A Taste of Paradise – 樂天皇朝
I have been wanting to try the colourful Xiao Long Bao (XLB) ever since we returned to Singapore but not until now did I finally get a chance to savour them. Although there were many eateries and restaurants selling them, the originator of the coloured and flavoured XLB is Paradise Dynasty.
小笼包 (xiaolongbao) translating to “small basket steamer buns” is not a variation of dumpling (i.e. jiaozi) although we are used to calling them as dumplings. The word 包 (bao) in Xiao Long Bao already clued us that it is a bun; belonging to a whole family of various steamed buns, particularly those of 汤包 (tangbao), literally “soup bun” or soup-filled buns.
The restaurant was crowded with people (bigger groups of friends and some families) in queue but luckily, we were ushered in almost immediately as we were only two persons; tables for 2 were available.
The restaurant’s decor is a fluid case of bygone era of Imperial China in a contemporary fashion. The classy opulence was delightful. Walking past the “fish tank” kitchen where everyone could see the chefs at work, one can sense the unspoken no nonsense policy. Unfortunately, video and photo-taking of the in-full-view concept kitchen were prohibited. The waiters and waitresses were dressed in Chinese period drama costumes and chefs (with masks across their mouths) serve the XLB personally.
The Cold Tofu with Century Eggs was a very refreshing starter. Welcomed any time! We loved it.
The Preserved Vegetable Fried Rice had nice wok hei (镬气 – the wok’s thermal radiation) and Valerie confided she loves smelling Chinese Fried Rice from restaurants. This perhaps had something to do with the fact that only restaurants could afford the very high heat in excess of 200°C (392°F) in their kitchens. Besides the nice wok hei, the texture and taste of the fluffy grains were delicate and aromatic with balanced seasoning.
The Szechuan Hot & Sour Soup was ordinary but I’m surprised that Valerie has started to enjoy having Chinese vinegar in her dishes. She said, “I’m having it in my Bak Chor Mee, too”. This was something I had to tell the hawker to omit whenever I buy BCM for her. In case you are baffled, the sour in the Szechuan soup is from vinegar.
The star of the meal was this simple dish of La Mian with Dried Shrimp. A small serving of their famous pork bone stock was served on the side alas it did not impress me but the aromatic onion oil and dried shrimp flavour perfumed the slippery smooth al dente with springy bite handmade noodles perfectly! This dish alone is enough to give me a reason to go back to Paradise Dynasty. Definitely one of the best and most simplest La Mian I have tasted to date.
Since this was my first time here and we came particularly for the colourful XLB, we ordered the sampler Mixed Dumpling. There are hits and misses whenever choices are wide and varied. Valerie liked the Cheesy and would not try the Ginseng so I had it all to myself. The Ginseng taste was strong. I liked the Crab Roe, Foie Gras and Truffle. The Garlic taste could be acquired, it was not unpleasant. The Szechuan did not deliver spicy nor sour but peppery like the Szechuan peppercorn? Valerie asked if star anise was one of the ingredient – she dislike that. I couldn’t detect. Overall, this sampler was just an eye candy. The skin of the XLB were thicker than I liked and I felt the soup was lesser compared to other restaurants. I do not think I would associate XLB (even the Original flavour) with Paradise Dynasty unless I’m bringing foreign friends for a novelty treat, like I did with myself tonight.
Paradise Dynasty 樂天皇朝
Address: 2 Orchard Turn.
#04-12A, ION Orchard.
Tel: +65 6509 9118
Operating hours: Daily
Mon – Fri: 11am – 10pm
Sat, Sun & PH: 10.30am – 10pm
Happy eating 🙂
P.S. This was the 3rd time I had Mother’s Day dinner with Valerie alone. The other two occasions was when she was one and two years of age.