Whenever Flo takes me to a nice restaurant, I always share about the experience with Mum straightaway. She lamented one time about how she’s not dined at a Michelin-starred restaurant before even though she has dined at many fancy restaurants. So I promised that come her birthday, I’ll take her somewhere nice.

Mum’s birthday fell within the 15 days of Chinese New Year and also, she was on her final day of her cruise trip so we weren’t able to celebrate the actual day. Also, with Chinese restaurants promoting their Lunar New Year Set Menu, we decided to wait until after to go for there birthday lunch.

After Flo’s and my wonderful dining experience at Summer Pavilion late last year, I thought it’d be nice to take Mum to a Chinese restaurant so Summer Palace it was. Turns out Mum’s had dim sum here before with her girlfriends so technically this wasn’t her first time at a Michelin-starred establishment. No matter because it’s nice to be spoiled and I like being able to spoil her.

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We were treated first to a one-bite amuse bouche to whet our appetite.

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This single cherry tomato was sublime – cured in a sweet, sour concoction to yield a juicy, tangy mouthful of deliciousness.

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Before lunch commenced, we were presented with longevity buns in lieu with Mum’s birthday celebration. This is perhaps the first time we’re eating longevity buns for a birthday. Haha. You can imagine that our family’s not big on Chinese traditions. I’ve never ever had a boil of mee sua with an egg for any of my birthdays. I’m not even sure if that’s a Chinese thing or dependent on which dialect group you come from.

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These peach-shaped hot fluffy buns were filled with lusciously smooth lotus seed paste. I liked that it wasn’t too sweet although less dough and more filling would have made it stand out further in my books!

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Our first course was the Chef’s dim sum platter consisting of three pieces of dim sum. Both steamed items were cooked perfectly. I cannot stand overcooked dim sum because it renders the delicate skins too soft making them break easily.

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The Squid Ink and Seafood Dumpling was topped with salmon roe and filled with a generous chunk of crab roe (if I’m not wrong) within. It was rather innovative, visually tasty and had a subtle richness that came from the seafood within.

The Lobster Dumpling had a delicate wrapping coloured into a lovely hue of jade green from the use of spinach. A single, red goji berry sitting atop with dots of black caviar created a pretty picture overall. It was a delight to the eyes and to the tongue with the lobster cooked tender and sweet.

The Baked Barbecued Pork Bun with Pine Nuts was quite generous in size. It was more savoury than I expected, much to my delight. I enjoyed the fluffy bun that was topped with a more biscuit-like crust as opposed to the sugar crusted one by THW. It was definitely heavier and slightly on the dense side but it help the wetter consistency of pork filling well.

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The Superior Chicken Soup with Conpoy (dried scallops), Fish Maw and Chinese Cabbage came bubbling in a Stone Pot. They provided smaller bowls to spoon soup into to cool which was very considerate. The flavour of the soup got more concentrated with time as the liquid evaporated from the scalding heat of the bowl. It was exceptionally flavoursome from the sweetness extracted from the scallops and cabbage, and the generous size of the fish maw made it a hearty and filling. I actually felt really full after this.

But…

We still had Crispy Suckling Pig stuffed with Minced Prawns and Kailan Two Ways to devour.

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The crispy pig skin with minced prawn and almond flakes was highly textural. Still slightly oily from a thin layer of fat beneath the skin, its richness was tamed by the minced prawn stuffing. I’m not a big suckling pig fan by any means so I have little else to compare this to. Not my favourite course but it was interesting. I did enjoy the nicely poached kailan though and didn’t quite need the fried shredded version on top.

By the time the ‘carbs’ course arrived, I was bursting!

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Still, I managed to find space for the Stewed Lobster with Ee Fu Noodles. Well, more the lobster than the noodles really. Mum and I were both expecting small morsels of lobster atop a pile of noodles. What arrived was a full half a lobster! I happily dug out its sweet, succulent flesh but had to leave most of the noodles untouched.

Finally, we arrived at dessert.

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The Nian Gao was not my thing. It reminds me a bit of mochi? This is the thing – I’ve only maybe had nian gao like once in my life that I can recall and that was back when I was still in primary school I think?

What I did enjoy was the Chilled Lemongrass and Aloe Vera with Mango which was refreshing, as was the Osmanthus and Goji Berries Jelly. Again, I’m not a very jelly person but this had a lovely floral aroma from the osmanthus with bursts of natural sweetness from the goji berries.

I liked that the desserts in general were not too sweet at all. They were light and dainty – perfect for rounding off a very sumptuous, very filling meal.

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We were completely stuffed after lunch and decided to work off some of the food with a walk around Ion. To be honest, this was quite a tough meal to get through especially once the feeling of fullness set in. In a way, I feel as though the joy of spending time with her was marred somewhat by the unsettling thoughts of having eaten ‘too much‘ and looking ‘too fat‘. Still, no regrets because Mum means the world to me and I’m glad we did this.

I hope to be able to ‘spoil’ her from time and time. In fact, we agreed on having a mother-daughter date once a month where we’ll have a nice, but not necessarily fancy, lunch followed by the afternoon together. I love being able to talk with her, confide in her, and listen to her stories too. I hope that with each date, I’ll be able to revel in her company completely with fewer and fewer and eventually no ED thoughts to cloud our time together. Already I look forward to our April shenanigans.

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