Grand Mandarina Restaurant Tasting Session

June 23, 2014 Ivan Teh - RunningMan 0 Comments

Grand Mandarina Restaurant Tasting Session
325 New Bridge Road
#01-00 & #02-00 Thye Shan Mansion


Opening Hours:
Daily: 11:30am - 2:30pm (Lunch), 6.30pm - 10pm (Dinner)



http://www.grandmandarina.com.sg/

This was an invited media review. I did not pay for the meal during the free hosted tasting session, but I did pay the standard price during subsequent visits.
Attended with representatives from HungryGoWhere, Chubby Botak Koala, and Epicurious Caniggia.



A Spectacular Dining Experience

(Ratings: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 = Worst and 10 = Best)
Overall: 9
Ambience & Setting: 9
Food & Beverage: 10
Service: 10
Value for Money: 9
Budget about SGD $80 ++ per person.


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Located just outside Outram Park MRT Station Exit H, beside the open air carpark, the 1-month old Grand Mandarina Restaurant is already making waves in the Chinese Zi Char fine dining scene for its beautifully presented dishes, professional and discreet service, absolutely tasty food made with fresh premium ingredients, and posh ambience. Occupying both the first and second stories of the old Thye Shan Mansion, Grand Mandarina Restaurant is also one of the few restaurants in Singapore that is equipped with the latest in audio-video technology suitable for hosting events, such as product launches, award ceremonies, and more.

I will flat out admit that dining at Grand Mandarina Restaurant is probably the best meal I've had in 2014, and likely among the top / best meals I've ever had in my life! Not because it's an invited tasting, but I honestly cannot recall another time where I had that magical combination of great food, great ambience, great service, great dining companions, and great hosts, all at the same time!

Ambience at Grand Mandarina Restaurant impresses the minute you step in. High ceilings adorned with elegant, modern chandeliers, flanked by jet black walls with gold trim and glossy surfaces exude sophistication and elegance. Tableware is the finest, clean white porcelain, with jet black chopsticks adorned with gold trim. The posh interior is fitting, as the owners tell us that they've engaged the same designer who conceptualised the St. Regis Singapore. Very impressive, makes you feel like you should be in a suit / formal wear just to dine here!

Grand Mandarina Restaurant Exterior


Grand Mandarina Restaurant Interior


Grand Mandarina Restaurant Table Layout


Individual Layout


Flowers & Live Video Television Screen



Service at Grand Mandarina Restaurant is impeccable. Staff are well trained and professional, knowledgable when asked about items, and serving and clearing tables rather discreetly. Greetings were offered upon entry into Grand Mandarina Restaurant, as were farewells when we left. I also like that they served wine in the manner of a fine dining Western restaurant, first showing it to the host, then pouring a sample for taste. We were seated at a small private room on the second floor, brought up by a private lift, which our hosts explained were usually reserved for VIPs. The room was in fact equipped to screen live feeds through the large screen television if an event was taking place.

Overall, the food at Grand Mandarina Restaurant is delicious, presented as a work of art, with portion sizes suitable for one. Fresh, premium quality ingredients are used in the making of each dish, and the owners tell us the head chef was specifically headhunted by them for his vast experience in Chinese Zi Char fine dining, and has worked in various restaurants and hotels throughout the Asia region. As befitting the fine dining quality, average prices at Grand Mandarina Restaurant aren't cheap, and their diners tend to be upper-middle class, to the very rich. Budget about SGD $60 - $150 per person for a typical meal, and about SGD $200 - $300 per person for a meal with premium dishes, high-end seafood or fine wine.

It's also better to order a set menu at Grand Mandarina Restaurant, which can be customised to your liking, instead of the ala-carte, which is more expensive comparing dish to dish. There is a wide variety of dishes available, ranging from traditional Chinese Zi Char classics, to modern reinterpretations of dishes, to unique one-of-a-kind dishes only served here. And for regular diners of Grand Mandarina Restaurant (yes, after only 1 month, they have amassed quite a lot of regulars!), they offer a wide variety of off-the-menu items, just ask the staff what they recommend!

