Rating: 4.2 / 5 “Great Soups & Excellent Service, Claypot Baked Lobsters with Vermicelli in Thai style is a must-have”
Add: 75 Airport Boulevard #01-02 Crowne Plaza Changi Airport Terminal 3 | Reservation: +65 68228228
Locating Imperial Treasure Cantonese Cuisine in Crowne Plaza Hotel at Terminal 3 of Changi Airport is a breeze. If you are going by car, park at Terminal 3 Car Park 3B, you can see Crowne Plaza Hotel immediately as you enter through the glass doors. To compensate for the convenience some may enjoy for seamless integration the hotel has with the airport, the hotel did not shortchange on the feel-good factor by returning an exaggerated grandeur to its main entrance with an experience almost akin to a red carpet moment, except that the generous aisle is slightly inclined upwards to the hotel main door. We were greeted with playful artistry of timber chics, walled along both sides before we reach the restaurant.
The restaurant, like its other branches, echoes the facades with their usual dark timber strips. The collective display of chilled wines in the cellars forms the reception area, before a staff greeted us and showed us to our table. The interior is not as lavish as it could be like some of their branches, but it did exude its own elegance and mildest grandeur. The service was impeccable; beside giving us an extra chair for us to put our bags on, the waitress even covered our bags with large napkins. This is really something other restaurants should learn from for not just to safeguard the customers’ belongings but also to prevent unnecessary food spills on the bags.
The menu was thoughtfully categorized into starters, mains, sides, desserts & drinks. These are further sub-categorized into meats, seafood, vegetables & so on. We kicked off the dining spree with 2 starters: Fried Pig’s Intestines and Steamed Chicken Feet in Ginger Sauce. The outer skin of the pig’s intestines is crispy thin, and the inner layers are firm, juicy and not oily at all. The pig’s intestines are thoughtfully cut into bite sizes and very convenient to eat. | Damage: $8.40
The second starter was the Steamed Chicken Feet in Ginger sauce, a cold dish that is ultra-delicious. The ginger sauce marinating is excellent; the skin is smooth & springy, coupled with bones that are soft from the steaming. This dish is served cut into small pieces for easy chewing. | Damage: $6.30
Being a cantonese cuisine restaurant, soups must be their specialties. We ordered 3 types of soups and I recommend all three! The Scallop, Shrimp & Crab Roe Thick Soup came in a tantalizing gold colour (owing to the crab roe) with pieces of scallop, shrimp & crab meat lying beneath the thick surface. Before this order came, the Captain was kind enough to tell us we’ve got to wait for 25 minutes upfront for this soup. She explained the slow process of concocting, the chef having to stir in the crab roe slowly over low heat in order to achieve just the right texture & colour. It was worth the wait. The broth is creamy, but not too thick to be repulsive. The taste is heavenly, fresh & fragrant from the seafood. No pepper needed. | Damage: $9
The 2nd soup was the Shredded Abalone with Dried Seafood Thick Soup. As I was clicking my camera away, the Captain came again to remind me to drink this soup while it is hot so that I can savour the most out of the sea treasures. I think they are doing injustice to this dish by stating “shredded”. The ingredients in this soup include Sharks Fin, Abalone, Fish Maw, Fish Paste in the form of noodles, Shitake Mushrooms. Other than the abalone strips that are “shredded”, the rest were in pieces as you can see in the picture. I know when they say “shredded”, they are only referring to the abalone, but again, I wouldn’t let this overshadow the rest of the treasures, the shark’s fin come in good sized pieces for god’s sake, where is this being mentioned? The soup was loaded generously with the good stuffs, unlike other seafood soups I’d tried that have lots of thick broth and little ingredients, making me felt like I’d drank a whole bowl of gelatin. | Damage: $25
The 3rd soup is the Hot & Sour Soup in Sichuan Style. Now, Sichuan is known for spicy Chinese cuisines, most of which are often associated with chilli & spices simmered with oils – commonly known as “ma-la” in Chinese. Unlike the usual layers of oil you see floating in the more liquidified Sichuan soups, this one is thicker in texture, less spicy, and not greasy. In fact, after about 10 minutes of cooling down, the lack of oil is evident – kind of goes dry & smooth on the top layer (without any oil blotch traces) if you don’t stir it immediately. The taste is not particularly fantastic, but the gist of Sichuan is there, just not brought out to the fullest. Let’s just say, it is alike drinking a long black when an espresso is expected. Ingredients include bamboo shoots, black fungus, tofu, mushrooms. | Damage: $8
