The grand, heavy jade-and-silver table setting. The silver-capped bone chopsticks. The senior waitstaff cruising the floor with an easy confidence, like seasoned hosts in familiar territory. Many things about Li Bai tell of its unique positioning as one of the few classic establishments that is stoically unchanged, and its loyal patrons clearly appreciate it.
Executive chef Chung Yiu Ming serves up a diverse repertoire of Chinese classics. While some taste lighter than most renditions – such as a milky fish maw and shark’s cartilage soup that is not cloying – others are more liberal in seasoning and almost rustic in presentation, such as the housemade stuffed vegetables and home-style dish of steamed minced pork patty with salted fish. One should also note that a number of special items require advance ordering a day before. It would be wise to enquire about these dishes while making reservations.
The dim sum dishes are a big draw at lunch, with many tables populated by impeccably coiffured Japanese ladies nibbling on delicate items such as the crystal skin dumpling filled with a colourful medley of vegetables. One would also find quite a few well-dressed, silver-haired locals, some who appear to be regulars, here for just an everyday Cantonese lunch with a glass of wine. A couple of smart suits can be spotted having serious discussions over an express meal, but things are generally of a leisurely manner. The waitresses might make hasty retreats, so that guests can deliberate over their options in private; and the intervals between dishes might be a little longer, to allow for proper conversation. The restaurant’s namesake – the famous Tang Dynasty poet – would have approved.
LI BAI CANTONESE RESTAURANT
Lower Lobby Level, Sheraton Towers Singapore, S(228230)