Singaporean specials showcased in festival

Updated: 2006-11-10 09:01

A two-week-long food festival featuring Singaporean cuisine has recently been introduced into the exquisite Chinese restaurant Si Ji Xuan at the Four Seasons Hotel Shanghai.Named "Best of the Lion City," the special menu actually contains not only renowned Singaporean dishes such as Bah Ku Teh (pork rib soup) and chilli crabs but also a few Cantonese dishes that are usually well received at Si Ji Xuan.

One of the most diversified Southeast Asian culinary styles, Singaporean cuisine is heavily influenced by Malaysian, Chinese,Indian, Indonesian and also Western traditions. A variety of spices and herbs are usually put into the dishes to highlight the flavours. And what is as famous as the heavy taste of Singaporean food is the Singaporean specials showcased in festival abundance of hawkers who cook and sell food on the streets of Singapore. In the country, most of the food is eaten at hawker centres or food courts rather than actual restaurants.

The Singaporean dishes I had at Si Ji Xuan were not as spicy as I had expected. Guest chef Phua Seow Han from a Four Seasons Hotel in Singapore said he deliberately lightened the flavour so as to make them more suitable for Shanghainese taste buds. For example, he cooked the pork rib soup with white pepper instead of chilli,which is more commonly used in Bah Ku Teh in Singapore. But anyway, I enjoyed the soup because it tasted flavourful, properly spicy due to the white pepper and not as greasy as other pork rib soups I have had before. The pork ribs were fully braised and tasted tender and savoury.

The chilli crab was a delicacy which has blended a feature of Shanghainese cuisine - it was served with fried bun, but in Singapore it usually goes with bread.The dish had a splendid presentation, with the sea crabs and broth in a harmonious golden colour. The flavour was refreshingly spicy but not too strong, and the broth was an excellent sauce for the fried bun, which nicely stimulated my appetite and those of my dinner companions.

Rice noodles are also a common dish in Singapore, called "Mee Hoon." It seems that the most popular preparation of rice noodles is stir-frying and the dish "Sin Chow Fried Mee Hoon" can be found in nearly all the Cantonese and Southeast Asian restaurants in Shanghai. At Si Ji Xuan, the rice noodles were cooked with sliced fresh water fish in fish bone broth,which tasted very delectable. The broth, which had been stewed with shark, chicken and fish for a long time, had a somewhat complex taste while the fillets inside were rich and delicious.

The other dishes I had mostly featured a Cantonese culinary style; one that is most impressive is a starter called "Summer Palace Three Treasures." It contained a fried shrimp ball shaped like a bird's nest,roasted goose meat and a seafood meatball covered by fruits. What surprised me was that the roasted goose meat was accompanied with slices of mango and the meat,well absorbing the mango juice, tasted properly sweet and succulent.

The Si Ji Xuan at the Four Seasons Hotel is a nice and cozy restaurant which serves Cantonese and Shanghainese dishes most of the time. The dining hall is actually not very big but leaves enough space between each table. There are some really impressive dishwares on the dining table, which are made of jade and look very pretty.Si Ji Xuan

Si Ji Xuan
Address: 2F, Four Seasons Hotel Shanghai 500 Weihai Road


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