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It was meant to be a Chinese New Year dim sum gathering with a couple of my makan kakis at Taste Paradise Ion. Unfortunately, only the ala carte menu was available because it was still within the CNY period. Which was fine with me, considering that I had a great meal at Taste Paradise Mosque Street 2 years back.
It must be posh interior fatigue that I was suffering from because the dim lighted luxurious interior with huge paintings of past Chinese emperors certainly didn't impress me much. But I must say it's definitely nicer than alot of the Chinese restaurants out there.
Crispy Silver Bait - We got off to a great start with the crispy silver bait, as recommended by our waitress. The silver fish was crisp and sweet with a touch of sour. Portion size was quite small so get more to share if you have a big group.
XO Carrot Cake - What used to wow me back then turned out to be sheer disappointment this time round. It was overly soft and I couldn't make out any savoury aftertaste. The only thing I could make out was the spice from the chilli, if you consider that a taste. I reckon your local hawker centre could do a much better job at a less than half the price for the same portion size.
Roasted Pork - This dish of roasted pork takes edibility to a new low and I'm not kidding. Each tiny cube was literally one layer skin, one layer lean meat and two layers of fats. Sure, the skin was crisp but the pork taste was just too overwhelming (they probably didn't blanch it long enough) and they tried to mask it by seasoning it with more salt. Someone commented it was akin to literally biting into a raw pig and I can't help but agree. Gross.
Peking Duck - At least the peking duck didn't suffer the same fate as the roast pork. It was decently crisp but overall could have been better. The crepes were a little too thick and could have done with less sweet sauce. Oh and the crackers that came alongside were just plain bland.
We opted to have the meat fried with rice and it was average at best. Rather tasteless and a tad too moist with an evident fowl smell. Poor duck.
Yuan Yang Prawn Ball - Finally a dish that presented a glimmer of hope - the yuan yang prawn ball, comprising of one wasabi prawn and one laksa prawn, served up in a martini glass. While both were big and crunchy, I personally favoured the wasabi prawn over the latter as the laksa seasoning did seem a little bland and lacklustre as compared to the more provocative wasabi.
Garoupa in Two Ways - This was apparently the special for the day and it honestly didn't look or taste as great as what our waitress had described to us. Presentation wise, it looked haphazard at best with the steamed garoupa and asparagus occupying the centre and flanked by fried pieces of garoupa. Generally speaking, the fish meat was fresh but sticky (too much corn flour!) and not very sweet. I couldn't quite make out the delicateness of the fish.
Tofu with Crab Roe - Another bordering on average dish. I appreciated the generous serving of crab meat shreds in the gravy but could have done with a little more flavour. ie. crab taste. Same goes for the tofu as well, which was barely in existence. One interesting/weird thing about the gravy was that it had a sourish overtone that didn't sit too well with either of us.
The bill dealt a $360 blow to the 7 of us. Food quality was average but service was decent. I cannot fathom how an excellent dinner at Taste Paradise Mosque Street could culminate in such a poor showing at the Ion outlet. Looks like I'll be placing my trust elsewhere in future.
See all my pictures here.
All 7 of us went there happily craving dim sum but there wasn't any. It was the last day of the CNY and they didnt serve dim sum. So we settled for whatever they were offering ala carte.
Deep fried silver fish - I thoght this was the best dish of the day. Crunchy fish tossed with a tangy sauce that reminded me of what you get with a Thai salad. Quite a refreshingbite.
Fried carrot cake - didnt know where this came from as it wasn't on the menu and they said the dim sum dishes are not available. The fragrance was really nice but the taste didnt up to it. Too bland.
Roasted meat - 9 tiny cubes of pork. Warned by lunch mates, I lifted a piece to my nose and make the clever decision not to eat it. It smelt like a whole pig has been condensed into the tiny cube, resulting in a terribly overwhelming porky smell (and taste). Bravo to the 2 gentlemen at the table who ate more than one cube. One spat it out right after putting it into her mouth.
Peking Duck - Very nice presentation but taste didnt match up, again. The skin was not crispy enough and the sauce was overly watery. The crackers that came with it tasted bland too.
Fish done in two ways stired fried with asparagus - We were told this was only available that day. It essentially was garoupa sliced and stired fried, with the more bony parts of the fish deep fried to add to the volumne of the dish. Other than the fact that the fish was fresh, nothing special.
Prawn done in 2 ways - 2 deep fried prawns in wasabi and laksa sauce. Nicely presented in a glass and wasabi was okay, but what laksa????
