The Eight is the latest restaurant to take up residence on the third floor of Market City, undergoing a complete overhaul in interior design to match its modern Chinese fusion menu. A re-positioning of the entrance is the first thing that you'll notice on approach, no longer opposite the movie foyer but shifting around the corner to a more glamorous setting.
The restaurant name is no coincidence - the number eight has always been associated with luck in Chinese custom, as it sounds very similar to the word for fortune. Here at the huge 750-seater restaurant, the number eight has even been worked into the carpet by Hong Kong designer Danny Chang.
Owners Chillie Poon and Henry Tang with the evening's host Glen Wheeler
Although The Eight opened for business at the start of this year, the official VIP launch dinner was only held earlier this month. Here we learnt that co-owner Henry Tang originally began his career as a town planner, before opening Silver Spring with his wife Chillie Poon. Business was great, Henry says, and Silver Spring was the most popular restaurant in Chinatown - until Kam Fook opened in Market City.
Kam Fook progressed through a series of owners, evolving into Dragon Star and then China Grand. When the site became available recently, Henry leapt at the opportunity.
The Eight dining room
An assembly of dignitaries, celebrities and food journalists were treated to a ten-course banquet, with proceedings overseen by 2GB radio host, Glen Wheeler.
Szechuan pepper squid
We started with Szechuan pepper squid, eaten clean by all, before moving on to the stir-fried spanner crab with salty egg yolk, sadly abandoned by many who grappled with chopsticks and extracting flesh from the shell.
Stir-fried spanner crab with salty egg yolk
The only way to attack this crab is with fingers, and I made no hesitation in digging in. The salty egg yolk, a rich crumble of duck egg plastered to every surface, has to be patiently scraped clean with the teeth for maximum enjoyment. This was deliciously good, the salty egg contrasting with the sweet morsels of crab flesh. The sight of so many uneaten plates on other tables did make me weep on the inside.
San choy bow
Wok-seared diced beef fillet with foie gras paste and asparagus
We continued with parcels of san choy bow wrapped in crisp lettuce cups, stir-fried king prawns and scallops and wok-seared diced beef with foie gras paste and asparagus. The beef was admirably soft and tender, although the flavour of foie gras was hard to detect.
Stir-fried king prawns and scallops with vegetables
Peking duck carving
The arrival of the Peking ducks brought a frisson of excitement to the room, with four waiters urged to carve as fast as possible in an impromptu race. Their shiny cleavers glinted as they cut into lustrous tiles of roasted duck skin, but otherwise the waiters were quietly serious, passing up the opportunity to play up to the crowd or the cameras.
Slicing the Peking duck skin
Assembling the Peking duck pancakes
The Peking duck pancakes were served with lengths of green scallion and dabs of the house-made hoisin sauce.
Fried pork ribs with garlic
Dishes rolled forth like neverending waves on a beach. We hoed into a spicy kung pao chicken, stir-fried baby bok choy, fried rice and golden-fried battered pork ribs laden with crushed raw garlic.
For dessert we finished with a duo of fresh mango pancakes, a thin pancake wrapped around sponge cake, cream and sweet fresh mango, and osmanthus jelly cubes set with pretty tendrils of osmanthus flowers.
I eight it all. It seemed like the luckiest thing to do.
The Eight, Haymarket (Jan 12)
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4/24/2011 04:23:00 a.m.