In ushering the Year of the Tiger, I had the privilege to indulge in a traditional yet superb Cantonese delights of Lei Garden Restaurant at CHIJIMES, Singapore.
Lei Garden @ CHIJMES underwent a brand new S$6 million renovation. The whole restaurant has a Victorian ambience, relaxing and comfy while you dine on their revamped menu. The fact that it is located in Victoria Street and has Victorian ambience sounded perfect!
The hearty lunch hosted by warm, Ms. Angie Chew, the Executive Manager of the Lei Garden Restaurant Group, started with the auspicious salad, Yu Sheng which is a first dish in most Chinese New Year reunion menus. We had the Treasure Platter Yu Sheng Raw Lobster Meat. This Chinese raw lobster salad which symbolizes abundance and prosperity is tossed with multi coloured julienned assorted vegetables , ginger, candied winter melon strips, pickled leeks, deep fried tapioca crackers to give a nice crunch, chopped walnuts, traditional condiments, peanut oil and plum sauce.
This was followed by a tasting of a few different dishes from the dim sum menu. Lei Garden is known for its dim sum dishes. I must highlight my favorite – the Barbecued Roasted Crispy Pork- small cubes of delicate, roasted pork with a so crispy skin. The moment I put it into my mouth, there was an explosion of taste and texture. The skin just cracked and melted in the mouth and there was very little fat in the meat. I was told that it takes more than 5 hours to roast a piece of meat like that. One must try this at Lei Garden.
Apart from the above, I also liked the Steamed Shangai Dumpling with Minced Pork in Lei Garden Special – little pretty piping hot dumplings that are so exquisite – the chef must be a craftsman to be able to contain such wonderful burst of flavors of meat and gravy within that thin pastry. Be warned – it will be piping hot. I like it best when eaten with a few shreds of julienned ginger and dark vinegar.
Next we had the Double Boiled Sea Whelk with Fish’s Maw and Cocoon Cordyceps. This potent soup is not only supposed to nourish your body but it has a high level of collagen which can enhance skin immunity. I enjoyed this clear soup to the last drop. Because of the number of hours it takes the soup to be double boiled, it would be best if you call the restaurant in advance and place your order. This amazingly delicious soup with soft and tender fish maw was my favorite dish for the day and I highly recommend this mother of all Cantonese soup!
Nearly all the fish used here are kept alive in aerated freshwater tanks at Lei Garden until the moment they’re ordered. The Steamed Garoupa Fillet with Beancurd in XO Chilli Sauce was a refreshing change after the soup. It had bits of caramelized onion with chilli from the XO sauce and gave the kick to the otherwise bland tasting fish and beancurd. XO sauce is very synonymous with Lei Garden.
For the day’s vegetable allowance, we had Poached Wild Mushroom and Green Vegetables with Tomatoes stuffed with Hawaii Nuts (macadamia nuts). This is a good example of the chef’s artistry. The finished dish is a pleasing green, red and white, but a bit bland for me but there was a complex melding of flavor and texture.
Firing crackers is very important for celebrating Chinese New Year but what can you if you want to retain your culture and yet follow the law of the country? Be creative!! And that was what the chefs of Lei Garden did. Our next dish was Poached Crispy Rice with Crab Meat in Stock. It was a porridge like dish with rice cooked in very rich stock and chunks of freshly flaked crab meat. The waitress bring the dish to your table piping hot and top the soup with fried rice crispies. The crispies give out a crackling, sizzling sound on contact with the rice porridge and there you are, prosperity right at the table.
Roaring Good Times at Lei Garden, CHIJMES
To cleanse our palate, we drank a special drink that I never had in any other Chinese restaurant except for the Lei Garden group of restaurants. We had a tiny glass of specially concocted juice of freshly squeezed black grapes, lime and green apples – so full of Vitamin C and the sourness of the drink opened up my senses to the most favorite stage of dining – desserts!
The menu said “Steamed Red Dates Cake” and I got dainty cubes of red ruby colored layered sticky cake. It tasted rich with boiled, skinned and pitted red dates that has been puree and then mixed with water chestnut powder and made into this wonderful dessert.
Memorable dessert of the day was the Chilled Durian Pudding. Lei Garden has made a name for its desserts amongst the Chinese restaurants in Singapore and this is one of it. The pudding was served in a margarita glass and was a generous portion. The decadent, smooth, fragrant dessert just slide in my mouth. I just did not want to try anything else after this heavenly dessert with the King of all Fruits.
Service wise, Lei Garden is almost impeccable. The staff always set the table accordingly as required for the menu we ordered and greeted us at the door, plates are changed promptly and the staff are responsive to questions and feedback. Overall, I enjoyed myself and will go back again and again if I get the same service and food standard.
ABUNDANCE, PROSPERTY, FORTUNE and TOGETHERNESS
Treasure Platter Salmon Yu Sheng 4-7 persons $58
8-12 persons $98
Treasure Platter Lobster Meat Yu Sheng $22 ++ per 100 g
3-6 persons 800 g
7-10 persons 1.2 kg
11-15 persons 1.8 kg
Treasure Platter Yu Sheng Abalone 4-7 persons $88
6-12 persons $148
Treasure Platter Yu Sheng Geo Duck Clam $16.80 ++ per 100 g
3-6 persons 800 g
7-10 persons 1.2 kg
11-15 persons 1.8 kg
For a roaring good time, visit:
Lei Garden Restaurant (CHIJMES)
30 Victoria Street
Lei Garden Restaurant (ORCHARD)
321 Orchard Road
#03-00 Orchard Shopping Centre