We nearly cancelled our reservation at Prive’s new restaurant – EMPRESS @ Asian Civilisations Museum after reading Jaime Ee’s review in the 7 December 2015 Business Times. Awarding them a grade of 6 / 10, she said : “(t)he food tastes like it was cooked by a Chinese restaurant chef kidnapped and indoctrinated in Gordon Ramsay/Jamie Oliver ideology.” We persevered with our outing to Empress and lived to tell the tale. In fact we enjoyed our meal there, perhaps thanks to the lowered expectations from reading Jaime’s review. Taking in the amazing Singapore River view started our experience at Empress on a high note.
The people behind EMPRESS @ Asian Civilisations Museum have done a great job in bringing the outdoors into the restaurant. They have done it before in their Prive restaurant at Keppel Island and have taken it one step further here at EMPRESS @ Asian Civilisations Museum. The restaurant opens up directly onto the Singapore River and they have rightly capitalised on the view by opening up the restaurant directly to the outside without any doors or windows to mar the scenery. They must have mastered the use of air curtains as these columns of air were the only thing keeping the air-conditioned coolness from escaping.
From the BT review, we had half expected the chefs at Empress to mix up East and West cuisines till the food was neither bird nor beast. But thankfully, it was not that bad as the items on the menu still looked recognisably Chinese. Here are some pages from their menu. You can see the full menu on their website.
We started the meal with a stir-fried turnip cake ($12). This is a more accurate name for the dish that is usually described as “carrot cake” in hawker centres. Taste wise, there are some places we can think of where you can get better carrot cake for less money. The main difference was that this came with crunchy bean sprouts and the beautiful ambience to eat it in.
We also had the triple roast platter ($28). This was a trio of three types of roasted meats – char siew, crackling roast pork and sticky and sweet pork ribs. The dominant item on the platter was the big pile of pork ribs. They were cooked till really soft. We liked it. The crackling roast pork was also fine but the crackling could be more crisp. We also liked the char siew which had a balance of fat and charred bits.
We tried the teapot soup ($14). It came with a pot of soup and a har kow-like dumpling. The dumpling was tasty. The small teapot seemed to contain endless cups of the pumpkin flavoured chicken broth. We had expected something like the Japanese version of teapot soup. But it was not. The starchy soup was simply not distinctive and was the weakest dish of the meal.
Our final item was a chef’s specialty – wild caught lobster ee fu noodles ($28). That turned out to be the best dish of the day. The half lobster was medium-sized and the noodles had infused sufficient flavours of the crustacean to be eaten on its own. Eating lobster noodles is a good experience anytime. Eating it in the nice environment looking out into the skyscrapers of Raffles Place makes it taste even better!
All in all we had a positive experience at Prive’s new restaurant – EMPRESS @ Asian Civilisations Museum. We are beginning to like Chinese restaurants decked out with contemporary decor. Dining at Empress reminded us of our lunch at Duddell’s in Hong Kong. We like Jaime Ee and has often refer to her reviews. This time however, we think she was a bit tough on Empress.
The corkage charge at Empress was $30 for the bottle of 2009 Domaine Sylvain Cathiard Vosne Romanee.
Overall Rating: 4 TOP
EMPRESS @ Asian Civilisations Museum
Empress Place, 01-03
Asian Civilisations Museum
Tel : +65 6238 8733
Lunch: 11.30am to 3pm
Dinner: 6pm to 11pm
Nearby Stations : Raffles Place