Saturday, December 31, 2005

Review: Les Bouchons

We had a nice, quiet family dinner on Friday at Les Bouchons, at my sister's recommendation. Les Bouchons is one of the many French eateries in the Ann Siang area, along with L'Aigle D'Or, Creperie Ar-men and Chez La Mamy. Les Bouchons is mainly a meat place, though there is some seafood.

Les Bouchons

The restaurant isn't that easy find, but the big lighted signboard outside makes it look like something out of Crazy Horse Paris.


Like any good Parisian bistro, they conveniently place their menu outside the restaurant, so you can view their food and prices before deciding whether or not you want to walk in.


The place is decked out with French posters of assorted alcoholic drinks and cigarettes...typical French, basically. Les Bouchons is not very big, accomodating at most thirty or so people within the air-conditioned premises, but with space for more diners in the al fresco area outside.


All steaks are served with a generous helping of salad, which is actually very yummy for a steak joint. Leaves very adequately chilled, dressing nicely tart. I quite like the idea of having salad served separately; that way it doesn't get warmed up by the heat of the steak.


I decided to start with the escargots, which were $12 for 9, making them decently priced. When they arrived, I was a little disturbed to find that they were being served in a veritable swimming pool of olive oil. Admittedly, they weren't bad (3.5/5), but they could have done with more garlic butter and much, much less oil.

Cote de Boeuf

One of the weekend specials was the Côte de Boeuf ($37), a 1 kg slab of prime rib that had to be shared by two people. My mother was feeling slightly carnivorous, so we ordered it to share. It arrived perfectly medium and very conveniently sliced into manageable morsels. However, the meat was just a little dry and not as richly flavoured as say, a rib-eye or tenderloin. While still a raw pleasure to eat, it lacked the finesse of some of the more popular cuts (3.5/5), which cost about $26.

Ile Flottante

I think Ile Flottante is fast becoming my favourite dessert. I love how elegantly simplistic it is, and yet how sublimely the ethereal meringue and rich creme anglaise meld together to create such an ebullient dessert. It really is such light comfort food. It must be said that Les Bouchons makes an excellent Ile Flottante (4/5), if only a little too sweet from the caramel.

In terms of location, Ann Siang Hill is not exactly the easiest place in the world to get to, and parking is always a problem. Ambience is nothing special, I suppose the right word to describe it would be "cosy". Service was personable, as the place is owner-run, but oddly enough I didn't quite feel the natural warmth and exuberance of other owner-run eateries.

Les Bouchons (French)
7 Ann Siang Road
Tel: 6423 0737
Location: 2/5
Ambience: 3/5
Service: 2.5/5
Food: 3.5/5
Overall: Decent food at decent prices. Not Morton's or Lawry's, but I'm not complaining.

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Friday, December 30, 2005

Recipe: Spaghetti alle Vongole

I've been in love with spaghetti vongole ever since the first time I had it in some Italian restaurant. There are, as I'm sure you are aware, certain magical combinations between foods, tastes and flavours that interact on so visceral a level that any other pairing seems tragically misguided. Clams and white wine are one such combination, or what Jamie Oliver, in his inimitable, if somewhat proletarian way, calls "best friends".

A decent helping of spaghetti vongole isn't all that hard to make, but it's amazing how often it gets mucked up in restaurants. I'm not claiming my recipe will make an utterly earth-shattering vongole, but it is palatable, which is more than I can say for some restaurant versions.

The most important ingredient, naturally, is the clams. Get them as fresh as possible, either from the wet market or specialised seafood places. Please, please do not settle for canned clams. The problem with fresh clams though, is that they can be a bitch to clean. Scrub them vigorously with a toothbrush to rid them of all grit and dirt, and soak them in salt water to make them eject the sand they contain. You may have to soak them twice; pouring away the first container of sandy water.

Ingredients (Serves 4)
400g dried pasta (spaghetti or linguine)
1kg small clams, scrubbed and soaked twice
4 Tbsp olive oil
2 - 3 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 red chilli, seeded and minced
1 bunch minced parsley

Vongole meez

Not pictured are the chicken stock and parsley. It's not absolutely essential to use the best quality olive oil and white wine , but feel free to go for broke, as well as breaking out the fresh pasta.

