Four Seasons Chinese Restaurant
Our team goes undercover to suss out the latest and most talked about restaurants in town.
Most ethnically Chinese Asians familiar with London would have come across Four Seasons Chinese Restaurant’s famous roast duck in the Bayswater district – some have dubbed it the best in the world. So it comes as no surprise that the restaurant’s Singapore outpost, which comes after their other international outlets in Shanghai and Bangkok, was announced to much fanfare. Curious to see how it compared, we eagerly made reservations.
But our first impression was far from expectations. We started with disappointment at the Deep Fried Beancurd with Salt and Pepper ($8) – though custardy soft in a paper-thin skin, there was nary a hint of seasoning in the bland dish. My companions and I were similarly dubious about the wasabi prawns ($16), which were slathered in a bright yellow sauce. There was just a whisper of the Japanese horseradish’s signature heat as it was mostly overwhelmed by a fruity sweetness that savoured of mango (which would explain the sauce’s colour). Upon questioning our server, she maintained that mango was absent, but our insistence left her no choice except to begrudgingly double check with the kitchen, and sure enough, we were proven right.
The Stir Fried Morning Glory in Shrimp Paste Sauce ($20) fared no better with little to no umami spiciness to the dish and just a few miserable scraps of large red chillies. What we expected to be similar to our orh jian, the Oyster Omelette ($28), was also a disappointment – the perfectly round omelette indicated that it wasn’t a stir-fry, and the molluscs, though large and plump, had an unpleasant pungent fishiness and thoughtlessly lumped in the centre of the egg. At least the Prawn Dumplings with Spicy Sauce ($16) were pleasantly fragrant with spicy peppercorns and generously stuffed.
The saving grace of my two visits was the meats. Though we would have preferred more pliancy to the roast duck ($22 for a portion, $36 for half, $68 for whole), it was nonetheless still lipsmackingly rich with salty sweet juices and notes of cinnamon. Their fowl, originally sourced from Ireland, are now specially bred in Holland to yield the ideal fattiness and flavour. We were also impressed by the steamed seabass ($36), which was done Cantonese-style with an accompanying fermented black bean sauce that didn’t overpower the delicate flesh.
While the tang yuan reminded me of the pre-made frozen sort, I was appeased with the Black Sesame Dumplings with Peanut Crumbs ($10), which matched crunch with fragrant sticky dough. The Red Bean Pancakes ($10) was also a crowd-pleaser with its sweet, slightly powdery filling in a shatteringly crispy pastry. But gilded interiors, a classy locale and inflated prices don’t automatically make this a go-to for entertaining VIP clients or a posh dinner. The Singapore outlet needs to step up its game for its cuisine, even against the service-challenged London Fat Duck, to be able to win diners over. #02-27/28/29 Capitol Piazza, 13 Stamford Road. Tel: 6702 1838
Average dinner bill for two: $140
Must-tries: the steamed seabass shrouded in the aroma of fermented black beans, and their signature glossy roasted duck