Jiang Nan Chun – what a comeback after a major revamp!

Jiang Nan Chun

Near Orchard MRT

img_9410My second time to Jiang Nan Chun, but my first officially after its revamp and the first impression after we sat down comfortably – Jiang Nan Chun has stepped her game up ambitiously compared to its previous outlook. Strong air conditioning (that’s an important criterion for me), with queer bird caged lights dangling above us that accentuated the sleek, modern interior decor yet not having any oriental elements compromised at all, and the intricate details paid to the table lightings are evident too, which enable a greater sense of privacy for each group, all these perfectly befitting the description of a Cantonese fine dining.

img_9411Decor second, food first the picky foodie folks have always reckoned, and this time round the quality of food here has skyrocketed as I vividly remembered how unimpressed we were the first time we were here. Nailed every dish so confidently this time round, I suspect there might be a change in the head chef together with the revamp. The soup of the day, boiled with luohan, pork ribs, chicken and some uncommon herbs, was definitely a refined and cultured bowl that has all the flavours so spot on and intense. $12 for the soup.

img_9407Steamed Shrimp Dumpling with mushroom – This could by far, be the best har gao I have had. Surpassing many of the good hotel restaurants, what made this outstanding was not just the substantial amount of beautifully textured crunchy prawns stuffed within as that is expected for the better hotel standards, but also the mushrooms added to it that gave it an extra moist consistency. Very delicious Har Gao over here that made us wanted to order another basket. $7.50. And, you could get all dim sum individually as you are not restricted to ordering a minimum of three.

img_9415Steamed Pork Dumpling with Scallop – Rotund crunchy dollop with fresh scallops in it. $7.50.

img_9413Cantonese Sponge Cake – So fluffy, perfectly perforated and fraganted, this has the perfect consistency again without a dismaying collapse. $4.

img_9408Stir fry carrot cake in XO sauce – Rightly spiced, well fragranted with the XO sauce that made the folks appreciate this carrot cake thoroughly. $10.

img_9406Crispy Flaky Pastry with Black Pepper Beef – Beautiful flaky skin with moist lightly peppery beef in it. Delish! $9.

img_9416Roast Duck – Very tender meat underneath with a blanket of crispy, fragrant skin; the kind that is reminiscent of those quality duck served at Michelin Starred Hakkasan.

img_9419Poached Chicken in Soya Sauce. $18.

img_9417Seafood Fried rice with XO chilli sauce – Neatly chopped prawns, scallops, greens with fried rice, made so uniformly and decadently fragrant by spicing it up with the haughty delicious XO chilli sauce. $24.

img_9420Fish noodle soup with Shrimp dumpling – This may look like an ordinary bowl of wanton noodles but no way is it any simple as that noodle isn’t just flour but has been evenly mixed with fish paste, that gives it a special bite. What a special surprise we got from this bowl of seemingly humble noodles. $14.

img_9427Moving on to their desserts, this felt very Hakkasan styled as the waitress mentioned that there’s a western dessert kitchen, that has a menu that I am very looking forward to trying!

img_9423Szechuan Peppered spiced Manjari Chocolate with Kumquat Compote. Highly contrasting in flavours between the choc and kumquat to yield that balance, I was very much excited by that bitter dark chocolate that has been punctuated exhilaratingly with the sichuan pepper. So thick, decadent, bold yet delicious! $14.

img_9426Papaya custard pastry and strawberry mochi – Deliciously smooth and definitely the better oriental dessert we could have. $14.

img_9425Egg Yolk push with flowy Almond in it – Very innovative that it felt like this explosive ball is filled with piping hot and thick xin ren hu. $12.

A very fun experience, all enabled by the bold culinary ideas and techniques from the head chef at Jiang Nan Chun and after much discussion with the miss foodie, we felt they might be working towards that star. Truly deserving of one next year I feel!

Verdict: An excellent restaurant. 4.5/5.

 

 

Mitzo – That 1 for 1 deluxe menu was just awesome!

