Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Cathay Restaurant

Had an early Chinese New Year dinner with my family and a part of my extended family at The Cathay Restaurant the other day,
and coincidentally, it was my aunt's birthday too,
so it was a perfect day to indulge ourselves in a big feast! :D

The Cathay Restaurant
2 Handy Road
#02-01 The Cathay
Tel: 67327888

Brief History
The Cathay Restaurant has a long and rich history dating back to 1940 when it was first opened.
They first served European fare, then re-opened in 1951 to serve Chinese cuisine (and at that time it was Singapore’s finest  Chinese restaurant, specializing in 
Cantonese and Shanghainese cuisine),
and then the restaurant closed in 1964 and was converted into Cathay 
Organisation’s head office...
And today, The Cathay Restaurant, which opened on 27 January 2007, continues to embrace its custom of serving fine traditional Chinese cuisine :)
You can read more about their history here if you're keen!

We chose to sit at one of the corner tables, which I think is part of a private dining room, except that they didn't pull the dividers out that day!
There are five private dining rooms in the restaurant named after Cathay’s cinemas in the past:
Pavilion, Majestic, Odeon, Ruby and Regal

My sis, a huge fan of Jay Chou, told me that Jay ate at The Cathay Restaurant before so there's quite a chance that we might be sitting on the same table he sat at!
Hahah if that's true it'd be kinda cool :D
The restaurant had a reputation for having lots of famous stars there in the past too!

While waiting for the adults to arrive, we camwhored first~

My pretty dajie!

And here's my boyfriend who had nights out from camp so he could join us for dinner, yay! :D

And ONE big selca of myself!

Oh? And who do we have here??? :D
The star of the day who graced us with her presence, my baby niece, Mia!!
She's the most precious thing ever and all of us can't stop fawning over her, including the waitresses at the restaurant lol!

Happy granddaughter and her happy ahma (my aunt)!

The Cathay Restaurant is a fusion of past and present.
Located on level 2 of The Cathay, it sits in a space that straddles both the original heritage facade & new building, weaving an interesting union of past & present.
The first thing that caught my attention as I stepped in was the way they incorporated Chinese calligraphy so elegantly onto the pillars with silver print.
From afar, it serves as a beautiful coat of glimmer on the pillars,
and when you get closer, you'll be able to see its beauty in another art form!

The Cathay Restaurant has a sleek, clean modern vibe to it (which I think appeals exceptionally to the younger crowd), contrary to most Chinese restaurants,
and yet it cleverly infuses its traditional roots amidst its contemporary decor, creating an extremely familiar and nostalgic ambiance :)

I was immensely pleased with The Cathay Restaurant because my grandmother was so happy just to be there :)
Even before she saw or tasted the food, she was already on cloud nine because she saw these images of former Cathay film stars & Cathay movie scenes hung up on the wall,
and she recognised a number of them and was telling us about it!
It's really these little details that show how meticulous and thoughtful to their customers a restaurant is and I'm super thankful that we went to the right restaurant! :)
Cause my grandma doesn't really want us to buy her gifts so sometimes I don't know what to get her to make her real happy,
but seeing her reaction that day, now I do! :D

Chinese New Year is the best time for families to bond, spread the well wishes, catch up with each other, show our love and appreciation for each other, and to create more beautiful memories for our families!
And I can't think of a better way to do all of these apart from having a good meal :D
Practical, fun, and food always makes people happy!

The Cathay Restaurant offers ala carte and set menus for both lunch and dinner as well as a dim sum menu during lunch.
They also have a number of signature dishes you can choose from!

I would personally recommend The Cathay Restaurant for family dinners and gatherings because their set menus are awesome!!
I feel that the portions of their dishes would be too overwhelming for lunch but absolutely perfect for dinner.
Unless you don't mind bringing some yummy takeaways home, which is quite a sweet idea as well hahah!

We had the Longevity Set that day for 7 of us (8 if you include Mia hahah)
and here's the menu of all the dishes.
A 9 course meal and everything sounds divine, we're in for a huge treat!!

Salmon and Ikan Parang "Lo Hei" Yu Sheng
For those who don't know what this is,
Yusheng literally means "raw fish" but since "fish (鱼)" is commonly conflated with its homophone "abundance (余)",
Yúshēng (鱼生) is interpreted as a homophone for Yúshēng (余升) meaning an increase in abundance. Therefore, yusheng is considered a symbol of abundance, prosperity and vigor.

The Yu Sheng at The Cathay Restaurant was one of the better ones I've had as much as I can remember.
When the waitress served up this generous portion of yusheng, and all the other ingredients,
everyone in my family quickly took out their phones to snap a picture of it hahah!

