The Cathay Restaurant Tasting Session

January 13, 2015 Ivan Teh - RunningMan 0 Comments

The Cathay Restaurant Tasting Session - Closed
2 Handy Road
#02-01 The Cathay


Opening Hours:
Mon - Sat: 11:30am - 2:30pm, 6pm - 10:30pm
Sun: 10am - 4:30pm, 6pm - 10:30pm



http://www.thecathayrestaurant.com.sg/

This was an invited media review. I did not pay for the meal during the free hosted tasting session, but I did pay the standard price during subsequent visits.
Attended with representatives from HungryGoWhere, The Artic Star, and Epicurious Caniggia.



Solid Chinese Zi Char At This Legacy Restaurant

(Ratings: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 = Worst and 10 = Best)
Overall: 8
Ambience & Setting: 7
Food & Beverage: 8
Service: 8
Value for Money: 8
Budget about SGD $50 ++ per person.


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Opened in 1940, The Cathay Restaurant can lay claim to being amongst the 1st few fine dining restaurants in Singapore. Operating under the Cathay Organisation, The Cathay Restaurant has a long historical legacy, reaching the height of its popularity in 1951 with its Chinese Zi Char, Cantonese, and Shanghainese dishes. Despite closing in the 70s, The Cathay Restaurant reopened in 2007, and has now come full circle, serving up solid, delicious, and authentic Chinese dishes in an elegant oriental setting.

Ambience at The Cathay Restaurant exudes an elegant oriental sophistication. Colours of red, black, and white within the brightly lit, spacious 190-seater interior lend a sense of luxury and space. Traditional Chinese lanterns hang overhead, while aluminium-screened private function rooms feature Chinese movie posters in a nod to its cinema links. Each of the 5 private rooms are named after a Cathay cinema, the Pavilion, Majestic, Odeon, Ruby, and Regal. Portraits of 1960s Chinese movie actresses adorn the walls, while pillars bear Chinese motifs. Tables are suitably large for communal dining, and the modern cushioned chairs are comfortable.

The Cathay Restaurant Exterior


The Cathay Restaurant Interior



Service at The Cathay Restaurant is attentive, yet unobstrusive. Staff are quick to offer a change of plates after a few courses, and clearing is done efficiently. Topping up of tea is also performed proactively, without asking. I also like that staff are professional, and rather knowledgable, able to describe the ingredients in each dish with general terms. However, our visit was also during a rather quiet Monday dinner, and I've yet to see The Cathay Restaurant staff carry out service during a busy peak period.

Table Setting


Traditional Lantern Lighting


The Cathay Restaurant Seating



Food at The Cathay Restaurant features fine dining Chinese Zi Char, with a predominant Cantonese and Shanghainese style to dishes. We sampled the ala-carte dinner buffet, which features an extensive menu of 62 different items. Dishes are generally well executed with good wok hei (breath of the wok), well balanced and tasty, with good quality, fresh ingredients. Costing about SGD $50 per person, the ala-carte dinner buffet is good value for money, and you can order unlimited quantities of most dishes, except for several premium items which is only 1 serving per table. The only catch: It has to be communal dining, the minimum number of diners is 4 people. Couple dining is out, unless you double date, or go with your family instead.

The Crispy Fried Fish With Curry Leaves is a unique appetizer, consisting of small bits of fish, fried till crisp. Mildly spicy, and very fragrant due to the use of curry leaves, it's quite tasty. However, you'll have to eat it quickly when it's hot, as it's not good when it cools from being left on the table.

Crispy Fried Fish With Curry Leaves


Crispy Fried Fish With Curry Leaves



The Fresh Prawn With Fresh Fruit Salad are solid, straightforward, and decently executed. The key is the freshness of the prawns, which are medium-sized and meaty. I like the addition of raisins, which lend a nice flavour, although the mayonnaise is slightly heavy. And the fruits seem to be a mix of canned fruit cocktail instead of fresh fruit as described. Still pretty good though.

Fresh Prawn With Fresh Fruit Salad


Fresh Prawn With Fresh Fruit Salad



The Marinated Sea Whelk has a nice, pliant texture with a slight chew. But the best thing about this dish is the marinade, a spicy, slightly sour, Thai inspired chili sauce, which is a burst of bright citrus flavour and some heat.

Marinated Sea Whelk


Marinated Sea Whelk



The Crispy Eggplant With Pork Floss is an excuse to eat pork floss. The eggplant is well executed, crisp without being too oily, but it's the stringy, chewy pork floss which gives this dish great texture and taste.

Crispy Eggplant With Pork Floss


Crispy Eggplant With Pork Floss



Some of my fellow diners felt the cold Drunken Chicken Roll was excellent, but I thought it was just above average. Love the presentation though, where the chicken roll is stuffed with Chinese wolfberries / goji berries, giving it a hint of herbal sweetness. The Chinese wine sauce isn't too powerful either, having a delicate lightness that highlights the freshness of the chicken meat.

Drunken Chicken Roll


Drunken Chicken Roll



The Braised Shark's Fin Soup With Crab Meat And Bamboo Pith was smooth and succulent, with a generous portion of fresh de-shelled crab meat and several strips of pliant bamboo pith. Good, well executed, and largely expected that this traditional Chinese legacy restaurant would still retain shark's fin on the menu.

Braised Shark's Fin Soup With Crab Meat And Bamboo Pith


Braised Shark's Fin Soup With Crab Meat And Bamboo Pith



The Braised Baby Abalone With Mushroom features soft, stewed Chinese spinach / water spinach / ong choy / kang kong, and large, meaty, juicy shiitake mushrooms in a savoury mushroom gravy. The baby abalones are meaty and firm, with a satisfying chew. A straightforward, decent dish.

