Thursday, April 12, 2012
Canton Paradise 乐天小香港 at 112 Katong: Dim Sum and then Dinner
Canton Paradise is the latest brand in the Paradise Group - offering Cantonese and Shunde specialties (Shunde is a culinary city in Guangdong, reputed to be the birthplace of Cantonese cuisine). My family and I came here to the 112 Katong branch to try the dim sum one weekend not too long after it opened. We were there early, right before the 11am opening time, and yet we almost could not get a seat!
But we're glad we waited a while. The dim sum's pretty decent, and available til 5pm.
Staples - Har kau (S$4.80), siew mai (S$4.50) and steamed custard buns (S$4.50) - all nicely done.
One of my favourites, Phoenix Claws, or steamed chicken claw with black bean sauce (S$3.80) done just the way I like it. There's nothing like slowly picking at savoury claw joints. Do you leave yours clean? Mine are always cleared of all cartilage!
The char siew is fantastic. I so rarely prefer char siew over roast pork. But this one was beautifully caramelized, moist and flavoursome. Super instant win. Noodles OK too. Just a tad pricey at S$9.20 BBQ Meat noodles (two varieties of meat). Single meat is S$7.20.
They have some unusual items too, like Steamed organic brown rice cheong fun stuffed with eggplant and minced meat (S$4.50). The translucent reddish cheong fun is a little chewy as though glutinous in texture.
Mini egg tarts (S$4.20) in light and crisp flaky pastry.
The only thing we didn't really like was the deep-fried ham sui kok or Teochew dumpling (S$3.50). It looked a little too pale and the skin was too thick. But we rarely get to see this dim sum in most restaurants because it's not easy to make and fry.
There are two display kitchens where you can see the chefs at work.
Nadine was a little spooked by the restaurant's dark ambience, stark lighting and noisy chatter, but luckily there's iPhone to the rescue!
Later on, I got to know some of the restaurant's signature dishes at a dinner tasting session (thanks to Carlyn and Chenyze of Sixth Sense for hosting). There were hits and misses, but I think more due to personal taste than execution of cooking.
Here's the pork belly version of the char siew.
BBQ Pork Belly with Honey Sauce 秘制肥婆黑叉烧 (S$15.80). Pork belly should be even better, no? In this case, perhaps it's too much of a good thing. Too rich. I'd stick to the lean meat version which gives better texture and bite. The same rich honey glaze and caramelized finish is still delish though.
Canton Crispy BBQ Pork 脆皮叉烧 (S$15.80). I can best describe this as a honeycomb of fat. The delicate crispy cubes are practically laden with liquid lard. If you love fatty pork, this could be your thing.
Steamed Kampong Chicken in Canton Style 水晶真味山芭鸡 (S$15 half / S$28 whole). I've never been a fan of steamed chicken or pak cham kai, so I can't comment on this. Gimme roast bird any day!
We also started with some Baked BBQ Honey Pork Bun 脆皮叉烧包 ($4.50). Memories fly immediately to the Tim Ho Wan version, but while this is not the same, it's still very good on its own. Enjoy it with some warm ginger tea.
Steamed Lingzhi Tofu in Supreme Soya Sauce 清蒸灵芝山水豆腐 (S$8.80)
The tofu is super delicate and smooth - I wondered how they manage to plate it so nicely without breaking it! But the seasoning could be more interesting; it was a little too flat.
Poached Sea Bass with Pickled Cabbage in Fish Stock 辣辣地酸菜沸腾鱼 ($28.80)
Ma la fish in seafood broth - OK, that's nice! It's spicy for sure, but not so ridiculously numbing that you can't taste anything else. The delicious savoury broth comes through the spiciness, so it's very well-balanced. You'll find yourself reaching for a second helping instead of a drink to douse tastebuds in torture.
Of course a drink isn't a bad thing either, and they do have nice teas.
Gula Melaka Milk Tea 黑糖冰奶茶(S$3.80)
The gula melaka fragrance is really evident here. However there seems to be a hint of packaged coconut milk here too. That's RubbishEatRubbishGrow or RERG in the background and you can see his review at the link.
Wok-fried pork belly with salted fish 咸鱼花腩锅 (S$14)
Oh this pot is love! It's like bacon but more chewy and savoury. With the aromas of fried salted fish, garlic, soy and leek, it's just sizzling good!
Fried Pumpkin Coated with Salted Egg Yolk & Mixed Nuts 秘制坚果炬南瓜 ($7.80)
We tried to be polite and not attack this dish, but this was so tasty, it was gone in sheer seconds. Yum.
Wok-fried Bean Sprout with Vermicelli and Salted Fish 乡下佬炒银芽 ($12.80)
I also liked this. It actually has more bean sprouts than mung vermicelli!
Dessert is simple.
Chilled Red Bean & Yam Jelly 芋头红豆糕 (S$4.20) - refreshing palate cleanser.
We also had a Custard Glutinous Rice Ball with Grated Oat 金沙汤圆 (S$4.80 for 3 pieces), which was not stellar. I found the dry grated oats not really complementing the mochi-like rice ball.
Canton Paradise is pretty good for family and group dining. Prices here are definitely a bit more than say Crystal Jade, but you do get a more dramatic and flamboyant atmosphere. Executive Chef Hu Shu Sheng is a native from Guangzhou who also knows Sichuan food (hence the presence of some Sichuan dishes like the poached bass). I'll certainly be back to try more dim sum and other dishes.
CANTON PARADISE 乐天小香港
112 East Coast Road
I12 Katong #B1-15
Tel: +65 6344 8201
Mon-Fri: 11am – 10pm
Sat, Sun & PH: 10.30am-10pm
Canton Paradise has opened a second outlet at JCUBE on 2 April
Jurong East Central 1
Tel: +65 6684 5080
A third one is opening at Compass Point #03-19/20 soon!
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