Sometimes the best food places are hidden at the most unlikely of places – opposite Pearl Centre Chinatown in this instance, where four-months old Grand Mandarin Restaurant is standing at. That said, I have to give it to their skillful marketing executions as my extended family who doesn’t usually venture any further than Imperial Treasure, had a gathering here a few weeks back. If you were wondering, I had to missed out on that wonderful meal. Though my aunt promised to bring me back to try their impeccable Char Siew, I was invited to a food-tasting session here!
Occupying two level of the Thye Shan Mansion, Grand Mandarin has re-interpreted Chinese fine-dining cuisine, fusing rich Chinese flavours and local contemporary innovations. The Head Chef had worked in prestigious hotel kitchens, and his last venture was at one of the Michelin-Star restaurants in New York! With a wealth of experience and strong uphold of quality in his creations, you’re sure to be in for a treat!
Unlike what you’d expect of a restaurant in Chinatown, Grand Mandarin is very tastefully designed – with the ambience played up with clever lightings and chandeliers, as well as tinted mirrors to elongate the space further. In true honesty, I felt like I’ve stepped into a Chinese restaurant of a 5-Star hotel.
Remember to greet the Royals of fish – The Empurau Fish (忘不了). Priced at $888/kg, Grand Mandarin is one of the very few Chinese restaurants in Singapore that carries them. The good news is that the restaurant sells The Empurau Fish in portions too – you can have them in your soup at $88 per pax.
The second level – fully equipped with presentation screens.
VIP room with a minimum spending of $800, a fraction of the min. spend at 5-Star hotels!
I loved the entire set-up of the table that makes everything so luxe.
Gold-stamped branding on the plate, against more gold.
The first course was served to us, in the form of a trio platter, consisting of the signature starters. If you haven’t yet heard, Grand Mandarin is the latest contender in having the best Char Siew in Singapore. A break-down of each item below!
Honey Glazed BBQed Pork Loin ($15/order) – Each order is good to share between 3-4 people, thus not to worry, this is not the actual portion size you’ll be getting! If you look carefully at the outer layer of the Char Siew, you’ll see a layer of golden caramelisation instead of the usual charred black bits. This is precisely what differentiates the Char Siew here from the ones outside. When you put it in your mouth, you’ll taste the sweetness of the caramelisation which adds that slight crisp to the skin too. The meat comes with a perfection proportion of fats too, which melts in your mouth literally. The amazing thing is that the burnt sugar does not get stuck to your teeth! This dish will be the main culprit that keeps you coming back here again and again!
Crispy Roast Pork Belly ($15/order) – Thinner than most roast pork belly, the meat is trimmed to keep only the best. It’s really easy on the mouth too as you won’t have to tug and pull each piece as you struggle to decide how to devour the entire one. The skin was very crispy and minimal fats and oil to them! Thumbs up!
Fried Soft Shell Crab w Chicken Floss & Curry Leaves ($18/order) – I get very selective when it comes to soft shell crabs as many times, you’re left with more of the crab shell than real meat within. However, one look at these lovelies and I knew that they’d be plump and soft. Seasoned with some turmeric powder and spices, the flavours were robust, without any unpleasant intensity that would overshadow the freshness of the crab. Loved it!
Clear Soup of Lobster with Black Fungus, Gingko Nut, Chinese Marrow ($18/person) – A great deal in my opinion, to have a substantial chunk of lobster meat below $20! The soup felt very nourishing, as with all Chinese soups, though the taste of mushrooms was unwarranted. They could have done away with the mushrooms and they’d still be delicious and sweet!
Baked Silver Cod w Spicy Lemongrass Infuse ($22/person) – I’m a big fan of cod fish and it’s safe to say that this dish is for sure of hotel-standards. The texture, glaze and freshness hit right home. However, I couldn’t help but notice the disparity between the name of the dish and the taste of the cod. Firstly, it wasn’t spicy at all and second, the lemongrass was extremely faint. You know, if the dish was named ‘baked silver cod w honey’, I’d have given it a 95/100. Nonetheless, I’d still order this dish the next time round ‘cos it’s simply fork-licking good.
Stir-fried Wild Mushroom w Lily Bulbs & Kai Lan ($18/order) – I can’t imagine the amount of effort put into creating what could have been a simple veggie dish. The stems of the kai lan were made really fun to eat and this goes to show the extra mile put in by the chefs in creating a fine-dining experience!
Fried Rice w Fresh Crab Meat & Fish Roe ($20/order) – When it comes to the last dish of an 8-course meal (and carbs), I get rather disinterested. Yet, I can’t help but marvel at the intensity of fragrance within the fried rice. The generous amount of fish roe is evident. So is the crab meat, which may I emphasize, is not frozen but fresh! Well, no wonder the springiness and tenderness of the meat. I must say I was very impressed.
Time for desserts!
Refreshing Green Apple Jelly w Lime Sorbet ($8/person) – Indeed refreshing and light on the palate, this dessert was a happy ending to my tummy! I loved how the icy lime sobert worked its magic to my digestion system with its tartness.
Steamed Custard Bun w Salted Egg Yolk ($4.80/3 pieces) – Ladies and gentlemen, do take a good look at this fine specimen. The bun was not thick and clumpy at all. Its filling was extremely runny and silky-smooth, without the undesirable layer of oil floating on top. Possibly one of the best Liu Sha Bao in Singapore too! 😛 By the way, Grand Mandarin has also recently launched their dimsum menu!
For those who are driving, you’ll be happy to know that there is a public carpark that is literally outside the doorstep of Grand Mandarin Restaurant. *waves pompom* This photo was taken at around 12pm and you can tell that finding a lot here won’t pose much of a problem, considering it’s CBD!
Grand Mandarin offers a standard that you’d expect of a high-end Chinese restaurant but at a lower price range, that doesn’t break your bank. Having read some reviews before my food-tasting session, I believe that there’re already a number of returning customers, most of whom got addicted to their Char Siew. And I’m one of them.
Many thanks to Jiaxin for the invite and hosting of the session! 🙂