Most restaurateurs operating in the Central Business District lament the lack of customers on weekends. Many do not even open on Sundays because they would just be swatting flies.
But Majestic Restaurant, which opened at the new Marina One complex about two weeks ago, has apparently broken that curse.
I could not get a table for lunch last Sunday because the restaurant was full. And though I secured a dinner booking for 7pm, dishes such as the smoked chicken and roast duck were sold out.
The restaurant's magnetic appeal is not surprising though. It had been in the New Majestic Hotel in Bukit Pasoh Road for 11 years until the hotel closed last year. And during that time, it had gained a strong following for chef-owner Yong Bing Ngen's refined Cantonese cooking.
The fact that it took half a year for the restaurant to reopen has undoubtedly created much pent-up desire among the chef's fans to taste his cooking again.
The new premises at Marina One have an L-shaped dining room with a floor-to-ceiling glass wall on the outer curve. In the day, you get a good view of the building's verdant landscaping, though some seats may receive too much sun.
04-01 Marina One, The Heart (East Tower), 5 Straits View, tel: 6250-1988; open: 11.30am to 3pm, 5.45 to 10pm daily
Price: From $50 a person, more for live seafood
At night, however, it is pretty dark outside as most of the Marina One tenants have yet to move in.
The menu has a mix of old favourites and new dishes, but on the whole, it is a conservative collection of mainly Cantonese dishes. What makes them stand out is not just the chef's skill, but also that many of the components are made in-house or are high-grade ingredients. And the quality shows.
Take the Pan-Fried Carrot Cake With Pork Sausage In XO Chilli Sauce ($15). The house-made carrot cake is soft and smooth, and not floury.
It breaks up easily in the mouth, where the moreish flavours of the mildly spicy XO chilli - also house-made - and aromatic sausage take over.
I had it on all my three visits to the restaurant over the last two weeks and I'll be happy to eat it again soon.
The dim sum is also very good. Fresh prawn dumpling or har gao ($6.80) really tests a dim sum chef's skill and the one here passes with flying colours. The dumpling skin is thin and springy, and the prawn filling fresh and well-seasoned.
On my first two dinner visits - first invited and then on my own - the Smoked French Corn-fed Chicken With Salt And Hickory ($28) was sold out. I pre-ordered it before my third visit for lunch and so should you. The tender chicken is juicy and flavourful, even though the hickory smokiness could be stronger.
The Crispy Mangalica Pork Belly Marinated With Five Spice ($14) is not as popular, but I love it. The Hungarian pork has a good bite and is not too fatty and the five-spice seasoning is nicely balanced.
Like most Cantonese restaurants, Majestic offers a range of fish steamed or fried whole. But it also serves it in fillets, which is good for small dining groups. On the menu are sauteed or steamed garoupa fillet ($28) and steamed sea perch ($38), but other fish such as soon hock may be available too. Just check with the server and ask about the price too when making your order.
The noodles here are also outstanding. Claypot Hor-Fun With Fresh Prawns In Egg Gravy ($24) may not look pretty with the rice noodles almost entirely covered in thick, brown gravy. But that umami-laden sauce, with its rich stock base, is what makes the dish. The prawns, while fresh and succulent, are almost overshadowed.
Another gravy-rich noodle, the Stewed "Mee Sua" With Oyster, Vegetable And Crab Roe Gravy ($20) is a luxe version of the more humble Teochew orh luak mee sua worth the price. The oysters are plump and big and the crab roe gravy is so good, you want to drink it up.
I'm too stuffed on all visits to eat dessert, but the Chilled Glutinous Rice Dumpling With Mao Shan Wang And Gula Malacca ($6 for three) is hard to resist. It is durian mochi and if you are a fan of the fruit, you would appreciate the softness of the glutinous rice flour dumpling and the creaminess of the filling.
Pop one whole in the mouth - and experience bliss.
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• The Sunday Times paid for its meals at the eateries reviewed here.