Traditionally Cantonese with a few surprises

At Feng Shui Inn: Chef Lai Yau Tim and his elder son Maurice Lai

In the third instalment of RWS’ Global Gourmet Kitchen series where we fly in top chefs from around the world to save you the plane ride, from now till 9 October, we have Hong Kong Chef Lai Yau Tim at Feng Shui Inn to rile up your taste buds.

His forte is traditional Cantonese cuisine and he’s been honing his skills for more than 40 years. Previously an executive chef with the Hang Seng Bank, he left after three decades to set up the first Tim’s Kitchen in Hong Kong. With resounding success, he was later invited by Macau tycoon Stanley Ho to set up shop in Hotel Lisboa and most recently, his third restaurant opened in Shanghai.

In town with his elder son, Maurice and two assistants, he’s serving up a menu comprising notable specialties including a quail soup that dates back to the early 1920s.

Made up of fish maw, Jew’s ear and mushroom, the thick starchy soup took my breath away with its aroma and piping hot steam. Chewy, crunchy and very nutritious, it arrived with a selection of novelty condiments which was quite an eye-opener.

For a start, appreciate the soup in its natural goodness before tinkering it with the sesame crisps, parsley, kaffir lime leaves and chrysanthemum petals. I wished I had more of the sesame crisps because they added that nice crunch to the soup and if you soak it long enough, they become soggy which is how I like it in my congee. But the shredded kaffir lime leaves are what’s memorable—imparting the soup with a strong citrusy punch that’s got quite a kick even on the nose.

Personally, I’m not a fan of seafood but no one and I mean no one could resist the Sri Lankan crab claw the size of my palm. Swathed in a custard-like bed of steamed egg, the juicy crab meat was oozing with natural sweetness. In Tim’s Kitchen Hong Kong, Vietnamese or Filipino crab is used instead because they’re slightly more flavourful but smaller.

Looking very unpretentious, the pomelo skin with prawn roe sauce is not something we eat every day. But it is one of Chef Lai’s signature dishes that goes through a laborious preparation process. The trick is to soak the pomelo skin for days to remove it of its bitter taste and then flavouring it by stewing in a thick broth. I had anticipated it to be sweet because visually, it reminded me of sweet potato or even tapioca in terms of texture, but it turned out to be savoury which was a surprise on the palate. A traditional Cantonese dish, this is a must-try.

For dessert, you have to order the red date cake which is so unbelievably addictive. Layered like the colourful kueh lapis kukus, it’s made from red dates and a type of potato flour that Chef Lai has specially packed to bring to Singapore. The type of flour used affects the texture of the red date cake drastically and the one Chef Lai is using gives the cake a firm chewy texture that is unlike the softer kueh lapis bite we’re used to.

Come down to Feng Shui Inn for a taste of Chef Lai’s dishes and I promise you wouldn’t regret it.

Feng Shui Inn is located at Crockfords Tower, Level G2.

Ala carte dishes start from $12 and set menus from $138 (min. 2 guests)

For enquiries, please call +65 6577 6599.

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