[This venue is now closed]
There is good food to be had all over Singapore. It’s famed for it. One can sit with the locals and enjoy a bowl of laksa at one of the numerous, cheap and buzzing hawker centres. There are small side-street restaurants specialising in steaming bowls of congee for breakfast through to hot, grilled skewers of meat after the sun goes down. There are fusion fine-dining restaurants, and Japanese cuisine has taken hold in a big way.
The Majestic Restaurant offers a stylish departure from the mostly rustic options of the majority of Chinatown restaurants. It’s Cantonese, it’s refined and it’s contemporary. There are indeed traditional Chinese accents to the decor but they are manifested in a memorable etched bronze sculpture and a striking geometric Chinese robe motif on the back wall. There is a colourful trishaw parked at the front, which adds to the eclectic mix.
The restaurant doesn’t need to persuade you of its Chineseness with displays of red lanterns and dragons around every corner. Nothing wrong with those traditional decorative devices but they wouldn’t work in The Majestic with its clean lines and artful use of dark wood. Yes, The Majestic is confident and modern and is housed in the New Majestic Hotel which is stylish, unique, tasteful and delightfully retro.
There is a remarkable architectural feature and that’s the ceiling: it sports holes. These are not decorating oversights. It’s not energy-saving low-tech air conditioning. They are in fact portholes set into the bottom of the swimming pool above. They shed a soft and dappled light onto tables below and provide a memorable experience for both diners and swimmers.
Opened in January 2006, this award-winning restaurant seats 100, and has four private dining rooms, one of which has views into the kitchen. Owner/chef Yong Bing Ngen and his team present a Cantonese fine-dining menu in an equally refined setting, making a meal at The Majestic a treat for all the senses.
Chef Yong Bing Ngen has already had an impressive career. His professional biography reads like a directory of must-visit spots in Singapore: Executive Chinese Chef at Hai Tien Lo restaurant in the Pan Pacific Hotel; Chef de Cuisine, the Empress Room, Raffles Hotel; Executive Chef for Jade restaurant in the Fullerton Hotel. That history will lead one to expect remarkable food. Chef Yong Bing Ngen won’t disappoint. He has many deserved awards under his belt including one for the Majestic Restaurant – Asian Cuisine Restaurant of the Year (Singapore Category) at the World Gourmet Series Awards of Excellence 2012. That is a worthy accolade when one considers the standard of the competition.
The dishes here are inspired, with a definite nod towards Cantonese. Put aside any prejudices you may have developed through years of over-indulgence at your local Chinese take-away – the sign over the door might boast that the food is Cantonese but in truth it’s unlikely to be authentic and I can guarantee that it will bear absolutely no resemblance to the fare at The Majestic.
The subtle and aromatic dishes are plated in European style and include signature dishes such as the combination platter of crispy wasabi prawn and Peking duck served with pan-seared foie gras, braised lobster in a creamy milk and lime sauce, grilled lamb chop in Chinese honey. You’ll likely not find these on your high street. I would also suggest that your first taste of the ‘celebrated’ durian should be here. The chef transforms this much-maligned fruit into confections that allow its distinctive characteristics to remain but in a fashion that will be appreciated by nervous Westerners.
The wine list is creditable, offering a good selection from the New World as well as Europe. There are wines by the glass for those who would like to taste different vintages to complement each course. There are wines here to suit every taste and every pocket.
The Majestic Restaurant should be on the Singapore restaurant list of any traveller who wants to try some imaginative modern Chinese food that pushes the culinary envelope, while still remaining true to its classic flavour palate.
The Majestic Restaurant
The New Majestic Hotel
31- 37 Bukit Pasoh Road
[This venue is now closed]
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018