The customary Chinese tea was served into some very nice China, and the chilly night wind that had managed to seep through my thick skin and was tingling my bones while I was outside was quickly contained. I limited myself to just one cup - any more and I knew I'd be over doing it, and declining completely seemed...rude (I don't know why). The real 'warmer' came next - a Thai mojito. With an almost freaky red colour, the Thai mojito actually did the trick. It wasn't too potent, but had enough buzz in it from the spices and the alcohol to actually whet my appetite. The last time I was here for the Melange brunch, the cocktails were quite a hit with my friend and me. This time around wasn't any different.
We started off with a lemon coriander soup. The soup tasted good, but I'd have really liked it if it was a clear soup and not a semi thick soup. And then, the starters began to arrive. Two kinds of sui mai - chicken and veg - made their way to the table, and in no time were these dim sums polished off. Going through the menu, I'd have liked to see a slightly larger variety of dim sums on the menu, given that this is a Chinese place. It would have been a great way to differentiate themselves from the other Chinese restaurants.
The prawn tempura with the wasabi mayo sauce was a really very good - just the right amount of tempura flour used to coat the prawn, and fried to perfection. I didn't want to seem greedy, so settled for two pieces. In hindsight, I should have had a couple more :) The veg spring roll is a good option for vegetarians, and it's surprisingly not very heavy in spite of being deep fried.
The chicken with roasted chilli paste and yellow rock sugar sounded very Thai - roasted chilli pasted, yellow rock sugar - very Thai, and the taste didn't disappoint one bit. While the lack of several other Thai ingredients in the dish can be questioned, and also the spice levels, the taste of the chicken and the amount of time it was cooked for were great. The chicken was still succulent and juicy, and the spice levels didn't make you reach out for your glass of water. The last of the veg dishes, the crispy fried wild mushrooms was pretty decent, but I didn't really pay too much attention as to how many types of mushrooms were int he dish.
On to the mains, but before that I had another round of the mojito. The chef had come and spoken to us in between and checked on us before heading in to work on the food. For the main course, there were quite a few options that were presented on the special menu that was on offer, but I was a bit disappointed that there was not a single pork dish offered, given that Chinese cuisine wouldn't be complete without pork. The menu did have Cantonese roast pork or roast pork ribs, and that would've been perfect!
The two non veg dishes in the main course - the sliced chicken with pokchoy and mushrooms as well as the sliced river sole with mint and pepper sauce - were brilliant. The river sole in particular was quite refreshing as most places now used that blasted basa for white fish. The sole had a mildly sweet taste to it, and a slightly firm texture. The fish went perfectly with the mint and pepper sauce it was served with. The sliced chicken, on the other hand, was a slight contrast to the fish. The meat was tender, and the mushrooms in the dish gave a slightly musty flavour to the dish.
Vegetarians who like tofu, the tofu and pokchoy stir fry with Schezwan sauce is one of those dishes you could opt for. Silky in texture, and slightly spicy in taste, this is perhaps ideal to club with a simple fried rice. The assorted string beans with garlic and chilli seemed like a very blah dish, but the beans we were served were crisp and tender, with the garlic-chilli combo providing in taste what the beans provided in texture. The shredded potato stir fry with spring onions and soy sauce seemed better as a starter is the sauce wasn't as watery, as it would be fun to pick up the string thin potato and munch on it. The standard carbs were provided in the form of fried rice and noodles.
Finally, after all this food, there was dessert, and a fresh fruit roll with ice cream was served. The fruit rolls, although seemingly deep fried, was quite nice and didn't feel too heavy at the end of the meal. Maybe it was just the ice cream and some psychological thing, maybe it wasn't.
Overall, we had a nice meal. When it comes to the new menu that Shao has put out, it still seems a little conservative in terms of the dishes on board, almost as if they were playing it a little safe. A little more adventurism and a little more depth in the menu would have set them apart from the rest by a long shot. However, this could just be the first of many changes, so hopefully this brings them the success it was intended to, and hopefully that in turn leads the chef to get a little more bold with the selection of dishes.