“You’ve ordered a fair bit, it may be a bit much.” Our kempt server teases, equal parts friendly and firm, as she tops up our tea. Like any good member of the waitstaff, she has the gumption to caution customers who are getting carried away in their orders.
But are we to blame? We are looking at a fascinating dim sum menu, and want to try it all. Think innovative entries like filo pastry – more commonly seen in Middle Eastern or Greek cuisine – stuffed with smoked eel, or pumpkin shaped dumplings with mozzarella chicken. The skin of the latter proves a little too starchy, but the contents are a savoury mix of sweet and salty that works out so well, we split the third piece immediately between us. Better that than the conflicted feeling of wanting another hit, but being too polite to call dibs.
Let it not be said that Man Fu Yuan doesn’t do classics, for that is where it excels. We’d expect no less from Cantonese executive chef Kwan Yiu Kan, who has 40 whopping years of culinary expertise under his belt. Perennials like chicken feet are amply sized and expertly braised, and even squirmish eaters will want to pick the bone segments clean. In terms of honouring traditional recipes, here’s a case in point: the delectable orh nee (yam paste) is prepared with pork lard, a critical ingredient that many lesser establishments have swopped out for vegetable oil.
And if you can pick only one more item, choose the tea-smoked duck. Crisp and lightly caramelised skin, tender and aromatic meat, and a touch of mouth-watering duck fat… the restaurant signature seems engineered to delight, though dialling up the smokiness would have left an even deeper impression.
For all her frankness, easy charm and impeccable tea-serving finesse, our server was wrong about one thing: We were able to put away the duck, bursting guts be darned.
MAN FU YUAN
Intercontinental Singapore, S(188966)