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braised fish maw with sea cucumber

the decor at imperial treasure fine chinese cuisine is as sumptuous as the fare that it serves

Authenticity is the trademark of a truly memorable Cantonese restaurant and, as mathew scott discovers, Imperial Treasure Fine Chinese Cuisine has all the right ingredients
Photography by JEaN QINGWEN Loo sands style | sPRInG 2012

Treasure Trove

t’s the chatter that leads you from the elevators toward Imperial Treasure Fine Chinese Cuisine on any given afternoon or evening. It begins as a low din that comes through the floor-to-ceiling glass surrounding the restaurant, and from the outside looking in you will then be greeted by the sources of those sounds: tables full of people enjoying two of life’s great pleasures – Cantonese cuisine and conversation. Singaporeans have long been lured by the delights offered by the Imperial Treasure trademark, with nine of its various outlets spread around the city, but when you step inside the restaurant at Marina Bay Sands you can expect that little bit extra. The management here saw the opportunity to establish themselves at Marina Bay Sands as the means through which they could perfect the Cantonese dining experience. And if you look around you on the way to your table, you’ll be struck by the fact they have done exactly that.

Families and friends are gathered around huge tables, or tucked away in the booths or even private dining rooms while the plates are served and the tea is poured. “We wanted the Imperial Treasure here at Marina Bay Sands to provide the atmosphere of an old-time Hong Kong restaurant, a truly authentic Cantonese fine-dining experience,” explains Executive Chef Chow Kwok Seng. “You can see by our menu that the variety of dishes is huge – that is what Cantonese dining is all about. There are lots of dishes, and lots of people enjoying themselves.” The beating heart of it all is the kitchen, where each day Chow casts his gaze over a team of eight chefs, all – like him – steeped in the culinary history of Hong Kong. That city, of course, is the spiritual home of Cantonese cuisine and it was there that Chow first started to unlock its many secrets. Like so many, the first lessons he learned came at family meals. “Hong Kong people are very proud of their

food and very proud that it is known and loved all over the world,” he says. “You start to pick up ideas from your family when you watch them cook; then once I started to become a chef, you start at the very bottom in the large kitchens and you learn from what you see.” And most certainly from what you taste. Chow says he is constantly encouraging his chefs to share their dishes around the kitchen and to experiment, advancing the traditions they have learned. After 19 years in Singapore, the chef is well versed in how a menu can be expanded to suit the tastes of locals and visitors alike. “You have to love cooking with your full heart,” he says. “That’s why I became a chef and that’s what makes this food so special. It is something that is very close to all our hearts and to our culture. So I tell my chefs to share their ideas with everyone in the kitchen and to develop things according to individual tastes. People have individual preferences; with Cantonese cooking, they come into the restaurant because they know

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sautéed frOg with pickLed OLives and shaLLOts, served with fried frOg’s Leg

deep fried Live Oyster

what they want to order. Our job, then, is to make the dishes they love extra special.” Chow takes justifiable pride in Imperial Treasure’s famed Peking Duck – a dish he says is ordered by just about every single group that comes into the restaurant – but there are other delights to be found here, with flourishes applied to other staples, such as adding white truffle oil to the sautéed scallops, or the chili and spices that complement the steamed soon hock fish. Imperial Treasure’s daily dim sum, too, has become a popular draw for hotel guests and – tellingly – for Singapore’s notoriously fickle gastronomes. For those taking in the sights of Singapore or enjoying a stroll through The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, the fact that it is available until 4pm daily gives guests plenty of flexibility when it comes to planning their day. “Our dim sum is another aspect of Imperial Treasure that we are very proud of,” says the chef. “Again, we have worked hard to ensure our guests love both the dishes and the experience.” The restaurant’s prime position allows for some spectacular views across Marina Bay from the private dining rooms, which provide

Imperial Treasure Fine Chinese Cuisine Casino level 2 opening hours Monday-saturday: 11:30am-10:30pm (dim sum: 11:30am-4pm) sunday: 11am-11:30pm (dim sum: 11am-4pm) Tel: [65] 6688 7788
sands style | sPRInG 2012

far left: imperial treasure fine chinese cuisine

the perfect venue for special occasions and banquets. During traditional Chinese festivals, chef Chow and his team devise special menus to suit different budgets. The Lunar New Year was an example, with set menu options available for dinners for anything from one to 10 people, plus an option of customizing your own. “Cantonese cuisine is traditionally something to be enjoyed with your family and of course with your friends,” says Chow. “We get a lot of people coming in here for business lunches and dinners. Of course there are the families too, and guests from all over Asia come in because they have heard about our food and how authentic our menu is. We have worked hard in the kitchen to make this all possible, and it is exciting for us to be part of the dining experience at Marina Bay Sands.” n

Simplicity itSelf
Executive Chef Chow Kwok Seng believes going back to basics is the key to bringing out the very finest in Cantonese cuisine

Chow Kwok Seng’s passion for the cuisine he creates is obvious from the very moment he begins to talk about the kinds of things he loves to place on his own plate. When cooking for himself, either at home or during the quiet times in the kitchen at Imperial Treasure Fine Chinese Cuisine, the chef likes to keep things simple – and that’s just one of the ways, he says, that diners can really enjoy all the tastes that the Cantonese style of cooking has to offer. “Take something very traditional, like sweet corn and chicken soup,” he says. “There is nothing unusual about it, it’s something you see on every menu and every Cantonese restaurant. But if the chef takes the time to make sure everything is done properly, it is a dish that is delicious. That’s why it has been so popular for centuries, and it’s one I cook for myself and for my staff all the time.” Attention to detail is the trick to preparing truly fabulous Cantonese food, the chef says, and that goes for everything from the most elaborate to – again – the most simple. Even

steamed vegetables can make for a memorable meal, if chosen and served the right way. “Cantonese cuisine is very seasonal and that’s especially the case when it comes to vegetables,” he says. “I really enjoy just steaming the fresh vegetables that we can find here in Singapore and I love to cook them up for the kitchen staff as well. When the season changes and the new vegetables become available, it really is a treat for a chef because the tastes available to you change as well. These vegetables are a meal on their own, with a little sauce perhaps, or just when you allow their own flavors to come out.” The selection of vegetable dishes on offer at Imperial Treasure means they also make for a very healthy menu – another fact that is a source of great pride for the chef. “I eat very healthily when I cook for myself at home, so that is something I bring into the kitchen at Imperial Treasure as well,” he says. “We want people to come in here and enjoy themselves and their food, and then to leave feeling really good – that’s the way Cantonese cuisine should leave you feeling.”

sands style | sPRInG 2012