Located at level 3 of Suntec Convention Centre, Pearl River Palace Restaurant is probably one of the few quieter places to have your meals there, I read. I called to make a reservation in the morning and was rather surprised that there are still seats available since it was Christmas eve. Not that we really celebrate Christmas, but perhaps bitten by the holiday spirit bug, we decided to splurge a bit for a nice dinner. Hmm, sounds like the reviews which I read are rather true… so I was rather curious how the food would turn out.
Upon reaching there, I noticed their advertising poster. It appears that they are trying to "tell" people about their ala carte dinner buffet too. I read in a hurry and was a bit mislead that each diner will get a glass of free Champagne... it turned out that the free champagne was for Christmas set meal...
Ala Carte Dinner cost $38.80++ each from 6.30 pm onwards till 10.30 pm. Last order was at 9.15 pm. Besides the ala carte dishes, each diner will get a complimentary "Buddha Jumped Over the Wall" (expensive seafood stew like dish) and 100 g Poached live Prawns. There are also unlimited serving of Peking Duck. Sound good so far...
The "Peking duck assembly line" worked rather seamlessly. One dapped the egg crepe with sauce, the other one place the meat into the sauce crepe. Another is in-charge to crave the meat.
Though it stated Chili sauce, it wasn't spicy in my opinion (I can take very spicy food.). Can't really taste the X.O. sauce. Slightly blend in fact. Nothing interesting. Can skip.
Peking Duck in Egg Crepe
Not really good. I think the sauce is too sweet. They offered cucumber on the side, so that diners can put it in on their own, but it would have been better if there were spring onion too.
Like common poh piah. The plus point about this was that it was served piping hot. Can skip.
Tasted very good on its own and needed no sauce. Really worth it.
So, how does one differentiate a live prawn and a really fresh prawn? Well, some science lesson here. The first part in a prawn to decompose will be the head. It decomposed really fast. The head consisted of brain and etc gluey matter, as it decomposed, it liquefied. As a result, there will be a gap between the head and the body when the liquid escaped.
A live prawn would have no chance of decomposition since it was hauled freshly out of the water until cooking time. Therefore, the head and the body would stick closely with each other, with no gap. However, a fresh prawn would have encountered some decomposition, so the gap between the head and body would exist.
As I was taking pictures, I digged in the last. I heard my mum and brothers saying that theirs have abalone etc expensive stuff. I spooned and scoped in the bowl, but cannot find those expensive stuff that they got. My portion looked soupy and almost like a spare ribs herbal soup... So unlucky and not fair.. I therefore asked the waiter why my one does not have abalone. He immediately apologised and promised to get a new one for me. Guess what?
The new one had ingredients stuffed full. There is the abalone and lots and lots of Sharks Fin. But, it did not have the mushroom this around, Hee hee but I am not complaining. I hope the restaurant would be more careful with the ingredients portion of the soup. Everyone should get the same ingredients to be fair. It was then that my mum then remarked that hers does not have shark fins...
Anyway, the soup was light and flavourful. It is one of those that when you drink, you know it is good for you. Yummy.
Served in a claypot, the dish has huge chunks of Sea Cucumber and some Fish Maw. It has a rather strong bean paste taste, but not salty. In fact, it tasted just right. However, my brother pointed out that it has a slight rancid taste to it which my mum explained that might comes from the fried fish maw. For those who do not know, fish maw has to be boiled first to clear up the oil taste before it can used for frying or stews. However, I am guessing that the weird taste might comes from shrimp paste. It is very typical in Cantonese cooking to add a bit of shrimp paste into their Claypot stew.
This dish has a lot of expensive ingredients in it. Tasted very good, a bit like Yi Pin Guo that we had at Zi Char stall.
Another of our favourite was the deep-fried marble globy fish. Here you see the waitress dividing the fish into portions for us.
Nope, it did not have pineapples and tasted very common. I have tasted better ones elsewhere. Disappointed.
The chicken was marinated just nice. Fried crispy outside, but the meat remained juicy inside. Not bad.
Not my cup of soup. Though it mentioned Fish Maw and Dried Scallop, I tasted only chicken shreds and black fungus. They should have offered us vinegar to go with the thick soup, but there are none. Can skip.
Rice and Noodles:
One of the Chinese Restaurant's stable dish. No one should screw this up. They cooked the noodles well. Should try.
Seafood Fried Rice
It is a healthier Fried Rice as it wasn't too oily. You can taste the "Wok Hei" in the rice that it had been stir-fried fast in high heat. However, I had a hard time trying to find the seafood. They were too well camouflaged. I mean if it not seafood, then don't name it seafood...
I have eaten better ones... This is again Char Siew with bean sprouts and it is not crispy either, but no seafood. Do not be mistaken. I scolded my brothers for ordering these... We are eating buffet here, not trying to stuff ourselves silly, but yet they ordered one carbohydrate dishes after one another... Angry.
This is the Gui Ling Gao - Herbal Jelly which I have tasted. Not bad. I like the one mouth size, so that we can taste more.
I guessed it was Christmas eve, thus it rather packed like 90 % full. The decorated the room with helim balloons free for all to take. We took a bunch home.
I love their nicely decorated waiting area which heavily reeks of Chinese essence.
On the other side of the entrance was the beautifully decorated Christmas tree!
In case you did not know, Pearl River Palace was awarded as one of the best Restaurants in Singapore!
Though the price of buffet was rather steep, but the quality of food is good. They served rather good food overall especially with the Sea Perch, Prawns dishes and Coffee Ribs.
Some of the dishes were not properly executed and could do with improvements.
I am however irked by some of the staff's attitude. The first lady which brought us to our seat and took our first order had missed out some of our order. Not sure if this was done intentionally or not, since it was the nicer dishes that were missed out. Furthermore, she could not even bring herself to smile. Then when we ordered plain water, she signalled to another of the waiter to try convincing us to order re-fillable drinks... See ah, it is not about the money here. I am already here to eat a lot of food, why should I stuff myself with more calories with sugary drinks? Dislike this hard-sell attitude.
Then when make payment, another of the lady staff asked why we had ordered so little food. I stared at her suspiciously. I must acknowledge we ordered quite a bit. However, she said we ordered little compared to other guests. I wondered if this was delivered with intended sarcasm. In any case, it makes me very uncomfortable!
I must say the rest of the staff was rather ok. They cleared our dirty plates very promptly and including the one which changes my Buddha Jumped over the Wall soup, all of them are quite courteous.
Finally, I realised that plain water and warm water was charged at $1 per person. I am sure many had debated on whether there should be charges for plain water. I must say it was rather petty of the restaurant to charge each of the paying diners $1 for the drink considering that we had paid a considerable amount for the buffet.
It is quite a good restaurant with good quality food, but the service standard needs to be improved further.