Rarely do you see a Chinese restaurant with as refreshing a vibe as EMPRESS. Located along the outer walls of the recently re-launched Asian Civilisation Museum (ACM), as a glassy extension of the building, EMPRESS is a space that is a commingling of Chinese and modern culture. Doing away with the heavy tablecloths, thick carpets, and dim lights, the restaurant impresses us with its high ceilings, clean wooden table tops, the right amount of Chinese accents, and an abundance of sunlight – elegant yet unostentatious. There’s even a private room, Canton that seats up to 14 persons, perfect for large family gatherings. Additionally, if you don’t mind the humidity, go ahead and have an alfresco meal next to the river and watch the boats go by.
The cuisine is undoubtedly Chinese but also contemporary in its small refinements. Head chef Ricky Leung plays around with flavours, utilizing and combining familiar ingredients to create new complexities and textures. A favourite amongst many is the Crispy Aromatic Duck Salad (S$18). Crisp tempura battered duck is served with leafy baby spinach, micro herbs, sweet Nashi pears, goji berries, cucumbers, spring onions, and Chinese figs; toss it with the tangy plum-citrus dressing and you have a dish that has great texture and just the right balance of sweet and sour. The Triple Roast Platter (S$28-S$56),
Xconsisting of their signature EMPRESS Char Siew (S$18-36) – sticky with its fat slightly charred and caramelised, EMPRESS Sticky & Sweet Pork Ribs (S$18-S$36), and Crackling Roast Pork (S$18-S$36) – that’s best eaten with the accompanying mustard sauce, is also definitely worth getting to share.
Soups are essential in Cantonese cuisine, so we weren’t surprised when the King Prawn Dumpling in Supreme Broth (S$14) and the Pumpkin Teapot Soup (S$14) with seafood dumplings and crispy spring rolls were deliciously packed with umami flavour. Both kinds of soup are made with the same stock that is prepared by the tedious process of smashing a whole chicken and cooking it until it is rich and thick.
Need we say more with desserts like Crispy Prosperity Nian Gao, Yam and Sweet Potato Stack (S$12) served with salted peanut toffee and coconut ice cream, Cempedak Crème Brûlée (S$12), and Sticky Date & Logan Pudding (S$12) with gula Melaka butterscotch. You cannot leave without trying, at least, one of these. #01-03, Asian Civilisations Museum, 1 Empress Place. Tel: 65/6238-8733 www.empress.com.sg