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Monday, August 4, 2014

Hai Tien Lo : A Glorious Decade [Media Tasting]

In celebration of Master Chef Lai Tong Ping’s (黎东平) outstanding 10 years in Hai Tien Lo (海天楼), the award-winning Cantonese restaurant in Pan Pacific Hotel, a curated menu featuring handcrafted creations will be presented as a six-course menu consisting of 10 items that showcases Chef Lai’s culinary finesse. Each course is presented to create a visually alluring picture and present complementary flavours resulting from handmade ingredients.

Says Chef Lai: “In my ten years with Hai Tien Lo, I have gained invaluable experience. I honed my skills and pushed my creative boundaries to present new dishes. With this celebratory menu, each selected item is prepared using a different method that best showcases the natural flavours and quality of the ingredients. Most of the inspiration for these dishes stems from my past experiences and dishes that I have tried and particularly like. I have also adopted a different presentation style from traditional Chinese cuisine to represent the enduring timelessness of this 27 year-old restaurant that is both elegant and sophisticated.”

We commenced this 6-course menu with the Sliced Barbecued Duck and Shredded Jelly Fish, Braised Homemade Beancurd with Minced Pork and Pine Mushroom in Chef's Signature XO Chili Sauce, Crispy Prawn in Sesame Sauce.
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And it was a good start indeed. The crispy skin of the barbecued duck went really well with the tangy texture of the jellyfish and the prawn was delicious, thanks to it being coated with a creamy sauce of sesame and a hint of chilli.

However, the star of this platter is incontestably the Braised Homemade Beancurd. The texture and taste of the beancurd was divine! Silky smooth and perfectly complemented by the broth that I now know, is simmered with chicken, turkey and bacon for eight hours. Now I know why it was so flavourful! My mouth waters everytime I think about that beancurd. All other beancurds now just pale in comparison lol. 
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And next we have the Braised Fish Maw with Dried Scallop in Supreme Chicken Stock.
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Soups are the soul of Cantonese cooking and Chef Lai created this to be reminiscent of the flavours he grew up with. Infused with the natural sweetness of carrots that have been boiled with chicken stick for eight hours followed by adding premium dried scallops to add a subtle depth of umami to the overall flavour, each mouthful of the soup was bursting with rich, flavourful goodness.

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The third dish was the Sea Perch Fillet Two Ways.
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Sea Perch is renowned for its firm yet fine texture, making this the perfect fish to be prepared two ways, showcasing its versatility. The first way is steaming it with the green minced onion sauce that you can see in the photo, it's made by steeping minced onions and garlic for six hours! I was a little apprehensive at first, because both onions and garlics are food items with a very strong taste (that may or may not be pleasant haha). And after tasting it, it's actually okay! The taste is very interesting, I've never tasted something quite like it before; it's a little creamy and yet woody, mixed with that "twangyness" (not a proper word I know) that is unique to onions and garlic.

The second way to cook it is by deep frying it with Chef Lai's signature homemade champagne sauce. I have a sweet tooth, so I preferred this one better hahahaha. 
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The fourth dish is Braised Pork Ribs with Preserved Vegetables and Deep-fried Buns (that we all fondly call, mantou!!!)
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Oooh I love this. Pork, if not cooked well, will be too tough. This however, had a melt-in-your-mouth consistency and the sauce was delightful. The deep-fried bun/mantou however, was a little disappointing? It wasn't crispy. But then again, it's not the star of this dish.

The fifth dish is the Wok-fried Fish Noodles with Sea Cucumber and Scallop, which was presented like this!
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Looks like a giant dumpling yes? haha.

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The noodles were delicious; it had the wok-fried taste (we call it 锅香味 in mandarin) and of the right texture. And I loved the blend of ingredients especially the scallops.

And lastly, to finish off this six-course meal, we had the Chef's Signature Dessert - Mango Sago, Osmanthus Jelly with Wolfberries and Avocado Cream.
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And the star of this platter?

The Osmanthus Jelly. 
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I liked the other two too, but the Osmanthus Jelly is something I've never tried haha. It's not common and it was really refreshing! Not too sweet either, just nice!

And with Mid-Autmn Festival approaching soon, we were also given a a box of snowskin mooncakes to bring home to share with your family and loved ones hehehe. And the flavours are exquisite! There's Pistachio Nuts with Osmanthus and Chinese Herbs, Hazelnuts with Honey and Grapefruit, Almonds with Custard and Longan, Melon Seeds with Oolong and Chrysanthemum!! 
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They're lovely.


Thank you so much Hai Tien Lo for having me at this media food tasting. It was a real pleasure. :)

***

A Glorious Decade six-course meal is available at Hai Tien Lo from now till 31 December 2014 at $108 per person for lunch or dinner. A minimum of two diners is required.

For dining reservations and/or enquiries, you can call 6826 8240 or email to celebrate.sin@panpacific.com

Hai Tien Lo is located at Pan Pacific Hotel, Level 3. 

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