Thursday, March 20, 2008

Food 08: Lei Garden @ Chijmes


The Lei Garden branch at Chijmes won the Chinese Restaurant of the Year at the recent Singapore Business Review. That, I supposed was partly why my entire extended family choose there to celebrate my grandma's birthday.

My family always has a practice of celebrating my grandma's birthday in restaurants. Last year was Grand Shanghai Restaurant (大上海) at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel. This year we wanted to try Imperial Treasure at Great World City. However the restaurant refused to let us modify the menu and we can only spend 1 hour there! My aunt probably thought shod it and went for Lei Garden instead.

Our lunch was a 10 course meal. The highlight was the shark fin's in pure chicken soup and the chilled snow lotus seed with lily bulb and king dates. These two dishes were easily the best dish I had eaten that day.

The starter was a birthday bun. What differentiated this bun from the countless others I have eaten was the salted egg in the middle. It made the bun totally unique and delicious. I have to say my expectation rose after eating this bun.

Next on the list was the peking duck. The waitress serving my table was very friendly and she cut off the barbecued skin of the duck in front of us. I find the dish to be competently done but not outstanding. It's also a little oily. We waited longest for this dish. After this, the dishes just keep coming in nonstop.

The third dish was shark fin's in pure chicken soup. Previously we had fantastic shark fin in superior chicken broth at Grand Shanghai. This was even better than that. It exceeded my expectation. The amount of sharkfin in that small bowl was astounding. It wasn't those misery bits you get at certain restaurants. It's the real deal. You don't drink. You eat the chunks of shark fins together with the sweet chicken soup and big pieces of chicken meat. The waitress informed us that the soup has been brewed for 6 hours before it's served. The closest I have eaten so much shark fin in a single serving was in Batam for a wedding (and that wasn't even this good).

I love the scallop in the 4th dish. It was extremely fresh but due to the amount of people (we had 20 people, ten pax per table), everyone only have one scallop and one live clam.

The prawns were sliced neatly into half with golden mushrooms decorating on top. I find it too salty and ordinary. the mushrooms were nice though.

The garoupa fillet would have tasted much better if it was steamed rather than stirred fried. The deep fried counterpart was tasty but it had bones and little meat.

Duck meat fried with spring onion and ginger was served after the fish. I find this to be only alright as well. The poached vegetable with wild mushroom was probably the most boring dish in the entire course. There wasn't much flavour in the vegetables.

As with all birthday meals I had eaten out with the family, we had noodles. Noodles was too oily but delicious. Unfortunately everyone was full and could only eat a small serving.

Lastly was dessert. If you ever go to Lei Gardern, do try their sumptuous chilled snow lotus seed with lily bulb and king dates. The serving was generous with 3 big dates for each bowl. Nibble on the lily bulb jelly as you drink the dessert down. Yummy.

Sometime between the courses, the waitress served this wonderful chinese tea which I forgotten to ask the name of it.

As per usual after eating all courses, we had our birthday cake. The waitresses cut the cake into really small pieces. Note: Four Leafs sell good and cheap mango cakes.

My grandma looking apprehensive at her birthday cake.

I regretted eating the live clam and the prawns (the 4th and 5th dish) - apparently I have allergies to seafood when I eat them while drinking red wine. I ended up with ugly red patches on my neck.

Service was really good but perhaps that was because we booked the VIP room and the waitresses could focus solely only us. Since everyone was too full at the end, we asked the waitresses to tabao noodles and the duck meat in three separate packages. (3 of the families wanted them XD)

We spent around 80 over dollars per person without counting the red and white wines that my uncle brought to dine with.

Credits: to my sister who took all the photos since the camera was with her lol.

To eat Dim Sum and Wanton Mee list

  • Red Star Restaurant at Blk 54 Chin Swee Road #07-23 (dimsum)
  • Victor's Kitchen @sunshine plaza (dimsum)
  • wanton mee @ sunshine plaza
  • Yeap Seng @tiong bahru/Redhill Market (dimsum)
  • wanton mee @ tiong bahru market
  • Da Jie Famous Wanton Mee @ 209, Jalan Besar (Sam Leong Road) 7am to 2pm daily
  • Wanton Noodle Specialist #02-49 Hong Lim Food Centre 10.30am to 8pm
  • Red, yellow, green(signboard) Wanton Noodle @ Old air port road
  • the backmost row of stalls, opposite Kallang Western BBQ @ Old air port road
  • Hong Kong Wanton Mee @ABC Brickworks Food Centre Closed at 2pm
  • Koung's Wan Tan Mee @ Geylang Lorong 13
  • Duck rice stall @ Compass Point Food Court

I love wanton mee. I grew up on kovan hawker center's wanton mee which served excellent mee although I wished that their char siew was roasted better. So I have pretty high standard on wanton mee.

I like yum cha. A good yum cha place can be determined by their basic dishes: char siew bao and siew mai. There was once I went to Happiness restaurant to eat. Their yum cha was really bad. The best yum cha I have eaten was in Hong kong. I want to go back there and eat again >.<

If anyone wishes to eat yum cha and wanton mee at these places come and give me a call. I'll see whether I'm free. XD