Tofu with crab meat sauce and brocolli - bland tofu covered in bland roe-colpured crab meat sauce. The only saviour of the dish are the brocolli which added a nice crunch.
Fried rice with duck meat - we chose for the duck meat to be done this way. Was much more flavourful than the previous dishes but couldnt finish the single portion; a tad too oily.
Service was not too bad, although the lady who served us a few times had a perpetual frown on her face. We never found out why. Tea was refilled efficiently. Ambience felt Chinese grandeur in warm brownish tones.
Be warned that some dishes and tea are charged at per pax. Bill came up to $50 per pax, which was really not justified for the quality we got. For the same price we could have had many other options that will result a satisfying lunch. If they deliver this quality of food at their supposedly up-market outlet, I dread to think what the other outlets serve. Oh, and we were not told the fish was $80 which was pricer than the duck at $68.
The conclusion was maybe their dim sum is worth another shot, but I'm not sure.
Taste Paradise: please buck up.
Do you believe in fairytale? I do. The story of the Paradise group isn’t exactly a rise from the rugs to riches one, but it’s close enough. For someone who started off with a cze-char stall in the industrial park Defu lane, to a group of restaurants that includes the fine-dining Taste paradise, seafood restaurant Seafood paradise, and middle-range Paradise inn, doesn’t it sounds like a fairytale ending?
I have wanted to go to taste paradise for a very long time. But their original outlet at Mosque street does not serve dim sum, and so I waited until now for their new branch in Ion that has dim sum for lunch.
Having tried the most expensive xiaolongbao, and also the dirt-cheap-but-good ones in Nanxiang restaurant Shanghai; everything in between seem exceptionally ordinary to me. I know for a matter of fact there are people who love to pop a dozen of xiaolongbao ($3.80 for 4) into their mouth, but not me, one is enough.
Ladies and gentlemen, this, is the one you must try. I will go as far as saying Taste Paradise’s rendition is as good as the best char siew sou ($3.60 for 3) that I’ve so far, Buttery undertone of the flaky pastry, sweet and juicy char siew fillings, honey get your hands off the plate!
My dear, listen to me carefully for this is going to be very important, you need to have three for yourself, uh-uh, no sharing, and maybe that isn’t enough – make it six each!
I was contemplating whether to have the usual Siew mai & har gau ($4.80 for 4), we didn’t fancy having the former, thus only the latter was ordered. It might be a case of having too much dim sum, but the steamed prawn dumpling, unlike the char siew sou or custard bun, is just not ***-citing enough.
We also had the Steamed cheong fun with prawns ($5.20), it was some sort like a go-between, not fantastic, but not all bad either. Increasingly, it’s getting more challenging to get a good cheong fun. The problem lies with me, and me alone. Define what makes a good cheong fun: the rice rolls must not be too thick that it will stick to the teeth, nor can it be too thin that the roll breaks and expose all the ingredients. The fillings of prawn or char siew must be fresh, and the light sauce must be able to make the simple cheong fun taste good.
For someone who do not like yam except for yam cake, I always find myself ordering the Fried Taro puff ($3.60 for 3) when I’m having dim sum. This one was pretty disappointing, the fried crispy exterior was not too bad, but the yam fillings were too mushy for my liking.
I tasted Custard bun for the first time about one and a half years back, since then I only had it on just a few several occasions. I remember very clearly staring at the ordinary-looking bun, the kind of buns that you get from the neighbor coffeeshop, whatever it is, those that taste plain and boring.
Imagine my reaction when I torn apart a small corner of the fluffy-light bun, hot molten custard fillings flowed out like lava from an erupting volcano, I scrambled to save every single drop of the yellow-golden fillings – they are oh-my-god, so good! ‘Yummy…!’
Towards the end, we had a second round of custard buns and were deciding whether to have one more serving of the char siew sou or go for the Baked BBQ Pork Bun ($3.80 for 3). I had fond memories of this dish, but the one here wasn’t what I thought it was, instead of the bo luo bao texture, it tasted more like deep-fried bread. The char siew fillings were great, but I’d rather have the crispy puff pastry than the honey-glazed baked buns.
* * *
I have always insist that my favourite dim sum place is Yanting and Royal China, but now, we have a new addition to the list for best dim sum – Taste Paradise. There’s a problem though, it’s affordable, and it’s right in the middle of town. I’ll probably forget about all the other dim sum, and just binge on the char siew sou and custard buns – they are that good! See you there!
Long story short, if you like my review please do come by ladyironchef . . . for the delicious in you
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