Established in 1992, Hua Ting at Orchard Hotel is a well-oiled institution that’s still going strong. After its extensive four-month refurbishment recently, the restaurant sports a fresh, sophisticated look. The setting is accentuated by specially commissioned hand-painted silk wall coverings, wooden wall panels, and artwork such as paintings and sculptures.
The moment you step in, warm and friendly service staff greet you and show you to your table. Upon request, they offer great recommendations, and are conversant in English. When we ask for the wine list and tasting notes, the waiter attending to us makes extra effort to suggest the best pairing.
Food-wise, the kitchen is in the good hands of master chef Chung Lap Fai, who has 30 years of experience in Chinese kitchens, and over a decade at Hua Ting. His team continues to roll out reliably excellent fare using the freshest produce.
If you are there for lunch, dim sum always hits the mark. Presented in a hot stone bowl, the wok-fried turnip cake with homemade XO and scattered with bean sprouts and egg is a winner, as is the barbecued and soya-marinated meats platter. The signature roast duck comes with the crispiest skin; the roasted pork belly is succulent; and the baked empress chicken, smooth and fragrant. Three piquant sauces – plum, mustard and ginger – are served alongside the meats.
For dinner celebrations, opt for more decadence in the form of stuffed golden crab shell. Beneath the golden crumbed topping is fresh, sweet crabmeat melded with wild mushrooms and caramelised onions. Or try Hua Ting’s speciality of double-boiled superior shark’s fin with thick shark’s bone cartilage and fish maw.
Our Japanese wagyu slices with wild mushrooms and black peppercorn arrive bubbling in a hot stone bowl. The waiter tosses the sizzling beef at the table and portions out the tender meat for each person.
Soothing our stomachs is the comforting steamed dong xing garoupa with silky egg white and warm Chinese wine. Just as fortifying is the large bowl of fish paste noodles, sliced fish and bitter gourd slices bathed in rich shark’s bone cartilage soup.
A perfect foil to the meal is the thoughtfully curated tea collection. Hua Ting offers a unique six-course tea-pairing menu available for lunch and dinner ($98 per person, minimum two persons). The menu changes every season, and four teas are specially selected to match the courses. The chef also infuses the creations with fragrant tea.
For us, each visit to Hua Ting concludes with a plan to return. Note that booking is essential at this wildly popular spot.