TAO Seafood Yaowarat CNY 2015 Menu at Asia Square Tower 2, Singapore 018961: Review

My friend had recently asked me if there are any recommendations for "Chinese New Year" food in restaurants, which I found to be rather odd because for me, CNY food typically involves loads of home cooked goodies. Eating out has never really been on my consideration before, but I just realized after reading another article on "cheap and chic places for CNY" that this is probably the best time to have some really good Chinese cuisine that brings in all the best of seafood (typically). So I was really glad to be invited to try out the Yaowarat CNY Menu from TAO Seafood at Asia Square. What is "Yaowarat", you might wonder, as I did. I had guessed it had to do with Thai food, since that's the Chinatown district in Bangkok, and I was right! The CNY offering from TAO Seafood indeed has quite a lot of Thai influences amidst traditional Teochew cooking, as you would read about in a bit. I thought that was quite special with that bit of a twist added in to a traditional Chinese feast.

For starters we had their perennial favorite - Crispy fried fish skin with salted egg ($10) which sounds really sinful and oily, but turned out to be light to the bite, with the salted egg adding that hint of grainy savoury sweet to the crackling fish skin. Really addictive -- I could finish off the whole plate by myself!

Then, what's CNY without some yusheng? My first lohei of the year was with the beautifully plated Tao Supreme Prosperity Yu Sheng ($128 for up to 10 pax) which you have to pre-order 1 day in advance. The special thing about this yu sheng is the use of abalones and crispy fish skin instead of typical raw fish, and inclusion of fruits like blueberries and mango! The use of fruits really made this dish a much more palatable salad than before.

Then we had another must-eat CNY dish: the Pen Cai (a pot of 'vegetables' if you translate it literally). This is the second most ingenious CNY invention that restaurants can come up with, I reckon. The Pen Cai is simply a very expensive stew with premium ingredients all pre-packed into a huge claypot. Not much cooking involved, great for families and sharing, and tastes good. In TAO Seafood's instance, I heard that it was "the best Pen Cai I've ever had this year" from another writer at our table, so you know it has to be something! The House of Golden Riches Yaowarat Pen Chai ($318 for 6 pax, $488 for 10 pax; 2-day advance reservation for dine-in/take-away) works out to be around $53 per person. The broth is really rich and full of seafood goodness. The mushrooms were amazing, and so were the radish, surprisingly. There were other goodies in there like prawns, braised pork belly, abalone, sea cucumber and the rare "fa cai" which is black moss found in the desert. We Chinese will eat anything for how it sounds huh.

Next, the Abundance of Wealth Golden Soon Hock with Mango Slices ($9.80 per 100g). A classic, I must say. I was a bit wary of the marble goby fish actually, as they tend to be full of bones, so I didn't really attack the dish like I should have, but the little that I ate (without bones) were fresh, succulent and perfect with the sweet and sour sauce below. The mango slices were a good idea too. This needs to be eaten with the special signature TAO Seafood Green Chili that was at every table. You must try that.

Then, what I considered an intermission filler - the Lap of Luxury Sautéed Prawns with Macadamia Nuts ($32). Prawns were not as fresh as the pen cai's. The veggies in this dish were super crunchy and not overdone though, so well done. I would perhaps pick another veg dish if I was there though.

Then, the super star and highlight of the evening - the Continuous Success Thai-Teochew Curry Crab ($6++ per 100g) which had everyone licking at their gloves (provided by restaurant). The Thai-Teochew curry sauce was quite a sensation, with spices and flavours running amok in your mouth. It felt a little bit like Indian curry sauce at the get-go, actually. It's a pity the sauce was a little too watery if we were to compare to the typical chili crab sauce. However one must not compare those two, for they are quite different! The Sri Lankan crabs were fresh and juicy, by the way. Crab lovers, try this one out for size (not necessarily during CNY).

I would definitely recommend for anyone hankering for something a little less traditional to try out TAO Seafood's Yaowarat CNY menu, which will be available from tomorrow onwards to 5 March 2015. Prices start from S$32++ for ala carte dine-in dishes and S$48++ for takeaways. Get the green chili and the salted egg crispy fish skin, plus the yusheng for sure! 
TAO Seafood Asia
12 Marina View, Asia Square Tower 2 #02-10, Singapore 018961
+65 68449969
Mondays to Sundays 11:30am to 2:30pm and 6:00pm to 10:00pm. 
Last order by 9:30pm

Thanks to TAO Seafood Asia for the invite!

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