The season is back for hairy crabs, but I say, it's the season for good food all year round at Mouth Restaurant (地茂馆)! Serving up Cantonese dishes and freshly made dim sum for more than two decades, it has earned quite a reputation as one of the most trusted food establishments in Singapore.
After saying goodbye to its former location of many years at Chinatown Point, it's hello to the current premises at China Square Central (shophouse unit directly facing Hong Lim Complex). The other branch is situated just as conveniently within Plaza Singapura in the heart of Orchard Road.
I was none at all surprised by the red and gold interiors of their branch at China Square Central which cascades from the main dining hall to the private rooms. Very typical of a traditional Chinese restaurant, yet contemporary in a way.
That aside, I'm more in anticipation of the Treasure Pot Feast 九大簋盆菜 which we've came specially to savour. Taking inspiration from olden village celebrations where ordinary people indulge in a communal dish of Poon Choi (multi-dishes served layered in a big basin) while wealthy family feast on a more luxurious version over nine courses, the special promotion set menu looks set to enthrall our tastebuds with its spread of nine delectable dishes.
The Treasure Pot Feast 九大簋盆菜 ($29.80++ to $31.80++ per pax) commenced with a delicacy that is available only for a short period each year ~ Shanghai Hairy Crabs 上海清蒸大闸蟹! Just lightly steamed to retain its natural flavour and sweetness, the essence is really in its ooh-so-lovely creamy roe.
This sparkled my yearly obsession with those coveted crustaceans again. Very tempted to come back real soon to indulge in their Shanghainese Hairy Crab Set Menu ($38.80++/$48.80++/$88.80++ per pax for 5-6 courses) which includes Steamed Hairy Crabs and salivating-sounding Hairy Crab Roe Xiao Long Bao.
But before I drifted too deeply into my hairy crab fantasy land, I was quickly brought back to the treasure pot feasting by the bowl of tummy warming Early Days Sharks Fin Soup 街头碗仔翅 which brimmed with a loadful of ingredients. The consistency of the broth was just right, and need just a touch of vinegar to enhance its flavors. Crispy strands of fried wonton skin is provided by the side, and my advice is: Add more of those, you'd love the textural contrast it brings to the soup.
Nostalgia Whole Prawn 怀旧窝貼虾 soon followed. The all-time favorite prawn and toast combination is given a modern interpretation, boasting of specially cultivated whole prawn (instead of the usual prawn paste) over crispy toast.
The Traditional Braised 'Pi-Pa' Tofu 月滿抱琵琶 is another familiar dish with the mixture of silky beancurd and minced meat taking shape of the Chinese musical instrument, and cooked to an alluring golden brown hue. Enjoyable as it was, it did not wowed me as much as the next dish Sautéed Basil Grouper Fish Meat in 3-Cup Sauce 三杯酒班球.
The name of the dish pretty much explains what goes into the dish itself: Chunks of deboned fish meat sautéed in a lip-smacking 3-cup sauce which classically calls for equal parts of soy sauce, sesame oil and rice wine, with the addition of basil leaves elevating it to another dimension. I thought this is a brilliant variant of the classic 3-cup chicken dish 三杯雞, one level up even! The presentation itself was a pleasing visual treat with the fish's head and tail fanning out beautifully in the sizzling hot pot. Flavors were highly addictive, fish was fresh and smooth, there's nothing more which I would have asked for... oh, maybe a bowl of white rice to go with it! (I almost did :p)
What's a feast without premium ingredients such as sea cucumber, fish maw and mushrooms? The Braised Trio Sea Treasure in Abalone Sauce 鮑汁三海味(海参,冬菇,魚鰾) encompasses all of these sumptuous goodies into one luscious pot.
While some of my dining companions were obviously in awe of this rich-tasting dish (I saw them going for repeated servings), I prefer the deceptively simple-looking, but none the less gratifying Sautéed Asparagus with Wild Mushroom in Truffle 黑松露野菌露荀. Crunchy greens with earthy loveliness of mushrooms made a tad more decadent with truffle oil and real truffles! Major love!
The next major love dish but tinged with a little bit of hate (relationship status: it's complicated) is the carbs-laden HK Temple Street Claypot Rice 香港庙街砂煲饭. Oh my goodness, the gigantic pot of rice looked as if it can feed the entire village!
I wouldn't have care for the dish if not for its aromatic flavors which seduced me into committing a calories-busting sin. The claypot rice was evenly-cooked to grains of soft, comforting perfection, and the chunks of chicken were of a most tender and succulent bite. Our bowls were made even more awesomerrific by the humble sauce of garlic, chilli and vinegar sauce which we generously lavished over. Who would have thought a mandatory rice/noodle item to round up the savory courses of a Chinese meal would be this good.
The warm dessert of Double Boiled Ginger Tea with Glutinous Rice Balls 双煮姜茶汤 was supposed to end us off on a light note, but never underestimate a table full of food bloggers! Lol! Yes, on top of the nine-course Treasure Pot Feast, we still had stomach capacity for more food.
I've heard much of Mouth Restaurant's Legendary Baked Salted Egg Yolk Bun, but would never imagined it to be of such a mindblowing experience! Eschewing the usual soft bun versions, its outer crust was baked to a thin crisp crumbling excellence (much like Tim Ho Wan's baked BBQ buns), gingerly holding the molten mixture of grainy salted egg yolk and premium butter which burst with utter deliciousness at each orgasmic mouthful. We also stuffed ourselves happily with the fluffy Squid Ink Char Siew Bun filled with juicy barbequed pork, certainly another dim sum delight not to be missed.
Satisfied. We were all very very very satisfied indeed. Would I return again? Definitely yes! And with prices surprising reasonable for the quality food rendered, I would recommend my family, friends and you my readers to come too!
- For 10 pax & above: $29.80++ per person
- For 6 pax to 9 pax: $31.80++ per person
2) One day advance phone reservation for booking of Treasure Pot Feast.
3) Valid for dine in and takeaway. $15 surcharge for packaging for every 6 to 9 pax. $20 surcharge for packaging for every 10 pax.
4) Valid till end of 15th December 2014.
5) Maximum 2-hour dining time.
6) Not valid for VIP room.
7) Strictly no outside food to be dine in the restaurant.
Mouth Restaurant 地茂馆
China Square Central
Address: 22 Cross Street #01-61, China Square Central, South Bridge Court Shop House, Singapore 048421
Contact: +65 6438 5798
Address: 68 Orchard Road #02-01, Plaza Singapura, Singapore 238839
Contact: +65 6337 7446