Like how the simple ratatouille brought back powerful memories of food critic Anton in the movie Ratatouille, nostalgia can often be a most wonderful flavouring.
Man Fu Yuan at the InterContinental Singapore aims to ignite nostalgia by presenting a slew of old school dishes for a limited time only- 15 March to 31 May 2014. Researched by Chinese Executive Chef Kwan Yiu Kwan and Restaurant Manager Patrick Ng, these dishes are apparently from the 1960s and are influenced by Chinese cuisine in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.
My favourite dish of the lot was also the first time that was served that evening. Mixed Beef & Beef Ball Stew ($28) was a simmering claypot with ox tripe, tender beef brisket chunks and handmade beef balls in a rich gravy that almoost did me in by commanding two bowls of rice. Moohehe. The beef balls were delightfully springy and had bits of crunchy chestnut.
Fans of Pig Trotters with Vinegar ($28) can savour the version here which is made of two types of black vinegar- Gold Plum Vinegar and Chan Kong Thye Black Sweet Rice Vinegar. Old ginger flavoured the vinegary brew. Unfortunately, I am not too big a fan of this dish.
Double-boiled Winter Melon with Seafood Soup ($58 for 4 portions) is a classic Cantonese soup. Clean flavours from the melon, dried and fresh scallops, chicken and crab infused the broth. I think Jin Hua ham would have taken this up a notch.
Signature Tea-smoked Pork Belly Char Siew ($28) was a popular favourite at the table. And who could resist it with its smoky, slightly charred exterior and sweet, savoury taste. A good balance between meat and fats resulted in an enjoyable chew.
My heart (and probably arteries) cried when another pork belly dish ensued. But the Hong Kong Styled Pork Belly with Shrimp Paste ($28) is another must try! Savoury and rich with umami, this dish warrants more rice.
This is a scaled down tasting version of Man Fu Yuan Traditional Wanton Noodles ($12 per person). Plump wantons and an egg noodles (brought in from Thailand) simply tossed in lard and dark sauce were simple joys. Dab on some XO sauce for a kick.
Praise the Lard for it is good! Steamed Fish Head in Black Bean Sauce ($28 per piece) had crispy lard dotted around a flavourful black bean sauce. Really who needs fish? Moohaha. The Imperial Chicken ($28 for 1/2 chicken) in the background featured chicken seasoned with Chinese wine and presented with a dish of minced ginger.
For some variety on a plate, this platter had tongue, wings and trotters. Take your pick! :D
Six Treasures Seafood ($88 per person) seemed fit for a wedding banquet with braised abalones, very moreish fried prawns with a cornflour and salted egg yolk batter, a crispy basket of sauteed prawns, scallops, asparagus and fluffy egg white.
When this dish of Steamed Chicken with Chinese Sausage & Mushroom ($26 per portion) arrived, I wished I had a fifth stomach. LOL. The slices of Chinese sausage and mushrooms lent their sweetness and earthiness respectively to the sauce when steamed with the chicken. I didn't take to the smooth floury coating of the chicken though.
Fried Flat Rice Noodles with King Prawn ($18 per person) made me sit up, or want to lie down, depending on how you see it. Moohehe. It had a nice smoky touch though the hor fun was too tangy/sour for moo.
An iced cold glass of Liang Cha helped to cleanse the palate and placate the body of the indulgent feast.
To end the meal, a bowl of Xu Kup aka Hashima was comforting and perfect. Orh Nee would have floored me...literally. Moohehe.
That was one epic meal. Felt almoost like CNY was already here! Anyway, while I wasn't born in the 1960s and can't attest to the nostalgic-ness of these dishes, I am thankful to be able to experience a taste of the past. In fact, some elements in a few of the dishes did bring moo back to grandma's cooking.
Thanks to Teresa and Denise of the InterContinental Singapore for hosting me.
Man Fu Yuan
Tel: 6825 1062
Opens: 11.45am to 3.30pm; 6.30pm to 10.30pm
Chew On This: Private dining rooms are available for those who might wish to dine and savour nostalgic moments for business entertainment or a cosy dinner with loved ones.