Have you realised that the Pen Cai has become a local Chinese New Year staple in recent years? This Big Bowl Feast is a traditional Hong Kong village cuisine, said to origin during the late Song Dynasty when locals collected all their best food to serve a fleeing Emperor.
It is not difficult to understand why the Poon Choi came so popular – its auspicious abundance symbol and ability to sustain for days. In fact, some say the longer you keep the dish, the better it taste (not past expiry please).
As for the ingredients, there is something for everybody. At Mandarin Court Chinese Restaurant (formally known as Pine Court) helmed by Executive Chinese Chef Sunny Kong, the $368 Fortune Pot has crazy generous amount of ingredients of baby abalone, dried oyster, pig trotter, roasted duck, live prawn, sea cucumber, goose web, drunken chicken, dried scallop, black mushroom, ‘Tientsin’ cabbage, carrot, black dace, gluten puff, black moss, pacific clam, Chinese sausage and shark’s fin (which can be replaced.)
The plus is every piece of ingredient is glazed with its absolutely tasty gravy which has absorbed the essence of the rich offerings; and the down side is that there is probably one or two things you do not like in that pot and find it to avoid when everything is almost the same colour.
If you have colleagues who likes grandness, then the extremely huge plated Salmon & Crispy Fish Skin Prosperity Yusheng ($108 for 10 persons) should please them. Being on Level 35, this restaurant offers a spectacular view of downtown Grange and River Valley Roads. (I also remember the last time I dined here at Pine Court, they offered a creative huge round-shaped bak zhang.)
My favourite dishes are the Typhoon Shelter’ Roasted Chicken, inspired by the Hong Kong Cantonese versions, made more scrumptious with its crunchy almond bits and addictive XO sauce chilli sauce so good you can eat on its own.
Just when you thought you ate all types of Nian Gao, this Bak Kwa Nian Gao ($50.80) is like the impossible combination – though the sweet sticky cake with salty pork bits strangely works.
Mandarin Court Chinese Restaurant
333 Orchard Road, Level 35, Orchard Wing Mandarin Orchard Singapore, Singapore (Nearest MRT Somerset), Tel: +65 6831 6262
Opening Hours: Lunch: 12pm–2.30pm (Mon–Fri); Dinner: 6.30pm–10.30pm (Mon–Sun)
Brunch: 11–12.30pm, 1pm–3pm (Sat–Sun & PH)