Grand Mandarina is one of the few remaining Chinese restaurants in Singapore where you can taste the legendary and most expensive freshwater fish in the world – the Empurau – which can easily cost a few thousand dollars per fish. I was told that the Empurau is translated to “Unforgettable” in Chinese and there was a long-standing joke that once you see the bill of the Empurau, it would be “unforgettable”!
Being an upmarket, fine dining Chinese restaurant, the roast meat dishes at Grand Mandarina were highly raved by local food critic Wong Ah Yoke and food writers alike.
Grand Mandarina has recently undergone a revamp in its menu under the leadership and direction of CEO Benson Tong. Benson is a self-taught award-winning chef and has indeed came a long way from his early days as a hawker selling Cantonese fare in 2008.
From a celebrity chef in his own right and now an F&B consultant for many start-ups, cafes and restaurants, Benson specialized in helping to revive restaurants and giving it a new lease of life.
Since taking over the helm at Grand Mandarina, Benson has elevated the service level and quality of food in the restaurant, yet bringing down the prices for most of the dishes.
Vegetarians would be happy to know that Benson has improved the menu to include 10 new items for vegetarians. Customers who have special dietary restrictions (e.g. no eggs or nuts) will also be well taken care of here as the team will customize the dishes for you but at a small fee as the recipe had to be tweaked.
Crispy Rice roll filled with smoked shredded duck and bamboo shoot | $7.50
This is one of my favourite dish with the smoked duck wrapped in crispy rice roll followed by a soft outer rice roll that gives a contrasting texture and crunch to this interesting dish. This just shows the amount of effort that has gone into preparing this dish!
Steam Vegetarian dumpling with diced assorted mushroom and vegetable in black pepper | $4.80
The dumpling skin is hand-made from scratch. As long as it is practical and feasible to do so, Chef Eric Yeo and his team will make the ingredients themselves instead of sourcing them from outside, so that they can control and maintain the quality of the food.
Pan-fried bun filled with mince pork and cabbage | $5.00
The meat is minced finely while the fats is diced to control the composition and delicate balance of the minced meat. However, most of us find this dish to be the most forgettable among all the dishes we tried that day.
Signature crystal char Siew & Crackling pork belly | $18 each
I like the fact that the Char Siew is thickly sliced with the right amount of fats and a layer of caramelized sugar to enhance the flavour. The Char Siew was coated with a layer of custard sugar and slightly charred using a blow torch “Aburi-style”.
This traditional Cantonese roast pork was “waffle-crispy” as it was crispy on the outside and yet soft on the inside.
Roasted Duck with summer truffle sauce | $32
The medley of Char Siew, roast pork and roast duck were highly recommended and is definitely a must-try when you visit Grand Mandarina, as after all, they are well-known for their Char Siew and roasts.
Deep fried Chilean Sea bass with crispy fish skin served with egg white crumble and golden broth | $26
I could hear the crunch of the crispy fish skin when my neighbor bite on it. The sea bass contains a lot of good fats and omega-3 fatty acids. I love the firm, chewy texture of the sea bass in the tasty golden carrot broth.
Steam wild yam in Imperial sauce | $12
I was pleasantly surprised that yam could be presented so beautifully as a main dish, and on its own no less. The wild yam was naturally sweet and starchy and cooked Shanghainese style with vinaigrette drenched over it. It is lightly acidic on the palate and refreshing.
This could be a main dish for vegetarians and an appetizer for non-vegetarians.
Crustacean broth & silken longevity noodle in Coconut Husk & King prawn | $26
The coconut is steamed before pouring in the crustacean broth to lock in the rich, seafood flavour. The succulent crustacean broth was made using coconut water, prawn stock and fresh ingredients for many hours, and was so flavourful which left me wanting for more.
D24 Durian Penyat in Charcoal Sesame Shell, with red bean & Coconut Ice Cream
This exquisite dessert is made specially for us by Chef Eric Yeo! The hand-made durian penyat was rich, creamy and an absolute delight to indulge in. The dollop of coconut ice cream refreshes the palate and offers a contrasting flavour and texture. Although this dessert cannot be found in the menu, you may want to call and check with the restaurant in advance if you wish to order this.
I thoroughly enjoyed the dishes here as they were well executed and the culinary team has managed to pay attention to every element to elevate the dining experience of the diners.
With the recent report of the spike in prices of Chinese wedding banquets in the top hotels here at nearly $2000 per table, perhaps it’s time to consider throwing a wedding banquet in an established Chinese restaurant like Grand Mandarina, where you need NOT burn a big hole in your pocket and yet leave a memorable experience for your guests.
Congratulations to Bee Peng and Veronica for winning my Instagram giveaway (both of you will each walk away with a $50 dining voucher at Grand Mandarina). 🙂