Timing's very important in this recipe, since you're cooking the pasta and clams separately. The clams take about 10 - 15 minutes, depending on the strength of your stove, while my dried pasta usually takes about 13 - 15 minutes, so I put the pasta to boil first before starting on the clams. If you're using fresh pasta, adjust accordingly.


In a bit pot of boiling, salted water, dump in your pasta to cook according to the manufacturer's instructions. [For some reason we like to use a saucepan to cook pasta; don't ask me why. If cooking a lot of pasta, use a pot. The bigger the better.]


In a separate pot, heat up the olive oil over a strongish flame.

Garlic again

Saute your garlic in the oil till they're a nice, light golden colour, and you can positively breathe the slightly bitter aroma wafting out of the pot. Make sure not to burn them, naturally.


Dump in your clams to cook for a minute or so over medium-high heat, just enough for them to take on a vermilion hue that makes them look oh so attractive.

Clams Again

Pour in your white wine, which should cause the pot to sizzle satisfyingly and release a cloud of wine-scented steam. Toss in the chilli and parsley for the colour and flavour quotient. Add the chicken stock to add body to your clam and white wine broth, slap on the lid, and turn up the heat.


A nifty trick from Nigella: to cook your clams evenly without losing any of that precious white wine aroma, leave the lid on but shake the pot about every once in a while, vigorously, in a swirling action, to distribute the clams and broth.

Clams again and again

After about a minute or two, you should be able to hear the clams clinking together, which means they're opening up. This is your cue to turn off the heat. If you've timed everything perfectly, your pasta should be just a crunch short of al dente, in order for you to toss it into your clam pot for it to finish cooking and simultaneously absorb some lovely clam and white wine juices.

If, however, you haven't timed it right and your pasta is still cooking, never fear. Slap the lid back onto your clam pot, and keep it off the heat. Once your pasta is done, just pour the clams and juice onto it and serve immediately. Your clams will be only slightly overcooked and not exactly piping hot, but no one will know the difference.


Spaghetti alle Vongole should preferably be served in a dish, allowing you to spoon more clam juice over the pasta. Don't forget to provide a separate bowl for the empty shells. Oh yes, always discard any clams that remain stubbornly unopened after cooking.

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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Merry Christmas

Yes, yes, I know I haven't updated in ages, but I've been busy! Christmas is the season to be festive, but festivities take some work. Apart from organising the killer party on the 23rd, there was also the traditional family Christmas dinner.

Christmas spread

Okay, maybe not so traditional, considering there was chicken curry and yong tau foo.

Demolished steak

My dad and I valiantly decided to grill up the remaining steaks from Italy, and did a fair job of it, all things considered (no meat thermometer, no timing, just gut feel). The meat was demolished in about five minutes.

Till next year, then.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Review: Village Wok Restaurants

My father was so heartened by his virgin effort at foodblogging, he's decided he'll give it another go. Now this is what I like to see - the start of a family tradition.

The number of new eateries opening in Singapore is mind-boggling but for those who eat to live and live to eat,it's heartening news.

Village Wok

Village Wok is one of these; although it is not entirely new. It had a presence for some 6 years in Geylang but has chosen to move to a hipper place in Far East Square at 80-82 Telok Ayer Street. The younger generation has taken over with the passing of time and this present place is run by the daughter of the original owner. One look at her and you can see the changing of the times.

Shi De Fu

The restaurant bills itself as Singapore's only old Canton Village cuisine, partly because it retains some of the old recipes and sauces of times past.

Special Menu

10 of us had the pleasure of dining there with an exclusive, specially-prepared menu. The owner was around to ensure that everything was in place and you'd be surprised at the new image of an old Chinese restaurant. The low-cut mini dress will probably make the 10 guys go back, if not for the food, then at least to say hello to the owner again. [Ed: PG site means no pictures of low-cut mini dresses. Use your imagination]

Four Seasons Appetiser

We started with a Four Seasons Appetiser which was in itself half a meal and a great introduction for the 2 Australian visitors who were dining with us. It was a combination of Village BBQ pork and Roast Crispy Pork with their signature mustard, together with Harvest of the Four Seasons, which included gingko nuts, capsicum to add colour and holy cow, Kueh Pai Tee! The next 5 minutes were spent explaining to the overseas visitors just what in the world was in front of them. Interesting and filling.

