubt one of the Chef’s signatures. It has been a constant on the menu throughout the years, and it is perfectly executed. The beef with tender to the bite, yet with a marbled crispness that balance well. The piquant pepper sauce was sweet and savoury, whilst providing just that layer of heat to excite the tastebuds. It is a dish that will appeal to gourmands who prefer the traditional over the innovative.
When the Steamed Lobster arrived, the thing that caught my attention the most were the bits of crispy fermented bean paste scattered all over the halved portion of lobster meat. They were my favourite part of this entire dish. Nevermind the gorgeous and fresh sweet lobster that goes excellently with the base of premium soy sauce. It was the fragrance of the crispy fermented bean paste together with touches of hearty savouriness and a mellow sweetness that simply stood out in each bite. I found myself picking off every grain from the dish.
The fifth course for the night was the Stewed Inaniwa Udon with Abalone and Pan-fried Scallop. This dish hit all the right notes for me. The udon was gorgeously texture, retaining just the right amount of bite in each portion. The scallops were tender whilst being wonderfully seared with that nice charred surface. The baby abalone was imply a luxurious accompaniment. But it is the glistening savoury stock that bound the various ingredients on the dish altogether. Crisp, savoury, umami-rich, and yet with that gentle elegance that does not overpower, this dish certainly stood out to me the most throughout the night.
Before the night came to an end, I was served the choice selection of Homemade Almond Cream with Bird’s Nest. The hot almond cream, delicately smooth and indulgent as it is, is taken a notch further with a generous portion of crisp bird’s nest that simply makes this dessert divine. I was keen for more, and even considered ordering a portion of almond cream from the menu.
The Christmas Menu that I tried for dinner was in short, excellent. I enjoyed most, if not all, the dishes presented, and they were certainly classics that demonstrate refined culinary technique and a choice use of flavours. Indeed, though the set menu has items that can be ordered from the menu, the unique touches here and there such as the use of bird’s nest and the presentation of luxurious ingredients within the set price, makes this one set menu worth considering for Christmas! The dishes may not be outrightly modern or innovative in today’s context, but it certainly has heart.
Thank you Capella Singapore for the invitation.
1 The Knolls
Reservations: +65 6591 5000
The Christmas Set Menus are only available for 24th and 25th December 2017. Lunch menu is priced at $98++. Dinner is priced at $168++ and comes with a glass of Taittinger Champagne.