The bright and lovely colours of all the ingredients was testament of its freshness!
And I think that's a really crucial for yusheng because of obvious health reasons (there's raw fish in it),
and also because yusheng holds such a strong significance in the Chinese culture especially on New Year,
so you really won't want to end up with an unfresh one to start your new year :/

And the yusheng tasted as good as it looks!
With all the different ingredients, sauces and spices mixed in,
the yusheng had a beautiful blend of sweet, tangy, chewy and crunchy texture and taste to it!

The waitress wished us some really nice CNY greetings while helping us pour in the ingredients!
I think everyone's favourite is actually the deep-fried flour crisps and I LOVE yushengs with lots of that!! (this one had two bowls yay!)

Did you know that the yummy flour crisps are meant to represent "gold"?
While adding that into the yusheng, the waitress wished for us "满地黄金", meaning to have the entire floor scattered with gold!
So it's true that we all like 黄金, both the edible one and the inedible one hahah!

The most fun part about CNY dinners are tossing the yusheng and saying auspicious wishes for everyone and yourself for the new year :)
But The Cathay Restaurant kicked this up a notch, they provided extra long chopsticks for everyone!!

It MIGHT be for diners to not have to stand up (perhaps during formal company CNY dinners),
but for my family, it meant we could grab MORE of the ingredients to toss up! LOL
The more the merrier, right? :p

Even Mia wanted to huat for the new year!
Look at her tiny hand trying to grab the ginormous chopsticks hahah!!!

Like I said, the 黄金 (fried flour crisps) is everyone's favourite! :D

Braised Shark's Fin with Crab Meat and Bamboo Pith
This was one of the dishes we were most excited for - Shark's Fin soup!
Personally, I like shark's fin soup mainly because of the thick and savoury soup base made possible by the other ingredients, and not the shark's fin actually hehe :D
The soup was rich and scrumptious,
and I loved how the bamboo pith and crab meat had totally absorbed the deep flavour of the soup. Yummy!
Not forgetting how HUGE the chunks of crab meat inside the soup are :D
The Cathay Restaurant is indeed generous with their portions!!
Coupled with a dash of pepper and a few drops vinegar and you'll get a little piece of heaven.

Stir-fried Fresh Scallop and Prawns with Seasonal Vegetable in XO Sauce
I'm not usually a fan of vegetables,
but when you throw in tons of irresistably juicy, fresh and succulent prawns and scallops,
plus stir-fry them all in a heavenly XO sauce, I'm bought over completely! :D
And to my surprise, the vegetables were actually crisp, very tasty and had a tinge of sweetness because it was so fresh!

My boyfriend placed the food super nicely on my plate cause he knew I was taking pictures :D

Steamed Pa Ting Fish with Chye Poh and Minced Garlic
Most unique steamed fish I've ever eaten, hands down!!
I'm a huge fan of steamed fish, fish soup and other fish-related dishes, and I've tried a lot of pretty good ones,
and none compares to this!
You KNOW that something is really good when you can distinctly remember the exquisite taste of it,
and you crave for it even after weeks (and months) of having it!
Craving for this so badly right now....
Most steamed fish would taste good because of the freshness of the fish.
But the one at The Cathay Restaurant had more tricks up its sleeve -
in addition to its freshness, their steamed fish was glazed with a light sauce and topped with a perfect blend of chye poh and minced garlic!
Who would have thought that chye poh (salted radish), commonly used as a topping for Chwee Kueh, would taste so good with steamed fish?
Kudos to their chef!
This was undoubtedly my favourite dish of the entire dinner!

It's salty, it's sweet, the chye poh is crunchy while the soft and sweet fish meat melts in your mouth,
it really can't get any better than this!

Braised Whole Abalone (8 Heads) with Black Moss
Dried Oyster and Seasonal Vegetable
When this dish was served, my jaw dropped!
While the other dishes had generous portions, this one was waaay bigger than what any of us had expected :D
But I think that's what makes this dish worthy of being on a CNY dinner set
because Chinese New Year is all about the abundance, indulgence and splurging on a good meal to reward all our hard work so far! :)

Was really tempted to stuff my entire mouth with the entire abalone but I couldn't because of my braces lol!
But I guess it's for the better, because in the end I sliced up my abalone and savoured each precious gravy-infused slice slowly, mmm~
The dried oyster also had a very strong flavour, partly because of the seasoning, which I liked!
It's a good contrast to the milder tasting raw oysters we're more familiar with :)

Cathay Crispy Roasted Chicken
I heard that this is one of their signature dish at The Cathay Restaurant and it truly lived up to its reputation :)
I must say the chicken was really well done!
The meat is tender, juicy and the skin was crisp to perfection!
I'm not really sure what the gloriously golden fried bits are, but they sure tasted amazing :D

Got myself a huge helping of the topping because I couldn't get enough of it!
The saltiness and subtle hint of sweetness of those golden bits enhanced the natural flavour of the roasted chicken,
and also added a nice crispy texture to the dish.

