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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

Bubbly with dim sum

Chinese restaurants are serving champagne with brunch
The Sunday Times - June 19, 2011
By: Rebecca Lynne Tan
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Fancy your glass of bubbly with a spot of roast pork or a juicy dumpling? Chinese restaurants are now offering champagne brunches to cater to diners who prefer their bubbly with Chinese cuisine rather than the usual Western spread.

Award-winning Hua Ting Restaurant at Orchard Hotel Singapore is the latest Chinese restaurant to offer champagne with its weekend brunch. It began offering unlimited glasses of Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial with its a la carte buffet brunch two weeks ago.

A LifeStyle check with 15 other Chinese restaurants and restaurant groups found that another five Chinese restaurants also offer boozy bubbly brunches on weekends.

The five restaurants are: Yan Ting at The St Regis Singapore, Cherry Garden at Mandarin Oriental Singapore, Jiang-Nan Chun at The Four Seasons Hotel Singapore and Mandarin Court Chinese Restaurant at Mandarin Orchard Singapore. Peony Jade Restaurant at Keppel Club offers unlimited champagne with its dim sum lunch buffet on request, at $68 a person.

Prices for champagne brunch at Chinese restaurants start from $68 a person and can go up to $348 a person, depending on the choice of champagne, be it a Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut or Dom Perignon.

But the best thing about champagne brunches at these Chinese restaurants is that you order what you want from the menu and the food comes out hot and fresh from the kitchen and served right to your table.

Frequent dim sum buffet-goer, housewife Angela Leong, 48, who enjoys the fare at Hua Ting and Cherry Garden, says: 'I like that food is served to our table and that the roast duck comes out crispy - not limp like meats which have been sitting in a food warmer.'

And Chinese brunch and dim sum champagne buffets are so popular that you must book ahead to secure a table. A spokesman for Mandarin Oriental Singapore's Cherry Garden, which introduced its champagne a la carte buffet in 2008, says: 'Bookings should be made at least two to three weeks in advance as we normally have a full house every weekend.'

Mandarin Court Chinese Restaurant has also been fully booked on weekends since it started its champagne dim sum brunch in April this year.

Chinese restaurants say they introduced champagne at their brunches to give diners more options. They wanted an opportunity for diners to savour oriental fare with bubbly - a drink more closely associated with Western dining.

Chef Chan Kwok, 55, group master chef of Orchard Hotel who heads its Cantonese restaurant, Hua Ting, says: 'Most champagne brunches offer only Western food and very few Chinese restaurants offer champagne with their buffets. We started one at Hua Ting so that we could serve fine Cantonese dishes with champagne, a drink which also complements the food well.'

Hua Ting offers braised sliced abalone with goose's web, braised superior bird's nest with fresh crab roe, crispy roast duck and dim sum items such as steamed or pan-fried radish cake with conpoy. Its champagne brunch buffet is priced at $148 a person.

Indeed, chefs and restaurant managers reckon offering champagne takes the Asian dining experience to a higher level. Says Yan Ting's restaurant manager Sally Chan, who is in her early 40s: 'Pairing sparkling wine or champagne enhances the dining experience by accentuating the flavours and textures of dim sum.'

The restaurant has been offering the sparkling wine or champagne dim sum brunch option since it opened in 2008.

Mandarin Orchard's assistant director of food and beverage Danny Chan, 38, says: 'Champagne essentially goes well with any kind of cuisine and dim sum, with their subtle yet varied flavours, are wonderful complements to the bubbly.'

The drink is certainly a big pull factor for many diners. Says bank employee C.K. Lim, 34, who goes to Jiang-Nan Chun for dim sum every few months with his family: 'Champagne is a plus point for us, especially on the weekends. It is a drink that creates a relaxed weekend vibe.

'And my parents are more keen on Chinese food than Western food, so this gives us an option to enjoy our favourite drink and still spend time with family over dim sum.'

Other diners say the novelty of pairing Chinese food such as dim sum with champagne is also a draw. Dim sum fan and marketing executive Anna Lim, who eats dim sum about twice a month at restaurants such as Crystal Jade and East Ocean Teochew Restaurant, says she is keen to try champagne with dim sum.

