I determine how good a restaurant is by the number of locals in it. And Peach Blossoms at ParkRoyal Collection Marina Bay is no exception. The full restaurant at lunch on a Monday is a nod to the culinary skills of executive Chinese chef Edward Chong.
It is unusual to begin a meal with a cigar, considering it may ruin your palate. However, at Peach Blossoms this is exactly what I did. One of the restaurant's signatures, the Deep fried cigar roll is filled with filled with snow crab, foie gras, black truffle and prawn mousse. The dish is sprayed with a “perfume” of rice wine for fragrance. Shaped like a cigar and served on an ashtray filled with dipping sauce of sesame and seafood, after the first bite I inhaled it as it was so good.
“In the past, Peach Blossoms was strictly Cantonese, though now I am moving away from that. I am embodying the Southeast Asian flavours more. I’m using a lot of the lineage from Southeast Asian cuisine, mainly coming from myself because I am from Malaysia. I am also catering to the younger generation and we have new dishes to whet their appetites,” says chef Chong.
Double-boiled soups are synonymous with Cantonese cuisine and at Peach Blossoms, chef Chong uses the unique wild Russula mushrooms from Yunnan, China, with abalone from Jeju Island in South Korea, fish maw and free-ranged chicken. The addition of Russula mushrooms gives the soup that extra umami that one is always looking for, especially with their fragrance and tastes that is akin to shrimp or seafood. The soup is boiled for three and a half hours and drops of mushroom oil is added table side to enhance the flavour of the soup.
“Chinese cuisine, by and large, caters to the older generation. I want the new generation to be proud of their heritage, like I am, and hence want the make the cuisine more fun. The dishes you are eating today are sort of fusion, with Western influences and with that I have created my signatures,” explains the chef.
Applewood-smoked Iberico pork belly is marinated and slow-roasted over binchotan and smoked with applewood to give the meat that slightly fruity and sweet aroma. The dish is topped with a quail egg and a golden, thin, crisp rice wafer. A one-bite delight, if you’re mouth is as big as mine.
The next dish is what describes the new direction that chef Chong is taking Peach Blossoms best — modern Chinese with influences from Southeast Asia. Charcoal-grilled Boston lobster is served with an Assam curry and otak-otak, which is a Malay/Singaporean fish cake. Chef Chong was inspired by the Chinese cong you bing aka scallion pancake for the otak-otak and is reminiscent to eating curry with roti-prata. When in Singapore…
“However, I haven’t totally forgotten about the older generations, so the menu still has dim sum and old school dishes. We have a fan following of older customers who still enjoy our menu, even the modern dishes,” says the Malaysian-Chinese chef.
Sea cucumber is served with Japanese pearl rice in a stock, like a congee of sorts. This comes with the classic Singapore crab claw with white pepper. As with most crabs in the region, they are imported from Sri Lanka. The Japanese influences continue through to the desserts.
“I get my influences from travelling and social media platforms. There are ideas that come through by reading and visiting various sites. Also, new restaurants in Singapore are sources of inspiration and also some Chinese restaurants. As a chef, it is also my job to be realistic about sustaining the business. I cannot just keep appealing to the older generation, I need to appeal to the younger ones, too. This is why I take a lot of inspiration from local signature dishes. Like the Assam curry in the lobster dish. I incorporate the classics and blends my own flavour to make it different, to make it unique and to make Chinese cuisine stand out even more.”