Special Tasting Menu


The Baked Cashew Nuts were good, but not outstanding, and probably the weakest link here. Also, notice that the chef went through the trouble of deseeding all the green chili, something not a lot of chefs do!

Baked Cashew Nuts


Condiments - Chef Deseeded The Green Chili!



I still dream about the Honey Glazed Barbecued Pork Loin (SGD $15) to this day, probably among the best, if not THE best char siew I've ever eaten! Chef really did his research here, sampling all the 'best' char siew in Singapore, before settling on his receipe. The result; a soft, tender, succulent, and savoury piece of pork, with just a thin silver of fat. The exterior is roasted to perfection, not dry at all, without any red dye, just the deep, amber red colour of good roast. Each strip is dipped in honey for a touch of sweetness, then hand-torched, giving it a thin, crisp, candied coating. Out of this world taste, and I highly, highly recommend this!

Honey Glazed Barbecued Pork Loin (SGD $15)


Honey Glazed Barbecued Pork Loin



The Crispy Roast Pork Belly (SGD $15) is above average, with a crisp crackling skin, light and perfectly done meat, with a thin silver of fat for moisture. Served with a dollop of yellow mustard on the side for an additional sharp tang in each bite. Pretty good, but something which most other restaurants do just as well. In a meal where everything else was spectacular, this dish was the least outstanding.

Crispy Roast Pork Belly (SGD $15)


Crispy Roast Pork Belly



This modern fusion of East meets West combination in the Soya Poached Foie Gras With Twenty Years 'Shao Xin Hua Diao' Wine Jelly (SGD $24) is unique. The thick slice of foie gras / goose liver is soft, crumbling when bit / cut, with a hint of salty from the light soy sauce. The sweetness of the fresh rock melon cuts through the fattyness of the foie gras, complmenting it very well. The wine jelly adds a touch of whimsical, a fun, playful burst of freshness in the mouth, coating each bite with liquid sweetness.

Soya Poached Foie Gras With Twenty Years 'Shao Xin Hua Diao' Wine Jelly (SGD $24)


Soya Poached Foie Gras With Twenty Years 'Shao Xin Hua Diao' Wine Jelly



An off-the-menu variation item, the Prawns Coated In Orange Zest Sauce (SGD $28) features a large, juicy, fresh prawn. Deshelled and tossed in a sweet, zesty, tangy orange glaze, the citrus flavour of the sauce lends a bright refreshing taste that complements the fresh sweetness of the prawn. Very good dish, but I couldn't figure out what to do with the flower garnish though (am I supposed to eat it?), and just left it aside.

Prawns Coated In Orange Zest Sauce (SGD $28)


Prawns Coated In Orange Zest Sauce



The Fried Soft Shell Crab With Chicken Floss And Curry Leaves (SGD $18) was a favourite of the diners! The fresh, not oily soft shell crab was crisp and savoury, with taste heightened by the use of curry leaves, which flavoured the chicken floss and lent a salty, savoury, slightly spciy kick. Excellent!

Fried Soft Shell Crab With Chicken Floss And Curry Leaves (SGD $18)


Fried Soft Shell Crab With Chicken Floss And Curry Leaves



The premium Double Boiled Sea Cucumber With American Ginseng And Mushroom In Chicken Consomme (SGD $68) is not what the faint of heart! A whole sea cucumber, in all its slug(y) glory, is served in a thin but flavourful chicken consomme soup / broth, along with a medium size shiitake mushroom. If the mushroom was tender and soft, the sea cucumber was more so, yielding easily to touch and cutting with a spoon. The Chinese Cantonese diners at the table loved it, and though I'm not a big fan of slug(y) things in my soup / broth, I thought this dish was still very good, and I finished it!