Braised Baby Abalone With Mushroom


Braised Baby Abalone With Mushroom



I loved the Deep-Fried Soon Hock / Marble Goby fish, with its excellent presentation, and extremely crisp, almost crunchy skin. The fish meat is very fresh, and the few bones within are large and easily removed. The savoury soy sauce base is well balanced, not too salty, and perfect for dousing over the fried fish.

Deep-Fried Soon Hock / Marble Goby


Deep-Fried Soon Hock / Marble Goby



The Fried Crayfish With Black Pepper has good flavour, with the spicy, peppery sauce coating the meat well. The crayfish is very fresh, and is easily deshelled. But I felt the portion size was on the small side, and it was slightly oily. Have had better elsewhere, but this is still worth ordering if you like crayfish.

Fried Crayfish With Black Pepper


Fried Crayfish With Black Pepper



The Fried Prawn With Crispy Oats was very well executed, and so crisp you could eat the entire thing, shell and all. The prawn itself is meaty, fresh, and juicy, and the oats were well fried, crunchy without being too oily. The use of curry leaves and chili lends some heat, without being too spicy. Straightforward, good, tasty dish.

Fried Prawn With Crispy Oats


Fried Prawn With Crispy Oats



The Fried Prawn With Wasabi Salad Cream was my least favourite dish of the evening. While the prawns are large and meaty, I felt the wasabi sauce wasn't spicy or tangy enough, and the overall taste was rather flat and one-note. Below average dish.

Fried Prawn With Wasabi Salad Cream


Fried Prawn With Wasabi Salad Cream



The signature Cathay Roasted Crispy Chicken was easily the best dish of the evening. The chicken meat is moist, succulent, fragrant, and tender, coming off the bone easily. But the best part is the crispy skin, with a good salty, savoury flavour that isn't overpowering. Dip it in the slightly spicy, sour dipping sauce for maximum enjoyment. So good we couldn't stop eating it! Definitely a must-try dish here!

Cathay Roasted Crispy Chicken


Cathay Roasted Crispy Chicken



Was mildly disappointed by the Pan-Fried Beef Tenderloin, mostly because the beef is sliced thinly, so you don't get that satisfiying, meaty chew. But the taste is good, coated with black pepper and packing that nice, savoury, beefy meat flavour. Still worth ordering.

Pan-Fried Beef Tenderloin


Pan-Fried Beef Tenderloin



The Braised Beancurd With Conpoy was delightful, with the soft, fragrant tofu beancurd, soft golden enoki mushrooms, and tender button mushrooms in a savoury, gooey sauce. The freshness of the broccoli lent a nice crunch for texture. Wholesome Chinese comfort food.

Braised Beancurd With Conpoy


Braised Beancurd With Conpoy



The Stir-Fried Fresh Scallop And Cuttlefish With XO Sauce was straightforward and decent overall. Love the beautiful nest / basket presentation, and there was a generous portion of fresh cuttlefish and crunchy celery. The sauce carries a bit of spice, and is savoury with a slight bitter finish due to the XO alcohol. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough scallops for everyone at the table, with only 4 scallops for 5 diners.

Stir-Fried Fresh Scallop And Cuttlefish With XO Sauce


Stir-Fried Fresh Scallop And Cuttlefish With XO Sauce



Loved the smooth, slippery texture and savoury taste of the Stewed Ee-Fu Noodle With Chives. But there seems to be more fresh button mushrooms than chives in this dish. Chef has prepared this to be more on the 'wet' side, with more gravy sauce, which I prefer over the 'dry' versions elsewhere.

Stewed Ee-Fu Noodle With Chives


Stewed Ee-Fu Noodle With Chives



Regretted that I didn't order the Chilled Almond Pudding, because it looks so pretty and appetizing. The pudding is smooth, with a refreshing balanced sweetness, and I like the topping of 3 longans.

Chilled Almond Pudding


Chilled Almond Pudding



The Chilled Honey Dew With Sago was decent, albeit with an incorrect menu description. The chunks of fruit are actually rock melon and not honey dew melon, but at least the portion was generous. However, there was very little actual sago balls within, and the sweet syrup broth was a tad overly sugary. Average at best.

Chilled Honey Dew With Sago


Chilled Honey Dew With Sago



The visually pleasing Chilled Coconut Jelly is unique with its sweet coconut water syrup, scent of coconut, and coconut infused jelly. This modern dessert is both refreshing and palate cleansing, and the sprig of mint lends a burst of colour.

Chilled Coconut Jelly


Chilled Coconut Jelly



The signature Cathay Chinese Pancake, despite the ordinary sounding name, is a chef speciality here. The baked, not fried, pancake has a crisp, flaky crust almost biscuit-like in texture. But the surprise is within, a secret recipe blend of lotus paste that is sweeter, lighter, smoother, and more fruity than regular lotus paste. With a citrus taste similar to apple pie or pineapple tart, the mysterious but totally delicious paste left us guessing and arguing over what it was... And staff just kept teasing us by only revealing that it contains lotus paste, but not the citrusy, fruity element. Maddening, but so good... must try!

Cathay Chinese Pancake


Cathay Chinese Pancake



Overall, The Cathay Restaurant maintains the same high standards they've always been known for, and the ala-carte dinner buffet they offer is good value for money. With efficient, polite service in an elegant setting, it's no surprise that The Cathay Restaurant has maintained such a long, and delicious, legacy. And with 2015 being the celebrations for SG50, The Cathay Restaurant is a perfect place to celebrate whilst embracing a slice of Singapore's history.





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