He might have two popular contemporary Chinese restaurants under his belt, and a slew of awards to his name, but chef Yong Bing Ngen's biggest culinary dream is one that's of less grandeur, and catered to simpler tastes. "I have always wanted to open a seafood restaurant and it was just about finding the right spot," he shares. Though it's taken a few years for this dream to come to fruition, Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant now joins Majestic and JING in chef Yong's stable of restaurants.
What is it: While most restaurants at Gardens by the Bay skew either expensive (Pollen Restaurant), or mass-appeal (cafe Bakerzin and casual-diner SuperTree by Indochine), Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant is a happy middle, meant for convivial meals with family and friends over fresh seafood and dim sum. Like most Chinese restaurants, Majestic Bay's not spared from a somewhat tacky decor (nautical-themed here, complete with potholes and interspersed splashes of aquamarines), but its advantageous location below the Flower Dome does mean that diners enjoy a waterfront view of Marina Bay, and plenty of natural lighting on a sunny day.
In addition to its seafood signatures, Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant also serves a variety of reasonably-priced dim sum, available for lunch every day.
Must-try: Chef Yong has gone back to his Cantonese roots for Majestic Bay, and the dim sum variety by Guangzhou-born chef Li Shou Tao is great value for money (from S$3.60 for steamed radish cake to S$6.80 for bird's nest dumpling soup), and ideal for a quick lunch. Quality isn't much to write home about -- though the baked BBQ pork bun (S$4.20 for three pieces) is pillowy-soft and peels apart easily to reveal chunks of sweet char siu -- so stomach space would be better off saved for Majestic Bay's signatures if you're feeling fancy.
Its signatures of course, feature the sullen-looking crustaceans and fishes in their watery tanks at the storefront (a given fixture), including a fantastic steamed soon hock with preserved vegetables (market price) that presents plenty of moist flesh and pristine flavours, as well as a stewed Boston lobster with mee hoon (market price). The slippery strands of noodles are laced a secret recipe homemade lobster oil which give them a delicious lingering flavour.
The "Kopi" Crab is Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant's signature, born out of months of trials by chef Yong.
For Majestic Bay, chef Yong has also given his own local spin to the essential crab dish -- the signature "Kopi" Crab (market price) is the result of months of development and trials, born from his own love of the morning cuppa.
The crab is first cooked in a special sauce made from a blend of three different varieties of coffee beans, apple jam, marmalade, and orange juice, then served with a sprinkling of coffee beans, and flambéed right at the table with a mixture of rice wine and coffee liqueur for a dramatic flourish. The intensely rich caramel and buttery flavour of the sauce is perfect for those who can't quite get the hang of the spice levels in the quintessential chili and black pepper versions.
The dessert platter Sweet Temptations features of selection of sweet treats, reinvented for the better -- order for a great end to meal.
But while the seafood dishes understandably steal most of the limelight, it's the oft-overlooked dishes like its daily-changing homemade soups and desserts that left the best impressions after our meal. Get a Sweet's Temptations (S$20 for four persons) to share at the end of the meal -- each platter comes with orange-hued Steamed Custard Buns with Salted Egg Yolk (S$4.50 for three pieces), chewy Chilled Black Glutinous Rice Dumpling with Shredded Coconut (S$4.50 for three pieces) stuffed with smooth yam paste, a delightfully fluffy Glutinous Rice Dumpling with Fresh Cream Stuffing (S$4.50 for three pieces), and flaky red bean pancakes.
Verdict: Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant might be a less chic and sophisticated cousin of Majestic and JING, but like the homely family-run zi char restaurant that we invariably return to time after time again, Majestic Bay is the sort of place you won't need a special occasion, or additional budget to make a trip down for.
Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant, Flower Dome, #01-10 Gardens by the Bay, 18 Marina Gardens Drive, +65 6604 6604, firstname.lastname@example.org