(Note: Pictures can be found here http://wildchildurbancity.blogspot.sg/2013/03/ban-heng-orchard-relc-international.html)
This Chinese New Year, Ban Heng @ Orchard RELC International Hotel was where I had my first yu sheng. The RELC is not usually a place people would think that has an acceptable Chinese restaurant, as it is overshadowed by its more renowned neighbour, the Shangri-La Hotel. In fact my aunt (who was inviting) told us she had never tried this restaurant before, but that her friend had recommended it. As no one in my family had tried Ban Heng at this particular location, we were curious how the meal would turn out.
First up, was the yu sheng. Delicious!
Next up was a black pot that looked small, but that had so much goodness inside that to afford everyone a few helpings each. It was the first time I was having pen cai, and I was amazed. Our pen cai included tiger prawns, abalone, sea cucumber, fish maw, fried oysters, sharks fin, roast pork, napa cabbage, beancurd sheets, scallops, shitake mushrooms - stacks of premium ingredients that built each other up in flavour. The pen cai was a superb dish, save for the dried oysters which tasted strange. It took awhile but we demolished the entire pot.
More large, juicy scallops arrived in the third dish that also contained mushrooms and pinenuts.
Next up was a large steamed pomfret. Unfortunately, Ban Heng failed on this one. Some of my relatives could smell its fishiness when it arrived at our table. It definitely tasted fishy, and no one really wanted to eat it. When another aunt brought it up to a waitress (who was from China), she dismissed it, insisting that that's how the fish tastes.
Rubbish! Even if it was not meant that way, it amounted to an insult to us. All of us have eaten steamed pomfret and other types of steamed fish, and everyone knows the taste of fish that is not fresh!
The filler was the glutinous rice. Everyone had a taste of the huge mound of glutinous rice except me, and they thought it was not bad. There was so much that we had leftovers to da pao.
My relatives said that the dessert comprised frog's glands (?). I did not have any, but everyone else was happy to eat it. Overall, our dinner at Ban Heng alright. The highlight was definitely the pen cai, but I think I would need to taste a few common, average dishes to be able to more accurately judge the restaurant's culinary standards. Service was not too bad, except for the fishy steamed pomfret situation and that intentions were sometimes lost in translation with the servers from China.