C A N T O… Canto Canto

Grand Mandarina
325 New Bridge Road #01/02-00,
Thye Shan Mansion,
Singapore 088760
T: +65 6222 3355
E: contact@grandmandarina.com.sg
W: http://www.grandmandarina.com.sg

Kudos to the kind folks at HGW & Grand Mandarina for inviting me to the table

Grand Mandarina is a very young establishment, but backed with a league of extraordinary gentlemen in the kitchen. Located on the edge of Chinatown, it’s a pebble throw away from Outram Park MRT (New Bridge Rd Exit).

On arrival, the sight was a little overwhelming to witness some corporate event ongoing on level 1. I could’ve mistaken it for a chic themed wedding banquet that sat 100pax. Thanks to the hospitality & directions ushering me to the 2nd level, where the reviewers (like me) were hosted in a private room.

A review menu was designed & prepared for the evening, as we learned a fair bit about the restaurant’s birth. Grand Mandarina breaks away from conventions, but, not positioned too remote from expectations. Good valued quality food is quite hard to beat. The dishes range between mid to up-market budgets, positioned reasonably to keep clientele coming back for more.

The curtain raisers were some of the best I’ve ever tasted:

Honey Glazed BBQ Pork Loin – be warned, it isn’t just any ordinary char-siew. Pay attention to the details and you’d be swept off your feet. The honey is caramelized & crystallized over the roast, with the juice of the loin locked in, waiting to be unleashed when you sink your teeth in.

Crispy Roast Pork Belly – as a bona fide meatarian, I’ll say even the lean meat lovers would forgo their principles just for once, because you only live once. The lean portion is actually kept to the minimum, featuring only the good stuff! The flavor is nicely balanced (minimally salted, so you taste the goodness) the crisp of the crust is like crackers that don’t stick to the teeth.

To be honest, when the GM 4 Happiness Combination came on, I was a little lost, how & where shall I start, and you can see why

Featuring: Honey Glazed BBQ Pork Loin, Soya Poached Foie Gras (w/ 20yr Shao Xin win Jelly), Orange Zest Prawn, Fried Soft Shell Crab (w/ Chicken Floss & Curry Leaves)

Soya Poached Foie Gras (w/ 20yr Shao Xin win Jelly) – you can slice it nicely to savor bit by bit, or you can put it all in your mouth & marry the concoction within. I chose the latter, and I was lost for words for a good 15min. The texture is somewhat like soft cheese, and the combination of the soya & shaoxin was another 1st for me. Activists may not like this, but they might just become converts after trying.

Orange Zest Prawn – do not be mistaken by it’s humble looks, the creamy buttery zesty coating is just a guise, because the natural sweetness of the prawn will unveil itself. I was actually looking round the table to see if anyone was going to pass on seafood.

Fried Soft Shell Crab (w/ Chicken Floss & Curry Leaves) – the appearance looks simple, but I’m certain the preparation isn’t. Every bite into it unleashes a reinforcing puff of curry fragrance, while the Chicken Floss helps to balance the sweetness with the flavors of the crab. Quite evident that much effort has been invested to conjure good mixture of taste & texture.

Double-boiled Sea Cucumber w/ American Ginseng & Mushroom – this clear soup has a woody flavor to it, and is very refreshing to lighten things off, after the strong flavored appetizers. The Sea Cucumber remains true to its natural jelly-like texture, some parts were actually soft like chawanmushi in lieu of the double boil process.

Sanbei Cod Fish (w/ spring onion, chilli & thai sweet sauce) – somewhat familiar to some Taiwanese dishes featuring the Sanbei (3 cups; wine, sesame oil & soy sauce). Ingredient may sound bizarre, but when the Cod enters the mouth, there was complete silence at the table. There might have been conversation ongoing amongst us, but I could hear my palates singing.

Stir-Fried Wagyu Beef Cubes (w/ Red Wine & Black Pepper) – you may be getting shin or cheeks elsewhere, but, the GM Wagyu Cubes were to me, The Crescendo. It’s definitely a feat by my culinary standard, the red wine is neatly coated on the wagyu, the juices locked in, the fats nicely melted away, but never too dry with each bite.

No Chinese meal is ever complete without carbohydrate, but even if you’ve sanctioned carbohydrates, I’d urge you to bend your principles just for one meal.

Crystal Noodles w/ Pork Collar – you know you’re in good hands when the chef puts in the right cuts for the right dishes. The pork collar is not necessarily the fattest nor the toughest, sliced nicely, so every piece is bite sized that goes along very well with the Korean & Northern-Chinese inspired Crystal Noodles.

Egg-White Fried Rice (w/ Shredded Dried Scallops & Crab Meat) – this is not heavy duty stuff, the rice grains have a decent and flavor rich texture, the egg whites are lighter than usual beaten eggs, the shredded dried scallops & crab meat had me wanting to do an “Oliver Twist – Can I Have Some More”

For the finale, Chilled Green Apple Jelly (w/ Aloe Vera) served in a Dragon Fruit – have your fill digging into the jelly, and once done with the jelly, help yourself to the kiwi-like texture dragon fruit flesh, like you would with young coconut. Light and refreshing, lulls the palates and brings the meal to a closure.

If you’re looking to host a guest, a business associate, or a nice family communion, you should consider to making reservation, and do consider their signature Peking Duck and/or Mala Roast Chicken.

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