Jim Garden 珍厨明苑私房菜 Tasting Session

Jim Garden 珍厨明苑私房菜 Tasting Session
4 Craig Road

Opening Hours:
Daily: 11am - 11pm


This was an invited media review. I did not pay for the meal during the free hosted tasting session.
Attended with representatives from HungryGoWhere, Purple Taste, and Epicurious Caniggia.

Meal At Jim Garden 珍厨明苑私房菜

Artisanal, Nutritious Fine Chinese Dining, Wallet-Friendly Prices

(Ratings: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 = Worst and 10 = Best)
Overall: 8
Ambience & Setting: 6
Food & Beverage: 9
Service: 8
Value for Money: 9
Spent about SGD $24 per person.


Opening in January 2017, Jim Garden 珍厨明苑私房菜 (Zhen Chu Ming Yuan Si Fang Cai) is a casual Chinese eatery that serves classic China dishes done fine dining style, all at wallet-friendly, affordable prices. Established since 1988 in the Liaoning province of North China, Jim Garden 珍厨明苑私房菜 in Singapore is their first foray into the country. Award-winning Head Chef "Jim" Zhao Ming helms the kitchen, bringing his philosophy of using fresh, seasonal ingredients, which results in tasty, artisanal, and utterly delightful dishes here.

Jim Garden 珍厨明苑私房菜 Signage
Jim Garden 珍厨明苑私房菜 Signage

Ambience at Jim Garden 珍厨明苑私房菜 is casual and modern. The bright, spot-lit place is clean and neat, without any odor. Modern, semi-comfortable furniture in shades of black and red contrast with the dark wooden floors and white walls, adorned with minimal oriental decor. When crowded, the place is buzzing and noisy, though still pleasantly bearable. Decent enough.

Jim Garden Exterior

Jim Garden Interior

Service at Jim Garden 珍厨明苑私房菜 is courteous, efficient, and engaging. Staff are quick to greet and seat guests, and also quick to clear away empty / dirty plates during your meal, as well as when diners leave. Very efficient, and it contributes to the overall feel of cleanliness here. The restaurant manager displays in-depth knowledge of dishes on the menu, and also makes the effort to engage diners and check for feedback. Such professionalism is also displayed by the regular staff, albeit inconsistently.


Table Setting

Food at Jim Garden 珍厨明苑私房菜 is largely North Chinese cuisine, but also features the larger cuisine from all over China. The distinct difference is the nutritious way in which dishes are prepared, using all fresh ingredients from the Tanjong Pagar wet market, made without any additives, food colourings, or artificial ingredients. In fact, Head Chef "Jim" Zhao Ming does not use any processed sugar; making his own sugar syrup in-house by melting rock sugar. The result is their dishes are fresh, tasty, light on the palate, and rather healthy. Portions are communal sized, suitable for groups of 3 - 4 people or more. Prices are very affordable and reasonable, despite the fine dining presentation, dishes are wallet-friendly. Budget about SGD $24 per person for a full meal here.


Several beverages are made in-house. The Home Made Barley (SGD $2) is fresh and light, and you can decide how much sugar you want. The 5 Flavours Soy Milk (SGD $2.80) is a unique recipe, made with a blend of peanuts, yellow (soy), green, black, and red beans. This gives it a strong, earthy savoury flavour. Worth ordering!

Home Made Barley (SGD $2)

5 Flavours Soy Milk (SGD $2.80)

While the Sweet & Sour Sea Bass Fish (SGD $32) stands out for being reasonably priced, the taste is also note-worthy. This fresh, whole sea bass fish is painstakingly deboned and filleted, with meat that is clean-tasting and sweet savoury. The sauce is a secret recipe, made without any processed sugar or vinegar, unlike elsewhere. Chef would only reveal that it's a blend of fruit juices and aromatics, including orange and dragonfruit. This gives the sticky glaze a light floral fruity sweet flavour, with a hint of sour tangy and zesty acidity. Really light, really good signature dish. Highly recommended!

Sweet & Sour Sea Bass Fish (SGD $32)

Sweet & Sour Sea Bass Fish

The signature Gold Medal Pork Rib With Pineapple (SGD $28) is a winning dish. With sweet chunks of juicy caramelised pineapple, earthy vegetal wild rocket leaves / arugula and spinach, and pork ribs that are deeply savoury with a light salty flavour. The pork is incredibly tender and moist, pulling easily off the bone, while the oriental marinade has an enticing, addictive tang to it. Good!

Gold Medal Pork Rib With Pineapple (SGD $28)

Gold Medal Pork Rib With Pineapple

The Stewed Pork With Brown Sauce & Spinach (SGD $16) features a bed of spinach leaves, crunchy and fresh with a sharp earthy vegetal flavour. In the center is a mound of soy sauce slow braised / stewed pork belly, robust in savoury salty flavour, meat that is so soft it just falls apart in the mouth. The layer of fatty texture only adds to the delightful, satisfiying feeling. Highly recommended!

