Many of us have eaten Cantonese food at one point or another, and the cuisine has a rich, deep history that has evolved into a timeless style of fine dining.
Cantonese restaurants initially grew around the yum cha tradition, which saw friends and family come together over brunch serving Chinese tea and dim sum. Today, people frequent Cantonese restaurants for special occasions such as family gatherings and company dinners — harkening back to the social function of yum cha.
Specialised techniques and specific ingredients are the cuisine’s building blocks, which primarily hails from Guangdong. That includes culinary methods like steaming, stir frying, braising and deep frying. Sauces and condiments are crucial to any Cantonese dish, with red vinegar, oyster sauce, and black bean sauce being some of the most iconic. The addition of preserved ingredients, such as dried shrimp or pickled cabbage, is not uncommon either.
Chefs from Cantonese fine dining establishments today have spent decades refining their techniques and they constantly work to enhance each ingredient’s flavour. Here, we round up 10 essential Cantonese fine dining restaurants in Singapore.
Lei Garden is renowned for its attention to detail, and it’s no surprise that the establishment received one-Michelin star last year. The restaurant specialises in traditional dishes such as double-boiled soups and barbecued Peking duck. The legendary crispy roast pork is juicy, tender, and comes topped with crispy crackling skin. If you’re ordering in advance, be sure to ask for the chicken baked in sea salt.
Summer Pavilion is another one Michelin star establishment putting Cantonese cuisine on the map. Executive Chef Cheung Siu Kong, who honed his culinary skills working in Hong Kong in the 80s, helms the restaurant. Diners headed for lunch will be pleased to learn that dim sum starts at $6 for three pieces, while those eyeing the a la carte menu can expect signature dishes such as pan-fried South African abalone and poached rice with lobster meat.
Jade Palace boasts a selection of refined, traditional Cantonese dishes. The restaurant prides itself in using only the freshest ingredients, with a menu that spans live seafood, roast meats, dim sum, and the signature clay pot rice. Diners looking for solid wine pairings will also be well taken care of here, as the establishment’s impressive wine collection includes 3000 bottles.
Li Bai offers hallmark Cantonese favourites such as tea-smoked duck and barbecued pork, and is also well-known for its weekend dim sum brunch. The signature seafood dishes, such as the scallops sautéed in egg white and steamed grouper fillet in black bean sauce, are not to be missed.
Summer Palace has been awarded a Michelin star three years in a row — a reflection of its dedication to constantly refining culinary skills and flavours. Executive Chef Liu Ching Hai has over 20 years’ worth of experience in Cantonese fine dining and believes in using the highest quality ingredients to enhance the nuanced flavours of each dish. The menu offers classic fare such as barbecue suckling pig, sweet and sour pork, and deep fried yam rings.
Wah Lok has been offering authentic Cantonese cuisine since 1988. Signature dishes include baked barbecue pork buns and steamed crab and egg white dumplings. The menu also features modern renditions of classic dishes, such as lobster mee sua and deep-fried century egg with minced shrimp.
Yan Ting is famous for its dedication to traditional Cantonese cooking techniques. Exquisite dishes such as the braised South African dried abalone and pan-fried lobster and scallops in teriyaki sauce are bound to satisfy even the most discerning of guests. Visit on the weekend to indulge in the long-standing tradition of dim sum brunches.
Yellow Pot breaks the mould with its contemporary take on classic Cantonese cuisine.The restaurant is dedicated to using clean and healthy ingredients, so guests can expect dishes such as organic grass-fed beef tenderloin and hickory wood-fired roast duck. Head over to the bar next door afterwards to sample cocktails built around prominent ingredients in Chinese medicine.
Min Jiang was established in 1982 and has since remained an iconic spot for Cantonese and Sichuan fare. The menu offers 15 lunch sets (2 of which are vegetarian) and diners can enjoy dim sum from traditional trolleys. Highlights from the a la carte menu include crispy chicken, hot and sour soup, and sautéed prawns with dried red chilli. Keep an eye out for the hairy crab, which is excellent when seafood is in season.
Kai Garden boasts Cantonese cuisine with an elegant, contemporary twist. Group Executive Chef Fung Chi Keng’s culinary career spans over 30 years, having worked at Mandarin Orchard Singapore and the Taste Paradise group. Dishes such as the braised 10-head Australian abalone and grouper in lobster soup are sure to please any seafood lover. Poultry duck fans can look forward to enjoying the signature crispy Peking duck that’s served with five different sauces.