Mitzo

Grand Park Hotel near Orchard MRT

m1That infallible char siu, the exquisite dim sum that Mitzo serves and the impeccable roasted duck were what that kept my tireless return. It was the third time here and I still don’t foresee that this will be the last, or perhaps never if the head chef doesn’t change! Unable to secure a table during the festive CNY period, I know I need to bring the folks here to get a taste of one of the top Cantonese restaurants in Singapore. What’s even better now is that there is a 1-for-1 deluxe menu ($108) on promotion (only if you have a UOB cc or book through chope) and it was quite a no brainer on what to get that afternoon, of course together with the signatures that I have thoroughly enjoyed previously. Well, lets take a look at that set menu!

m2Deep fried crispy Shimeji with wasabi Mayonnaise. That scrunchy mushroom encased within the fluffy, lightly fried crispy batter and tossed with the light creamy wasabi mayonnaise, it was definitely an addictive appetiser!

m3Crispy prawn coated with truffle peanut sauce. How more creative could we get here; with these huge crunchy prawns given a nutty coat and yet still emanating a light truffle fragrance! Sensational indeed.

m7A crab meat soup before this but unfortunately not as photogenic, so lets fast forward to the stir fried sea bass with asparagus in spicy XO sauce. The tastes predictable, but all made to perfectness with great balance as that umaminess in the spicy XO sauce was beautifully expressed in the moist, creamy chunks of sea bass.

m6Braised pork ribs with herb infused dang gui. Two huge slabs of pork ribs cooked to the perfect consistency that could be torn apart effortlessly. The mum though felt that it has a little porky taste in it that didn’t make it to her top favourites, but we felt it was acceptable.

m8m9Braised vermicelli with lobster in superior broth. A finale for the savouries, this decadent bowl of lobster noodles was aptly and coincidentally placed as the last course. Most carbohydrate courses are usually less inspiring in the upmarket restaurants but this vibrant one kept our eyes lit and palates awake. So radiantly presented, the lobster meat was impeccably well poached to render that springy consistency while that light tasting yet thick and rich broth there, gives it an even flavourful body without snatching its limelight.

m10The dessert of the day was this smooth avocado puree with vanilla ice cream, without that sesame ball as this was ordered separately. Lovely end to the meal though I would have preferred a Hakkasan concept, that serves French infused desserts as their sweets instead. The sesame ball though deserves a shout out as it is filled creatively with molten chocolate and whisky that spices up the entire experience. Well done!

m5m4And these are the two other ala carte dishes ordered to finish off the meal! Yes indeed, the truffle roasted duck and the steamed basket of dim sum that are so beautifully presented and tasted equally delectable!

m11And the service crew gave us a complimentary liu sa bao to end our meal as this might be their first time serving such huge eaters!

Being really one of the best Cantonese places to go to in Singapore, it really would be quite cynical to deny this place a recommendation! I can see a return soon, perhaps in a week’s time actually! But I would say it could really be a perfect score if bold French desserts are served for desserts as this would be the first ever concept in Singapore which I believe could well take off easily!

Verdict: An excellent restaurant. 4.6/5

 

Empress Restaurant – Asian Civilisation Museum

Empress Restaurant

Asian Civilisation Museum near Raffles Place MRT

IMG_9113Plush, modern interior, further made vibrant by the scattered sun rays that beamed through that tall glass facade; no, it didn’t have a greenhouse effect but felt comfortably chilly with that blasting air conditioning. Loved Empress restaurant the moment we stepped in as the contrasting glittery bar counter fortunately did not clash with the round oriental tables, but somehow made it even more polished; the feeling is just right.

IMG_9111Looked through that extensive Asian menu again, but luckily with a few signature dishes in mind already and this fried lotus and yam starter was served the moment we sent the orders up. Thinly sliced, lightly fried, this was less common but definitely a starter that got our hopes high.