Double Boiled Sea Cucumber With American Ginseng And Mushroom In Chicken Consomme (SGD $68)


Double Boiled Sea Cucumber With American Ginseng And Mushroom In Chicken Consomme



What I liked about the Glasses Of White Wine And Red Wine, is the staff actually brought the wine around for us to examine and taste first, akin to other fine dining restaurants. Recommended by the hosts, these paired well with the dishes in our set meal! We started with the white, then moved on to the red.

Glasses Of White Wine And Red Wine



Loved the presentation of the 3 Cups 'San Bei' Cod Fish With Spring Onion, Chili, And Thai Sweet Basil (SGD $40), so pretty! The actual cod fish itself was fresh, savoury and succulent, enhanced with the flavour of the soft shimeji mushrooms, ginger and spring onion sauce, and Thai sweet basil. Sadly, the pretty red basket made from flour, while adding the perfect aesthetic, is tasteless. Still, I highly recommend this dish for the fish and mushrooms alone!

3 Cups 'San Bei' Cod Fish With Spring Onion, Chili, And Thai Sweet Basil (SGD $40)


3 Cups 'San Bei' Cod Fish With Spring Onion, Chili, And Thai Sweet Basil



The Stir-Fried Wagyu Beef Cubes With Red Wine And Black Pepper (SGD $68) has just the right amount of black pepper for a spicy kick, and is absolutely tender and flavourful, with a medium doneness. Bite into the meat and the juices run out, coating the mouth in a savoury, salty taste... Excellent dish! I also loved the presentation, with a little woven nest made from vermicelli!

Stir-Fried Wagyu Beef Cubes With Red Wine And Black Pepper (SGD $68)


Stir-Fried Wagyu Beef Cubes With Red Wine And Black Pepper



The XO Sauce Pork Neck With Crystal Vermicelli (SGD $22) is the hosts' favourite dish, and I can see why. The crystal vermicelli noodles are springy, flavoured with the taste of pork and XO whisky, while the pork neck slices are tender, easy to chew, and soft, very flavourful. The bean sprouts are properly cleaned, and lend a fresh crunch of texture to the dish. Very good!

XO Sauce Pork Neck With Crystal Vermicelli (SGD $22)


XO Sauce Pork Neck With Crystal Vermicelli



I thought the Egg White Fried Rice With Crab Meat (SGD $16) was an above average dish, but while the other diners seem to love it, I thought it wasn't that outstanding. I like that the crab meat used is fresh, and well mixed in with each bite of the perfectly done rice. Plus, there isn't any stray shells in the dish, so I know the chef did well. Could have done with slightly more egg though, but overall a pretty good dish. Add chili to make it better!

Egg White Fried Rice With Crab Meat (SGD $16)


Egg White Fried Rice With Crab Meat



An off-the-menu dessert, the Chilled Green Apple Jelly Served In Dragon Fruit (SGD $?) was absolutely outstanding, and got top marks from our group. Which means, it will go on the menu soon! This unique dessert is presented in a hollowed out dragon fruit, with some of the flesh in the middle scooped out to make room for the sweet apple jelly and garnishes of strawberry and blueberry. Scoop along the sides to get some of the dragon fruit, along with the apple jelly in each spoonful! This modern dessert may not go down well with Chinese traditional dessert believers, but I still highly recommend it!

Chilled Green Apple Jelly Served In Dragon Fruit (SGD $?)


Chilled Green Apple Jelly Served In Dragon Fruit



We didn't get to sample the signature Empurau Fish, or in Chinese / Mandarin, the 'Unforgettable Fish' (~ SGD $900 ++ per kg). The flesh of the wild fish is said to have a natural sweetness, from its feeding on ripened fruit that falls from the jungle trees along the rivers in Sarawak, Malaysia. The scales are deep fried till crisp, sprinkled with salt, and eaten like potato chips! This rare delicacy has to be ordered in advance though, and the hosts tell us that a typical 3.5kg fish can feed up to 30 people.

Overall, I daresay that I had the probably the best meal of my life at Grand Mandarina Restaurant! Will definitely save up to dine here on special occasions!





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