with Larry and SJX
The Paradise Group is a fairly recent entrant into the gastronomic world in Singapore. Starting out as a coffee shop by the current owner's grandfather, he transformed it from a little cze char stop Defu Lane to a huge empire it now is. It boasts of many superb restaurants in our little island...from Paradise Inn serving cze char style food, but in a restaurant styled environment, to upmarket, fine dining Taste Paradise in Ion. Also at Ion, they opened another concept restaurant in the form of Paradise Dynasty...specialising in northern Chinese cuisine. The advertising tagline for Paradise Dynasty is the now familiar 8 flavours of Xiao Loong Pao.
The decor is quite well executed, but decidedly Chinese.
I had been curious about the XLP for a while...as this is one dish I have found where my reference standard is curiously in New York City, in a little Chinese Restaurant in the ever-shrinking Chinatown called Joe's Restaurant. It was the best XLP I have ever eaten. Forget about Din Dai Fung. They don't make the grade for me, not the Singapore outlets, nor the one in Shanghai...I haven't been to Taiwan to try them at their home turf. At the minimum in Singapore, Lao Beijing serves a version I find enjoyable. As does Pu Dong Kitchen in Balmoral Plaza. Both of which I have blogged before.
Dynasty offers a sampler of 8 XLP in a steamer, with all 8 flavours. But as both Larry and JX had already tried those, and are familiar with the flavours, we zoomed in on the original flavour and the garlic.
They look quite similar...especially when not placed next to each other in the same steamer...
Verdict? Quite good. Indeed...I guess at least the same level as Lao Beijing, which is quite high praise indeed, as this would rank it best in Singapore. The skin was springy, resilient, and had a nice stretchy consistency. The soup within is quite delicious. And the meat sufficiently succulent. Joe's in NYC offered something at a different level...better in almost every way. I have it on good authority...my good friend Danny's mother - a pure Shanghainese herself had declared it to be even better than in Shanghai. Danny had once lived in NYC, and had introduced me there when I visited some 15 years ago.
We tried some rather interesting dishes when we were there too...for starters...an interesting combination, like a cake...of 3 different types of egg...salted duck, regular chicken and preserved century egg.
I found it quite nice...though not mind blowing. The combination of flavours from the eggs were quite interesting.
Cold chicken drunken with Chinese Rice wine, a favourite of Larry's:
I found this to be good. As good as the standard bearer offered by Soup Restaurant. Nicely balanced wine soaked chicken. Cooked perfectly...not too well done, nor too raw. The chicken remained fragrant, tender and sweet.
We also had the chicken in a ma-la style sauce:
The ma-la sauce is quite similar to those I have eaten in Beijing. The pepper provides its heat, not in the usual caspicum style stinging sensation, but in a pungent, numbing sensation to the tongue and lips. Strangly pleasant.
A deep fried batter fish was also in our menu:
This was similar to the one offered by their sister restaurant...Paradise Inn...and we loved this dish just the same. The fish was fresh, nicely cooked within a outer crust batter which was crispy, crunchy and very tasty.
We also shared two styles of ramen...the signature lamien:
Nothing to shout about. De Rigeur lamien...about the same level as Crystal Jade La Mien Xiao Loong Pao. But perhaps a tad below as the soup was not as rich tasting.
The ma-la lamien was a bit more interesting:
Served with beef slices, it was a departure from the norm. The sauce was the same spicy, numbing style. And proved to be quite a good coupling with the lamien. The beef slices were not as tender as they could have been, but the slight chewiness of the beef was not a hinderance to the enjoyment of this dish.
For desserts, the Red Bean Pancake:
A bit less sweet than traditional offerings, the red bean paste within was nice and fragrant. But the pastry was quite ecellent. Made almost like filo pastry, with many layers...it was light, crisp, fragrant. The texture was marvellous. Very nice.
Overall, Paradise Dynasty is another feather in the Paradise Group's cap. Consistently good to excellent and sometimes exceptional food, in a nice beautiful environment with good service. Definitely a mainstay in the culinary map of Singapore.
2 Orchard Turn #04-12A ION Orchard Singapore
Mon–Fri: 11am – 10pm Sat–Sun & PH: 10am – 10pm