IMG_9118IMG_9117IMG_9122Triple Roast PlatterEMPRESS Char Siew, Crackling Roast Pork, EMPRESS Sticky and sweet pork ribs. Instead of doing a ‘mix and match’ system for their triple roast over here like what most Cantonese restaurants practise, Empress Restaurant only has a porky roast prepared in three different ways. But, we say, they have all the reasons to be proud of their pork! Beautifully glazed by the melted fats and charred with a tantalizing smokey aroma, the char siew was pretty faultless (though my favourite still lies with Mitzo) and you get to choose the fattier or leaner cut. So, exercise your rights if the waiter forgets to enquire. The Crackling roast pork or siu yok had expectedly one of the crispiest skin while the sticky sweet pork ribs were beautifully caramelised to an unforgettable umami. Very delicious they are! $28.

IMG_9119Meant to be a dim sum brunch but we decided to get the EMPRESS Dim Sum Platter (Har gao, siu mai, Pork and pumpkin skin dumpling, Seafood and spinach dumpling, mushroom dumpling) to sum it all and we hit the jackpot as these were beautifully steamed to render a luscious, translucent skin. My favourites – the Pork and pumpkin skin dumpling that has the juicy pork wrapped in the very lightly sweet orange skin and the fresh, succulent seafood spinach dumpling. Vibrant is the word. $9.80.

IMG_9121King Prawn Dumpling in Supreme Broth. Needless to say, we tasted succulence in that dumpling, but even more impressive is that fragrant bowl of creamy chicken broth, thick and viscous, it seems to be highly collagenated too. $14.

IMG_9124Fried Brown Rice Medley – Shimeji Mushrooms, Asparagus, goji Berries, Pine nuts. Mixed with so many vegetables and nuts, this may look too healthy with a lacklustre taste but boy, it was perfumed throughout with an umami flavour. Pork lard oil is suspected here but this was delectable. $20.

IMG_9114Crispy Butter Baked Shredded Duck Buns – Pretty O.K. skin and buttery sugar crust but the duck was a tad dry. We need the sauce! $5.80.

IMG_9115Stir fried Turnip cake with XO chilli sauce. Served with a little moist, this plate though was lacking in wok hei. $12.

IMG_9123And we concurred – this new Cantonese restaurant scored well with us!

Verdict: A good restaurant. 3.9/5

Mitzo – Pompous decor but what about the Cantonese mains?

Mitzo

Grand Park Hotel

DSC_0781Lined with huge blocks of stained glass along the corridor shone upon with club-ish lights from above, together with heavy marble tables and retro-coloured cushion seats fitted in, Mitzo seems to be conveying class while at the same time reluctant to give up the hipster element of this restaurant. Such an incongruent layout, though most probably could be attributed to the Chef’s origin from the dark Hakkasan (that won my heart over), did not pander to me, as it was way too colourful. Well, forget about the tacky colours, and lets focus on the food!

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Mitzo Special Barbecued pork 蜜汁叉烧 has raised the bar! BAM! While there seems to be an implicit rivalry between certain restaurants for the best roast or char siew, Mitzo is by far, serving the best Char Siu that I have ever tasted. Serving the sweeter rendition, this has been neatly caramelised to render a thin glaze overcoat around the super crispy skin, this tenderised slab of pork is lifted to crazy heights. $18.

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Black Truffle Crispy Roast Duck (Half) 黑菌脆皮鸭. Wow What do we have here – a plate that literally could rival off that from Four Seasons Singapore. Leaving the more westernised sauce aside first, this slab of duck was roasted to a wicked crackling crisp while the impeccable meat was as tender as one could have imagined. This might perhaps be the king of duck. Slightly differing from the dining companions, I do prefer my duck to be more oriental accented without a dash of truffle aroma though. $38.

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Crying out helplessly from S who knows it already that when dining with guys, the detoxifying vegetables may not be ordered. So, the third meat of the day – Braised Pork Rib infused with Chinese Herbal Sauce 当归酱烧骨. While these ribs were tasty and could literally slide off the bones, the herbs didn’t come through strong enough which could have potentially raised the umami-ness of this dish.$32.

