I was invited for a tasting of Yan Ting's newly-launched Exquisite Set Menu by new hire Chef Mak Kip Fu who hails from the much lauded Lung King Heen. The charmingly humble and unassuming chef brings with him the Michelin-starred experience all the way from Hongkong, injecting a breath of modernity into Yan Ting's repertoire of classic Cantonese cuisine.
Dining at Yan Ting is par excellence, exactly what you'd expect from a St Regis. The glamourous but tasteful opulence of the restaurant belies the refined elegance of the food here. Service is discreet, attentive and pampering.
As per post-invited tasting S.O.P., I was back with the Hubs for a revisit a week later for a quality control check of sorts. While the food was exquisite (with a couple of courses possibly being even better than at the tasting) and the 8 courses were indeed substantial, I couldn't quite reconcile its $138++ per head pricetag (that, by the way, after including taxes and service charges, amounted to about $170 per person). The set dinner here just seemed a smidge overpriced, in light of its comparables at Lei Garden, Cherry Garden or Summer Pavilion. Best to reserve this for a special celebratory occasion.
The Trio of Appetizers comprises a couple of crispy Suckling Pig slices, a duo of tender Barbecued Pork glazed in honey, and a heap of fat chunky Marinated Jellyfish seasoned with sesame oil. Save for the slightly forgettable barbecued pork, the other two appetizers were pretty standout.
The Trio of Appetizers was better at our revisit. The Barbecued Pork was superb, soft and tender with great flavour.
The Marinated Jellyfish, minimally seasoned with sesame oil and sesame seeds, allowed for its clean and clear flavours to shine through.
The Suckling Pig, with its unbelievably crackling skin and delicate sliver of meat, was totally addictive.
The Pan-Seared Crab Claw, coated with a bouncy succulent prawn mince, and topped with a fresh roe and fried conpoy strips, was nicely balanced against the bitter grilled asparagus.
Even if the conpoy was missing in action during the revisit, this was still very much delicious.
I loved the Double-Boiled Duck Soup, flavoured with earthy cordyceps flowers, salty Chinese ham cubes, sweet wolfberries and fruity raisins. This was delicate and nuanced, with great depth of flavour, and not in a MSG way.
I'd been looking forward to this course for the revisit, and this was delightfully comforting. A bull's eye that hit that sweet spot in the recesses of the tummy.
The Steamed Coral Trout was impossibly fresh. Yunnan ham strips lent a smoky saltiness while lotus leaves imbued a faint earthiness to the moist fish.
At the revisit, this was again, steamed to a moist perfection. A word of caution though to beware tiny bones in some of the fillets.
The Baked Rack of Lamb, lightly battered and then cooked to a perfect medium doneness, This was complemented by the robust Chef's signature coffee glaze, a stickily sweet sauce tempered with fruity apple accents.
The lamb was swapped out for an equally robust Stir-Fried Frog's Legs with onions, red peppers and black bean at the revisit set menu. The lamb is oddly on the Elegant Set Menu at $198++ per head instead. I'm not that huge a fan of frog's legs but this was amazingly succulent and a flavourful confluence of the sweet, salty, peppery and sharp tartness.
I was also partial to the Poached Seasonal Greens in a pool of superior stock, sweet but never overwhelming to the wilted spinach and crunchy lily bulbs.
The baby lily bulbs were absent from the greens during the revisit, but it wasn't missed. I love the umami accent imparted by the ham strips to the sweet broth.
The Wok-Fried Jasmine Rice wrapped in lotus leaves was sensational. Well-fried and a wonderful medley of umami, savoury and smoky flavours from the conpoy, mushrooms, egg scramble and char siew cubes.
We loved this at the revisit. The Hubs pointed out, and I quite agree, that despite its bold dark hue, the fried rice was surprisingly mellow and light, and not too heavy as most carbs are.
The dessert platter of Fresh Seasonal Fruits, served bite-sized for convenience, could have been sweeter, but these were a welcome palate cleanser to an overstuffed tummy.
There was a wider selection of fruits for the dessert platter during the revisit, but they were still lacking in sweetness. The side of me that likes to see the silver lining in every cloud would say that the sour overtones of the fruits helped cut through the very filling meal.
Many thanks to Jesmine for being a wonderfully engaging host and the good people of HGW for the invite!
St Regis Singapore
29 Tanglin Road
Tel: 6506 6887
Open weekdays from 12noon to 2.30pm for lunch; 6.30pm to 10.30pm for dinner
weekends from 11.45am to 3pm for lunch; 6.30pm to 10.30pm for dinner