Adorned with charming door frames and cute bird cages, and awash in oh-so-sweet shades of pink and white, the floral-themed Canton-i is total cuteness. The scion of Dragon-i (a Malaysian chain of Shanghainese restaurants), Canton-i offers robust comfort food and authentic Hong Kong cuisine. The roast meat here is not only done Hong Kong-style, but in an imported applewood-fired oven—a bonus! Try them all in the Three Combinations of Roast Meat which features roast duck, roast pork belly and barbequed pork—all crispy, delicious and not too oily. Check out the signature wonton noodles with jumbo prawn—both versions boast springy noodles, flavorful, not-too-salty soup and seriously “jumbo” prawns. Other good things—the juicy steamed fish maw stuffed with minced pork and prawn; the healthy stir-fried macadamia nuts, black fungus, celery and lotus root; the super-smooth Supreme Congee (with bird’s nest, abalone slices, giant prawns and fresh scallops); plus yummy desserts like the egg tarts, steamed golden egg yolk custard bun and ginger milk curd.
There are many good things about ION Orchard, but Canton-i is not one of them. This is the antithesis of a chilled-out, value-for-money eatery; the tables pack diners in like sardines (take your date somewhere else, please), the décor tacky and the food overpriced. Despite all this, the place was packed when we trooped in on a weekend evening—seriously, Singaporeans do their self-proclaimed foodie cred terrible harm by patronizing less-than-mediocre hovels like this. We started with the chives with cashew nuts and fried carrot cake in XO sauce; both were a tad oily (expected) and forgettable, like the plain congee we had also ordered. One of our mains, the rice with pork belly, chicken and fish wasn’t too bad, although the pork was a little dry. Overall, there was nothing wrong with the food, it was just so-so. Yes, we expected more from this establishment that tries to position itself as a competitor to Crystal Jade (yeah, good luck guys). Service is perfunctory—typical of a place like this: Waiters bark, things move efficiently and there’s very little smiling. But who cares anyway? With food like this, you’re better off at the food outlets on ION’s basement levels.
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