The 26-year-old says: 'I haven't tried it before, but champagne and dim sum is something new and refreshing.' 



Where: Mandarin Orchard Singapore, 333 Orchard Road, tel: 6831-6288 or 6831-6262

When: Weekends and public holidays, 11am to 2.30pm

What: Choose from more than 118 dishes at its champagne brunch. Tasty options include oven- baked sea perch in miso sauce and fish maw with century egg and XO sauce. Every diner is also entitled to a bowl of braised shark's fin, two servings of Peking duck and half a lobster - wok-baked with superior stock, served as a cheese gratin or steamed with garlic.

Price: $138++ a person for a free flow of Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial champagne or Stonehaven Chardonnay and Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon wines. $78++ a person for a free flow of soft drinks and juices. Prices on public holidays start from $88++ a person for the non-alcoholic option and an additional $60++ for alcohol.



Where: The St Regis Singapore, 29 Tanglin Road, tel: 6506-6866

When: Weekends and public holidays, 11.45am to 3.30pm

What: At Yan Ting's a la carte dim sum brunch, each diner will receive a bowl of braised shark's fin with crab roe and meat as well as one serving of lobster. Other items on the extensive menu include Hong Kong-style pan-seared radish cake, crispy spinach and shimeiji mushroom beancurd roulette, as well as a selection of soups, seafood, meat, vegetables, rice and noodles dishes.

Price: $138++ a person with a free flow of Rose Cava Brut Nature and Reserva de la Familia Cava Brut Nature 2006, $148++ a person with a free flow of Perrier Jouet Grand Brut. $98++ a person for a free flow of non-alcoholic beverages including juices.



Where: Orchard Hotel Singapore, 442 Orchard Road, tel: 6739-6666

When: Weekends, 11am to 2.30pm

What: There are more than 80 dishes available at Hua Ting's champagne a la carte buffet brunch. Signature items include crispy roast duck, double-boiled shark's cartilage soup with three treasures and baked pork ribs with lemongrass. Rice, noodles, dim sum, seafood, meats and dessert items are also available.

Price: $148++ a person with unlimited glasses of Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial, Santa Luz red and white wines from Chile, beer, juices and soft drinks. $88++ a person for a free flow of soft drinks and juices.



Where: Mandarin Oriental Singapore, 5 Raffles Avenue, Marina Square, tel: 6885-3538

When: Weekends, 11am to 1pm, 1.30 to 3pm

What: Its weekend dim sum brunch includes a seafood and shark's fin dumpling in superior broth, steamed scallop dumplings with snow pea shoots and deep-fried potato dumplings stuffed with cheese, crab meat and onions.

Price: $118++ a person with a free flow of Ruinart R de Ruinart Brut NV champagne; $248++ a person with a free flow of Ruinart Blanc de Blancs; $348++ a person with a free flow of Dom Perignon. The champagne options also come with a free flow of cocktails and beer. $48++ a person without alcohol, drinks not included.



Where: Four Seasons Hotel Singapore, 190 Orchard Boulevard, tel: 6831-7220

When: Saturdays, 11.30am to 2.30pm; Sundays, 10.30am to 12.30pm, and 1 to 2.30pm

What: Feast on more than 100 dim sum items at the oriental weekend dim sum brunch. Dishes include crispy roast pork belly, braised shark's fin with shredded chicken and truffle oil as well as dim sum items such as egg tarts, assorted dumplings and steamed buns. Other dishes on the menu include porridge, soups, noodles, seafood, vegetables and dessert.

Price: $138++ a person with a free flow of Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut or house red and white wines, $158++ a person for a free flow of Veuve Clicquot Rose. $58++ a person without alcoholic beverages.

'Champagne is a plus point for us. And my parents are more keen on Chinese food, so this gives us an option to enjoy our favourite drink and still spend time with family over dim sum.'

MR C.K. LIM, who goes to Jiang-Nan Chun for dim sum every few months with his family



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