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Culinary masterpieces

Annette Tan
Annette Tan • 3 min read
Culinary masterpieces
Delightful creations, both old and new, charm at the evergreen Shang Palace
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Delightful creations, both old and new, charm at the evergreen Shang Palace

SINGAPORE (June 24): In the 48 years since it debuted in Singapore in 1971, Shang Palace — the flagship restaurant at the Shangri-La Singapore — has spawned a chain of 38 outlets across the globe. Not only that, it is the only F&B concept to have endured since the hotel’s launch. In restaurant-saturated Singapore, where just a clutch of special eateries enjoys any semblance of longevity, this speaks volumes about the quality of the dining experience that Shang Palace offers.

To mark its 48-year milestone, executive chef Mok Kit Keung has come up with three new menus. Themed “Nostalgia”, “Signature” and “Innovation”, they pay homage to time-honoured classics and demonstrate how a few clever modifications can steer tradition to fit comfortably in the modern context.

Boneless Quail Filled with Bird’s Nest in Supreme Broth from the Nostalgia menu

Dishes such as Boneless Quail Filled with Bird’s Nest in Supreme Broth ($98++ per bowl) from the Nostalgia menu hark back to a time when grand Chinese banquets were a testament of a person’s worth and hospitality. The spindly quails are carefully deboned and stuffed with bird’s nest and Jinhua ham and cooked in a flavourful broth simmered with chicken, pork and more Jinhua ham.

Similarly, Deep-Fried Pork Rolls ($38++) are made by first marinating paper-thin slivers of pork with fermented bean curd, rose wine and sha cha (a Chinese condiment) before they are steamed and frozen. The pork rolls are then floured and fried to order, and served with sautéed milk, egg whites and crab meat.

The work that goes into such dishes is time-consuming and laborious. It calls for practice, patience and a master’s keen eye and hand. The results are certainly a delight to the palate, but their complex flavours and superb textures belie the hours of work and years of experience that go into their making.

Not to be missed is the Deep-Fried Whole Boneless Chicken Stuffed with Fried Glutinous Rice ($98++) (main image) from the Signature menu. Yet another painstaking dish, it calls for the deboning of a whole kampong chicken, which is then stuffed with glutinous rice that has been wok-fried with Chinese sausage, dried shrimps, sun-dried prawns, dried scallops and shiitake mushrooms. The stuffed chicken is then sewn up, basted with malt syrup and red vinegar and fan-dried for four hours before a 30-minute roast. Once cooked, it is scalded with oil to yield irresistibly crispy skin.

While dishes such as these might feel like they should be saved for special occasions, there is a host of other more quotidian offerings. Exquisite morsels of dim sum such as Steamed Vegetable Dumplings Filled with Succulent Mushrooms ($9 for three pieces) and Steamed Crystal Dumplings with Beetroot and Water Chestnut ($8 for three pieces) offer an excuse to dine on any given day and experience the excellent hospitality at this grande dame.

Lobby Level, Tower Wing
Shangri-La Hotel
22 Orange Grove Road
Tel: 6213 4473/4398

Opening hours
Lunch: Monday to Friday: Noon to 2.30pm
Saturday, Sunday and public holidays: 11am to 3pm
Dinner: 6pm to 10pm

Annette Tan is a freelance writer and professional glutton

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