I planned to take Flo for a nice meal after his project went live in early October. Somehow it didn’t happen and instead, I found myself being taken for a nice dinner by Flo to Meta. Last week, Flo had two exams he had to sit for relating to trading and passing both would allow him to advise clients… I think. Something to that effect at least. I promised him that if he passed both, I’ll book lunch for us. And pass he did. Not that I ever had any doubts.
Over dinner at Meta, I remember Flo saying that he would like to explore more Chinese fine dining. So it was a no-brainer for me to look up some of our top Chinese restaurants and upon finding a few with their own Michelin Star, I narrowed it down to Summer Pavilion at Ritz-Carlton, Millenia.
While making our reservation by phone, I informed the staff that we’d be going for their Osmanthus Menu but would prefer if their 3rd course which featured Sautéed King Scallop, Sea Cucumber and XO Sauce, could have the sea cucumber replaced with something else. They happily obliged, offering to swap it for Prawn.
Flo and I reached the restaurant promptly at 1pm and were seated to a table already prepared for us, along with a personalised menu. Looking around us, we could see families sitting together and lunching over dim sum, as well as well-heeled men and women who wouldn’t look out of place in a Cantonese movie featuring triads and Poker.
Service was warm and efficient, although not nearly at the level of the restaurants I visited in Hong Kong. That being said, I liked that they were unassuming, allowing us to kick back and have a nice, relaxed meal.
We were first served the Double-boiled Superior Chicken Soup with Bamboo Piths, Pine Mushrooms and Chinese Cabbage. It was so deliciously rich, thus creating a wonderfully full-bodied mouthfeel.
The goji berries and Chinese cabbage gave the soup a subtle, natural sweetness while the bamboo piths, something I l-l-love, provided a refreshing spongey crunch that I relished.
Next, we were presented with a Trio of Dim Sum. This was the course I most anticipated since y’know, I’m a DIM SUM QUEEN – whisper the words ‘dim sum’ and my heart skips a beat.
The Pan-Fried Yam and Pumpkin was well-executed – crisp crunchy exterior shattering into soft mounds of sweet-savoury yam and pumpkin. Both flavours managed to balance each other out perfectly with the toastiness of white sesame seeds giving it that extra oomph.
Two thumbs up for Flo and I for the slice of Pumpkin Yam Cake. It was perfectly portioned to leave you satisfied. More may have become cloying, and less would have left us wanting.
Next into our mouths was the Steamed Abalone, Pork and Prawn Dumpling. This was like Siu Mai on steroids. It was generously plump and meaty, topped with a single baby abalone which is a delicacy on this side of the world.
Just as Flo and I find it difficult to appreciate Sea Cucumber, so did we towards the Baby Abalone. This was Flo’s first time eating an abalone and he founds it veering towards the fishy side. I believe that the abalone was probably brined and tinned, typical of how most of us buy them when Chinese New Year comes around. I’m not a big fan of tinned abalone because of the salty brine it sits and soaks in. I can’t say I’d prefer fresh abalone since I’ve not had the opportunity to try one… YET. But tinned abalone? Mnah.
Abalone is highly sought after here in Asia amongst the Chinese because it resembles a gold ingot. As such, it is said to be auspicious to be able to eat abalone over the new Lunar Year and it symbolises a bountiful, prosperous year ahead.
The third piece of dim sum was a Poached Dumpling with Carrot and served in Chilli Sauce. This we both enjoyed as well.
The plump prawns within had a fresh bounce to it and was reminiscent of the other dim sum staple, har gao. The sweet, spicy chilli sauce was well-composed and complemented the dumpling well.
Our third course was a sumptuous dish consisting of Scallop, Prawn and Asparagus. There was a lovely charred smokiness that further highlighted the XO Sauce. XO Sauce is like a Cantonese sambal made with chilli, dried scallops and dried shrimp, shallots, garlic, Jin Hua ham and oil. The different ingredients combine to create the flavour of Umami.
The scallop was sweet, delicate and held its own against the punch flavours; the prawn was a little tasteless but elevated when eaten with the XO sauce, and the asparagus’ grassiness juxtaposed seamlessly against the flavours of the sea. The textures were well played together so there was little need for the crunchy crunch things on the side. I think they were deep-fried shimeiji mushrooms but can’t say for sure.
Our carb dish consisted of Poached Rice and Lobster Meat. The broth had more complexity that it appeared and there were bits of crispy rice floating around too that made a good play on texture.
The rice swimming in the warm broth was comforting, much like the Teo Chew fish congee I grew up eating at my paternal grandfather’s home where the rice remains whole and is drowned in rich, tasty soup. This one was a levelled up one with seafood and lobster. The lobster meat was a little lacklustre, almost as though its crustacean juices had leached entirely into the soup leaving it devoid of flavour. Perhaps a few seconds on the grill to give it a good char would have made it more well-rounded.
To end, we had Chilled Green Apples, Assorted Fungus and Almond Flakes. Being a dessert, it’d be hard to call it a soup. In Mandarin, it’s called ‘Tang Shui’, which directly translates to Sweet Water. I think that describes this dessert better. The almonds used in this dish were Chinese Almonds which are actually apricot kernels. They’re faintly sweet and retain a good crunch even after being boiled.
It may not look as lavish as Western desserts, but this finale was light and extremely refreshing. The gentle tartness of the green apples contrasted well with the restrained sweetness of the water. It was a simple ending, but one that was flawless.
Flo and I can both agree that this meal was a lot lighter on the belly compared to other degustation menus we have had. Our lunch consisted more of seafoods than meats and the soups certainly did their work in filling us up too.
I think that Summer Pavilion has kept close to its Cantonese roots, mastering the art of boiling nourishing soups that are packed with flavour, creating dim sums that are closely in line with the traditional but with the added touch of extravagance, and fine-tuning comfort foods to induce in them a sense of luxury.
I haven’t posted many pictures up for Flo and I of late namely because we’ve become quite complacent in the area of #selfies and #wefies. We managed to take on that day and you can probably see that my face is more rounded than it used to be. I’m getting closer and closer to full weight restoration and some days are tough but I am grateful, immensely grateful, that Flo is always quick to compliment me and tell me just how beautiful he thinks I am. I am a lot more curvy now, more womanly, and slowly but surely, I am beginning to embrace who I am not just on the outside, but on the inside as well.
I thank God for Flo and the man that he is to me. This meal at Summer Pavilion was sumptuous and having Flo as company made it all the more memorable. As I type this post, I am reminded once again of how blessed I am and how far I have come in my journey with Flo, and away from the ED. I cannot believe that December is already upon us come next Friday and then, a new year unfolds. I’m excited as to what 2018 has in store for us but for now, I will enjoy every moment of 2017 and all the love that I’ve experienced this year.