August 20, 2016

Jiang Nan Chun 江南春 @ Four Seasons Hotel ~ Chinese Fine Dining Restaurant Reopens With Fabulous Peking Duck!

After months of refurbishment work to its premises on level two of Four Seasons Hotel, Jiang Nan Chun 江南春 is back!

And it's back with an utterly fabulous Peking Duck, together with a host of scrumptious dishes that the Chinese fine dining restaurant is well-known for.

Before we immersed ourselves in Jiang Nan Chun's brand new "xiang le 享乐" experience, we took a short walk through its spacious 78-seater main dining hall and 4 private rooms, partaking in sights of the newly spruced-up interior which is simply..... Gorgeous!

As the old Chinese saying goes, "生在苏州, 活在杭州, 食在广州 Born in Suzhou, live in Hangzhou, eat in Guangzhou".

Jiang Nan Chun's revitalized interior tells the story of "Jiang Nan" (south of Yangtze river in China) which encompassed these cities, evoking a sense of their artisanal culture, rustic livelihood and pastoral lifestyle through exquisite installations that each tells a story.

You'd see fine traditional wood carvings contrasted with rough fishermen baskets, while rich wool carpets and handmade ceramic floor tiles complement the medical drawers. The centrepiece made of over 600 chopsticks holders, and 96 hand-carved bird figurines perched on the window and entrance screens are certainly eye-catching.

There is also a green feature wall evoking the verdant lushness of paddy fields, and rich blue ground tiles representing the Yangtze river. White ceramic tiles emblem the most important life-giving produce of China: Rice grains.

I totally agree with Jiang Nan Chun's concept of "xiang le 享乐", which is the principle of enjoyment and happiness.

How you eat, and why you eat, is just as important as what you eat. Let us all eat like an epicure!

Cantonese cuisine is the principal highlight here, with seasonal or chef-crafted special menus available. We can look forward to dishes depicted with wellness benefits, special cooking methods, seasonal ingredients and an element of surprise to discover.

Sounds like a tall order, but when our meal started with a kick-ass rendition of Peking Duck, I know it's not just all talk. There is substance to show, and savor.

The Signature Jiang Nan Chun Peking Duck ($98, whole) has been roasted in a customized mesquite wood-fired oven, no less. The trail of smokey aroma was intoxicating.

We all marveled at how gorgeous it looked when it made its entry. So gloriously plump with a coat of glistening tanned skin!

Expertly carved in no time by the chef, the duck's prized crispy skin (best with a dip in sugar) was first feasted upon, followed by its succulent meat. The meat was superbly flavorsome and delightful on its own, but to have it wrapped in pancake along with various condiments would be the "proper" and traditional way to enjoy it.

What about the not-so-traditional addition of caviar? I say, bring it on yo! Those little pearls of piquant saltiness imparted such an umami kick and paired incredibly well with Peking duck!

Delicious as the duck may be, it would be wise to keep some tummy space for other delectable dishes on the menu too.

For instance, the trio of dim sum which we had was very agreeable too. The Steamed Shrimp Dumpling with Mushroom ($2 per piece) was well-prepared, while the Crispy Flaky Pastry with Black Pepper Beef ($3 per piece) scored high points for its pastry shell, and meat that was seasoned just right without being too overpowering in black pepper taste.

A standout item would be the Char Siew Sliders ($15 per serving). It was prepared using premium Kurobuta pork and roasted in the same mesquite wood-fired oven as the Peking duck, resulting in a rich and fragrant bite, with green chili adding a surprisingly tangy sweetness. Certainly not our usual "kong ba bao".

It would be imperative too to have a bowl of double-boiled soup, the core of any Cantonese meal. While the Sea Whelk, Maka Ginseng, Dried Scallops & Pork Ribs ($38 person) might be considered a tad costly, the quality ingredients used and wholesome essence extracted after 16 hours of slow-cooking justified it. Damaging to the wallet but nourishing to our skin and body.

I enjoyed the addictive Soft Shell Prawns with Sliced Almond & Crispy Rice ($15 per serving), while my dining companions were visibly amazed by the Steamed Cod Wrapped in Rice Paper Roll ($38 per person), a dish inspired by the legend of Xi Shi (one of the China's four beauties) who washed her silks in the famous west lake in Hangzhou and stunned even the fishes in the water with her beauty.

To describe the dish as being as beautiful as the legend wouldn't be too far off. The cod fillet is delicately wrapped in smooth rice paper roll together with mushrooms and water chestnuts, with freshly-shaved truffles topping the parcel with another layer of intricacy. The combination of flavors and textures was excellent!

Compared to the steamed cod, the next dish of claypot Wagyu Beef Oxtail with lemongrass Infused Oil ($32 per serving) lose out in aesthetics, but was nevertheless winning in taste. Especially that rich and robust gravy!

I would want to spoon it over a bowl of white rice and wolf it all down in big mouthfuls lol! Alas my stomach space has almost reached its maximum capacity, and I do want to save some space for desserts. But I still managed to try a piece of that beef oxtail which has been slow-cooked for over 30 hours. No wonder it's so meltingly tender!

Among the three desserts that we tried, the Crispy Puff Pastry ($12) oozing with warm almond cream was my favorite. The Avocado Cream ($14) with coconut sorbet, osmanthus jelly and cocoa nibs pleased much with its refreshing taste too.

While the Yoghurt Cream ($14) with mung beans, longan, chia seed and sour plum granite has its fans, I thought the combination came across like a riot rather than a party.

Overall, it was a wondrous dining experience at Jiang Nan Chun with its well-executed food, attentive service and classy ambience totally exemplifying the "xiang le 享乐" concept.

If you're looking for a place to impress your business associates or future mother-in-law, this is it.

Jiang Nan Chun 江南春
Address: Four Seasons Hotel Singapore, Level 2, 190 Orchard Boulevard, Singapore 248646
Contact: +65 68317220
Opening Hours: Daily Lunch 11.30am-2.30pm & Dinner 6pm-10.30pm

Prices are (1) Stated in Singapore dollars (2) Subject to 10% service charge & 7% GST (3) Correct at point of published date.

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