Ever since the relaunch of Jiang-Nan Chun at the Four Seasons Hotel Singapore last year, it has consistently been rated as one of the best Chinese restaurants in Singapore. The restaurant was also listed within the MICHELIN Guide 2016 as a notable establishment to check out for quality Cantonese cuisine. Jiang-Nan Chun has just launched a brand new 6-course Seasonal Menu to showcase some of the finest produce and ingredients that are currently in season.
The first course of the Seasonal Set Menu is a duo of Slow-Cooked Lobster served with Poached Apple and Wok-fried Prawn with Dragon Well Tea. More commonly known as Longjing Tea, the Dragon Well Tea is at its peak of production where the full-bodied flavours are at its richest this time of the year - this is only the dish you should start with since the flavours are more delicate. My personal favourite was the lobster with poached apple - slow-cooking ensures that the protein is cooked carefully and the result of this is usually evident in a creamier texture that still locks in the natural flavours and moisture. I love the contrast in sweetness (from the poached apples) and saltiness (from the caviar) as well as the variation in textures.
The second dish was just beautiful and visually-stunning - the scallop and shrimp dumpling which sits above the golden braised pumpkin soup resembles a sacred lotus that is floating above a still pond. Honestly, the Braised Pumpkin Soup with Scallop and Shrimp Dumpling feels like an art piece that you can't quite bear to destroy. Once you muster enough courage to dip into it however, you will be rewarded with a thick and consistent pumpkin soup which is complex in flavours - you can taste the different components within a single spoonful and that golden translucence which seems to glisten under the light is just something to behold. The dumpling itself was delicious but it does not steal attention away from the real star of this dish - the soup.
The third course from the Seasonal Set Menu is a serving of Steamed Cod Fish with Bamboo Shoots, Mushrooms and Minced Pork. Firstly, that fish is just amazingly creamy - the last thing you want in a Chinese restaurant in an overcooked fish but the doneness of this protein was just perfect. Secondly, that sauce is quite something - you can taste the natural sweetness from the bamboo shoots, the saltiness from the minced pork and the diced mushrooms soaks up the sauce sauce to deliver small bursts of flavours in each bite.
The fourth course is definitely one to indulge in - the generous serving of superior stock bathes the luxurious ingredients in golden luminescence. The Braised Six-Head South African Abalone with Winter Melon and Conpoy showcases two things in my opinion - the ability to bring together mix of premium and regular ingredients as well as the complexity of a seemingly simple dish. The re-hydration of the conpoy (dried scallop) creates a different texture that we are usually familiar with. While I did like the abalone, I thought that the winning component was the winter melon (which was soft even to cut through effortlessly but still strong enough to hold on its own) and the medallion of conpoy within.
The Hong Kong Noodle Soup with Beef Short Ribs was my personal favourite dish and I really do hope to see it in the à la carte menu in the future. I love it when a restaurant (especially within a hotel) does an amazing take on a classic and this right here is something that is worthy enough to keep the regulars coming for (yes, on top of that delicious Peking Duck that the restaurant is known for!). The beef short ribs were incredibly tender and it literally melts in your mouth. I love the great balance of flavours within the broth and that noodle had the right bite - everything you need in an exceptional bowl of noodles. The only thing I wish they added? Braised radish.
The final course on Jiang-Nan Chun's new Seasonal Set Menu is a Homemade Almond Tofu with Lychee. The sorbet-looking thing on top of the homemade almond tofu is a mixture of ice, lychees and rose syrup. The new seasonal set menu (S$138++ per person) continues to showcase Jiang-Nan Chun's ability to reinvent classics while still keeping the major building blocks of Cantonese cuisine - it also cements the restaurant's position in the market.
This was an invited media-tasting session, though all views expressed are my own.