Steamed whole sea bass
As far as tranquil resorts go, traditional Chinese restaurants are seldom de rigueur. Yet, The Sentosa Resort & Spa recently unveiled Baifuting, a new Cantonese restaurant helmed by Singaporean executive chef Chew Chee Chong.
This new development can be attributed to The Sentosa's new general manager Richard Agon, who comes from Hong Kong, and the rise in demand from local and Chinese tourists who want familiar fare away from home.
With only 30 seats, this is a small outfit, though the dining room's high ceilings help to provide a sense of airiness and space. The menu, too, is a lean one, with prices kept happily affordable. For instance, half a deep-fried crispy chicken costs an amenable S$20, while Grandma's spicy bean curd goes for S$12. Beef and seafood dishes top out at S$28. (Live seafood options, however, are sold at market prices.)
Braised Whole Abalone
The food conforms to these prices in the sense that they have a nostalgic quality to them. The flavours are reminiscent of the food served at Singaporean Chinese restaurants of the '70s and '80s - think Sin Leong, Dragon Phoenix, Red Star and Red Ruby (eateries helmed by Singapore's Four Heavenly Kings). That's probably because Chew, now 61, cut his teeth at Red Ruby under the tutelage of a master chef from Hong Kong.
Having begun his culinary career in the 1960s, Chew's technique is unimpeachable - every morsel of meat and seafood was succulent, every stalk of vegetable tender. His stir-fried garoupa fillet with Hong Kong kai lan (S$28), for instance, harboured all the right textures - the crunch of the bright greens and carrot slices against moist, silky fish.
Braised whole abalone
His crabmeat, dried scallop and fish maw in clay pot (S$15) - a slightly starchy soup that can be requested a day in advance as an alternative to shark's fin soup - was served so piping hot (exactly as purists would like it), it would have burnt our tongues had we sipped it too quickly.
The dishes here are hard to fault and their most evident qualities are the old-school sensibilities behind them. For instance, the fillet steak with honey black sauce (S$28) had good flavours, but one cannot help but notice the use of tenderiser in the beef.
Certainly, if you want nostalgic flavours, redolent of Chinese banquets of old, Baifuting is a lovely, quiet place to enjoy it.
Interior of Bai Fu Ting
Where: The Sentosa Singapore, 2 Bukit Manis Road, Sentosa
Telephone: 6371 1414
Opening hours: Dinner only for now, 6.30pm to 10pm daily