From Sundays to Wednesdays (except eve and day of public holidays), the award-winning Hai Tien Lo at Pan Pacific Singapore has a claypot promotion to commemorate their 30th anniversary. Executive Chef Lai Tong Ping has presented 30 signature claypot dishes to pick from.
Usually, a claypot dish costs $22++ to $28++. That’s expensive and I don’t think I will pay that kind of money for claypot dishes. (I’d rather go to Hillman where Japanese businessmen go.) But now, any 2 claypot dishes are at $33.30. Everyone should chiong down now.
I like to make the most out of my money. When I go to a restaurant and I see on the menu that a meat dish and a veg dish cost the same, I’d invariably order the meat dish; it gives more bang for my dollars.
At Hai Tien Lo, the claypot offerings include (1) vegetables, (2) carbs, (3) meat with vegetables, and (4) seafood. First of all, to help you with your decisions, I want to eradicate the vegetable claypot dishes mainly because it’s more worth the money to order meat. No mapo tofu, no spinach in superior stock, no French beans for me please, thank you, although I did like the eggplant here a lot. Still firm, not mushy, the eggplant luxuriates in a sweet-salty thick black sauce with bits of minced meat. It will pair with white rice excellently.
Next, I also want to eradicate the carb dishes because since any 2 claypot dishes cost $33.30, and meat is more expensive than carbs, your money will run further with meat. Just order a bowl of white rice ($1.80).
It’s very tempting to get the ee-fu noodles with crab roe because it looks spectacular as the orange-gold roe covers the noodles, but resist the urge, because tastewise, it is rather bland. If you must order a carb, I strongly recommend the noodles in a clear tomato soup, which is the opposite of the ee-fu noodles. It looks bland–just white vermicelli with diced tomato on top–but the flavors are explosive, packed with umami.
Theoretically, you can order anything from the next two categories, meat and seafood, (again on the rationale that they are more expensive than carbs and veg dishes), but I find that the meat dishes taste better than the seafood.
The most expensive dish (I guess) is the roast duck with sea cucumber in abalone sauce, which means you get most value out of your money. But I thought the sea cucumber is still hard and hasn’t absorbed the sauce fully. The nyonya prawns are also so so. The best seafood dish, fish fillet in soya bean, which I like, is milky and robust and slightly sweet, but this is for adventurous people who don’t have a fixed mindset of what food should be.
Hai Tien Lo does exceptional meat claypots. Beef with asparagus in honey pepper sauce is nicely chewy. The drunken chicken, in a broth-form, is packed with Chinese wine, giving it an aromatic bitterness that is simply beautiful. The pork shoulder with bittergourd possesses a balance between bitterness and sweetness.
Actually, except for the claypot fried rice which is dry, every claypot dish here is delicious. To conclude, if you want to make the most use of your money, like I do, go for the beef with asparagus, drunken chicken, bitterground pork, and fish in soya bean. If you want some fibre, order the eggplant, and the vermicelli in clear tomato soup.
Hai Tien Lo 海天楼
7 Raffles Boulevard, Pan Pacific Singapore level 3, Singapore 039595
T: +65 6826 8240
Price: 9/10 (for claypot promotion)
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.