proper good cantonese cooking at this old hotel standby in bugis. this place used to be a family favorite (we’re talking more than five or six years ago) – and then they switched chefs, standards dropped, and there was that case of food poisoning on the news – all of which meant we stopped coming here.
but we decided to give it a go recently – and I can’t be more pleased to tell you that the food is as good as it used to be, and it deserves its reputation as a cantonese stronghold reinstated.
the thing about these grand hotel-located chinese restaurants (such as summer pavilion), is that they are judged against a more stringent yardstick – and allowed to charge higher prices for fulfilling that potential.
so when they’re good, as in this case, it really is some fantastic cooking.
we started off with a bowl of winter melon soup each – intensely-flavored consomme with a round of melon, crunchy prawns and bits of scallops. we always order this when we come here, though it used to be served as an entire small gourd with soup within – this is a smaller serve, but beautifully done all the same.
the fried fish appetizer was good too, with a lime dressing – more thai than chinese, though.
our mains started with a plate of sweet-and-sour monkey head mushroom: decent, and I suspect would have been impressive if we don’t often order a better rendition at lingzhi (where the larger cuts of mushroom have a meatier texture).
we were blown away by the sauteed beef with garlic chips though – so tender, and beefy, and that black pepper sauce just coating the cubes (without any of that gross gloppiness).
these were followed by a claypot of braised beancurd sheets and vegetables – I love vegetables anyway, but these were tender and more savory than you’d associate with meatlessness.
this plate of chicken steamed with wood’s ear and salty fermented beancurd was undoubtedly homey – and rather anaemic on the plate apart from that bright garnish – but delicious all the same.
a couple of us finished with dessert – hashima served hot in a coconut shell, as well as a bowl of cheery pumpkin served with black glutinous rice and ice-cream.
good food doesn’t lend itself to much description – this place serves as up expert cantonese food, and its always-posh decor makes it great for bringing the parents or impressing guests.
Man Fu Yuan Restaurant
80 Middle Rd
tel +65 6338 7600
$$$: a bountiful dinner for four = three-twenty