UPDATE (17/06/2014): I just went to Sentosa again yesterday, and discovered that Chinois has been renamed to Tung Lok Heen.
I'm pretty sure that most, if not all, people think that a reunion dinner on Chinese New Year should be loud and cheerful. Since I'm a person who just wants to avoid the crowd and noise all the time, I purposely had mine with my eating buddy, as well as Pikachu and Melon last Friday instead at Chinois, a restaurant by a celebrity chef, Susur Lee, who hailed from HK and migrated to Canada where he worked his way to become a renowned chef.
Chinois is the chef's first restaurant outside North America. The simple, yet eclectic decor of the restaurant appealed to my senses, especially the juxtaposition of woods and stones with elegant red elements. Pikachu couldn't wait to gobble his dish!
Melon posed just before she drank her soup. Anyway, we went for the individually plated Chinese New Year Set Menu A priced at S$98.00 per person. It was a six course dinner, and I should go through each dish in chronological order, beginning with the restaurant's signature appetiser.
Honey-Glazed Bak Kwa with Wasabi Sauce
Bak kwa (Chinese pork jerky) was the appetiser outside the set menu (free of charge!) that was ready on the table when we were seated. I enjoyed meat strips, intensified in their smoky aroma with the sesame seeds, which weren't overly sweet. It was an interesting experience to eat them with wasabi (Japanese horseradish) sauce which was mild, and yes, the combination was pretty good.
Conbination of Seafood Platter (Set Menu)
The first course was a plate of Hokkaido scallops, salmon slices and geoduck clams drizzled with lightly salted soy sauce and sesame oil. I truly appreciated the freshness of the seafood, with the scallops being my favourite since they were so naturally sweet. The fatty salmon slices melted in the mouth to give that expected oomph, and the geoduck clams were firm and chewy at the same time.
Double-Boiled Superior Shark's Fins with Fresh Abalone and Cabbages in Chicken Broth (Set Menu)
Crisp-Fried Cod Fish with Enoki Mushrooms and Spicy Sauce (Set Menu)
The thin crispy layer surrounding the cod fish was a lovely contrast to moist, sweet flesh. Extra crunch was aptly provided by the deep-fried enoki mushrooms which were savoury. However, it wasn't so much about the flesh which was pretty fresh as it ought to be, but rather the accompanying plum sauce which was tangy and mild, but it was indeed that subtle hint of spiciness that was needed.
Homemade Crispy Duck (Set Menu)
The crispy duck might not be able to outshine the rest of the dishes in the set menu, but it did has its own charm due to the aromatic meat and crackling skin delicately covered by springy thin wrappings. It was a pity that the duck meat wasn't as moist as I wished it'd be. Still, the streaks of hoisin sauce (Chinese sauce made of starch, soybeans, vinegar, etc.) made the dish look classy.
Wok-Fried Waxed Meat Rice and Crispy Rice Served with Lotus Leaf
The source of carbohydrate for the evening was a plate of fried rice which was reminiscent of lo mai gai (Chinese glutinous rice dumpling), emitting a heady wok hei, or 'breath of the wok'. I'm not a big fan of lap cheong (Chinese dried pork sausage); in fact, some of them I tried before had a repulsive smell which just turned me off. However, the ones used the other day were different, being pretty moist as if they weren't dried and adequately sweet. The shredded eggs, seaweed and crispy rice toppings were as delightful as their appearances.
Black Forbidden Rice with Cream of Pumpkin and Ice Cream (Set Menu)
The meal ended with a cold dessert of silky smooth cream of pumpkin coupled with vanilla ice cream. How bizarrely creamy, one may think, but apparently it wasn't the case. Not only it wasn't cloyingly sweet, but it also had the right degree of thickness that it could be swallowed easily. Also, I was thankful that the ice cream didn't rob the pumpkin cream of its aroma. Each spoonful, with a bit of black rice grains and pistachios as two contrasting savoury elements, was an adventure.
All in all, it was such as a wonderful dinner. Pika's advice: If they're still serving the Chinese New Year set meals, you may want to try those which are served communal style when you come in a large group!
Tung Lok Heen
(fr. Chinois by Susur Lee)
26 Sentosa Gateway
#02-142/143 Hotel Michael
Resorts World Sentosa
(Daily: 6.00pm - 12 midnight)
(Daily: 6.00pm - 12 midnight)
*Prices quoted are subject to 10% service charge and 7% GST.
Have a nice meal,Cliff(y)