New cafe Halcyon & Crane at The Paragon on Orchard Road fits snugly in its atas nest, offering fusion Sichuan and European flavors perfect for brunch-eating and Instagram-humble bragging.
Perched on the third level of the mall, one might think that Halcyon & Crane appears to be Yet Another Mala Place, considering the legion of Szechuan or Szechuan-inspired restaurants that’ve been popping up of late. To be fair, yes, it is one of those types of trendy eateries, but the craft of blending east and west flavors are tastefully done. Plus, the spot is the latest venture by the founders of Amoy Street Sichuan joint Birds Of A Feather, so the numbing spice of mala relish is in pretty good hands.
It’s all about modern cafe-style cuisine here, in which contemporary health-focused dishes get elevated with restrained touches of Sichuan spice. Basically, it’s Asian-inspired brunch fare with a slight kick in spice. Take the King’s Chicken Hash Benedict ($21), for example — it’s an English muffin topped with a sous vide egg, cheese, crispy leek, and gong bao chicken, with Sichuan BBQ spice fried potatoes and salad on the side.
The Cured Sausage Shakshuka ($20) is a hearty stew made with tomatoes, mushroom, white beans and Sichuan sausage which is stuffed with spicy mala pork stuffing. And some toast to slather the stew on, of course.
After breakfast hours, the big boys come out to play. The Australia Angus Short Ribs ($42) is a shared melt-in-your-mouth banger that involves beef going into sous-vide for 16 hours with an deeply flavorful hong shao sauce. Smoked chili glaze with kicap manis, Sriracha, galangal, orange juice, and zest gets slathered on the beef afterward before getting finished in the oven. With all of that richness served with Sichuan fried potato, baby bok choy, baked tomato, and pumpkin puree, we’d say Halcyon & Crane has a solid raison d’être.
But, let’s not forget that this is an upmarket environment, and the fare can’t be food coma-inducing across the menu here. So, the kitchen’s also doing lighter dishes like the Smoked Tuna Tataki Salad ($21), which consists of smoked Maguro tuna chunks dressed with a spicy red oil vinaigrette on a bed of quinoa salsa, lotus root, and some Melba toast for crunch.
Chicken & Mushroom Capellini ($23) takes Chengdu-originated vermicelli dunked in a home-y chicken bone broth. The assorted addition of black fungus, shiitake, shimeiji and bamboo pith mushrooms make everything salubrious and definitely not guilt-tripping.
And, no lie — the experience of dining on upscale “contemporary” food is certainly enhanced by the elegant, clean aesthetics here at Halcyon & Crane. The designers went for a lot of brass and wood to decorate the place, which somehow succeeds in looking a helluva lot fancier than other shops at The Paragon.
Busier folks in the vicinity are encouraged to check out the takeaway section for packed salads and pasta alongside juices, smoothies, and shakes. After work hours (or during work hours; we don’t judge), the well-manned bar supplies a collection of craft cocktails — clearly aimed at luring in regulars of The Paragon who want to rest their manicured feet after a bout of high-fashion shopping.
Halcyon & Crane is at The Paragon, 290 Orchard Road, #03-09