In The Footsteps Of Giants
Prestige Singapore|October 2019
Sublime cooking during the Wynn Culinary Arts Journey leaves Grace Ma intrigued as she eats her way through three restaurants over a whirlwind 48 hours
Grace Ma

I will always be thankful that Cantonese restaurant Wing Lei Palace is the first stop of the three-day Wynn Culinary Arts Journey organised by Wynn Palace Cotai and Wynn Macau.

After a four-hour plane ride and an hour on the ferry from Hong Kong International Airport to Taipa Ferry Terminal in Macau, a homey meal without bells and whistles is the order of the day. And that’s exactly what Wing Lei Palace’s Executive Chef Tam Kwok Fung delivers with his straightforward menu (read: no superfluous dry-ice effects or fanciful plating) prepared with the freshest ingredients at their seasonal best.

Our summery double-boiled winter melon soup with sweet king crab meat, for instance, comes with sprinkles of tonkin jasmine for an extra dose of subtle sweetness. “Tonkin jasmine flowers are rarely used in Chinese cooking,” chef Tam shares. “I discovered them when I was working in Thailand and found that they worked well in soups.”

The jovial chef, who has more than 30 years of culinary experience at top hotels and had helmed Macau’s two-Michelin-starred Jade Dragon for six years before joining Wing Lei Palace last July, clearly loves delighting his guests. While his focus is on coaxing the best out of fresh premium ingredients, he throws the occasional creative curveball to keep things interesting.

Take his signature lychee-wood-roasted goose with seasonal black truffles and vegetable fried rice, for instance. For the first time, he has added crispy rice, enhancing the textures in the dish that’s already a star for the goose’s crispy skin and juicy tender meat. Then there is the wok‑fried fillet from wild‑caught grouper – chef Tam never uses farmed fish as he finds that nothing surpasses the taste and texture of fish grown in the wild – served with sweet angled luffa and a spur‑of‑the‑moment addition of Chinese white anchovies. This is paired with a superb Spanish red: the 2014 Telmo Rodriguez Tabuerniga – the penultimate one in the restaurant’s 60-bottle stash of this rare, single-vineyard vintage of which there are only 1,971 bottles.

The well-paced meal ends with desserts of egg tarts, juicy mangoes from Taiwan and a sweetened lotus seed cream with Japanese red bean. Or so we think. No sooner have we spooned the last mouthful than a trolley piled high with huge jars and bowls of colourful house-made sweets rolls in. With reluctance (not!), we pick our way through the likes of raspberry jellies, passion fruit‑flavoured marshmallows, green tea chocolate balls and pistachio cookies.

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