Hamburg - Pan-Asian at Doc Cheng's, Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten
Finally got round to visit the Singapore-conceptualized Doc Cheng pan-Asian restaurant, located at the graceful Singapore-owned Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten.
Food was pretty “meh” – more like fusion-y, neither-here-nor-there kind of cooking by its German head chef, Phillipp Troppenhagen. Standards here were a far cry from Doc Cheng’s original outlet in Singapore, where I remembered had a line of great chefs like Roy Yamaguchi & Bryan Nagao manning the kitchens one after another since it first opened in 1995.
My dinner at Doc Cheng Hamburg started off with a basket of sesame-encrusted turmeric bread & fennel-scented onion pastry – dense, a bit dry-ish. Obviously. Doc Cheng was not too “German” about their bread. The two dips were pretty “exotic” – a paprika-tinged mayo dip, and an overly salty aioli which brought tears to my eyes.
Amuse geule: Teutonic-sized here, which meant that it’s bigger than some of the starters or tapas plates we get in Singapore: Beef tataki with glazed, grilled pineapple. The beef was very flavorsome, and was complemented nicely by the wedge of fresh, grilled pineapple. I didn’t know it then, but this amuse geule, served gratis, turned out to be the best-tasting item for the evening!
Instead of the boring-sounding appetisers, I opted for two Doc Cheng “specialty” entrees, the first which I had a a starter was:
- Coconut-lime-marinated pike perch, served with sesame “pak choy” and cashew polenta. The fish was perfectly cooked, moist, tender and flaky. The “pak choy” stir-fry was a bit too oily for my taste, perhaps to suit local taste for oily Chinese stir-fries. The dish, on the whole, was also way saltier than I’m used to in Singapore.
That was followed by:
- Singapore fried noodles with shrimp and lemongrass chicken (I ordered it out of sheer curiousity). This dish, invented by Hong Kong chefs in the West by adding curry powder to fried noodles and then calling it Singaporean, was quite tasty here, though still much too bland as not much garlic was used, nor do I detect any discernible taste of Chinese condiments like oyster sauce or soysauce . The chicken breast fillets used were fresh, but the shrimps were microscopic – like the sort served cured in Hanseatic cuisine.
Dessert was a delightful trio of salt-caramel ice-cream, a brown-colored ravioli filled with melted chocolate, and a slightly over-baked chocolate molten cake with its interior barely liquid still.
Mini-banana cakes in clear plastic wrappers were given as after-dinner fancies.
Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten
Neuer Jungfernstieg 9-14
20354 Hamburg, Germany
Tel: +49 40 3494-333
Ideally, one is supposed to taste the meat/beef itself, not the seasoning. In the US greater emphasis is placed on the pure taste of the beef, where premium/high quality steaks are concerned, and folks tend to go lighter on the seasonings (if any, besides salt and pepper) with such high quality meat. Some may, indeed, consider this "plain". This is different from BBQ and other kinds of preps where the sauces and seasoning is very much an intrinsic part of the overall dish.