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We were a little dismayed to find out that only the dim sum platter is available on Public Holidays as dim sum makes up largely their forte. Nonetheless, I was still adamant to try the steamed renditions and so we got the Vegetarian Steamed Dim Sum Platter 上素点心拼 that comes with the Turnip and Asparagus dumpling, Black fungus and vegetable dumpling, wild mushroom and truffle buns. Everything so well-executed with a delicate balance of flavours, the bun shaped into a button mushroom was the cutest of all as it got us suspecting for a moment that it really is a fungus. $18.

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Seafood fried rice in XO sauce. XO 海鲜炒饭. A great finish to the delectable meal as every grain was coated evenly with the seafood umami while the freshness of the diced scallops and prawns came through strongly with its perfect consistency and natural sweetness. $18.

Mitzo has clearly proven itself to be a stop for all avid Cantonese fans out there! With almost everything spot on, if there’s only one thing that could be shout about would be the impeccable roasts! Never did I expect such unparalleled standards from the roasts and Mitzo could perhaps be eyeing for that shiny star if the guide book were to come to Sg. Lets stay tuned!

Tips: Try to avoid public holidays as most offers are not valid during those periods!

Verdict: An excellent restaurant.

Li Bai – Expectedly delicious!

Li Bai

Sheraton Towers near Newton MRT

lb1Li Bai – quite the perfect restaurant to celebrate the dad’s birthday at. Slightly rushed initially, the service somehow managed to slow down and turn it into a relaxing meal eventually and I have to say service is pretty good here actually as the waitress is willing to go the extra mile to even remove the slightest layer of fat on the duck skin for my mum! Well done!

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IMG_8616Slicing so deftly with the razor sharp knife, this Peking duck was beautifully carved while the waitress diligently wrapped the crispy skin up in the wraps. You could literally pick up the light crackling sound when the skin was being sliced. $38 for half a duck. What I like about here is its flexibility in getting a duck as no pre-order is required.

IMG_8620Crispy, glazed duck skin with a speck of leek lashed with extra duck sauce, yummy!

IMG_8625A must order for me whenever I am at a Cantonese restaurant, this char siew over here was extremely satisfying as a good slab of lean, tender meat was served. No fat was needed to give it the highly coveted tenderness. And the sauce it was drenched with was perfectly fragrant! $13.

IMG_8622Honey Pork spared ribs with salad cream – Lightly fried and then coated with the sweet savoury honey sauce. I was slightly more impressed by the salad garnish on the side as it was made very dainty-looking. $13.

IMG_8624 IMG_8627BBQ Pork bun with crispy skin – Though not looking beautifully symmetrical, the crusty sugar overcoat managed to wake our palates up with its buttery aroma. $6.

IMG_8634Steamed Scallop dumpling with vegetables – nicely decorated with wolfberries on top. $7.20.

IMG_8633And that’s the remaining deboned duck meat from the Peking Duck earlier. It may look dry and unappetisingly presented, but never judge a duck by its colour as this was absolutely tender while the aromatic marination has thoroughly permeated through.

IMG_8639Deep fried crispy prawn roll with Mango $7.20 – The tastes of the succulent prawns and juicy mango slices in it were gelled seamlessly together by the lightly sweet mayonnaise.

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Stir Fried Radish cake with XO chilli sauce $8 – Stir fried to yield a crispy outer layer with a generous amount of XO sauce, these were made heavily tasting with the small shrimps and lap cheong accompanied with it.

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IMG_8635Udon stir fried with seafood – You could smell the strong wok hei aroma already when this plate of udon was served form afar! Very evenly stir fried throughout with the luscious, huge fresh seafood, it was an excellent plate of udon! $26.

And so, it was really an enjoyable lunch at the small cosy Li Bai restaurant, with everything almost spot on. Quality ingredients with credible cooking techniques and a helpful service crew, Li Bai is definitely a popular spot for family get together!

Verdict: A good restaurant.