Jade Restaurant at The Fullerton Hotel Singapore is one of the longest-standing Cantonese restaurants in Singapore. The restaurant has recently undergone a revamp of the interiors as well as a refocused culinary direction with an anchor around a dramatic work from the Tang Dynasty - A Variety of Tunes from the Story of the West Wing. Decking pastel blues and greens, the brand new colour scheme deviates away from the warmer feel to create an ambience of elegance and intimacy.
The couplet (八珍玉食邀郎餐，千言万语对生意) is the guiding spirit behind the refurbishment and it translates into "I invite you to a feast of eight precious treasures, with a thousand words to convey my well wishes". Alongside 18 carefully curated ceramic pieces that are made personally by Chef Leong (who is a skilled ceramist himself), the interiors of the restaurant have been transformed dramatically - the leitmotif of birds feature those that can be found in Singapore and the main design inspiration comes from a centre piece that Chef Leong once did.
There are two main private dining rooms (which can be combined into a larger one) here at the Jade Restaurant but one of them is infinitely more superior since it enjoys the natural sunlight and brilliance from the outside. There are also semi-private dining areas within the restaurant and most of the tables within in the main dining hall are placed far enough to offer ample privacy and intimacy for discerning diners here at the restaurant.
In line with the guiding principle behind the restaurant's refresh, diners at Jade Restaurant have the option to enjoy the signature Eight Treasures Tea which is an interesting blend of chrysanthemum flowers, wolfberries, jasmine tea leaves and rose buds and dried longans amongst some other ingredients.
The first dish that I sampled from Jade Restaurant's refreshed menu is the Crispy Roasted Pork Belly (金砖火腩仔) - this is also one of the restaurant's eight signature dishes that has been carefully curated to offer first-time diners the opportunity to experience the culinary inspiration first hand. Roasted in different stages, the crispy roasted pork belly is perhaps my favourite dish here. In order to create a greater texture and mouth feel, a jagged can cover (yes, similar to something that you can get out of a Milo can for instance) is used to scrape the skin before returning the glorious piece of meat into the over for a final roast.
The use of lamb is fairly uncommon in Cantonese restaurants but Jade Restaurant has given the char siew that most Singaporeans love a unique twist. The Baked Lemongrass Char Siew Lamb Rib Loin (香茅叉烧小羊排) is marinated using a house-made char siew sauce before being topped with bruised lemongrass to give it a subtle citrus flavour. It is also served with a side of honey pineapple (which went really well with the char siew flavours), purple onions and cucumbers. While I did enjoy the uncommon spin on the familiar flavours, I thought that a little more lemongrass would have brought the flavours out more - perhaps they should be served together with the lamb rib loin to give diners that initial whiff of citrus note to help them pick up the delicate flavours a little more.
Jade Restaurant also serves up a different Soup of the Day (天天老火汤) each day - if you go there for a few days consecutively, you will probably not end up with the same soup. The process of brewing soup requires an excellent manipulation of the flame to extract the flavours from the ingredients before reducing the soup through a low simmer to further concentrate its flavours. The inclusion of fried fish fillet in the soup is quite interesting and it is definitely something that I am not familiar with but it worked really well to create a comforting bowl of goodness that I would definitely be craving on a rainy night.
Another standout dish for me here at the Jade Restaurant is the Sautéed Beef Tenderloin with Crispy Garlic in Black Pepper Sauce (火蒜黑椒爆牛柳粒). Japanese Wagyu beef is selected due to its superior marbling score - this results in succulence and tenderness which is further brought out by the delicious black pepper sauce. I also loved how the dish was presented - while a similar dish can be found in most quality Cantonese restaurants, the contemporary presentation of this dish truly reflects the theme and ambience of the interiors without losing the most fundamental component of Cantonese cooking.
If you have been to Jade Restaurant before, you would have heard about the extremely value for money a la carte Dim Sum Buffet which happens only on weekends. One of the must try dishes from the dim sum menu is the Barbecued Osmanthus Flavoured Char Siew Buns (蜜汁桂花叉烧包) which looks ordinary until you split it open to reveal that luscious char siu that is cooked with honey and osmanthus flower.
If I had to pick a second favourite dish here at Jade Restaurant, it would definitely have to be the Simmered Egg Noodles with Boston Lobster and X.O. Chilli Sauce (古早味波士顿龙虾焖面XO酱伴). Priced at S$39++ per portion, this delicious plate of goodness comes with a generous serving of Boston lobster, cabbage with deep-fried pork lard and a side of wontan noodles that have been deep-fried before simmering in that delicious prawn head oil and stock. Obviously you would have to throw any traces of diet plans out of the window but this is worth every single calorie you are putting into your body.
For desserts, I sampled a tasting portion of the Hot Almond Cream with Egg White (蛋白杏仁茶) as well as the Pistachio "Muah Chee" (开心果麻滋). I really do love that delicious almond cream but the egg white is a strange inclusion in my opinion. The Pistachio "Muah Chee" on the other hand was an absolute delight - the softness of the glutinous rice dough encapsulates a delicious green pistachio nut stuffing that simply falls apart as you bite into it.
I love the touch of modernity that Jade Restaurant has been given and the refocused culinary direction seems to go in sync with the interiors and overall ambience perfectly. The use of pastel colours has definitely brightened up the whole dining venue and while the presentation of food has been given a more contemporary spin, the food remains to be authentic and polished. I love the fact that there is now a section on the menu to showcase eight of the must-try dishes in the restaurant and I cannot wait to return for that highly-acclaimed Dim Sum Buffet lunch on the weekends!
This was an invited media-tasting session, though all views expressed are my own.