February 1, 2018

Merely 2 weeks before the onset of Chinese New Year festivities and my body is shivering, retaliating the notion of having to do mandatory visiting rounds and plagued by questions one wouldn’t like to have to answer. Most of them, harmless inquisitive, but some of them, set to trigger self-defence mechanisms. I’m beginning to contemplate sticking around for the whole shebang. Regardless, if the yearly ritual is unavoidable, here’s a little consolation, Cassia at Capella Singapore dishes out some of the best Chinese dishes in town (or rather, the peripherals of it) to provide intermissions of ethereal bites between awkward conversation, set to rectify the uneasiness. If unlike me, you’re less cynical, and thoroughly enjoy these yearly congregations, the quality of Cantonese fare put out at Cassia will be sure to impress the family.


Opt for one of their set meals that start off at $88++ per head. Land and sea proteins are served between the ubiquitous platter of Yu Sheng, soup and obligatory fried rice and dessert to finish. Save your scrutiny for the rice grains left in neighbours bowl—any wastage will be deemed as foolish behaviour. The meal kicks off with the celebratory ritual Lou Hei, a Cantonese delicacy that has achieved virality only after invading our local shores.The enthusiastic tossing accompanied by saying of auspicious phrases symbolic of raking in good fortune in the new year. Chef Lee Hou Ngai, executive chef of Cassia has a seemingly traditional, yet luxurious approach to the celebratory platter—choosing to plate up the opulent spread of lobster, salmon sashimi, North Pole Clam on its own for diners who prefer to enjoy it as an exclusive cold starter prior to the meal. A kaleidoscope of greens is given a new lease on life with some convivial tossing action and a generous tipple of homemade hawthorn sauce which delivers both fruity and spicy notes.

The next dish envelops you in warm hugs. Thick Chicken Broth stuffed with a myriad of good things from fish maw to scallops and flower mushrooms when left alone to its own devices is marred with a thin film of collagen as a testament to the gruelling cooking process behind its deep creaminess. I could get used to this. The restaurant ambience gets equal billing alongside the stellar food options. Acclaimed interior designer Andre Fu is the mastermind behind the brilliant juxtaposition of the Colonial heritage building and the innate serenity of Chinese culture. The plush fabrics and ornate patterns against the contemporary banquet seating marry modernity with old-world sophistication, resulting in the perfect Yin and Yang arrangement.


Another stellar dish is the Wok Fried Prawns stuffed with minced shrimp and crispy garlic, the sizeable prawns as if impreganated, shows sparks of brilliance. Heavy with fresh minced shrimp, coated fried crumbs and deep fried till crispy golden crust. They are then lightly stir-fried with garlic and spices in Bi Fong Tong style. Doesn’t sound like much but it sure does deliver an encyclopaedia’s worth of flavour profiles. A less than polite oblong of steamed cod fish (truthfully, it was ridiculously huge) is adroitly brought to the table, the wafts of black garlic torturing the senses. The aromatic soy sauce broth is slightly oversalted but pleasantly rich, playing the perfect second fiddle to the unctuous black cod fillet, cooked perfectly that it flakes with a sigh.


Here at Cassia, they do a mean fried rice: slightly al dente and flecked with lup cheong (preserved Chinese sausage) and golden bits of yolk. The run-of-the-mill “filler” dish has undergone a sexy yet understated makeover which includes loading up a treasure trove of ostentatious ingredients—scallops, prawns and mini abalone. The result is a dish that forces one to deny all carbohydrate restrictions in favour of taming those hankerings. 

Dessert is equally startling. I certainly didn’t hold high hopes for the chilled coconut cream with pearls and sago topped with ice cream but its a triumph of Asian flavours. The astonishingly good vanilla ice cream further enhancing the decadent experience. I’d be delighted to waffle across the line for one more bite of the sweet finale, the coconut cream, an emphatically sweet full stop to the entourage of successful courses.

From the 16 Feb to 2 March 2018, Cassia will be celebrating 15 days of happiness with its four exquisite Lunar New Year set menus. If you have not made your bookings yet, now is the time to panic.