Fried Glutinous Rice with Chinese Sausages
If you were to choose the same CNY dinner set as we did and are not full at this point,
fret not, because a huge serving of fried glutinous rice was coming your way lol!
Most of us were stuffed at this point and we could only finish half the plate, and had the remaining packed for takeaway :)
Their glutinous rice was not bad, wasn't too oily nor sticky, so I could probably have eaten about 4 bowls of it if I didn't have all the yummy dishes prior to this :p

Chilled Sea Coconut with Snow Lotus Seed and American Ginseng
A good meal isn't complete without desserts
and this cooling and light dessert gave all of us a sweet closure to the scrumptious feast!
With these indulgent yet beneficial ingredients all in a bowl, who could resist? :D
Loved the chewy texture of the sea coconut!

Nian Gao
Niángāo, Year cake or Chinese New Year's cake is a food prepared from glutinous rice and consumed in Chinese cuisine.
It is considered good luck to eat nian gao during Chinese New Year because "nian gao" is a homonym for "higher year."
The Chinese word 粘 (nián), meaning "sticky", is identical in sound to 年, meaning "year", and the word 糕 (gāo), meaning "cake" is identical in sound to 高, meaning "high or tall".
As such, eating nian gao has the symbolism of raising oneself taller in each coming year (年年高升 niánnián gāoshēng).

The final dish to conclude our Chinese New Year dinner was the nian gao!
And just when we thought the most anticipated dishes have been served, they saved the best for the last!
This is yet another special dish you won't commonly find in other places.
Unlike our usual nian gaos which are usually eaten plain,
this was coated with orange peel and grounded peanuts and then fried till golden brown :D
Definitely a pleasant surprise to all of us and a good twist to a common CNY dish!
The outer layer was crispy and fragrant, while the nian gao inside still warm, soft and sweet.
One word - mouthwatering!

Now you can never say you've tasted yummy nian gao until you've tried the ones at The Cathay Restaurant!

I was more than pleased that everyone had a great time during the dinner and loved all the dishes! :D
If my mummy and ahma says something tastes good, it's got to be really good lol!
And I'm glad our families could have a gathering and the dear mummies could take a break from preparing dinner and be pampered to a delicious meal hehe! :)

I also have The Cathay Restaurant to thank for such a luxurious dinner and also their super homey ambiance!
It was such a comfortable place to dine at and the waiters and waitresses were extremely friendly too :D

Mia kept looking for the waitress who served our table to play with her lol!

We got a little ice cream cake from Ben & Jerry's (opposite of The Cathay Restaurant) to celebrate my aunt's birthday
and the waitress helped us cut and serve the cake too!!!
Thumbs up for the great service :D

I love this photo!
Mia the little superstar of my family, her grandfather (my uncle), her grandmother (my aunt) and her great-grandmother (my ahma)! :D

If you're planning to head to The Cathay Restaurant, my top few recommended dishes would be:
Steamed Pa Ting Fish with Chye Poh and Minced Garlic
Braised 8 Head Abalone with Black Moss, Dried Oyster and Seasonal Vegetable
Roasted Crispy Chicken
Nian Gao

You can look forward to an authentic and delicious fare set amidst an ambience of understated elegance when you dine at The Cathay Restaurant.
Without a doubt, I'd recommend this as a place for family reunions and especially for family dinners! :)

The Cathay's Facebook page:
The Cathay Restaurant Website:

The below are some of The Cathay Restaurant's CNY promotions and you can check out their website for more! :)

For the CNY Set Menus for Dine-In, there are a total of 5 Set Menus to choose from!

They also have two Cathay Festive Takeaway Set Menus (国泰民安外卖套餐) which start from
$398+ for 6 persons

♥ Reserve a table to celebrate an early reunion dinner at 4:00PM on 9th or 16th February, and you will be entitled to a $50 return dining voucher with $500 spent, or a $100 return dining voucher with $1,000 spent!
♥ Reap the rewards of generosity with complimentary wine, ang pows and movie treats*!
♥ Get 20% off Chinese New Year Festive Goodies with participating credit cards (ANZ, DBS, UOB)
♥ Wine & Dine for a Smooth Sailing and Prosperous Year 

Click on this picture for more details on these awesome promotions! :)

Thank you The Cathay Restaurant once again for making my mini family reunion dinner such an unforgettable experience! :)
We will definitely visit you again soon!

Thank you for reading as well, and lots of love to you all!
Have a happy and prosperous Chinese New Year in advance :D

No comments: