Summer Pavilion at Ritz Carlton received one Michelin star recently for its Cantonese cuisine. The Michelin Guide, which misspells “Pavilion” as “Pavillion,” says, “Start with a cool drink in the Chihuly Lounge before you’re ushered into this sumptuous dining room which proves the ideal environment in which to enjoy the high quality Cantonese cooking. The polished service and stunning porcelain merit a mention, as does the wonderfully fluid choreography of the tea service. Look out for the roasted duck and the double-boiled sea whelk soup and fish maw which is presented in a whole coconut.”
Wow. That’s using a lot of words but not saying much. Here is more vital information: Executive Chef Cheung Siu Kong presents a la carte and set menus, starting from $52++/pax for lunch, and $88++/pax for dinner. A special Michelin set menu is available at $88++ (lunch) and $118++ (dinner). Dim sum is available during lunch.
Like the Michelin said, the decor is pure class. The entrance is a broad and long counter, and you walk into a deep but open enclave of natural light, softly flitting through the muslim curtains. Each table is separated from another, so you can’t hear conversations. We were given a booth table, which gives us further privacy. This is an amazing space for families and companies.
The Michelin is also accurate about the service. We were served by a Malaysian girl with short hair, who is chirpy, and efficient. Her positive working attitude has brightened up our visit.
Now the food. Not sure if it’s because we ordered mostly dim sum, and some a la carte dishes, but having eaten a few days ago at Crystal Jade Golden Palace, which is also a 1 Michelin starred Cantonese restaurant, we thought Golden Palace is much better in terms of food.
The congee ($6.50) is so sweet that it is jerlat after a few bites. Cheong fun ($8) is too starchy. Chicken feet ($6) is bland. Only the liu sha bao ($5.40) is standard.
Their own creations don’t fare well too. The yam pumpkin ($5.40, above) acts as a replacement for fried carrot cake, and is very strange. Outside, it’s savory shreds of radish, fried to a crisp, almost tasting like that Jagabee snack, but inside it’s yam and pumpkin, mushy and sweet. In theory, the textures and flavors go, but when we ate it, it was strange.
The other new creation is stated as goose liver ($3 each piece) on the menu, but it’s more like goose liver empanada, or curry puff. It’s a deep-fried dough covering mini cubes of ingredients, and all we could taste was the mushrooms, no livery goodness.
For the cooked food, the vinegar trotter ($10) is too mild, not gingery nor vinegary enough. The char siew in the BBQ combo ($30, small) is terrible, with a porky stench. The soy chicken is bland and cannot hold a candle to the 1 starred hawker, Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken. The duck, however, is excellent, but its excellence comes from its good quality of ingredients, and not by any culinary expertise.
The food comes across as under-seasoned, and a tad bland. For the Michelin Guide, ambience and service carry pivotal points, and the ambience and the service do make up for average food. We spent $120 for 3 persons, quite a good price.
Summer Pavilion 夏苑
7 Raffles Avenue, The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Level 3, Singapore 039799
T: +65 6434 5286
Overall rating: 4.063/5
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.