Symphony of Flavour: We’re singing praises of Cadenza’s modern European fare

Cadenza, a musical term of Italian origin, is defined as “an elaborate flourish or showy solo passage, sometimes improvised, introduced near the end of an aria or a movement of a concerto”.

It’s an apt name, then, for the Greater China Club’s contemporary European restaurant, which may not intend to show off but still manages to dazzle diners with its mastery of fresh ingredients.

Cadenza is one of two restaurants within the members club. It’s helmed by newly-appointed executive chef Kwan Wai-Chung, who trained under Michelin-starred French chef Gerald Passedat at his two Marseille restaurants.

The ambience at Cadenza is intimate and loungey, with dark-polished wooden tables and wingback chairs, plus a bar with a sizable wine cellar. A state-of-the-art sound system plays a treasured collection of vinyl records, and jazz singers perform live Thursday through Saturday evenings.

Wai-Chung’s specially-crafted tasting menu is extensive and equally satisfying, with a total of four courses plus dessert.

For the first course, diners are given a choice between carabinero prawn carpaccio and frisee salad with walnuts and herb vinaigrette, or the USDA prime beef carpaccio with wild mushrooms, shallot and parsley coulis.

The prawns are sliced paper thin, drizzled with olive oil and beautifully garnished with black caviar. The fresh catch was complemented by the sweet, refreshing taste of the carpaccio and the crunch of the walnuts and leafy greens.

The second course gives diners a choice of pan-seared Hokkaido scallops rolled with crisp pancetta, Julienne Spanish ham and white asparagus puree, or a Maine lobster bisque with sweet corn and lobster ragout.

Between the two, it’s a tough choice. The scallops were seared to perfection with a lovely crisp, brown crust, while the inside remained tender and creamy. The sweet asparagus cream further enhanced the flavours of the finely sliced Spanish ham, and a couple of arugula leaves added a dash of colour.

The lobster bisque was deeply rich, and the broth had a surprise at the bottom: sweet corn puree. This, coupled with the generous helping of diced lobster meat, made it one creamy and flavourful dish.

For the third course, the clam linguine with espelette pepper and baby shrimp features in a light and simple white wine sauce garnished with chopped parsley and slices of garlic. The delicious juice of the clams – fresh out of the shell – saturated each strand of al dente pasta.

The other option, a forest mushroom risotto with chanterelle, black trumpet porcini, rocket and pecorino, was just as delicious. Three different kinds of mushrooms gave the dish an intensely earthy flavour, and the plump arborio rice elevated this classic risotto. Creamy but not overly rich, the dish’s sharp and salty pecorino cheese left us savouring every bite.

The fourth and final course was the black cod fillet with Alaskan king crab, served over a mountain of sauteed spinach. The fresh, buttery fish was succulent and moist, and the flavour was further enhanced by lemongrass and coriander.

The alternative selection, a French spring chicken with spring vegetables, was roasted to perfection and drizzled with sauce, accompanied by crisp, roasted green asparagus and baby carrot. The chicken was sublime and bursting with fresh flavour from the lemon and thyme.

Topping off this impeccable four-course meal was, of course, dessert. Out came a plate of the Italian classic, tiramisu. The alternating layers of creamy mascarpone cheese and coffee-infused sponge cake – with a tantalising hint of liquor – felt like heaven on a spoon.

Despite being a members club, Cadenza is open to the public at a marginally higher non-member rate plus a 10 percent service charge. In case this four-course meal fails to excite you, the a la carte menu is no less impressive. The extensive selection of appetisers, soups, pizzas, meats, pastas and side dishes is sure to be music to your ears – and belly.

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