Cold Crab

Cold Crab with a special vinegrette sauce was next, and this is "an absolute favourite, with a special vinegrette sauce not tasted anywhere else" (the restaurant's words, not mine). Unfortunately the crab was shedding its shell and the meat in the pincers had shrivelled, or at least, that was the explanation given.

Crispy Lamb Belly

Crispy Lamb Belly with special mint sauce, a dish exclusive to the restaurant and unique with the mint sauce, followed. The Kwai-los (read: Cantonese term for Caucasians - not meant to be derogatory) lapped this up as it was something they were very familiar with, though unusual to say the least. You would not be able to recognise it as lamb if not told beforehand, because it's really deep fried.

Fried Brinjal with Crispy Squid

"Unusual" went a bit further when the Fried Brinjal with Crispy Squid in BXO sauce was served next. Fried brinjal in a restaurant? Perhaps in the neighbourhood zhi char stall but even so, it's still not common to be served eggplant or aubergine, but then again, this is old Canton village cuisine. The restaurant claims this dish has converted many non-brinjal lovers. I wasn't.

Steamed Pating Fish

The only spring water-bred Pating fish in Singapore, reared in the restaurant's own spring-water fish farm, steamed Yong Chow style, is probably the signature dish and should not be missed. The fish was fresh and was served with a large amount of condiments. Good stuff.

Smoked Village Chicken

A multiple award-winning smoked Village Chicken was next and the meat was moist and tender. Again the overseas visitors made a beeline for this recognisible offering, but to be fair, the chicken meat did retain much of its juiciness.

Oyster Noodles

Rounding off the meal was another multiple award-winning dish (don't know who's giving the awards), Village Fresh Oyster Noodles. As the name suggests - village noodles. Need I say more?

I was not the host, so I did not know how much the dinner cost. But since everybody was an uncle to the young lady-owner perhaps there was a senior citizen discount. After all, almost everyone knew the father. Incidentally, the restaurant boasts that it has food that is so close to the heart that you'll want to go back again and again, and the good thing is that it will not break the bank.

The downside is that you'd better know the area very well as the fact that it is actually along Telok Ayer street and Far East Square only adds to the confusion. It will help if you are dropped along the main road and the driver finds parking in one of the office blocks. There are no private rooms but the young lady has cleverly used a screen to wall off the front area to give some privacy. The bottom line? Certainly worth one visit if not again and again.

Village Wok Restaurants (Village Wok)
80-82 Telok Ayer Street, #01-01
(In Far East Square, opposite China Square. Next to the multi-storey carpark in Capital Square)
Opening Hours: 11.30am - 2.30pm, 5.30pm - 9.30pm

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Review: Sha Tin Kitchen

When it comes to food, Singaporeans love trying out new places to eat. Ordinarily, people are indisposed to travelling long distances just to eat something, no matter how good it is. Sure, once in a while they'll have a craving for Katong laksa and go all the way to Katong for it, but when was the last time you had dinner with a large group of people at Changi, when you all live in the West?

But to try out a new place, even the ends of the earth aren't far enough. So it was that when my mother suggested this new place in Geylang she'd heard so many good things about, everyone was game, even though Geylang is like the ends of the earth and then some.


Geylang is also the place to find funny signboards

Sha Tin Kitchen is one of the many unpretentious eateries that can be found in Geylang, that offer very good food at very attractive prices (well, mostly). While service and ambience may be rough around the edges, the unusual Cantonese food served by chef Tonny Chan at Sha Tin is cuisine par excellence, and definitely worth checking out.

Sha Tin Kitchen

The place itself is unabashedly casual; you could walk past it without actually realising that it was a restaurant. If you have sharp eyes though, the numerous reviews and the full house inside would indicate that the food here is pretty appetising. In fact, it was so crowded that the restaurant gave away our reservation to an earlier group, hoping to do one more cover, which resulted in us waiting a good twenty minutes for the table to be cleared. Here you see my father animatedly relating the tale of how he managed to park the car nearby and avoid getting it scratched by indignant storekeepers.

