Restaurant Review: Excellent Cantonese fare at Blossom at Marina Bay Sands

Royal Secret Recipe Smoked Duck from Cantonese restaurant Blossom.
Royal Secret Recipe Smoked Duck from Cantonese restaurant Blossom.PHOTO: BLOSSOM
Cantonese restaurant Blossom in the middle of the Marina Bay Sands lobby.
Cantonese restaurant Blossom in the middle of the Marina Bay Sands lobby.ST PHOTO: WONG AH YOKE

It is not often that a new independently operated Cantonese restaurant can challenge the likes of established groups such as Imperial Treasure, Crystal Jade, TungLok and Paradise.

But judging from two recent lunches, the month-old Blossom looks like it could do it.

The upmarket restaurant is located in the middle of the Marina Bay Sands lobby, taking over the premises vacated by Jing Shan Lou, another Chinese restaurant that moved to Park Regis Singapore in March. However, while it is new to the scene, one of the chefs helming the kitchen is a very familiar face.

Chef Fok Kai Yee is a veteran from Hong Kong who has worked in renowned restaurants here including Lei Garden and, more notably, Summer Pavilion in Ritz-Carlton, Millenia. He is now culinary master at Blossom, working with executive chef Jason Lau - another Hong Konger formerly with Imperial Treasure Super Peking Duck - to design the menu.

Flipping through the many pages, you would notice many classic Cantonese dishes with a number of high-end items served in individual portions. But spend a bit more time perusing the menu and you find there are also a number of sharing plates at more friendly prices.

And while the expensive dishes are good, the family-style dishes are what would make me return for meals with friends.

The dim sum, for example, is excellent. And what I ordered turned out to be rather surprising too.

  • BLOSSOM

  • Marina Bay Sands Hotel Lobby Tower 2, 2 Bayfront Avenue, tel: 6688-7799

    Open: 11.30am to 11pm (Mondays to Fridays), 11am to 11pm (Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays)

    Food: 4 stars

    Service: 3.5 stars

    Ambience: 3.5 stars

    Price: From $70 a person, but be prepared to pay much more for the deluxe dishes

The cheong fun, called Steamed Red Rice Roll Wrapped With Crispy Rice And Scallops ($7.80 a plate), are not your usual white sheets drenched in soya sauce.

Instead, the scarlet rolls are cut into chunks and served dry, looking like odd sausages. But they were really good. The crispy rice made for a nice crunch in the mouth, and the pieces of steamed scallops were sweet.

The har gau, called Blossom Signature Steamed Prawn Dumpling ($7.80 for four), too, was not your usual white parcel, but had an attractive swathe of grey on the translucent skin. It tasted like regular har gou though, and a very good one too.

I tried the Royal Secret Recipe Smoked Duck ($40 for half) at my first lunch and was captivated by the tender and flavourful meat. During the second visit, I ordered the chicken version, Smoked Chicken With 15-year Pu-Er Tea Leaves And Chrysanthemum ($25 for half), and that was good too - with juicy and tender meat.

What made both dishes more memorable was that they arrived at the table covered, and when the lid was removed, wafts of smoke swirled out to greet the diner. The smokiness lingered on the meat too, providing a powerful top note in the mouth.

Sauteed Sliced Pork Collar With Lettuce In Shrimp Sauce ($28) is a home-style dish which I didn't expect to see on the menu here. But there it was, under the Meat & Poultry section, and I could not ignore one of my favourite Hong Kong dishes.

The secret lay in the fermented shrimp sauce, which was an acquired taste that fans find irresistibly fragrant. Sizzled in a hot claypot, it was the perfect flavour for the crunchy meat and crisp vegetable.

I also could not resist ordering the Blossom Signature Stir-fried Bird's Nest And Fresh Crab Meat ($88 a person), which was a take on a classic shark's fin dish but with wild bird's nest replacing the more controversial Chinese delicacy.

What was amazing was that the stir-fried bird's nest had a crunch that reminded me of shark's fin, so in this instance, I did not bemoan the swop. It came with a bowl of superior stock, just like the original dish.

It was delicious and if you find the price too hard to swallow, the portion is enough for two persons.

If you have room, order some noodles. I tried two and both were excellent.

Stir-fried Fish Noodles With Garoupa Fillet ($12 a person) came with two pieces of perfectly pan-fried fish, which justified the price of the dish. The noodles were firmer than I expected and probably had a bit more flour than fish paste, which was fine with me. Pure fish noodles sometimes turn out too soft for my liking.

Stir-fried Angel Hair Pasta With Scallops In XO Sauce ($12) was good too, with springy noodles and two pan-fried scallops coated in a garlicky, spicy sauce.

The layout of the restaurant is not much different from the Jin Shan Lou days, with the main dining area divided into two sections - one under the hotel's soaring ceiling and the other in a more enclosed space that leads to the private rooms.

But there are more natural wood tones now and the look is more contemporary. What is totally new are two semi-private rooms designed with modern Chinese features that are ideal for family meals.

It's early days and the restaurant was not full on both visits. But I'm sure that won't stay the case for long.

Follow Wong Ah Yoke on Instagram @wongahyoke

The Sunday Times paid for its meals at the eateries reviewed here.