Daily: 11:00 - 14:30
Daily: 18:00 - 22:30
Headed by Chef-owner Kelvin Lee and Chef De Cuisine Chan Hwan Kee, the chic Chinoiserie restaurant offers diners a menu of traditional, authentic Cantonese cuisine with contemporary twists.
You can tell from the moment you step into Pavillion that a second generation of Chinese chefs is manning this restaurant.
The interior is modern yet lush. It whispers good taste throughout even if there are red Chinese lanterns hanging from the ceiling, filmy floor length curtains dividing the space and Chinese carved panels strategically placed round the room.
The food is plated stylishly on clean white crockery. Portions are for one or two and surprises lie in store even within the recognisable classics.
The duo behind this new modern Chinese restaurant have a distinguished pedigree. One is an established Cantonese chef and the other, a young chef obviously bursting with ideas. Between them, they boast stints at famed Chinese restaurants Jiang Nan Chun, Hai Tien Lo, Jade Restaurant and Majestic.
Kelvin Lee and Chan Kwan Kee are indeed experienced enough to offer modern Chinese food that is always interesting and yet packed with well-loved flavours.
For example, their pork belly ribs, braised till fork tender, in a velvety sauce, is piquant with zheng jiang vinegar ($18), perking up tired palates. The more delicate tastebuds would appreciate their mee sua soup ($16), which comes unusually with generous chunks of crabmeat.
For even more delicious touches, move out from the classics and choose pumpkin, for example, and unusually, a savoury tau huay (soft bean custard).
The sliced pumpkin ($8) was battered and flavoured with salted egg roe, then topped with pork floss and curry leaves. Thoroughly more-ish, even if terribly rich, so order just a plate to share.
As for their tau huay (soft bean curd) ($10), the silky custard came covered with a delicious pei tan (preserved egg) sauce and a scattering of crunchy ebi, Japanese dried prawns, offering both taste and texture to the mouthful.
Even their green vegetable offered a surprise of dried salted vegetables topping the steamed kai lan.
Here were a couple of creative chefs at work, but they’re so good at what they do that none of the combinations jarred. While one provided the modern ideas, the other provided solid Chinese cooking technique, as evidenced in the wide array of traditional offerings also found in the menu.
And so you will find sections devoted to dim sum, live sea food, shark’s fins and Cantonese roasted meats. Crowd favourites such as kway teow (flat rice noodles) fried with chye poh (salted radish) and preserved olive rice with pine nuts can also be found here, all executed with assured style.
While the prices are not low, there are value set lunch menus, offering an assortment of dim sum, followed by various courses, ending with dessert, $78 for four persons. Six-course set dinner menus start at $60 per head.
I was pleasant surprised just how good the food is at this place, so good that I have since returned twice. This place is really near my office, for the longest time it looked pretty empty and I was getting worried that it's not able to "make it". But now that the word is on the streets, on weekends you will see this place pretty much booked up by families. What's good … 豆腐樱花虾 is amazing … perfect balance of texture, taste and presentation. 镇江排骨 with a modern twist … luv the good quality 老醋 that's being used.
Majestic Restaurant had better brace itself for serious competition in Chinatown, for as far as modern Chinese dining goes, Pavillion is the name to watch for. You might not have heard of Kelvin Lee and Chan Kwan Kee, the duo helming the champagne drape fronted kitchen, but their pedigree – they’re alumni of Jiang Nan Chun, Hai Tien Lo, Jade Restaurant and, of course, Majestic – is something to behold.
The dim and sultry colonnaded dining room, bordered by artwork and overhung with beaded glass-ball lamps and flowing red tassels, speaks volumes for the effort that’s been put into creating an atmosphere of discerning refinement. It’s It’s hard not to be enamoured of this chinoiserie-enhanced outpost where, at times, workaday ingredients are elevated way beyond their humble appearance and flavour.
Take our Japanese-accented chilled bean curd, sparkled with flecks of mashed-up century egg and dashi-flavoured sakura ebi, a refreshing departure from the sheer agadashi tofu that’s commonplace in Japanese restaurants; or our double-boiled chicken-essence consommé, which arrived perfumed with chi chi morille mushrooms instead of the common shiitake variety. Even the thick wedges of deep-fried and sliced pumpkin with pork floss, salted egg yolk and curry leaves – another immensely popular tapas-style dish – were redolent of a souped-up Thai treatment normally reserved for squid.
That said, Pavillion also excels at classics. We give our thumbs up to the hunks of baked belly ribs, coated thickly with a piquant zheng jiang (vinegar) sauce, the fried-then-braised slivers of pristine-white sea perch resting on a cloud of egg white, and the exquisite mee sua crowned with crab meat in a robust chicken broth. Even the lamb dish – a meat that sends many Chinese epicures recoiling in disgust – was a standout, perfectly grilled and drenched in a dense Chinese honey sauce. If you really want to get esoteric, there’s the made-over, wokfried hor fun that’s stripped of seafood and tossed with pork strips, as well as chai por (salted turnips), or the fried rice with seafood and otak. True, the addition of unassuming ingredients like chai por and otak may sound a tad peasanty for the slick environs, but they actually play their part in bringing these dishes vividly to life.
Desserts, however, are not the restaurant’s strong suit. The home-made dumpling in ginger tea – packed with sesame seed, melon sugar, peanut, salted egg yolk and butter – was overly ambitious, while the almond cream served in coconut tasted flat and lacked the ‘wow’ factor. On the whole, the duo’s cooking flair is understatedly elegant: refined, inventive and big on palate gratification, even if it’s not easy on the wallet.
If price is a concern, watch out for Pavillion’s newly launched dim sum menu. With a price tag of $3 to $4.50 per serving, lunch at this exquisite restaurant has just become more affordable.
Main courses cost between $14-$98.