Sha Tin

If you do go to Sha Tin Kitchen, don't go on a weekend for dinner. If you do go on a weekend for dinner, go later, at about 9pm or later. If you do go before 9pm on a weekend, expect the place to be more crowded than a madhouse in summer. Reservations are a must, of course. Expect to eat cheek by jowl here, as the crowd doesn't begin to thin until at least 9.30pm. Also, there is only nominal air-conditioning, so dress very light and try to sit under the fan.

Chef Tonny Chan has had years of experience cooking Cantonese food in Hong Kong, but the food he serves is rather unlike that which you get in Crystal Jade or other Cantonese restaurants. In fact, I've never seen Cantonese food quite like this before. Not that it was bad, of course. Variety plus quality is always a winning combination. But we let the food speak for itself, yes?

Crispy deep-fried eel skin

First up was a dish of crispy deep-fried eel skin, served with some glass noodles and bowls of broth in which to dip your eel skins. I really enjoyed this, and starters like this just set the tone of the whole meal; you know you're going to get good food. The skin was exquisitely crunchy, and the accompanying broth not only softened it up a bit (yet it retained its crispiness), it also perfectly highlighted the flavours of the dish. Best of all, for all that deep-frying, the skins weren't oily at all. Now that takes some serious skill.

Pen Cai

Our next dish is more commonly seen during Chinese New Year, but you can order it at Sha Tin year-round. Known as pen cai, or vegetable pot, Sha Tin's version is a claypot full of goodies like prawns, broccoli, chicken, mushrooms and scallops braised in a luscious, gellatinous brown sauce that is absolutely delicious but probably bad for your cholestrol (as all New Year dishes tend to be). The broccoli was a bit overcooked and soft, but apart from that, this dish was a winner too.

Egg whites

As if to assuage our cholestrol fears, the next thing to arrive was a big dish of egg whites. I have no idea how these were cooked, but they were cooked very well, just the right balance between being runny and being solidly overcooked. Again, some serious skill involved. I remember wondering what happened to all the egg yolks, and my pondering was partially answered when a raw yolk was poured into the dish and mixed around. For all of you worrying about salmonella, live a little more dangerously! Besides, the residual heat from the egg whites cooks the yolk enough to kill the bacteria. Hopefully. In any case, this was quite nice, though I've never really been fond of egg whites. The way some of the others were shovelling their way through them though, I take it that it's a great dish if you're into eggs. Goes well with soya sauce or vinegar.


The obligatory fish course, of course. I cannot remember what fish this was, but it wasn't the sturgeon Sha Tin Kitchen is famous for. Steamed and served with a sort of garlic dice/puree, the fish was beautifully steamed, and complemented by the garlic, which was sweet and mild. I'm told this fish contains a lot of natural proteins and gelatin, which gives the flesh a bit of texture without it being flaky or hard.


It took me a while to remember what this was, but it eventually hit me. What you're looking at is black pepper duck breast with kai lan (Chinese kale). Not any duck too, but duck flown all the way from Perigord, France. Don't ask me why the restaurant would need Perigord duck, they just do. The duck was tender and soft, but I did think the pepper sauce was a bit strong for it.

Lobster Bee Hoon

As dinner was winding down, we were served some lobster bee hoon. I find it interesting how even the smallest things reveal telling details about a chef's level of proficiency. In this case, the bee hoon was very fine, and like the fried eel skins, hardly oily at all. Still, I didn't really enjoy this dish, as I thought the bee hoon was a bit dry, and lobsters, it seems to me, are just prawns that are harder to eat.

Vegetables and Fish Maw

Our last order for the night was a dish of braised vegetable greens and fish maw, which I passed on, on account of my being rather bloated from the other courses.

Expect prices to come up to about $20 - $30 per person, depending on how much you're ordering and how many people are eating. Service is generally good, even though they didn't have that many staff and the restaurant was packed. The only real complaints I had were that parking is exceedingly difficult, the air-conditioning was close to non-existent and they gave away our table!

