It was a thrill to witness Russel and Dolly Yu say “I do.” It was also a gustatory privilege to take part in their wedding feast.
When Russell’s parents, Raymundo and Nancy, throw a party, it is always unforgettable. I still recall the tastes and flavors of the four-day banquet.
Singapore is one of my favorite dining destinations. The variety of cuisines is diverse and plenty.
The festivities began two days before the wedding day with dinner at Sin Ho Sai, a low-key “neighborhood” restaurant that has been in business for over 30 years. It is known by locals for Singapore chili and pepper crabs and other seafood.
That evening, food flowed continuously, from dried squid tossed in what tasted like a rojak sauce to cereal shrimps.
My favorites at Sin Ho Sai have always been their shrimp paste chicken and sambal kangkong.I usually prefer their pepper crab, but that evening I feasted on chili crabs. Not wanting to pick for crab meat, I helped myself to a bowl of the sauce that was laden with crab fat. I unapologetically dipped lots of fried mantou in the sinful chili sauce. It was so, so good! I didn’t stop until I felt sick, but it was worth it!
The Yus are lavish hosts and true gourmands. Raymundo and Nancy are always in search of new dishes to whet the appetites of their guests.
That evening, I discovered Sin Ho Sai’s deboned fried grouper that was served with a sweet, soy-based sauce. That fried fish stayed so crispy, long after the sauce had been poured over it.The salted fried rice was the best dish of the evening—served with a chili sauce on the side. It was the most decadent, flavorful and satisfying bowl of salted fish fried rice I’ve ever had in my life.
The cold dessert of pureed sweetened taro with coconut cream was memorable. I wanted a second serving but managed to control myself—a rather rare occurrence.We ended our welcome dinner clinking the night away with glasses of champagne.
Pork rib ‘tea soup’
The following day, we met for lunch at Tuan Yuan for bak kut teh, pork rib “tea soup” simmered for hours in a melange of herbs and spices.
Bak kut teh, simple as it is, remains one of my must-eat dishes when in Singapore. Its broth for me is a satisfying “healing food” that’s so comforting.
At Tuan Yuan, their authentic Teochew-style premium bak kut teh is best enjoyed with lots of preserved vegetables and a lot of Chinese crullers.
A must-order is their über-tasty Teochew fried oyster omelet made with huge, meaty, juicy oysters.
Their pork innards soups are so good. I haven’t tasted anything as clean and as pristine. For roughage, the chye sim was perfect! That was my kind of lunch!We parted ways to walk the calories off, only to meet again at Imperial Cantonese for dinner that evening.
The Sautéed Egg White with Caviar was to die for! The popping of the caviar gave a mild, salty hint of the ocean to the fluffy egg whites. I liked the large scallops in light sauce, too. It was meaty yet delicate.
I also had the most delicious suckling pig skin that was rice paper-thin, crisp and melted in the mouth.
The claypot rice with preserved sausages was very good, as well. It was served alongside the suckling pig meat that was deep fried with garlic, chilies, salt and pepper.
On the day of the wedding, the chefs of the Ritz Carlton ballroom prepared a refined spread. The King Scallop with Truffle Paste was divine! The Double Boiled Sea Whelk Soup with Fish Maw, Chinese Yam and Wolfberries had a deep, multidimensional flavor of the sea that was so pronounced.
The Steamed Sea Perch with Cordyceps, Autumn Black Fungus was so delicate. The Whole 4-Head African Abalone with homemade premium soy sauce, sea cucumber and Japanese flower mushroom was the star of the evening’s feast.
The hot Poached Fish Noodle with Lobster Meat and Lobster Broth kept us sober as we partook of the free-flowing alcohol.
For dessert, assorted fungus was served in syrup with pears and assorted Chinese pastries. It was a light finish to an immaculate tasting menu.
We burned calories by dancing the night away to the tune of “Dancing Queen.”
The next day, we gathered for Sunday mass, then for a farewell dinner at the groom’s newly opened restaurants, Kiyose and Nomi. If ever you’re in Singapore, you must savor Kiyose’s Chirashi Don made with seasonal fish flown in from Japan. Kiyose knows how to do chirashi well.
The roasted wagyu served over greens drizzled with a vinaigrette was perfect. The acid and the greens cut through the richness of the beef. I loved it. I fancied the Matsutake Kani Claypot Rice, too. It was simply flavorful.
Russell and Dolly’s nuptials made for a long weekend to remember for the many culinary delights, as well as the company of people near and dear. It was four glorious days of love, warmth and laughter.
We all left Singapore with lots of joyful memories, happy hearts and bigger bellies. Here’s wishing the newlyweds a very happy ever after!
Sin Hoi Sai (Tiong Bahru) is at Block 55, #01-59/61/63, Tiong Bahru Road, 160055, Singapore.
Tuan Yuan is at Block 127, Kim Tian Road, #01-01, 160127, Singapore; tel. +656684-0123.
Imperial Cantonese is at 2/F, Great World City.
Kiyose and Nomi are at 583 Orchard Road, Forum Shopping Mall.
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