PARAGON houses top-notch fashion brands and many an ensuing popup. It’s also now home to Halcyon & Crane – a brunch-inspired concept that’s a highlight reel of one of the rarer fusion cuisines we have here in Singapore: Sichuan-Western. If that sounds familiar – even alluring – to you, it may be because you’re a fan of Birds of a Feather, and you’d be on to something: the same team and company responsible for the popular Amoy Street haunt is behind this cautious second outing in Singapore.
We’re glad to report it bears entirely new offerings with selfsame pedigree that set its predecessor apart; in fact, they’ve taken the formula one step further with very approachable interpretations and a bevy of memorable cocktails that could easily become the highlight of your shopping trip.
Casual and posh exemplified
Set in swanky underpinnings of marble and mesh and framed by tasteful application of bamboo and gold/bronze, the open area on the third floor is as inviting as it gets in Paragon.
To give you an idea of the care taken to make the space homely, the defining bamboo shades (which resemble giant rice sieves but aren’t – we asked) were put up to afford diners reprieve from the mall’s glaring track lights. Step into the chic space and you do get the calming sense of serenity of entering an alcove, hidden away from the beating sun.
Diving right into the must-orders: most tables led with the King’s Chicken Hash Benedict – fancy way to say gongbao chicken English muffins. A classic Chinese stir-fry dish finds its way onto a pleasantly powdered and well-grilled English muffin – and the juicy chunks are coated with a sheen of tingling Sichuan sauce, then slathered with a sous-vide 64-degree egg.
This essentially coalesces into a viscous goop that soaks the inner muffin through… while being topped by a molten layer of cheddar cheese, which in turns fastens the leek crisps atop it.
While other dishes may be more Instagram-worthy – we know that’s on your agenda, and you have a few dozen options at Crane & Halcyon, trust us (see gallery below) – you need a hard-hitter that seals the deal every time on the taste front. That one’s the Beef Braised Rice, hands down. Some quality Angus has spent 16 hours stewing in a pot to deliver a tomato-based broth that straight up arrests the tastebuds with its full body and gaminess.
Those conservative with flavours may be stymied by now – after all, most of Sichuan cuisine is characteristically front-loaded with taste and punch. There’s are many middling options that showcase the finessed half of the cuisine as well, and among our favourites was the Chicken & Mushroom Capellini.
The list goes on into the dozens, with new items being brought onboard every few months. Other dishes we reckon you’d want to get your claws into include the Hongshao beef shortribs (officially, Red Braised Australia Angus Short Ribs) and the Aromatic Chinese Yam Noodle (heavy on the seafood flavours). Repeat visits are in order for a concept as variegated as Halcyon & Crane – but this should be no issue for the Paragon-going crowd.
It’d be remiss to leave out Halcyon & Crane’s impressive bar programme. They field gentlemen’s drinks in the usual formats – it’s never too early or late for Hendrick’s neat – and are immensely proud of their coffee-based heritage (the parent company has a massive coffee beans & cafe business in Sichuan), but the star of the shows are the whacky and progressive cocktails which each bear their own character.
If you aren’t confident of taking on the spicier dishes, we highly recommend the Crazy Rich Asian (the opposite of self-explanatory). This kaya-based bev goes down smooth and silky, speaking to an expert hand in blending the flavour into the drink; we’ve had chunky lumps of kaya in grainy cocktails before, so ordering this was secretly a test. Equal parts sweet and tart, it’s a great cocktail to have on its own, but the fullness of the coconut milk comes in handy when you quaff it in response to intense spiciness in feistier dishes, in most cases taking the edge off entirely.
Sure, you’ll catch other cafe staples such as beetroot piccolo lattes, risotto and burgers at Halcyon & Crane, but the deftness and effort with which the flavours are handled here will give you the courage to keep reaching out of your comfort zone each time you visit. That alone should earn it a spot in every cafe-hoppers trail.