I am on my best behaviour tonight as I’m dining with my wife and the in-laws (or should I say “the out-laws”?)
By being on my best behaviour, I mean holding back on drinks which can be more torturous than the water torture that Vietcongs used on prisoners-of-war during the Vietnam war for those of you who understand what I mean.
You see, my wife Mysaucepan hails from the weird and wonderful city of Singapore and whenever we are in town, the temptation to stray off the spectacular array of street food is pretty remote. Let’s face it, what can be more flavoursome than Singapore’s famed chilli crab, a woking hot plate of char kway teow or curry fish head? And this is not even the tip of Singapore’s hawker food iceberg.
But being a world-class city means that some of Singapore’s international hotels have stepped up their game by hiring and attracting world-class chefs to meet the culinary demands of expatriates, business executives, tourists and visitors alike. As a result, some of the restaurants in these hotels offer world-class cuisine and operate at the highest level of service and hospitality.
Hai Tien Lo at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Marina Square, offering fine Cantonese cuisine, is one such restaurant.
We are greeted by tall and lanky waitresses clad in traditional cheong sam upon our arrival on the 37th floor of the Pan Pacific Hotel. Their elegance is perhaps only surpassed by the circular-shaped dining room setting which takes commanding views of the Singapore skyline.
As we settle down to read the menu, the lights and laser beams of Singapore’s newest icon, the Marina Bay Sands hotel and casino are simmering in the distance.
We decide on an impressive sounding six-course Cantonese banquet that includes among other things abalone, birds’ nest soup and soft-shell crab for what appears to be a reasonable S$130.00 including taxes and service charges (approximately A$108.00).
It is also new year’s eve 2010 tonight so there is an air of excitement because diners are feasting and also eagerly awaiting the showcase of fireworks later that evening. The vantage point for viewing the fireworks from our dining table is perfect as it overlooks Marina Bay and the harbour beyond.
The birds’ nest soup arrives and its fragrance beckons as soon as the lid is opened. The broth is a clear honey golden brown, subtle in flavour and sweetness.
An entree of wasabi mayonnaise prawns with dragon fruit, honey dew and apple comes with three large king prawn cutlets, gently seared and coated with the slight sting of the dressing. Although not quite traditional Cantonese, this is one of the more refined wasabi mayo prawns that I have tasted, even comparing with the best of Japanese restaurants. The cold apple and honey dew cubes provide a refreshing crunch and contrast in temperature with the warm and succulent prawns.
A slow braised baby abalone and black truffle in oyster sauce is perhaps the best version that I have experienced anywhere in the world. The abalone was soft and succulent, where flavours are enhanced by the rich oyster sauce and a delicate snippet of the black truffle.
The view of the Singapore skyline is spectacular and provide a beautiful backdrop against the charming dining room as we dined.
The next course was a slightly more intense flavoured black pepper beef tenderloin.
The skill of the Cantonese chef is clearly on display as each cube of beef is meltingly tender and coated with just the right amount of a black peppery sauce that is void of any excess oil even on the serving plate itself.
The finale main is deep-fried soft shell crab and egg noodles. The servings thus far are quite generous and we feel sufficiently fed by the time this dish arrives. The soft shell crab is crispy and has all the strong flavours of fresh crab and contrasts beautifully with the soft silky noodles studded with whole cloves of garlic and garnished with shallots and coriander.
Dessert is a deep fried custard with chocolate biscuit and honeyed walnuts which gave a crispy crunch to the soft creamy custard.
So dear readers, do you have a favourite restaurant located in a hotel anywhere in the world?
Hai Tien Lo
Level 37, Pan Pacific Singapore
7 Raffles Boulevard, Marina Square
Tel: +65 6336 8111
Toll free reservation within Singapore: 1800 7224 342
Please see list of international toll free numbers
Absolutely gorgeous pictures of the city.
That looks like a stunning meal! The abalone and black truffle description sounds ambrosial!
ive never had abalone before, im so deprived… though truffle sauce does sound delicious.
Aww i want to go to singapore… mhhh fooooood *melts*
The abalone and truffle sound amazing, what a great combination. Lovely presentation and photograph of the dish!
I adore abalone, the one on your post looks absolutely delectable. The last time I was in Singapore I was six, it sure has changed from the looks of things.
That is quite the meal and the views are stunning! Your description of the slow-braised baby abalone definitely left me wanting more.
