Dad’s birthday was on 11 June. The day before, I thought to treat him and Mum to lunch at Cherry Garden, Mandarin Oriental, after our 13 week scan. Dad isn’t big on celebrating his own birthday and doesn’t like the whole cake and candle surprise business, so I knew a nice meal would make his day. That, and knowing that this was his last birthday before being upgraded to ‘grandpa‘.
After our order for a few dim sum items was placed, we were treated to an appetiser of pork belly. Now, I’m usually one to turn away at the sound of ‘pork belly’ – I’m no fan of the gelatinous layers in between the meat and ever since I was little, when given Chinese roast pork belly (‘Sio Bak‘ or ‘Sio Yuk‘), I would carefully deconstruct it to eat only the lean meat and leave behind the fatty layers.
Upon Dad’s egging on to try Cherry Garden’s rendition, I gave the smallest one a try and had to admit that it was incredibly delicious. Sure, it was coated in some awesome, sweet, sticky, spicy sauce, but its texture was more chewy then gooey. I had another piece, before surrendering the last to Dad since I know how much he loves these kinds of dishes (and doesn’t often get to indulge in them).
We ordered Har Gao with Black Garlic, Steamed Crystal Dumplings with Fresh Mushrooms and Black Truffle, Congee with Seafood, Steamed Glutinous Rice with Cantonese Chicken Sausage and Mushrooms wrapped in Lotus Leaf…
My favourite was the Steamed Crystal Dumplings – lovely, delicate, thin, chewy skin that lovingly held a generous amount of vegetable filling. It had good texture and a good whiff of truffle without being overpowering.
The congee had an ample amount of fish, scallops and prawns. It was smooth and light, although my favourite still goes to Imperial Treasure – I like my congee smooth and thick. Har gow was well executed and the steamed glutinous rice was also very light. The rice used was not as glutinous compared to what we usually get, and not as oily either. I enjoyed their version actually!
We also had a serving of Stir-fried Greens with Mushrooms and Black Garlic…
Vegetables were well executed and we enjoyed the sweetness of the black garlic to highlight the earthiness of the greens.
And finally, we also had these uber cute, Fried Yam Puff with Duck Meat.
I’m more used to the yam puff filled with minced chicken and dried shrimp. While these were well fried, and the yam paste was smooth and savoury, I felt that the duck in its sweet sauce came on a little too strong.
As dessert, our dear birthday boy decided to order dessert – Yam Paste with Pumpkin Puree and Gingko Nuts, from the Teochew Cuisine June 2019 Menu. This was a single serving. Mum and I had a try before allowing Dad to slowly relish his birthday ‘cake’.
Dad’s a Teochew boy and it’s not often these days that you can find really good yam paste desserts (Orh Nee) around. We all gave this two thumbs up. It wasn’t too sweet, the pumpkin puree went perfectly with the smooth, rich paste, helping to keep it from getting too heavy and cloying.
Next evening, on Dad’s actual birthday, Flo and I brought Mum and Dad to Folklore at Destination Hotel for Peranakan food.
We had Ngor Hiang, Chap Chye (always a must-order at Peranakan restaurants!), Beef Cheek Rendang, and Four-Angled Bean Salad. We were pretty impressed with the food, and the generous portions, since most Peranakan restaurants charge the same price but for half the amount of food. For a Tuesday evening, it was pretty well filled. We could have ordered more but luckily, decided to start with these four dishes which ended filling all of us up, along with copious amounts of rice.
The Ngor Hiang was well-fried, not oily, and had good texture from chunks of meat and chestnuts. I liked that they fried the whole piece before cutting it, instead of cutting then frying – just a personal preference. That being said, Mum’s is still the best!!
Chap Chye was pretty robust from the seafood broth used to braise the vegetables in. I still enjoyed it but am more used to lighter versions. Actually, I’m just more used to the Teochew version but am a sucker for chap chye whenever I see it on any menu. I lap it up anyway just because I love the softness and natural sweetness of cabbage juxtaposed the crunch of black fungus and the slippery strands of tanghoon (glass noodles) all flavourful from soaking up the juices of the veggies.
Beef Cheek Rendang was so tender, so melting, and they actually gave a whole cheek which was pretty huge! Dad loved this dish especially. He has a weakness for rendang, especially well executed rendang.
The Salad was refreshing and perfect for whenever the other dishes started feeling too heavy on the palate.
Overall, we all left with very happy, very full bellies, and I think my three little piglets were all stuffed as well from their dinner with Grandpa. I still cannot imagine them this time next year, they should be about 6, 7 months old… celebrating Grandpa’s birthday. I cannot wait! I pray that Dad will continue to be blessed with wonderful health, that he’ll worry less about me, and that he will always be rich in happiness and wealthy in love. I LOVE YOU DAD! Always!