Thursday June 13th, 2024
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The St. Regis Cairo’s Tianma is a Culinary Ode to Singaporean Culture

In a world of transient experiences, this meal was a timeless ode to the joys of dining.

Scene Eats

The St. Regis Cairo’s Tianma is a Culinary Ode to Singaporean Culture

They serve whole duck at the St. Regis Cairo’s Tianma.

Not that I am personally poised to comment. As someone who's resorted to countless tubs of instant noodles during their formative - and educational - years, a whole duck for dinner was not something I was equipped to craft given the limited skill set of my microwave oven at the time. That said, peering over that wooden cart was that of an eye opening experience. Singaporean cuisine, its intricacies, vibrant hues and sweet and savoury blends wandered around my mind rent-free, painting portraits of vegetable riddled spring rolls and late nights spent gazing at golden orbs and sultry lighting fixtures.

Perhaps it was the setting, the dimly lit ambience and the crushed velvet couches that first allowed me to sink my teeth into Tianma’s ethos. Whilst the process of providing a taste of Asian cuisine has been tried and tested by many eateries, hole-the-wall corner shops and fine dining establishments across the country, very few were able to import the nuances and cultural complexities the dishes harbour.

Whilst Tianma clearly navigates the experience from the zeitgeisty lens of Singapore’s natives, they also tactfully curate a setting that physically whisks visitors away from the luxury hotel’s Downtown Cairo setting. Outside Tianma’s comforting embrace lay a walkway adorned with whispers of water. Whilst the liquid canvas that stood before me tempted me to gaze upon my reflection, a wall-to-wall screen of brass bells inevitably drew me in. To my left, an open bar punctuated by an engraved wooden wall, storied whispers of legacy and heritage.

At that very moment, a troubling thought occurred. As I feverishly looked around me, taking in the scene at hand, I couldn’t bear the burden of choosing just one table to sit at. Looking to my friend Reem for advice, she grabbed me by my bracelet-riddled hand and led me to a four person setting with direct views of Cairo’s skyline.

The hushed ambiance and tasteful decor set the stage for a meal that was poised to be an experience of sheer delight. The menu, a symphony of Singaporean and Asian flavours, beckoned with promises of culinary mastery. I began my journey with the vegetable dim sum, delicate parcels of steamed perfection that unfolded on the palate like a whispered secret. Each bite was a harmonious blend of textures, a dance between the tender wrapper and the vibrant medley of garden-fresh vegetables within. It was a hymn to subtlety, a testament to the art of creating dishes that sing softly rather than shout.

The shrimp and lobster dumplings, a showstopper in their own right, arrived like jewels on a platter. Their gossamer-thin skins held treasures of oceanic decadence within - succulent shrimp and luscious lobster, their natural sweetness elevated by the delicate touch of the chef. As I savoured each bite, I couldn't help but be transported to coastal vistas, the briny breeze mingling with the umami richness of the dumplings. The vegetable spring rolls followed suit, offering a delightful contrast with their satisfying crunch. Within their golden embrace, the earthiness of the vegetables was punctuated by hints of aromatic spices, a culinary chiaroscuro that painted a vivid picture of balance.

The symphony continued with the Singaporean prawns, a dish that boasted bold flavours that were as robust as they were harmonious. The prawns, plump and perfectly cooked, lounged in a fragrant pool of aromatic spices that tingled the senses and left a lingering warmth. The kung pao seabass provided a crescendo of sensations, a blend of fiery heat and numbing Sichuan peppercorns that danced on the tongue, balanced by the delicate sweetness of the seafood.

And then came the grand finale - the Asian roasted whole duck, an awe-inspiring masterpiece that captured the essence of the kitchen's prowess. The glistening mahogany skin held the promise of crackling satisfaction, while the meat beneath was tender and infused with layers of savoury richness. It was a celebration of technique, a culmination of culinary expertise that left an indelible mark on the taste buds.

As I departed from Tianma, I carried with me a symphony of flavours and textures, a culinary journey that resonated on a deeply personal level. Each dish had been an invitation to explore the nuances of taste, to savour the delicate interplay of ingredients, and to appreciate the artistry of the chefs who had crafted these edible masterpieces. In a world of transient experiences, this meal was a timeless ode to the joys of dining.


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