The Cathay Restaurant, located at level 2 of The Cathay, serves authentic Cantonese cuisines. The Cathay Restaurant has quite a rich and interesting history. It originally used to serve European cuisines and it was only a few years later when it started to serve Chinese food, specifically Cantonese and Shanghainese cuisines. During the pre-independence years from 1951 to 1964, it was one of the finest Chinese restaurants in Singapore before it closed in 1964. Presently, it focuses on providing customers with its traditional Cantonese dishes, with one of its specialty being the Cathay Crispy Roasted Chicken which is a feature in most of its set menus.
My dining companion and I were here for lunch on Wednesday. It was surprisingly packed even though it was 1pm when we reached the restaurant. We had to wait quite a bit for our seats and the service staff was very apologetic about it when we mentioned casually that we are quite rushed for time, even though it wasn't something she could control. She even offered to take our orders first so that we could be served with our food once seated which we appreciate a lot. In addition, once we are seated, she immediately asked if we needed any beverages and throughout the meal, the wait staff are very attentive in attending to our extra orders and topping up of tea.
Once into the restaurant, we find that the ambience is quite unlike the normal Chinese restaurants. The furnishings are modern with cushioned seats and it helps that the restaurant has glass windows which allowed natural light in, making the restaurant seem very spacious, airy and comfortable. The restaurant also has a retro vibe to it from the drawings of singers on the walls.
Before I get into the dishes, I will just like to highlight the pickles that we are served as it is very special. Normally I would expect a saucer of salted peanuts but imagine my surprise when I saw this. I don't know the name for it, but it is a mixture of spicy and savoury. The shredded ingredients like duck meat, cucumber, salted vegetables and black fungus are tossed with a special sauce which makes them very tasty and appetising. It definitely helps in awakening my tastebuds for the upcoming dishes.
Steamed Xiao Long Bao
We ordered all from the dim sum menu since we are quite rushed for time and we thought dim sum would be a better choice over the main chinese dishes. The first dish to arrive was the Steamed Shanghainese Xiao Long Bao ($3.90++ for 3pcs)
. The xiao long bao was quite large in size and it was steaming hot when it arrived at our table. However, it was lacklustre. The xiao long bao skin was far too thick, especially at the top where the folds of the skin meet. It seemed to be rather inconsistent as well. As I had two of the xiao long baos, one of the xiao long bao that I had had very little soup while the other had a lot of soup. This dish is a disappointment.
Baked Mini Egg Tart
The next dish was the Baked Mini Egg Tart ($3.90++ for 3pcs)
. The egg tart was not warm when I ate it, but that did not affect the pastry tart shell as it was still flaky and cripsy when I bite into it. It is not greasy either. the egg custard was also superb, wobbly sweet and smooth, and the proportion of egg custard to the pastry shell was just right as well. I had to resist the urge to order another plate. The mini size makes it very suitable for children as well.
Steamed Prawn Dumpling
We also had the Steamed Prawn Dumpling ($5.60++ for 4pcs)
. I was actually quite surprised that the steamed prawn dumpling costs so much more than its other dim sum items, so I was eagerly anticipating this dish. Indeed, it did not disappoint. The translucent thin skin envelops tightly around the crunchy and fresh prawn and it is very firm when I picked one of the prawn dumpling up with the chopsticks. Although the prawn dumplings are a little tiny in size, the taste packs a bomb. The prawn filling is savoury and juicy and the skin has just the right texture to it without being overly chewy.
Steamed Yolk Cream Bun
We could not miss out on ordering the Steamed Yolk Cream Bun ($4.20++ for 3pcs)
or better known as Liu Sha Bao. Depending on personal preference, this may be or may not be to your liking. The consistency of the yolk custard filling here is in between flowy and paste-like, it does not gush out when you pry the bun open, but it will flow out if you tip it upside down. Personally I like this version as well because it means that all the lovely savoury sweetyolk custard filling ends up in my stomach instead of the plate. If there is one thing that is not so perfect, it would be the bun itself. I find the bun to be rather hard instead of soft so that is quite a pity.
Steamed Mushroom Dumpling
They had a new item on the menu which we tried, the Steamed Mushroom Dumpling ($3.90++ for 3pcs)
. This is surprisingly good. I must say I am not a fan of mushrooms and I find myself savouring every bite of this dumpling which speaks volume about its taste. I think 2-3 types of mushrooms are diced and cooked and thickened to form the filling. The dumpling skin is green in colour and it is definitely more chewy than the skin used for the prawn dumpling. That said, the chewiness went quite well with the mushroom filling as it was moist and hence there is a contrast of textures. Mushroom lovers will definitely love this!
Steamed Scallop Dumpling
The last dim sum item that we had was the Steamed Scallop Dumpling ($4.80++ for 3pcs)
. The bits of scallop sits on top of plump and fresh prawns enclosed by a wrapper. It is quite exquisitely done as there is also some fish roe and coriander placed on top of the scallop. Just on the visual, it had scored a lot fo points. While the taste was great, it would have been better if the scallop was more generous. I felt that the scallop got overpowered by the prawn such that if I had not known this was scallop dumpling, I would have mistakened it as another prawn dumpling.
To end off our meal, we ordered desserts, the Chinese Herbal Jelly ($5.80++)
and Yam Ice cream with Pumpkin puree ($4.80++)
. The herbal jelly was rather authentic as it had a strong medicinal taste to it. There is honey provided so we are able to control the amount that we want added to the jelly. To fully reap the benefits, I had very minimal honey added. The yam ice cream with pumpkin puree was a dessert which we had not seen before. The yam ice cream is topped with almond flakes which gives it some crunch. The pumpkin puree was the highlight as the restaurant had infused some lemongrass to the puree which gives another dimension to the taste. I was originally afraid that the dessert will be too heavy since yam and pumpkin are starchy vegetables but because of the lemongrass, it did not feel too cloying. The unusual pairing of lemongrass, pumpkin and yam came together surprisingly well and it was a very nicely executed dessert.
Overall, I had a very favourable experience dining in The Cathay Restaurant as the service was attentive and prompt and the food is generally above average. I can't wait to be back to try their signature dishes from the ala carte menu.
- There is a 20% discount on all dim sum items from Mondays to Fridays [11.30am – 3pm] which is a very good deal
- Do make a reservation as the restaurant can get quite packed during lunch hours
- For dim sums, the must trys are the Steamed Prawn Dumpling, Baked Mini Egg Tarts and the Steamed Mushroom Dumpling
Steamed Prawn Dumpling,Baked Mini Egg Tarts,Steamed Mushroom Dumpling
Spending per head: Approximately $25Other Ratings: