My firm celebrated Chinese New Year early this year, at the Empress Ballroom of Carlton Hotel, where we dined on the Fortune Menu ($758++ for 10 pax). Although dinner was catered from the hotel's in-house Cantonese restaurant Wah Lok, the food was disappointingly lackluster compared to our usual meals at Wah Lok. All of the dishes suffered from too heavy a sprinkling hand with the salt. I had to drown myself in coke all night to counter any post-dinner water retention.
The Salmon Yusheng here marked my second lo hei of the year, and this run-of-the-mill version paled in comparison to the one I had just last week at Crystal Jade Golden Palace. The fish were sliced so miserably thin they might as well have done a carpaccio instead.
The Braised Fish Maw Soup with Crabmeat was 2 pinches too salty. I had to flood this with pepper to balance out the saltiness. Save for the saltiness, the fish maw was braised very well and crabmeat fresh and plentiful.
The Deep-Fried Seabass in Thai chilli sauce had evidently been left in the fryer too long. A way to mask its mild fishiness, I suppose. I gave up chewing halfway through the dry and tough fish. It was just too much work!
The Kampong Soya Chicken was, relative to the other dishes, decent. This had just the right amount of flavour, well-marinated and juicy.
The Sauteed Prawns in XO sauce was again, too salty. Some of us resorted to scraping the sauce off the peppers and greens to even down this. The prawns were a lost cause, they'd unfortunately absorbed the salt content.
The mushroom-lover in me was looking forward to eating the Braised Lingzhi Mushroom with spinach but. as expected, it was overtly salty. It was such a pity that even the plain clear taste of the mushrooms and metallic accents of the greens couldn't quite balance out the salty gravy.
The Fried Glutinous Rice with Chinese sausages, mushrooms, and dried shrimps was thankfully, not overloaded with sodium. Moist and soft, this somewhat mediocre dish, at the very least, helped to fill us up after we'd mostly left the rest of the dishes unfinished.
The radioactive-looking Aloe Vera with Jelly in Lemongrass tasted as artificial as it'd looked. I felt like I was drinking lemongrass aromatherapy. Suffice to say, none of us finished any of our desserts.
Empress Ballroom Carlton Hotel
76 Bras Basah Road