Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Grand Mandarina, New Bridge Road
Grand Mandarina (#01/02-00 Thye Shan Mansion, 325 New Bridge Road, tel : +65 6222 3355) opened about a year ago and I had never heard about them until recently. From what I could gather online, they're a new player in the local scene with no ties to any of the better known restaurant groups which could mean that they are a little bit more interesting with what they do rather than the usual formulaic themes.
The restaurant is located at a spot just a short walk from Outram Park MRT exit at Bt Pasoh's side.
This was chicken and cordycep soup. It happened to be soup of the day which is going for less than $2 due to some promotion that they were having. Pretty well done double boiled soup and just for a song, I'd easily return for them.
One of the items that they are apparently known for is their honey glazed barbecued pork loin. Char siew in other words and yes, it was as good as people were saying. We had seconds of those glazed pork which possessed a light sweet glaze shattering crunch. The meat was relatively tender and fat layered.
Fried fish skin with salted egg yolk, curry leaves and chilli padi. Rather addictive. Even for the pieces that had gotten a little bit soggy.
This was described as soya poached foie gras with 20 year "Shao Xin" wine jelly. The idea was good, but the foie gras tasted funny. It was livery without the buttery element, might have something to do with the poaching. The Shao Xin jelly sounded impressive if I had understood that 20 year part correctly; the flavours were present but not extraordinary for something that sounded like it had been aged. Did I read this wrong?
Their stir fried vermicelli with pork collar and XO sauce was not bad too. The generous amount of sprouts lent texture to each mouthful of noodles.
Steamed rice rolls with scallops were quite ordinary.
Those crystal dumplings aren't my thing. The dominant flavour was chinese mushrooms which I'm not big on in the first place and we've definitely had better done crystal dumplings with mushroom.
Competent if ordinary har gow.
Also competent if ordinary siew mai. If I'm giving the impression that these were mediocre, dispel those impressions.
Their phoenix claws with black bean sauce was a mishap. Those chicken feet tasted a little sour (not quite the vinegary manner) and that sour didn't come from the sauce. We stopped after a couple of bites and feedbacked to the restaurant. They were gracious and took it off the bill.
That's pan fried carrot (radish) cake with lup cheong and a sprinkle of chicken floss. Again, competent.
We liked the char siew bao. Skin was fluffy enough, sufficiently voluminous for balance of proportions between meat & bun and the fillings were more savoury than sweet.
The other let down was the salted yolk custard buns. There's not enough salted yolk flavour and it was a little too sweet for us to like them.
Apparently, the one thing Grand Mandarina seems to be known for is the empurau fish; reputed to be the most expensive edible fish from Sarawak in Malaysia. Expensive like a couple of thousands of dollars perhaps for a single fish. Obviously, it's not going to be something that's landing plated on my table anytime soon.