Not many home-grown companies in Singapore can boast a history like that of The Cathay Restaurant. They had their roots planted in 1940, going back to even before the World War 2! In their heyday, they were considered one of the finest Chinese restaurants in Singapore.

As you enter the restaurant, what first strike you are the blown-up photographs of movie stars and singers from the yesteryear that cover the walls. At the same time, you hear music from the golden era playing in the background. One tune that I immediately recognise is 泥娃娃 (clay doll), a song from my grandparents’ time!

The Cathay Restaurant, Singapore

As you can see, this place goes way back. Today, it is popular for its dim sum and wide array of Cantonese and Shanghainese cuisine. I have the opportunity to partake in a private tasting session comprising a good mix of traditional and creative dishes.

Deep-fried scallop stuffed with cheese

Cathay twin combination 国泰双拼 (玉露日式炬鲈鱼拼千丝芝士球)

I kick off my meal with an appetiser: the twin combination of scallop and sea perch. The first thing that I notice is the beautiful Western-style presentation of the food. While a stylish plating is welcomed, the mark of a good restaurant still lies in the cooking.

On that note, this dish does not disappoint.

Deep-fried scallop stuffed with cheese

The curious-looking “shaggy-haired” ball is actually scallop, which just happens to be one of my favourite seafood. Deep-fried and stuffed with cheese, the scallop is lightly sweet with a soft texture. The cheese tastes heavenly and adds a touch of uniqueness.

Baked sea perch with egg white

The second part of this dish is the baked sea perch fillet, coupled with the delightful fish roe and egg white. The fish is nice and firm, its smooth flesh going well with the special sweet-tasting sauce.

Shark's bone cartilage with bamboo pith in spaghetti squash melon

Shark’s bone cartilage with bamboo pith in spaghetti squash melon 千丝白玉炖鲨鱼骨汤

An unusual creation is the shark bone cartilage soup. The milky soup comprising bamboo pith is the product of an 8-hour-long labour of love. Its pleasant mild flavour, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory health benefits, plus the collagen protein content, would help it find many fans.

Indeed, after drinking the soup, I feel healthier! It may have been the placebo effect though.

Spaghetti squash melon

Notice that the soup comes in a hollowed out spaghetti squash. This fruit earned its name from the way its flesh falls out in strands resembling spaghetti. The Chinese liken it to shark’s fin, and Chinese restaurants frequently market it as shark’s fin melon.

The soup and the melon are very filling, so this dish can even be a meal on its own!

Pan-fried pork chop

Pan-fried pork chop 中式猪仔柳

For people that can’t do without meat in their diet, I recommend the pan-fried pork chop. Judging from the burst after burst of flavour with each bite, it’s obvious that the cut of meat has been well marinated. The pairing with diced fruit is a surprise. They lend a bit of crunch and a hint of tartness that brings out the sweet and salty flavours in the meat perfectly.

This medley of meat and fruit sure is interesting, but more importantly, it actually works. It would have been perfect if the meat is a tad more tender and less chewy. Nonetheless, this is one of my favourite dishes for the day.

Braised stuffed fresh scallop with prawn paste in crab meat sauce

Braised stuffed fresh scallop with prawn paste in crab meat sauce 银湖百花酿带子

Seafood fans would absolutely love this dish, a composition of fresh scallop, prawn paste and crab meat. In other words, you get all the good stuff on one plate! Additionally, the whole thing is smothered in crab meat sauce! Simply sublime.

The part I love most are the oodles of crab meat. They come with all the seafood sweetness, and none of the shell cracking! The only thing I can find fault with is the prawn paste, which reminds me too much of those pseudo prawn/lobster balls you find at steamboat restaurants.

Crispy noodle with king prawn

Crispy noodle with king prawn 香煎大虾脆筒面

Another must for seafood lovers is the crispy noodle with king prawn. The king prawn even sits on a “throne”, none other than noodles that have been painstakingly shaped into a small bowl.

You may think that the star of a dish like this is the prawn itself, which is big, firm and delicious, or even the noodles that are imported from Japan. But for me, the star is really the gravy. Made from chicken stock and the head of the king prawn, the result is a heady (no pun intended) sweet-tasting and full-flavoured gravy.

Cream of almond mousse with snow lotus

Cream of almond mousse with snow lotus 椰皇杏汁炖天山雪莲

Dessert is warm almond mousse filled with goodies like gingko nuts. It is done perfectly – thick and yummy, and not too sweet. Plus, because it is served in a young coconut shell, you can scrape out and enjoy the gelatinous strips of coconut flesh. Now, tell me if that’s not a wholesome dessert!

The Cathay Restaurant, Singapore

After showing my Mom the photos that I took of the food and the restaurant, she had a sad look in her eyes because she couldn’t join me for the meal. Yes, this is one of those places that are perfect for family gatherings. You can safely bring your parents here and know that they would enjoy the food.

The Cathay Restaurant 国泰
The Cathay
2 Handy Road #02-01
Singapore 229233
Tel: +65 6732 6623

Bus services: 64, 65, 139, 578, 579, 581, 587, 590, 598, NR6, NR7
Nearest MRT: Dhoby Ghaut

Opening hours:
11:30am – 3pm, 6 – 10:30pm (Mon – Sat)
10am – 3pm, 6 – 10:30pm (Sun)