Service was pleasant, if a little harried and choppy, as the restaurant was operating at a full capacity (this was surprising, I didn't think that many people entertained in the middle of the week!).Still, we enjoyed ourselves a very languid lunch. I could hardly keep my eyes open back at work.
Their "Specialty Items" are limited at 1 portion per person, and for good reason. These dishes are brought to a luxurious level with the addition of premium ingredients like bird's nest, foie gras, abalone and Berkshire pork. Like the buttery Baked Egg Tarts, luxuriously garnished with swiftlet's nest, white fungus and a lone wolfberry.
The Stir Fried Carrot Cake with dried scallops, eggs, beansprouts and flavoured with XO chilli sauce was decent but unmemorable. I wished they'd been more generous with the XO sauce. It'd have been a lot more robust and unforgettable.
The Steamed Berkshire Pork Buns, was excellent though, with a sticky honeyed barbecued pork filling. BUT, to be honest, I wouldn't have known the filling was made of the prized pig variety if it wasn't stated as much on the menu.
The Deep-Fried Yam Puff was layered with foie gras for an even silkier finish, while a roughly-hewn savoury mince provided tasting notes.
The Crabmeat with Abalone and Fish Maw Thick Broth was a smidge starchy and lacking in depth, but at least the crabmeat was fresh and sweet.
I really liked the main dishes here, which I'd mentioned before Hai Tien Lo seems to score highly at. The Wok Fried Fillet of Grouper, tossed with assorted bell peppers in black bean sauce was fragrant and well-balanced. The bell peppers complemented the meaty fillets.
The smoothest wobbliest ever Homemade Beancurd clothed with shredded crabmeat and aubergine in a pool of the most sumptuous velvety stock. The golden hued gravy was good to the last drop.
The Sauteed Assorted Vegetables with Mushrooms in Szechuan Spicy Dried Chilli possessed good crunchy and was delicately spiced.
Onto the regular dim sum, unlimited in portions even though we could only manage, in general, 1 morsel per person; a massive Steamed Dumpling encasing a melange of seafood, prawns, crabmeat, scallops, and dried scallops in a clear and comforting chicken broth.
The Steamed Xiao Long Bao, was competently done, with a decent amount of delicate soup encased in the dumpling, and resilient enough skin.
The Steamed Scallops and Prawn Dumpling topped with dried scallop and wasabi-ed pearls, was about the prettiest dumpling I'd ever seen. Taste-wise, it passed muster but wasn't as outstanding as it'd looked.
The Steamed Pork Spare Ribs was seasoned with red cut chillis for heat and fresh kiwi for a juicy citrusy lift. These were devoid of that frozen porky taste, but was a little bland and not as meltingly tender as some other renditions.
The Steamed Dumplings with prawns, spinach and chinese wolfberries was an exercise in restrained flavouring, relying on the sweetness of the goji berries to counter the metallic bitterness of the spinach.
The Deep-Fried Beancurd Skin Prawns with Mango was a bit hit, mostly because of the sweet mushy mangoes playing up the fresh prawns.
A trio of dessert choices, where you get to choose any 2 of the lot, per person.
The Chilled Cream of Mango with sago and pomelo was my personal favourite, purely out of elimination. It's refreshingly cold, the sour undertones were a lovely contrast to the heavy meal.
The Black Sesame Paste with glutinous rice dumpling was smooth, with the teeniest semblence of grainy texture, and I liked that it was very nuanced.
The Double Boiled Snow Pear with white fungus, purportedly great for skin, was subtle and light.
The Candied Cashews appetizer helped quell hunger pangs, but on hindsight, not the best idea to be snacking just before a big feast.
Hai Tien Lo
Pan Pacific Hotel Level 3
7 Raffles Boulevard
Tel: 6826 8240
Open daily from 11.30am to 2.30pm for lunch; 6.30pm to 10.30pm for dinner