>$60

Empress @ ACM: One of the Best Meals This Year, the Siew Yok and Fried Rice!

Empress by the Prive Group at Asian Civilization Museum ACM, which serves modern Chinese/Cantonese cuisine, is not a new restaurant. When it first opened, the reviews were not stellar.

But recently, praise via word of mouth has reached my ears. Furthermore, my friend, whose wedding was held at CHIJMES, catered her wedding dinner here—and it was good–so we decided to lunch here.

For lunch, the 3-course vegetarian set goes for $38/person, the same price as the 3-course executive lunch set (with meat!). A 4-course at $58/person.

For dinner, the 5-course menus are priced at $65 and $88, while the 4-course vegetarian at $52.

Weekend dim sum buffet brunch (limited to 2 hours) is available at $58 with the option of adding $20 for champagne or adding $45 for alcohols.

A la carte menu for lunch and dinner is also available: starters range from $8-$14, mains from $22, and all desserts priced at $14 each.

Appetisers: Xiao Long bao, seafood-spinach dumpling, wasabi mayo prawn, roast pork belly

Phew, now the boring intro is over. We ordered the 3-course Executive set lunch. The first course is a quadruplet of dim sum.

The xiao long bao is fantastic: thin skin and a sudden burst of aftertaste. Salty enough to bring out the umami of the pork. A pity it was cool on arrival. Would be better if it was hot.

The best thing on the dim sum platter is the roast pork belly or siew yok. The skin is crackling with a nice smokiness; the meat is tender without being jerlat.

The worst thing: wasabi mayo prawn. The prawn is stiff and the dressing is soft. Perhaps this dish took too long to assemble that what should be eaten hot had cooled down, ruining the texture of the food.

Triple roast platter ($28)

The siew yok from the appetiser was so good that we ordered the a la carte triple roast platter ($28) consisting of char siew, siew yok, and sticky-sweet pork ribs, 4 pieces each.

Somehow, the siew yok here is even better than the one in the appetiser. It seems fresher, more tender, and more flavourful.

The char siew is the best kind: striated with fat.

The sticky-sweet pork ribs is a carnivore’s wet dream; I love it so much. The chunkiness of it gives such a fantastic mouthfeel. Please don’t ever change.

Main: Halibut, An Xin Chicken, Egg white fried rice

The high is not yet over. The deep-fried halibut fish served with a creamy eggy lemon sauce comes hot and perfect and tender; it defies all odds and remains defiantly crispy under the sauce.

Even the broccoli is delicious, its crown coated with an oyster seafood sauce.

My friends found the an xin chicken (no hormones, no antibiotics) so-so but I love it. Cloves are nailed into the flesh. A layer of turmeric (? I guess) coats it, giving an earthy, pungent taste.

But the piece de resistance is indubitably, undeniably the egg white fried rice. When I ate it, I exclaimed, “WTF. How come anything be this delicious?!?!?!”

It tastes less like fried rice, more like mui fan. Let me say, I hate mui fan. But the wet rice here is soaked in this egg white, seafoody, dried scallop sauce. Crunch, to contrast the softness of rice, comes from salty Sakura ebi and pungent salmon skin. THIS IS AMAZING.

Chairman’s bubur chacha

Perhaps the only thing I question from this lunch set is the Chairman’s bubur chacha. (Please change the name to “chairperson.” It’s almost 2020, we don’t use gendered terms anymore.) I expect a chairperson to be rather traditional, and it follows that the bubur chacha is traditional.

But no. It’s a deconstructed one with coconut granita (granita is just a fancy word for ice). Not as good as the traditional one. The ice traps and refuses to release the robustness of coconut, enervating this dessert, making it facile and feeble.

One word about the comfortable service. There were two celebrities at the restaurant, one a well-known MP and the other a famous food blogger who was there to film for Channel 8. But we weren’t neglected and did not feel left out. From the maître d’ to the manager to the waiter, they did excellent work: friendly but not encroaching, attentive but not obsequious.

We paid $54 per person.


Menu


Empress Restaurant
Asian Civilisations Museum #01-03, 1 Empress Place, Singapore 179555
Tel: +65 6776 0777
Weekdays 11.30am – 3pm, 6pm – 11pm
Weekends 11am – 4pm, 6pm – 11pm

Food: 8/10
Service: 8.5/10
Ambience / decor: 9/10
Price: 6.5/10


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Zui Yu Xuan Teochew Cuisine, Far East Square, Amoy Street: Geoduck and Gooey Style
Forbidden Duck, MBFC: #sparkjoy Cantonese Cuisine And Outstanding Service
JUMBO Seafood @ Ion Orchard: New Outlet With Exclusive Dim Sum Items and Lavish Seafood Rice


Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.

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