Sha Tin Kitchen (casual, Cantonese)
511 Geylang Road (near Lorong 27A)
Tel: 6747 2483 / 6744 7087
Opening Hours: 11.30am - 2.30pm and 6pm - 11pm
Location: 1/5 (not to mention parking is a bitch)
Service: 3/5
Ambience: 2/5
Food: 4/5
Overall: If you're in the market for something new, or are sick of eating the tired mainstays of Cantonese cuisine, then this is the place for you.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Review: Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao

Writer's block and a lack of access to Blogger in the office has meant that there has been a considerable lack of updates recently. It also means that I have another backlog to clear before the inevitable Christmas feasting.

So here I am, reduced to typing this into notepad before copying it into Blogger when I get home for uploading.

Elaine, Tze Yi and I went to Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao at Great World City recently to celebrate her birthday, because I had a slight craving for the little soup-filled dumplings. La Mian translates to "pulled noodles", which strikes me as somewhat odd, because aren't all noodles pulled?

Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao

The restaurant is located in Great World City, which would be a great hang out place if it was a little more accessible. As it stands, it's kind of hard to get to without a car, being rather remote from MRT and bus services. The restaurant occupies a quiet corner of the mall, and is a good choice for a little tete-a-tete or a quick meal, as the food arrives with considerable alacrity.


In terms of ambience, Crystal Jade rarely disappoints. The restaurant is very sensibly laid out, with ample room in between tables, there'll be other diners near by, but you won't be dining elbow to elbow. The place is also well-lit, so you won't have to peer at your food to figure out what you're eating.

La Mian with Beef

It makes a lot of sense to share food at this restaurant. This way, you get to sample lots of everything without the concomitant obligation of finishing everything you order. Naturally, we took this wise and eminently practical route. Our first bowl of la mian came with braised beef. There aren't many other condiments, apart from a generous ladle of coriander, the beauty of la mian was in the intensely flavoured beef stock. You could almost taste the essence of bovinity in that dish (4/5).

La Mian with fried pork ribs

Next we had another order of la mian, this time with fried short ribs. The soup this la mian was served with was a lot clearer and milder, less rich, in order to better savour the pork ribs. While the ribs were delightfully succulent and tender, the noodles were quite ordinary, so all in all a fairly decent dish (3.5/5).

Xiao Long Bao

I must admit I was a little disappointed with the xiao long baos that Crystal Jade had to offer. They were very large, which made them difficult to eat in one mouthful, and while they were very generously stuffed with minced meat, I did think that the skins on the dumplings could have been thinner and more delicate. Not that fantastic (3/5).

Shrimp Things

We had an order of shrimp things which I quite enjoyed, despite not being much of a seafood person. These little morsels of crunchiness went very well with the soupy la mian and are surprisingly addictive (4/5).

Braised pork belly

Our last item for the meal was a bowl of braised pork belly and vegetables. Very sinful, so I only ate one slice and let the other two take my share of the calories. Not too bad this (3.5/5), even if the fats go straight to your arteries.

In terms of service, food arrives extremely promptly here, so much so that we had to repeatedly clear space on the table for new items. Waiters and waitresses are quick and efficient, and don't waste any of your time. Prices are fairly reasonable, especially if you share food. Dinner cost us about $60, which works out to about $20 per person, depending on what you order.

Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao (Shanghainese)
1 Kim Seng Promenade, #03-30, Great World City
Tel: 6738 5595
Opening Hours: 11am - 10.30pm
Location: 3/5
Ambience: 4/5
Service: 3.5/5
Food: 4/5
Overall: Great for la mian, but not so fantastic for xiao long bao

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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Miscellaneous Food: Hairy Crabs

Now who says the enjoyment of food can't be a family affair? Behind every foodie blogger stands, if not foodie parents, then foodish parents. Today I present to you, my adoring masses, a post written entirely by my father (with some minor corrections), accompanied by photos taken by him, about his appreciation of the epicurean delight that is a hairy crab meal. Everyone, please show as much support as you have been showing me (or more, if you can manage it) and leave plenty of encouraging comments. My father's not a great fan of technology, you see, but I think it's great that he's taking an interest in this blog.

P.S. I didn't write this because I wasn't invited to the dinner. Hint hint.

