Sunday, May 23, 2010

Singapore - Taste Paradise 味之樓 (ION Orchard)

The surveyor that came round to our table said “Welcome to Paradise”.  Ok, it’s not quite paradise but the concept and cuisine at Taste Paradise is a good alternative to the continuing competition between the Crystal Jade and Imperial Treasure empires in an otherwise fairly limited although nicely growing Chinese food scene in Singapore

Taste Paradise seems to want to find the unique taste that is Singaporean Chinese and amalgamates the food experiences of its likely clientele.

As an example, the greenhouse tomato with Goma (Japanese sesame) dressing is a refreshing start to a meal.  A nicely chilled and slightly sweet fruit contrasted with a watered-down sesame dressing to take away the heaviness (although slightly tasteless).

The piece de resistance in Paradise is the politically incorrect bowl of sharks’ fin soup which boasts a rich stock which has been on the brew for 12 hours (or so it says).  Strong hints of the variety of dried seafood which went into the stock and generous servings of the fin although it is not the dorsal but the skirting which makes it more affordable.  The collagen factor doesn’t decrease so it works as well for those on a beauty mission.  You can literally feel your lips pucker naturally as you dig in.  The novelty is serving in a stone bowl which retains the heat well and served with a spring onion “grissini”.  A great bowl of soup otherwise although the stone bowl in hot and humid Singapore is probably not necessary.  Perhaps that’s why the air-conditioner was working overtime.

For “small plates”, I ordered the XO Carrot Cake and the Crispy roast pork. 

The XO carrot cake was very tasty, fried with their house blend of XO sauce, made tasty by the dried shrimps and with just enough heat from the chillies.  Overall, well executed although Mom complained that the carrot cake in itself was a little too mushy.  Not the best “chye tow kway” in Singapore but using a Hong Kong staple fried local style, we were happy enough with it.

The crispy roast pork was crispy but I thought there wasn’t enough of a balance of fat and meat they used.  There was too much fat in proportion leading to a pretty greasy mouthful.  So it lost points there.

The poached boxthorn leaf with wolfberries in superior stock was well executed and the leaves were the right age.  Simple dish but a fulfilling way to eat your vegetables and give your body an iron boost without resorting to smelly pills. 

Our last dish of the vermicelli with a crab meat scrambled in egg whites was probably the most disappointing, especially after having the egg white scramble with fresh scallops and white truffle oil at Imperial Treasure a day before.  The scramble here was comparatively greasy and not as tasty nor fragrant.  Even the vinegar added little to lift the dish and I had to resort to the resident XO sauce served table-side.

My dessert of the jelly and aloe vera in a calamansi and plum based cold soup was refreshing and did well to take the grease of the vermicelli dish away.

Overall, decent food in comfortable surrounds.  But as I said to the surveyor, it is hard to compare if it is the best Chinese restaurant since a lot of the offerings were, dare I say it, fusion, although admittedly, execution was more hit than miss.  Worth a second visit to try their other specials.  But it was odd to do a survey while at dinner, wasn’t it? 

PS.  Despite stinging reviews about service, we had a wonderful server who was attentive and eager.  Full marks for effort even if she could not master the Sichuan-inspired teapot with the longer and thin spout.

2 Orchard Turn
#04-07 ION Orchard
Tel: +65 6509 9660 

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