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Modern design and traditional Chinese motifs come together at Tycoon Tann. Spread across three floors, the ground floor houses a cocktail bar, which looks out onto busy Wellington Street. The first floor, where most diners are seated, is an awkward affair with low ceilings that make it feel cramped. The top floor is more pleasant, with wood panelling, timber floors and windows that let in natural light, and is a shame it is not used more often. Electronic dance music is playing when we visit, some of it quite heavy and rather jarring for such a venue.
The humble char siu, staple of many a worker’s lunch, has been given a luxury makeover in recent years, with restaurants trying to outdo each other to produce the most succulent pork. Tycoon Tann’s version, charcoal-grilled Hungarian mangalica hogs, practically melts in your mouth due to the high fat content of this breed of pig. The fat also gives it a strong meaty flavour, enhanced by a sweet honey baste. It is decadent, but we ask ourselves if it’s a little too soft, with almost no chewing required. This is not an issue with the crispy salted chicken, which arrives in pieces with golden skin and moist meat. It does, however, sit in a small oil slick, and if you don’t like salty food, is best avoided. We would not order the braised homemade noodles with Italian red prawn carabinero again. While we can taste the shellfish in the sauce, it is a soggy mess that doesn’t justify the price for a single prawn. There is a small dim sum menu, and our steamed scallops and ice plant dumplings are little flavour bombs that go down a treat. Deep-fried glutinous dumplings with chicken, pork, mushrooms, dried shrimps and black truffle is worth trying just for the cute presentation. Likewise, the crispy glutinous ball with sesame is an attention-grabbing dessert that is bigger than your head, and is ordered by just about every table in the restaurant.
The menu contains more than 15 Chinese teas, from 30-year-old puerh to jasmine, served in pots placed on burners to keep the tea warm. The wine list is not long but contains some premium bottles, including Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1982. Vintages are not, however, shown for the majority of wines. A glass of Baron de Rothschild Brut NV champagne was flat, though staff offered to replace it.
Staff are well meaning, if somewhat young and inexperienced and forget to do simple things such as change plates and bowls or check if we want dessert.
Like many Chinese restaurants, the bill can vary greatly depending on your order. A meal for two comes to about $1,600 with a glass of wine each, which is a little on the high side.