Crabs 002

This is the time of the year to eat this delicacy. These hairy crustaceans are so called because of the large amount of hair or fur on the legs and pincers.

The 2 best ways to eat this are either to go to a particular restaurant in Shanghai where everything is done for you and all you have to do is eat and pay. Unfortunately you have to pay a lot.

The other way is to be invited by someone who brings in the crabs themselves and serves the crabs at home.This is a real treat and luxury and a big thank you once again if my host happens to be reading this.

Crabs 003

The hair on the legs traps a great deal of mud and this has to be thoroughly removed, otherwise you will be eating mouthfuls of sand and mud. Besides being well cleaned, the crabs are also bigger, almost the size of your fist, and the meat therefore sweeter. Also, the generous host provides large amounts of crabs for you to taste both the male and female, which can be distinguished by the wider and larger plate at the bottom of the body in the female.

The part to die for is the roe which is present in both sexes. These reddish orange eggs are what the connoiseurs go for; except that the cholesterol levels in these eggs are also very high, but since they come only once a year, why worry too much over it?

Before you start, wash your hands as there is a lot of handling and my host has also provided an apron to protect your shirt or dress.

Crabs 004

Laid out on the table is a pair of special scissors for hairy crabs so that you can cut the legs, split the shell and push out the meat, or you can use the probe-like tool to do this.

Obviously there are many ways to eat this dish but the most popular way, allowing the meat to retain it's freshness, is to eat it steamed. To keep it piping hot, each crab is wrapped with aluminium foil, with a red sticker to indicate that a female crab is inside for those who wish to try it.

Again, everyone has their own way of getting to the meat, but I tend to be very clinical and start by removing all the legs and pincers first, followed by the shell and the plate at the base. With a small teaspoon, scoop out the creamy roe and taste the fullness of the eggs and enjoy!

Remove the meat from the legs with the help of the scissors provided and the meat from the body. Break the body into two, removing the meat in the process.

The sweet flesh can be eaten on its own but the flavour is enhanced if the meat is dipped into a sauce made up of vinegar, soy sauce,pounded ginger and sugar.

Dexterity is useful in how fast you can dissect and get to the meat. Beginners are easy to spot when compared to the seasoned experts. Still, to each his own and the slower person could savour it more.

I tried both male and female and enjoyed the former better. They are bigger and the roe is softer. The roe of the female may be more copious but the consistency is harder, drier and less tasty unless, it is early in the season and the female's roe is a little softer. 3 to 4 crabs is about all one can eat unless you are a Sumo wrestler. Besides, too much of a good thing loses its charm, although there are those who claim they can eat 7-8 crabs at a sitting.

Chase it down with warm sake or if you prefer, champagne. As the meal is rather dry, champagne seems like a better choice.

Crabs 005

The crabs kept coming and everybody had their fill after 3-4 crabs. The hungrier ones probably ate 5. The meal was topped off with a serving of light porridge.

That's it for hairy crabs. Till the same time next year.

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Saturday, December 03, 2005

Review: Imperial Treasure

I've been eating a lot of Chinese food lately, it seems. Apparently last Sunday was Grandparents' Day (what on earth is that), so we celebrated with my paternal family at Imperial Treasure Nan Bei, one of Crystal Jade's rivals in Takashimaya.

I quite like how the restaurant is laid out; it's very open, so people walking by doing their Sunday shopping can look right into the dining areas, unlike most Chinese restaurants where there is only a glass pane to allow for a view. While this may seem like a lack of privacy, it does make for very well-ventilated dining, which is very important for me, since I hate claustrophobic spaces.

Comparisons with Crystal Jade invariably arise, and I'll have to say that in terms of service, at least, Imperial Treasure does suffer in comparison. The waitresses tend to be a bit brusque in their dealings with customers, lacking the patience and warmth of their Crystal Jade counterparts.

In terms of food though, Imperial Treasure's standards are pretty first-rate. While not as exquisitely fine as Crystal Jade's, the food is nonetheless very tasty and very well-made. No prices, I'm afraid, since I was not privvy to that information. I expect it's somewhere near Crystal Jade in terms of pricing.

