With the Mala trend making small waves in Singapore, it is about time we experience brunch and modern European food with some Sichuan influence.
Halcyon & Crane located at Orchard Paragon, looks like it is off to a promising start, especially when it is led by the same team behind Birds Of A Feather at Amoy Street (realised it as I recognised the same bartender in both places.)
Talking about brunch and cafes, quite a number of my foodie friends have previously commented that the café scene in Singapore has become “stagnant”.
I have a similar observation, and reckon it is largely due to new cafes doing the same-old-same-old of eggs ben with waffles ensemble; or other simply ‘importing’ foreign ideas without a clear understanding of the local customer.
The name “Halcyon & Crane” is based on new birds – the halcyon (or kingfisher) which represents serenity in Greek mythology; and crane which is a symbol of longevity in the East.
While you may expect Chinese dishes to be heavier and richer, the kitchen team tried to present more healthful dishes with the addition of grains, light salads and soups, while keeping flavours authentic.
Recommended dishes include the Beetroot & Seafood Risotto ($32) with a touch of spice from pickled chilli; Baby Chicken Roulade ($32) of spring chicken marinated with honey fish sauce, five-spice powder and Sichuan pepper; Specialty Beef & Tomato Braised Rice ($28) doused in a rich broth concocted with Angus brisket, spices and herbs over 16 hours; and Chicken & Mushroom Capellini ($23), a nourishing soup of chicken and bamboo mushrooms with quality vermicelli noodles imported from Sichuan.
Friends also did comment that prices are on the higher side (in fact about 20-30% higher than what they would be willing to pay normally), and so would be careful about ordering more.
I was most intrigued by the King’s Chicken Hash Benedict ($21), because “gong bao chicken”.
The dish consisted of English muffins topped with gong bao chicken, sous-vide egg and cheddar cheese.
There were some components that I liked, namely the mildly spiced gong bao chicken with a fragrant aroma while it was steaming hot; and the accompaniment of spiced potatoes which was inspired by a “tu dou” street snack in Chengdu.
The house-made English muffins were also soft and nicely grilled, especially tasty when it absorbed some of the gong bao sauce.
While the cheddar cheese added that layer (possibly to look like Hollandaise sauce) that made the dish more photogenic (oh well, instagrammable is like a bad-word now), I felt it was redundant and didn’t add much in terms of flavours. But that’s me.
Also, I was somewhat disappointed with a sous-vide egg rather than a poached egg for an eggs benedict item, because you do not get the fuller, firmer, thicker set whites.
I also ordered a H&C Big Breakfast ($24) and enjoyed the addition of “Sichuan-style pancakes” with the addition of fried minced pork and chopped long beans.
However, I thought there would be more kick (or oriental elements) in one or two more of the components, and the “Sichuan Sausage” was anything but spicy.
When I read “high quality ice cubes” on the menu, I was intrigued enough to order the Iced Americano. Turns out that the cube is made of distilled water (and I am sure baristas would have something to say about this, but I shall just leave it here).
Other than coffee, Halcyon & Crane also features an innovative take on cocktails.
Located in the middle of fashion boutiques, this could be the place to take a break and enjoy food within a chic and serene pavilion. The food can even be more adventurous and bold with a punch – I think “tai-tais” should be able to take more kicks.
Halcyon & Crane
The Paragon #03-09, 290 Orchard Road Singapore 238859 (Orchard MRT)
Tel: +65 9727 5121
Opening Hours: 9am – 10 pm (Mon – Sun)