Pan Pacific Hai Tien Lo Stewed Japanese Rice Vermicelli with Pan Fried Australian Scallop, Fresh Crab Meat and Kimchi in Superior Stock

Pan Pacific’s Hai Tien Lo, one of the best Chinese restaurant in the country, has launched a new dinner and dimsum menu to celebrate the appointment of their new Executive Chef.

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Chef Ricky Leung’s leverages on his culture and 30 years of culinary experience to embed the true essence of Cantonese cuisine into his new dishes.

Traditional techniques with modern flavours

Of which, his signature dish — Crispy Chicken Smoked with Royal Tie Guanyin — starts with a dry-ageing process of ten hours. Removing the moisture guarantees a crispy skin. Next, it is smoked with lychee wood and Royal Tie Guanyin tea leaves.

Was this one of the best chicken I’ve had in my life? Possibly. 

You can still see glimpse of the smoke, as the chicken is smoked right before serving

The skin was extremely crispy. The chicken was cooked just right — even the breasts were juicy and tender. The chicken was bestowed with a woody aroma, paired with a tangy, spicy and sweet sauce that is concocted from a mix of fermented sour plum, pomelo pulp and chilli. Instead of eating it together, I prefer taking a dab of the sauce after eating the chicken, to better appreciate the smokiness of the chicken.

A lost art in the modern culinary world

Chef Ricky emphasises on traditional techniques. In the eighties, it was common for Cantonese restaurants to debone the whole fish, and piece it back together. Presentation was one thing, but serving a whole fish represented prosperity, which the Cantonese loved. However, the tedious process displeases many restaurants today.

This traditional cooking method retains the freshness of the fish. As the cooking process exceeds seven minutes, the fish starts to lose its freshness. A fish this size usually takes 13 minutes to be fully cooked through. By filleting the fish, the larger surface area shortens the cooking time to seven minutes, allowing the fish to be served as fresh as it could be.

Traditional Steamed Grouper in Superior Stock

The classic flavours of this dish were also slightly tampered with, with the addition chicken and mushroom shreds that added an earthy undertone.

Both dishes have the pre-ordered one day in advance.

Another classic dish that was revamped by Chef Ricky is the Fresh Crab Meat and Egg White stuffed in Chicken Wing. To start, the chefs would have to carefully remove the flesh and the bones of the wings without puncturing the skin. Traditionally paired with birds nest, Chef Ricky chose to prepare this dish with more “commercial ingredients”, so that it’s more accessible to the masses.

The new pairing of fried chicken and seafood was rich and sinful, yet briney and refreshing.

For even richer flavours, you have to order the the Stewed Eight Treasure Wagyu Beef Cheeks with Spring Onion and Garlic. Stewed over hours with aromatics over a traditional claypot, the beef cheeks were packed with flavour; it helps that beef cheeks have a high fats percentage.

Diners would typically describe braised or stewed meat as fork-tender, which means that the texture is so soft that they could easily break it apart with just a fork. Well, let me introduce you to a new term — spoon-tender. Sous-vide for seven hours, the beef cheeks could be easily broken apart with nothing but a spoon.

While that was impressive, the next dish, seemingly unassuming, was the real surprise. The Stewed Japanese Rice Vermicelli with Pan-Fried Australian Scallop, Fresh Crab Meat and Kimchi in Superior Stock, was simply superior. The flavours were simple. The scallop and crab meat were cooked with minimal seasoning to preserve their natural flavours. Meanwhile, the rich and creamy stock was juxtaposed against the bright and tangy kimchi, which was finely diced. Everything here went well together, and it was the perfect last entrée.

While the entrées were impressive, we were completely won over by the Chilled Taiwanese Oolong Tea Jelly with Rose Petals. It was cold, refreshing, with the perfect balance of sweetness and astringency. This was the first tea-flavoured dessert that actually managed to capture the astringency that you get from steeping tea in hot water.

Yes, we ate the flower

Modern dimsum

Diners can also indulge in dimsum, which is what Hai Tien Lo is famous for.

From light to heavy flavours, we tried the Steamed Siew Mai with Quail Egg and Black Truffle, Steamed Fish Dumpling with Queensland Grouper and Fresh Crab Meat, and Deep-fried Yam Puff with Foie Gras, Shreded Chicken and Dragon Chives.

From 10 October, Hai Tien Lo’s new menu can be enjoyed a la carte that starts from $10, or lunch sets and dinner sets that start from $58 and $88 respectively.

Hai Tien Lo

Location: 7 Raffles Blvd, Singapore 039595
Tel: +65 6826 8240
Opening hours: 11:30am–2:30pm, 6–10pm

*This article is written in collaboration with Pan Pacific Singapore, but all opinions are my own

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