Grand Mandarina (御华庭) is the kind of posh nosh place to go for a delectable meal of fine Chinese cuisine, to impress the people you need to impress, or just to earn bragging rights that you've tried their most indulgent dish: The signature prized Empurau Fish (忘不了鱼) which cost a whopping $888 per kg!
Situated along New Bridge Road (right next to EW16/NE3 Outram mrt station), Grand Mandarina is also one of the few independent Chinese restaurants in Singapore which caters to the mid and up-market diners, and does not belong to any F&B chain or hotel groups. It presents a menu of Cantonese cuisine, traditional in most parts yet injected with a modern flair. Think along the lines of Roasted Duck with Truffle Sauce, Fried Rice with Foie Gras, and you'll get the drift.
This sail in culinary direction suited me just fine, as I utterly enjoyed my dining experience at Grand Mandarina.
Even though I can only watch the Empurau Fish displaying its worth in the tank, nor wasn't in the frame of mind to splurge on a 12 or 18-head quality Abalone ($650 to $980 per person), the deliciously tummy warming Double-boiled Chicken Soup with Cordycep Flower ($9 per person) and sampler platter which allowed me to taste some of their finest appetizers already had me contented.
The lightly battered Deep-fried Soft Shell Crab ($18 per order) coated with chicken floss and curry leaves was a crowd pleaser with its non-greasy crispiness and brilliant combination of textures and flavors. Who cares about calories or cholesterol levels when the Deep-fried Prawn ($32 per order) was an amazeball of crunchy freshness accentuated with a zesty crème lemon sauce? Any self-restraint was unleashed as I savoured my one and only precious piece.
But the most impressive among the trio of appetizer platter was undoubtedly the Honey Glazed Barbecued Pork Loin ($15 per order). I like it that the honey-glazed pork was thickly sliced for a more satisfying mouthfeel, and its luscious meat yielded a most juicy melt-in-the-mouth tender bite. What sealed the deal was the thin layer of caramelized sugar that gave it a delicate crunch in addition to the smokey charred edges. The sweet savory taste suited my palate just nicely, certainly one of the best char siew renditions I had!
The Roasted Duck with Perigord Truffle ($28 per order) was another highlight. From the name of the dish, one would have known that this is not just any roasted duck, but one which is atas-ified with a sauce infused with valued black truffle from France. The sauce had a gentle characteristic (comparatively if truffle oil was used), but its flavors was nothing short of sublime supremacy, making the pieces of awesome duck more awesomerrific, the crispy skin more crispilicious. You know I really love you when I shared the coveted skin with you hehee.
Not all the dishes were hits though, but the misses were not that bad, just felt a bit pedestrian, such as the Steamed Silver Cod with Pink Ginger in Bonito Sauce ($22 per person). Even though premium Norwegian cod was used, and lightly cooked nicely to smooth flakiness, it lacked the wow factor to warrant any repeat order.
I was rather amused when the Tofu with Crab Meat & Egg White in Carrot Broth ($24 per order) came stacked like mahjong tiles on a pool of "yin-yang" carrot broth where its unfortunate half was being unnecessarily marred by green coloring. The generic tasting beancurd was redeemed by the pleasant slivers of crab meat with egg white, and surprise surprise, wok hei flavors!
If only the Stir-fried Crystal Vermicelli with Pork Collar in XO Chilli Sauce ($22 per order) had some wok hei aroma too or be bolder in its spicy flavors, otherwise the springy strands of translucent tapioca flour noodles would have been a more carb-worthy dish. But with those slices of fabulously succulent quality US pork, it was still an overall enjoyment.
It seems that nowadays, an order of the Steamed Custard Bun with Salted Egg Yolk ($4.80 for 3 pieces) is almost mandatory if it's on the dim sum menu, unless we're leaving space for regrets. The well-executed rendition at Grand Mandarina gratified my perpetual lust for it temporarily. I was made happy, and happier when lunch ended on a refreshing note with Green Apple Jelly with Lime Sorbet ($8).
Grand Mandarina (御华庭)
Address: 325 New Bridge Road, #01-00, Singapore 088760
Contact: +65 6222 3355
Opening Hours: Daily Lunch 11.30am-2.30pm & Dinner 6.30pm-10pm
Prices stated are subjected to 10% service charge and prevailing government taxes.