It's been years since I last had a lobster platter. I am not referring to the popular seafood in plastic bags these days, but those old-school lobster fruit salad with spring rolls and fried prawn rolls (hei zhor) typically served as the first dish during Chinese wedding dinners.
This July, Master Chef Leong Chee Yeng of the Fullerton's Jade Restaurant pays tribute to Singapore's 50th birthday by presenting his Nostalgic Feast Menu which features classic Cantonese delights from the 70s and 80s. Curated together with Straits Times restaurant reviewer and food critic Wong Ah Yoke, the dishes not only include the extravagant lobster platter, but also familiar home-style favourites like the Claypot Pig's Knuckle with Plum Sauce and Double Boiled Winter Melon Soup.
Crispy Yam with Kung Bao Chicken and Cashew Nuts 4.2/5
One of my favourite dishes that evening was the Crispy Yam with Kung Bao Chicken and Cashew Nuts. Infused with dried chilli, the sweet and smoky sauce coated the chicken chunks evenly, making this a welcome change to the typical stir-fry seafood and celery filling.
Pan Fried King Prawns in Special Sauce 4.5/5
In fact this nostalgic feast menu not only captivated taste buds but also satisfied our visual appetites as the talented chef transformed every single dish into a work of art.
Just like the elegant swan that was carved out from the humble white radish, a magnificent Merlion stood tall and proud, overlooking the gigantic Pan Fried King Prawns in Special Sauce ($23 per 220g). Delivering much more meat than an average crayfish or even a Maine lobster, each prawn melded beautifully with the tantalizing blend of Chinese barbeque sauce, tomato ketchup and sesame oil.
Nostalgic Steamed Bading Fish 3.5/5
Carved so deftly from carrots, the “fish net” draped onto the Nostalgic Steamed Bading Fish ($9 per 100g) made this creature seemed alive and breathing. It was bathed in a rich bean paste gravy that rounded off some of the unpleasant muddiness often found in this fish. However, I would appreciate this dish better if other kinds of fish were used.
Roast Chicken 4/5
When was the last time you had colorful Keropok with roast chicken? With a crackling-crisp skin riding above the smooth tender chicken, this delicious bird which was mainly served at weddings or birthday banquets during the 1960s and 1970s, earned itself a deserving spot in the menu.
Chinese Eight Treasures Duck 4.2/5
Whether one was a fan of duck to begin with or not, this Chinese Eight Treasures Duck ($90 per duck) lured everyone with its wonderful fragrance when it was sliced apart to reveal eight mouth-watering fillings including salted egg yolk, roast pork belly, dry scallops and glutinous rice. The meat was moist and flavourful, thanks to a tedious overnight marinating process.
The dessert platter is no less a mesmerizing work of art as Chef Leong showcased his beautiful lotus flower constructed from gelatin instead of sugar which is used by most of his western counterparts. Neatly piled beneath the plant are simple yet tasty creations like the Steamed Layered Cake with Salted Egg and Nuts ($10), as well as the deep-fried Chinese Sugar Egg Puff ($10). Made with only flour, sugar and eggs, this golden bomb has an airy, stretchy-like interior beneath a lightly sugared shell. A must try especially for those who have not tried this in their life before!
All the dishes are available as ala carte (prices reflected above for 2-4 persons) or as set menu priced at $85++ for 2 persons and above/$125++ for 6 persons and aboave. Do note that Double Boiled Winter Melon Soup and Chinese Eight Treasures Duck require 24-hour advance order. As Mr Wong Ah Yoke succinctly expressed, "Seeing these dishes on the dinner table again not only reminds us of happy occasions from the past but also how far we have come". There is truly no better time than this July to retrace the good old flavors through Chef Leong's nostalgic dishes with your family.
Written and Photograph by Li Tian, a passionate foodie behind Singapore-Japan Food Blog “Dairy & Cream”. Has an eye for pastries and desserts.
Jade Restaurant (玉楼）
The Fullerton Hotel Singapore
1 Fullerton Square
Tel: +65 68778188
Nearest MRT: Raffles Place (EW Line, NS Line)
Daily: 1130am - 230pm, 630pm - 1030pm
1) Alight at Raffles Place MRT Station. Take Exit H. Turn right and walk towards the river. At the river, turn right again and walk to destination. Journey time about 5 minutes. [Map]