Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Grand Mandarina @ 325 New Bridge Road

You might have heard of Grand Mandarina, as it was touted as having roasts that are worth returning for, and this was when the restaurant was barely a month-old when it opened two years ago. Read more via this link.

Celebrity Chef Benson Tong has recently came onboard as its CEO, and this multi-talented man, together with Executive Chef Eric Yeo, will be introducing a total of  ten new items into Grand Mandarina's menu, for a start. That is great news as it offers more variety while crowd favourites such as its roast pork, char siew and roast duck, are all retained. Also keep an eye out for increased options for vegetarians too!

Grand Mandarina entrance

This tasting invite is my first visit to Grand Mandarina and Cantonese cuisine (粵菜) is one of my favourites. When I'm old and gray and still has enough money, I'd like to think that I'd be going for yum cha (饮茶) every weekend and have leisurely dim sum while watching the antics of the other diners. Wahaha!

Getting there: The nearest bus stop to Grand Mandarina is the one opposite of Pearl's Centre. From Choa Chu Kang, one could take bus #190 to that bus-stop. That's about 70 minutes of bus ride on a weekend traffic. Here's a YouTube video on how to get to the restaurant from that bus-stop.

Was ushered to be seated at Level 2, but if your group is large enough, then you might want to request for their VIP room for slightly more privacy. Subjected to availability. In a group of 20-25 pax and would like to sit together in a round table? No problem. Just let the staff know during reservation and they can make the necessary arrangements.


Chef Eric started us off with a palate cleanser; a spoonful of plum marinated cherry tomatoes. I like preserved plums (酸梅) in general, so this was very agreeable. The saltiness of the plum brought out the sweetness of the tomatoes.

plum marinated cherry tomatoes

Next, we sampled some dim sums. First up was the "Steamed Vegetarian dumpling with diced assorted mushroom and vegetable in black pepper". The skin of this dumpling was made from scratch in-house by the chefs. Elegantly translucent, with a chewy bite.

野菌蒸素饺 (3 pieces) @$4.80++

Actually, can you believe it that I have yet to taste the famed Hong Kong cheong fun of zha leung  (炸两)? Haha! Well, finally had a taste of that, and at Grand Mandarina, it has the savoury fillings of smoked shredded duck. The dish is named as "Crispy rice roll filled with smoked shredded duck and bamboo shoot". Totally would recommend this dish. A must-order in my opinion. It has withstood the amount of time we took to take pictures etc, and a bite into these rolls yielded a satisfying crunchiness that was music to the ears and a tickle to the tastebuds. So good.

烟鸭脆肠粉 @$7.50++
so crispy, so yummy

Next up, was the "Pan-fried bun filled with minced pork and cabbage". Tiny parcels of two-bites. However, this was my least favourite of the lot. Much preferred the pan-fried buns filled with not-so-finely-minced meat.

椰菜生煎包 @$5++
minced pork fillings

Dim sums were good to start the meal, and now we were ready for the top stars of the restaurants. The roast platter that consist of a portion of roast duck, and two portions each of roast pork and char siew.

Roasts Platter of Crackling Pork Belly (@$18++ per portion), Signature Crystal Char Siew (@$18++ per portion) and Roast Duck with Summer Truffle sauce (@$32++)
perfectly caramelized fatty char siew, crackling roast pork, roast duck with tender meat and crispy skin

Understandably, the roasts were very enjoyable. Good ratio of fatty meat for the char siew, slightly on the sweeter side, thin crispy skin for the roast duck with tender flesh and perfectly crackly skin for the roast pork.

For non-poultry dish, one could try the "Deep fried Chilean Seabass with crispy fish skin served with egg white crumble and golden broth". Plus points for presentation and an attractive hue of golden for its carrot broth. Had enjoyed this dish quite a bit.

芙蓉鳕鱼 @$26++ per pax

Liked that the edge of the fish was so crispy and its flesh so firm, yet has a slightly oily mouthfeel. The colour of the dish was already appetizing to the eyes and the combined taste did not dissappoint. Well executed.

well executed

If you prefer something meatless, one could try the "Steam wild yam in Imperial sauce". Wild yam/mountain yam/淮山 is usually more commonly found in soups. The version served here is as a cold dish, and the sauce is tangy soy-vinaigrette type. Appetising and most likely will do wonders for the body.

Steamed wild yam (淮山) in Imperial sauce @$12++

Next up, would be the finale for the main course. New item on the menu and it is called "King prawns in Coconut, coconut crustacean broth with silken longevity noodle". The description is pretty apt.

King prawns in Coconut, coconut crustacean broth with silken longevity noodle @$26++

Take deep breaths and inhale. The coconut fragrance was very evident from the smell. A sip of the soup, will kick in continuing actions of non-stop scooping and slurping of the flavourful, robust broth. Bordering on sweetness, but one just can't help but to slurp it up. The noodles were akin to mee sua and very soft. Best thing, each strand carries a good amount of soup when you slurp it up!

The prawn was of a reasonable size but the star of the dish, was really the soup. Wonderful!

For the finale, ended with something  sweet. Not just any desserts but one that literally shined. Yup, a sweet local dessert of durian pengat, adorned generously with glittering gold flakes and served with coconut ice-cream. Was told that Chef made it for special occassions, so it may not be available to the general public. However, if really interested, you may want to check with the restaurant in advance.

Special Desserts -雪中送炭 (price unknown)

Personally, I really enjoyed the crispy cheong fun with smoked shredded duck, the roast platter, the deep fried chilean seabass, the coconut crustacean broth and of course, the exquisite-but-not-for-sale dessert of "sending charcoal in the midst of snowstorm".

Thank you Grand Mandarina, Benson and Chef Eric for having us.

Chef Eric Yeo and Benson Tong

It was a great introduction to the cuisine offered at Grand Mandarina. And, Chinese cuisine is best enjoyed with family or a group of friends. Bon appétit~ 食飯!


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