Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Chef Chan Part II

Preceding my previous visit to Chef Chan almost a year back just before it closed to go private, I was back again after its reopening to sample what private dining had to offer. Of course it helped that Chef Chan was offering a promotion which showcased its signature dishes from all 23 years it has been in business.

Interior, Menu, Table Setting & Appetiser

Located in a nondescript section of the posh and grand National Museum, Chef Chan takes quite a bit of luck to find. There are no signs whatsoever as to where the restaurant is and even the signboard faces inwards into the restaurant. Asking around would probably be a better option. The place is small, filled mainly with antiques Chef Chan has amassed over the years and of course 4 private rooms and a large dining area which seats up to 46 pax by reservations only (No walk in customers are allowed). Honestly I didn't find the rooms too private as we were only seperated from the next table by a peusdo wall partition.

Melon Strips Enlivened with Orange Juice

Probably melon strips soaked with orange juice would be more apt in describing this dish. The melon strips were crunchy but was completely overwhelmed by the excessively sweet orange taste. I would have suspected that the melon strips were dipped into F&N Fanta orange juice if not for the fact that there was visible pulp on the melons.

Prawn Balls Stuffed with Pate and Wine

Each of us had 1 prawn ball to our name and that was insufficient to say the least. The prawn balls were crispy but a tad too salty with a very strong prawn taste which overwhelmed any taste from the pate and probably the wine as well.

Stir Fried Shark's Fin with Eggs, Bean Sprouts and Spring Onion Served in Lettuce Leaves

This dish was actually very similar to what I had at Joo Heng sometime back except that Joo Heng's rendition probably cost much less than this one, with noticeably less shark's fin as well (Not that theres much to start with anyway). Paired up with lettuce, this dish was lightly salty and nice but failed to wow me. I reckon you don't really need much culinary skill to whip up such a dish.

Steamed Lobster with Garlic

Each of us got a lobster probably weighing in at about 300g or so. Fresh and sweet, this should have been one of the highlights of our meal. Unfortunately, the copious amount of garlic over parts of the lobster threatened to kill my tastebuds, rendering me almost immune to whatever succulent sweetness the lobster had to offer.

Steamed Sliced Garoupa in Village Style

The fish was freshly sweet with the flesh firm yet tender. Complementing it was a lightly savoury but a tad too starchy gravy. Portions were ridiculously small and each of us probably got only 4-5 slices of fish.

Sauteed Vegetable with Shredded Mushroom

This dish was greeted with much dismay and comments that anyone could have whipped up such a simple dish. I agree. The vegetables were a little too drenched in the gravy and didn't taste out of the ordinary. I'm pretty sure I've eaten better vegetable dishes at the coffeeshop cze char stall near my place.

Chef Chan's Famous Crispy Roast Chicken

Undisputedly the Pièce de résistance of the entire meal and probably the most well known dish of Chef Chan, the Crispy Roast Chicken. The last time I had it, it was lacking in flavours so I didn't quite get my expectations too high this time round. I don't know if my low expectations were the reason but the chicken blew me away. It was, if I may say, nothing short of excellent. Crispy skin that crackled with every bite coupled with tender, moist and flavourful meat. A gem indeed! The only tiny gripe I had was that the meat tended towards the salty side closer to the bone.

Papaya with White Fungus & Herbal Jelly with Glutinous Rice & Mango

We had the option of 2 desserts, 1 warm and 1 cold. I chose the latter which was the herbal jelly and promptly regretted it. The mango pieces that came with it seemed very unripe, crunchy and sour. It definitely didn't go well with the sweet glutinous rice or the slightly bitter herbal jelly. All in all a total disaster.
I had a taste of the papaya with white fungus and it was quite decent, sweet yet very light on the palate. But nothing fantastic.


The 9 of us chalked up a bill of about $860, which works out to be about $96 per person and the truth is, I wasn't even full after that. Food quality overall was decent with only the chicken shining through. For the price, I had really expected more. Especially when most of the dishes are supposedly Chef Chan's signature dishes and being private dining, most, if not all dishes should be prepared by Chef Chan himself.
I can only take cold comfort in the fact that service was good and we had a 10% discount off the bill. I really cannot fathom paying anymore.

Likes: Exclusive, the chicken is excellent!
Dislikes: Expensive, food quality in general is decent only

Final Verdict:
Food:7/10 (9/10 for the chicken)
Value for money:5.5/10


Address: #01-06 National Museum of Singapore, 93 Stamford Road

Contact: 63330073

Opening Hours:

Lunch: 11.45am - 2.30pm

Dinner: 6.15pm - 10.30pm

Closed on Sundays.



Anonymous said...

sound so bad.. tink hyatt banquet chinese dinner is better than them

R said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
R said...

hmmmm.... it's a little sad i guess. i did intend to go. it was said that he closed the old restaurant because it was difficult to upkeep standards with such a big place. unfortunately, even with a much smaller restaurant, it isn't as spectacular as it should be. looks like i've been excited for nothing. but would you recommend it for anyone slightly less discerning than yourself? haha. if your answer is "no", i don't think i'll go. lol. the disappointment might be unbearable.

The Bimbo said...