Then came the much awaited Steamed Bamboo Clams with Garlic. I’ve had my favourite steamed bamboo clams at Long Beach Seafood restaurant for a while now, so I thought to do a little comparison here. The clam felt a little hard on the edges of the flesh pieces, probably due to over steaming. But perhaps it was because they had cooked it long enough, the garlic were fully infused into the clam & sauce, making them extra tasty. It was a pity though that they present it in a narrow & shallow trough-like dish just enough for the bamboo clam to fit in; most of the goodness in the gravy was drained off under the clam into the trough as a result and my spoon could not find space to scoop up more sauce from the dish to drizzle more over the clam pieces. | Damage: $12 each
The next dish was Braised Sea Cucumber with Goose Web. We had wanted Hokkaido Sea Cucumber specifically as their collagen level is higher, hence has a firmer feel on bite. Unfortunately they were out of stock and replaced by regular sea cucumber. The sea cucumber was braised until tender and supple, not much to complain about. The goose web was treated really well as the gravy was not only well glazed over it, the meat was soaked in its essence as well, particularly at the web area in between the fingers, all soft & juicy, very edible. | Damage: $25
Then we had the Stewed Pork with Bittergourd in Claypot. It was only after the meal that I realized this dish was not served in a claypot but on plate. Perhaps it was cooked in a claypot rather than served in one; it didn’t matter. The stewed pork was none other than Char Siew (barbequed marinated pork) but made moister and tenderer because of the stewing over time. The pork tasted great for me because I had always preferred the regular char siew to be somewhat softer for my liking. The bittergourd was sliced from sideways off the vegetable rather than the cross-sections of it which would have given the usual “cloud” or “flower petals” shapes to them. In any case, they were solid slices and may be the reason why they taste quite incredibly fibrous as opposed to thicker cloud chunks. The secret weapon here is the douchi (fermented black soybeans) they use for the stewing that largely brought about the apex of the taste.
The next one, Baked Lobster with Vermicelli in Claypot in Thai Style, was highly recommended by the Captain. Insisting that we should give this signature dish a try, she reminded that lobsters are not regulars on their menu and are only available depending on seasons. So I said yes, why not. Alas! I did not regret on this one. The use of claypot helped to steam the vermicelli until soften and permeate the flavor from the Thai spices and lemongrass into the lobster and vermicelli perfectly.
The Lemongrass is the deal here; without it, the whole “Thai Style” gimmick would have been gone. As usual I don’t eat right away, and rather observe how vulnerable some dishes can be once they are out of the pan, wok, steamer, whatever you call it. It is like watching how long a fish can survive once it is out of water (for the record, I have NOT done the fish thing and will never do, in case some of you think I am a sadistic freak). I was expecting the vermicelli to turn rubbery and kind of clump together after a while but they did not. They remain slightly moist and delicately separable. Thumbs up for that alone. The taste was exquisite; peppery and smooth, filled with fresh lemongrass aroma. | Damage: $36 per 100g (I paid $36 for my portion).
For you’all sakes, I mastered the gut and make room for some desserts. A fan of glutinous rice balls will never get tired of too many rice balls. We ordered Glutinous Rice Balls with Black Sesame Coated with Grated Peanut and a hot soup dessert Glutinous Dumplings in Ginger Soup. I am not a glutton but I was with a friend so I made her order a cold dessert, Mango Sago with Pomelo in Mango Juice. My favourite of the three was the Glutinous rice balls with black sesame coated with grated peanut. The black sesame filling was the right amount, and the rice flour around it was not too thick either. The grated peanut was a sweet bonus. Three different textures in one bite: sweet & powdery, sticky & tender plus fragrant & oozing! How to not like this one huh? | Damage: $4
The Glutinous Dumplings in Ginger Soup were not too bad, except that I find the ginger soup a little too spicy for my taste. But then again, that goes to show the ginger was darn fresh! | Damage: $3.50
The Mango Sago was perfectly chilled. To my surprise, the mango tastes mostly sour with a tad of sweetness. It flows good in the mouth, very light and slightly frothy. | Damage: $5
At the end of the day, the Captain introduced herself as Yan Yan, and even showed me to view their VIP rooms. For those who love dining in a group, whether in groups of 8 or 20, Imperial Treasure Cantonese Cuisine at Crowne Plaza Hotel Changi Airport Terminal 3 has a place for you.
Give Yan Yan a call, will you?