Your first photo looks simply mouth watering. I feel as if I could just reach in and pluck out that piece of truffle!
A lovely dinner here! I would especially love to try that baby abalone with black truffle!
Amazing restaurant! The food sounds so good! And the views are amazing! I love Singapore, it is such a vibrant city!!!
Oh my goodness I can’t decide whether I just want to check this hotel out for the views (& what a night to check it out too huh) or order a tripple serve of the slow-braised baby abalone – bet it was just the best too
I hope the holding-back-on-drinks-torture was soothed a little by this gorgeous food and the wonderful view over the city! 😉 But if you compare it with the Vietcong water torture it must have been *very* hard! 😯
Oh C & MSP…. I love your life of eating out! LOL. You are funny about holding back on drinks. The slow-braised baby abalone and black truffle in oyster sauce… It’s amazing. You eat so well….and making us drool…. I’ve never been to Singapore, but it’s always been one of the countries I’d love to visit one day.
You had me at the braised abalone. Hubba hubba. 😉
I have to give credit to my wife, Mysaucepan, as she took all the photos on the night and having a food blog was something foreign to me even as recent as December 2010.
Hi Maris, Singapore is a great place to visit for food, food and shoping.
Hi Lorraine, ambrosial might just be the most apt description for the abalone.
Hi Dolly, you live in Sydney and you’ve never had abalone??
Hi Corrine, the abalone was sublime.
Hi Dumpling Girl, time for another visit to Singapore.
Hi Faith, I had to do justice to the abalone, it really was good.
Hi Anna, the truffle went really well with the abalone.
Hi 5 Star Foodie, look like the abalone is the overwhelming favourite.
Hi Manu, Singapore is one of my favourite cities too
Hi Anna, you’re right, the abalone was the clear winner.
Hi Kath, it was very hard for someone like me who likes his drinks
Hi Nami, it was a special occasion and we don’t do this often. You ought to make a side detour to Singapore whenever visit Taiwan.
Hi Carolyn, thankfully the photo did justice to the abalone
Wow, what a great meal, they all look delicious, specially the abalone with truffle…what a delicious combination. Nice location as well…have a wonderful week ahead
How good is that first shot of the truffle? Also, lol at “out-laws”.
Sounds like an amazing night out. I haven’t had a memorable meal in a hotel yet, but Fairfield RSL has one of the best Italian restaurants I’ve been to so far, La Tratt.
That does it! I just have to come back to Singapore after 14 years. I’d forgotten about those incredible dishes and chilli crab? Heaven! That banquet and the view looked absolutely breathtaking. Thank you so much for sharing the experience. Felt I was at the table with you!
What a wonderful dinner with spectacle night view!
What a gorgeous dinner! How not to drool, especially over the abalone and truffle!
Hi Juliana, the abalone seems to be everyone’s favourite!
Hi JasmyneTea, yup I hear you mention La Tratt a couple of times, we have to get there soon.
Hi Jill, it’s a bit of a nostalgic feeling isn’t it, especially with unforgettable food!
Hi Ching, the view and fireworks after dinner was certainly a big bonus!
Hi Cheah, I could have had another one too!
Deep fried mango, thats a first. Since they are already your in-laws do you still need to be on best behaviour?:)
The view looks AMAZING!!!!
OMG ! you have a way of describing the food, I’m glad I’m a vegetarian if not I would have been drooling over my mac by now. the deep fried mango looks Hmmmmm!!!!
Wow, look at those deep-fried soft shell crab and egg noodles!!! Major craving now, thanks hehehe The view is breathtaking. I’ve not eaten at a lot of hotel restaurants but anything in Paris gets my vote! I did go up to the top of the Sheraton in HCMC though – stunning. They make a strong martini too – not so good on an empty stomach 😉
I can hardly wait to visit Singapore later this year. I’m just afraid we’ll miss something special as there are so many choices to make!
Hi Three-Cookies, it’s actually deep fried custard, which is also pretty foreign to me. Perhaps I should try letting my hair down then
Hi chandana, it’s actually deep fried custard, so it’s still friendly to you
Hi Heidi, the soft shell crab and noodles was a great course to end our meal with.
Hi InTolerantChef, make a foodie list bef0re hand and stick to it at all cost
Interesting to see bird nest soup served as a starter soup. I usually associate it with dessert.
The view is stunning