!! What do you mean 4-5 pieces of fish? I only had 2! Auntie biased. I'm not very fussy with food and yet... I guess it's just decent food at high prices.

fatpig said...

rei: bimbo just provided you with the answer lol. I think for the 9 of us, food was okay but pricing was a little too steep and portions were small except for the chicken.

Anonymous said...

thks for the review. guess i am better off at peach garden or royal china instead.


His Food Blog said...

Eh..Food was ok? I think you are just being too polite. And I agree with bimbo - I definitely had less than 4-5 pieces of fish. Honestly the food wasn't even decent(less the chicken). Even some Tze Cha stall can pull the few dishes better.

I reckon the only reason why ST voted them as one of the few places worthy to earn a Michelin Star in Singapore is their service. This place is seriously overprice for the food we had that night.

R said...

if that's what you say, then it's no overpriced #### for me. hahaha. i trust all of you. lol.

fatpig said...

HFB, I don't know about the rest but a few of us felt the food was okay lol. Perhaps you are letting the cost of the meal factor into the taste of the food? Or maybe your standards are higher? ;)

Camemberu said...

Wah thanks for the review. I can rest happy that I never put Chef Chan's on my dining wish list!

Anonymous said...

Wow..!! ex..!! and not full.. ?? bummer lah..!

Anonymous said...

Interesting read. Great pics as usual ;)'s really expensive given such simple food. No shark fins? to our place, we are not that expensive afterall right? Hee..

Oh yes...I'll give Taste Paradise @ Chinatown a try after reading your review.

fatpig said...

Thank you all for your comments =)

Anonymous said...

Surprised that some of the comments are so negative . Since the opening we have been regulars there , almost 2 to 3 times a week ! The reason is we simply enjoy his passionate cooking , we can feel the love and effort he puts into his cooking. Except for his chicken , nothing has been mentioned on his other masterpieces, what a sad thing! His stir fried beef is something that NO other restaurent here or Hongkong ( famous for good food ) can match ,we can't go without each time we dine there. We love sharksfin and the only place that we know that serves good sharksfin is Thai Village and Klong Tang Ping ( closed , used to be at Holland Village ) but since trying Chef Chan's version , We never step into Thai Village anymore. As recently as last week , he served us this dish and we can't help praising him for making further improvements to this dish .It was superd better than previous occasions , we told him to serve us this version in future instead of the old version , words can't describe the heavenly taste. Even his Kwai Fa Chi ( fried sharksfin wrap in lettuce ) is first class. Then we had the South African abalone; wow ! Ahyat & Tunglok who used to be well renowned for this dish are miles behind him .He cooks them in a brown sauce which is very thick and each time we finish every drop on the plate. His garouper sliced fish cooked in a herbal style is also our favourite. There are so many other dishes which are highly commendable , viz; crab in "see chap" , winter melon seafood soup , braised lobster in superior sauce , pork ribs cooked in a similar beef sauce and even large pig intestines ( like the kway chap style but of very high standard ) Sorry that I can't describe his dishes with the correct culinery words but it's overwhelmingly good. I will rate his cooking at 8.5/10 , service is so so , ambience is 9/10. In the past my favourite spot is Crystal Palace ( Taka Shopping ctr) ,Jade (at Wisma Atria ), Cathay Restaurent ,Peach Garden, Taste Paradise , Wah Lok , Tunglok at Paramount , on average for a family of 4 , we spent $200 to $300 but at Chef Chan , if we don't go for Sharksfin or Abalone , our bill comes to around that too . I don't agree that it's pricey to dine there since I have been frequenting above restaurents before settling for his which my family likes so much. If we can afford it , we won't go elsewhere , every meal there makes us fully satisfied. Only dislike is the hollow effect in his rooms which can be noisy when the diners next door create a din with their loud talking.

Since he plans to work another 2-1/2 years before going back to his hometown in China to start a teaching school for ophans , we hope to dine there as often as we can afford to before we miss them forever. Wish you enjoy yourselves there if you plan to try him out.

fatpig said...

Hi anonymous,
thank you for your well written comments. We tried a few of the dishes you mentioned, like the Kwai Fa Chi but it wasn't really spectacular imho. The dishes we had were all part of his signature dishes collection, which was meant to showcase his best dishes.

You mentioned that your family of 4 spends $200-$300 at Chef Chans if you all don't go for abalone or sharksfin. Just curious, does Chef Chan do ala carte dishes? Thanks =)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your reply, his kwai fa chi has always been prepared with fresh ingredients and I have never had any bad opinion of this dish although there are other better dishes to chose from. My family members like this dish and I tag along but so far no regrets.If you prefer his better dishes , try it out and you may find some quite good too.Chef Chan seems to take criticism and comments very seriously , for a top Chef , he is humble in this respect .I requested for some other dishes that are not in his standard menu which he oblidges and they turn up well. I do agree that his mango desert is not my cup of tea too so I normally go for the "hung yan char" or "kwai lin ko".

Finally, I must congratulate you for your fine photography , it is really very well done ! His decoration may not be so attractive but your photography brings out the grandeur ,especially after the main entrace where the large screens in red lined the room with 18 seats. The photo makes the restaurant so grand ,it's like a scene in the Imperial Palace.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm.. I am bringing my grandmother to Chef Chan tonight for her birthday. Sound so disappointed. I just hope my grandma will not complain. She is very fussy with food :)