Stewed Pork With Brown Sauce & Spinach (SGD $16)

The Qiubi Prawn (SGD $22) features long, slim amaebi / spot prawns, coated in a light, crispy flour batter, garnished with a house made mayonnaise that features fruit juice, and cubes of diced kiwi fruit and dragonfruit. The prawns / shrimp have a lovely fresh, sweet, clean-tasting flavour, with a slightly tender, slightly bouncy texture, with the fruity zesty tangy sauce complementing it well. So addictive I wished for more. Highly recommended!

Qiubi Prawn (SGD $22)

What I like about the Sauteed Pork With Black Fungus (SGD $11.80 / $14.80) is the chewy, crunchy chunks of black fungus / cloud ear fungus, which have a light earthy savoury flavour. The peppery gravy is nicely balanced with a light savoury salty spice flavour, not as overwhelming or intense as elsewhere, which is good. However, there wasn't much pork meat in the dish. Overall, an above average rendition, which I felt could be better. A touch more chili might be nice too. Decent enough.

Sauteed Pork With Black Fungus (SGD $11.80 / $14.80)

Loved the Braised Tofu Beancurd In Special Sauce (SGD $8.80 / $11.80), with its soft, silky tofu beancurd, coated in a robust savoury salty, black bean and chili gravy. The slices of pork loin and chunks of black fungus / cloud ear fungus lend good texture, while the heat from the dried chili and fresh chili lend a nice kick. But personally, I felt it lacks the edge to make it outstanding. Decent enough.

Braised Tofu Beancurd In Special Sauce (SGD $8.80 / $11.80)

The Stewed Pig's Trotter With Chinese Cabbage Soup (SGD $10.80) features a clean deboned pig's trotter, stewed till tender in a soup of Chinese cabbage, Chinese firm dry tofu beancurd, and cellophane noodles. The pork meat is lightly savoury in taste, enhanced by the vegetal salty flavour of the warm soup / broth. The spongy texture of the tofu beancurd soaks up the flavours beautifully. Pure comfort food, though I wished for a greater quantity of soup / broth, as we finished it before the other ingredients in the pot. Good!

Stewed Pig's Trotter With Chinese Cabbage Soup (SGD $10.80)

Beyond an auspicious name and a pretty colour, the Wealth Dumpling (SGD $4.50 / $6.80) is average at best. They've done it similar to those in China, with a medium thick, chewy skin, and a little ball of minced pork meat within, steamed till it releases a small puddle of tasty meat juices that squirt out when bit. Nicely savoury sweet, but not outstanding. The lovely green colour, an infusion of spinach, makes it pretty to look at, although I'd prefer a thinner dumpling skin.

Wealth Dumpling (SGD $4.50 / $6.80)

The Pan-Fried Pork Dumpling (SGD $4 / $6) is almost similar, except that it's fried, giving the skin a light, crispy texture. Filled with minced pork meat and a nice amount of meat juices, savoury sweet and tasty. I like that Chef has pan-fried these dumplings with a light crust, which crunches satisfiyingly. Alright as a dish, but not outstanding.

Pan-Fried Pork Dumpling (SGD $4 / $6)

The Milo Bun With Red Bean (SGD $5.80 for 3) is a unique fusion appetizer, featuring a thick, chewy bun infused with milo powder, giving it a light fragrance. Within is a thick, sweet red bean paste, studded with white sesame seeds which lend a soft crunch for texture. Unique fusion dish. Worth ordering!

Milo Bun With Red Bean (SGD $5.80 for 3)

Milo Bun With Red Bean

The Pan-Fried Bun Stuffed With Pork (SGD $5 for 3) features a round bun, pan-fried with a crisp texture on one side, steamed with a chewy texture on the other side. The filling of minced pork meat is more generous than the dumplings, but also features less meat juice, though it's still nicely savoury sweet salty and moist with good flavour. Shape is a little off though, the traditional Chinese version is usually a lot more round and oval in shape. Skin is starchy and thick, like how it's done in China. Worth ordering!

Pan-Fried Bun Stuffed With Pork (SGD $5 for 3)

Pan-Fried Bun Stuffed With Pork

Loved the Papaya With Coconut Jelly (SGD $5.80), an excellently executed dessert! The papaya is fresh, sweet and juicy, while the coconut jelly pudding on top is nicely earthy floral, with a texture akin to panna cotta, wavering between soft and firm. We learnt a secret food hack from Chef here, the reason he's able to ensure the jelly sticks tightly to the fruit without falling off, is because the fruit is very fresh, and the dessert is chilled before serving. Tasty and delicious, perfect end to a great meal. Highly recommended!

Papaya With Coconut Jelly (SGD $5.80)

Overall, Jim Garden 珍厨明苑私房菜 (Zhen Chu Ming Yuan Si Fang Cai) impresses with its casual, relaxed ambience, professional and courteous service, and delicious artisanal food that is nutritious yet affordable. I'm particularly impressed that they strive to keep dishes authentic to those you get in China, yet still manage to pull off presentations that resemble modern fine dining. The regular crowd dining here bears testament to their popularity, particulary since they're cheap and good. Will return for more!


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