Fried Chee Cheong Fun

First up was a dish of chee cheong fun, or rice sheet noodles, fried with chives and dark sauce. I didn't think I'd like this, since I don't quite like the starchiness of the rolls, but these were smooth and slipped down the gullet like jellied eels. The sauce offset the blandness of the rice rolls very nicely, too. Good start to the meal (4/5).

Fried whitebait

Next we had crispy fried whitebait. It's pretty hard to muck up, really, being, in essence, deep fried little fish. That being said, Imperial Treasure's version was just a little oily for my tastes. Still good though (3.5/5), I just wish they'd blotted it a bit more.

Pao and Dumpling

One typical dim sum item, and one not. The ubiquitous char siew pao makes its appearance at our table, accompanied by some fried shrimp dumplings. Both were very enjoyable (4/5), especially the fluffy and tasty pao.

Roast Pork

Another veteran of the dim sum tables, we had an order of roast pork. While it was very lean, which is very good for all you cholestrol-conscious types, I did think it was a bit soggy, sort of over-moist. In any event, was just okay for me (3/5).

Carrot Cake

It always amazes me when Chinese restaurants serve the same food we take for granted at hawker centres. Things like roast pork and char siew, for instance. I wonder which it is; that hawker centres serve economical versions of popular haute Chinese cuisine, or that Chinese restaurants elevate humble but well-loved hawker dishes, ad astra per aspera, as it were. Anyway, Imperial Treasure's version of carrot cake was very good (4/5), crisp on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside.


I'm not very good with Chinese food, it must be said, so I've actually forgotten the name of this dish. If anyone could jog my memory I'd be most grateful. It's a bit like xiao long bao, with some hot soup encased by the skin of the dumpling, but there's more filling. I think it was meat and chestnut. In any case, it was yummy (4/5). [Ed: The fabulous dimsumdolly informs me that they're called guo tie]

Ha Gao

We had an order of siew mai, which are sort of steamed prawn/minced meat dumpling things, another traditional dim sum item. I think they are always a good way to tell the standard of a restaurant. If a place can't even do the classics properly, then they have no right to serve dim sum at all.

Spring Rolls

Not something my family usually orders, I wasn't really impressed by the spring rolls (3/5), but my mother thought they were quite good. Probably had something to do with them not being very oily.

Xiao Long Bao

Xiao Long Baos are like the ultimate Chinese comfort food. I've said it before, and I'll say it again; whoever invented them is a genius beyond description. The lovely little dumplings filled with minced pork and hot soup were particularly well done at Imperial Treasure (4.5/5), and it's always a joy to carefully bite into one of the little beauties, having the steaming hot soup fill your mouth as you savour the deliciously succulent mince.

Fan Gun

I think the hallmarks of good fan gun are wrappers of rice flour that are as thin as possible, plump prawns, and a very light soya sauce; so light that it's more sweet than salty. Imperial Treasure's fan gun is very good (4/5), another example of a dish whose quality is beyond reproach.

Meat Bun

The next dish was kind of strange. It was nothing I'd ever eaten before, so I was quite curious as to what it was. It was some sort of glazed bun, flaky on the outside, and containing some sort of stuffing inside. When I bit into one, I discovered it was remarkably similar to a char siew sou, and even tasted like one, so much so, that I thought Imperial Treasure served some sort of new-fangled round char siew sou. Turns out it was a completely different form of baked pastry stuffed with a similar meat stuffing. Pretty good though (3.5/5). [Ed: Again, the kindly dimsumdolly informs me that these are char siew polo buns]

Deep fried squid

We had an order of deep-fried squid, which I found rather oily, and not exactly that memorable either (2.5/5).

Egg tarts

The meal rounded off with the obligatory egg tarts, classic egg custards in flaky pastry shells. It must be admitted that I didn't quite like these (2/5), as they tasted a bit strange. My mother suggested that they might have used egg powder rather than real egg, but all I know is that they didn't taste very custardy to me.

Imperial Treasure Nan Bei Restaurant (Cantonese, dim sum)
391 Orchard Road
#05-12/13 Ngee Ann City
Tel: 6738 1238
Location: 5/5
Ambience: 4/5
Service: 3/5
Food: 4/5
Overall: Standards are very high, and a strong contender to the throne of fine Chinese dining in Singapore

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