The Dream of the Red Chamber is one of the monumental Chinese literary works. For one day, August 17, Crystal Jade Jiang Nan (Vivocity) will transform their restaurant into the Theme of the Red Chamber, and will showcase the food described in the book.
The banquet will feature iconic dishes that have tantalized the tastebuds of the characters in the Dream of the Red Chamber. The book describes some of the dishes in exquisite detail, and makes mention of many others.
This special Themed dinner is only available for pre-booking...make your reservations if you are interested. Seats are limited to 70 people each for lunch and dinner. The entire restaurant will be converted into the Red Chamber, and the wait staff suitably attired...our tea waitress in costume
To begin, a series of 4 snacks are served
Pumpkin seed, sunflower seed and pine nuts
The nuts are roasted separately on low heat in a frying pan for half an hour for a crisp texture and a nutty fragrance.
Sugar coated Chinese dates
Preserved Chinese dates stuffed with red dates and coated with a honey glaze. I found these really superb. Very nice to start a meal.
Chilled Cherry Tomatoes topped with sugar
Chilled for hours, the tomatoes are then served with raw, fine sugar. The tomatoes are very juicy, sweet on their own, but blossomed with a touch of a few grains of sugar.
Steamed roll with preserved fruits
The preserved fruits, diced in cubes, mixed with flour and made into rolls. Steamed for 20 minutes. Nice, soft to bite. Fruits providing the tiniest tinge of a sugar rush to complete the experience.
Then come the appetizers. Count them...six dishes! This is a real banquet!!
Chilled bitter gourd and sour plum powder
Bitter gourd is shredded, and sprinkled with sour plum powder to eradicate the bitterness.
Braised eggplant with pine nut and preserved cherry
Egg plant and preserved cherries are diced into cubes, marinated and braised for days. Pine nuts are then added. A beautiful combination, soft, chewy and crunchy textures meld together. Quite delightful.
Chilled crunchy jellyfish with sesame oil drizzle
Jellyfish chilled in cold water, and trimmed to form flower shaped pieces...a delight to the eye. The texture, I found to be very agreeable.
Smoked duck breast with red yeast rice
Sliced duck breast is marinated with red yeast rice, giving it a pink blush, then smoked. Magnificent. Smokey flavours permeate, and the meat is tender and juicy.
Chicken feet skin marinated with rice wine
Chicken feet are deboned, marinated with rice wine, wolfberries and served with wine cake pieces. I found this to be unlike any chicken feet I have eaten...the usual crunchy texture is not so apparent. The dish was a bit creamy and lush.
Marinted radish with deep fried gluten
Radish spahed like flower petals are marinated in vinegar. Deep fried gluten is strained with water and added. I found this dish a tad too sour, but the radish had a nice crunch.
So far, 10 dishes, and we have just arrived at six mains...
Deep fried live fish stuffed with multiflavoured fish ball and spinach sauce
This dish is described with some detail in the book. Some preparation liberty was taken by the Jiang Nan chefs, but the whole fish is sliced into shape...deep fried till crisp. Multi coloured fish balls are prepared by mixing vegetables with fish paste, wrapped with an egg crepe and stuffed into the deep fried fish fillets. A rich gravy of crab meat, spinach add the final touch.
Double boiled chicken soup with quail egg and button mushroom
Chicken broth is prepared by double boiling chicken for 6 hours. Quail eggs and button mushrooms are added, and a third boiling is done before serving. In the book pigeon eggs are called for, but AVA Singapore does not allow import of pigeon eggs, so a substitute of quail eggs are made. The eggs add a really rich touch. The broth is beautiful, clear, clean tasting.
Braised pork knuckle stuffed with Chinese Ham
Pork knuckle is stuffed with strips of Chinese ham, braised for hours, and complemented with bak choy cut into the shape of flowers and served with a magnificent, thick sauce. Very nice.
Braised whole sea cucumbr with spinach in brown sauce
A huge sea cucumber is simmered for days till it expands to about the length of a man's forearm. Then braised for hours till soft and served with spinach and a thick brown sauce. I found this dish to be very, very good. The brown sauce is also quite special...within the sauce is mixed in prawn roe, giving the sauce a wonderful punch. Very good dish!
Sauteed vegetables with pumpkin sauce
What a beautiful plating. Fan shaped, complementary colours comprising of bak choy, cabbage, carrot, dried mushroom and threads of egg crepe, and drenched with pumpkin sauce. Quite delicious.
Then finally, 4 courses of what is termed dessert, but not all sweet...
Baked crispy mooncake with salty minced pork
Looks like traditional cakes, and made like so. Layers of pastry baked into light and fluffy crust, within salty minced pork and spring onion.
Steamed crab meat and conpoy dumpling
A very special dim sum like dish, compoy is steamed for hours till soft and combined with crab meat, and wrapped in a dumpling, and steamed for 30 minutes. Very good.
Porridge with shredded salted duck and crispy sprin roll skin
Salted duck is marinated and cooked, porridge is boiled with duck bone and the hand shredded salted duck and crispy spring roll skin is added as the dish is served. The porridge did not quite have the consistency of congee, more like moey...but very fragrant and savoury. The duck meat provided a nice lift in taste and salt. And the spring roll skin a textural counterpoint.
Steamed osmanthus cake topped with gold flakes
A mixture of lotus root flour and osmanthus petals is steamed for 30 minutes resulting in a soft and chewy cake with the wonderful fragrance of osmanthus and topped with a gold flake for the extravagant touch.
Very interesting tasting. The themed event is certainly a very good way to make this special. The dishes are well prepared, and links back to the book. Crystal Jade collaborate with food writer Alan Ng, who will introduce the dishes and place them in context of the book. And for the event, a gu zheng player will be in attendance as well. Advanced booking is required. S$98++ per person, with a 15% discount for early bird special (ticket purchased before 15 July with Standard Chartered credit cards) and 10% discount for Standard Chartered credit cards.
Many thanks to Samantha of Crystal Jade and Hannah of Storey 3 for the invitations.
Crystal Jade Jiang Nan
Crystal Jade Jiang Nan