“Modern zi char”
Inside Ramada Hotel in the picturesque Zhongshan Park is the hotels’ restaurant, Flavours at Zhongshan Park.
Serving mainly Straits Chinese cuisine with a mix of western and seafood option, it has recently introduced a new “semi-buffet” concept with a wide selection of local zi char dishes.
Diners get to help themselves to a buffet speed and then select from a multitude of zi char dishes from the semi-buffet set menu. You get to pick a combination of 3 amuse bouche, 2 meat dishes, 2 seafood dishes, 1 vegetable dish and 1 rice/noodle dish. With so many dishes to choose from, there are about 40 possible combinations.
The semi-buffet spread features an ice crustacean bar, salad station, D.I.Y kueh pie tee station and dim sum. Your standard buffet fare with a balance of Western and Eastern influences.
First up on the list is a selection of 3 amuse bouche from the “Twist of Flavours” menu that is updated monthly. Pictured here is the deep fried scallop tofu with seaweed salad, baked miso cod and crispy beer marinated pork belly.
Sweet scallops blended with silky tofu and deep fried till crisp. The baked miso cod was a personal favourite, the luxurious cod fish oven-baked in a creamy miso sauce, bringing out the complex flavours of the miso.
The pork belly is praise-worthy as well, the skin roasted to a crackling and the meat really took on the robust flavours of the 24-hour long beer marinade.
The recommended seafood dish was the butter cereal prawns, which unfortunately didn’t deliver for me. The cereal coating was a tad soggy (perhaps due to the long photo-taking) and the prawn meat seems to be a bit mushy without that firm crispness.
The Fried Fish tossed in Flavours Signature Sauce fared better, with a unique sauce made of fermented black garlic bringing out the depths of flavour.
Out of all the dishes, the Pork in a Red Wine and Honey Ginger Glaze was my favourite. Crispy fried pork slices tossed in an irresistible glaze. Almost like a Western take on char siu, the sweetness of the pork totally complemented the honey glaze and another layer of complexity was added by the red wine. A very successful fusion dish in my opinion.
Left to right: Butter cereal prawns, Sautéed Kailan with hae bee hiam, Fish in Flavours Signature sauce, Beef in Black Bean and Pepper Sauce, Pork in Red Wine Honey Ginger Glaze and Fried Rice “stoccafisso” Salted Cod.
The sautéed kailan was fresh and crisp, not too oily, but could have definitely used more hae bee hiam though to really ramp up the savouriness.
The tender stir fried beef was a familiar local flavour, similar to that of what your mother would cook.
The fried rice was pretty well done, with every grain of rice coated in the fragrance of the salted cod. The salted cod gave it a more complex flavour compared to regular ol’ fried rice. A interesting change to what could have been a boring fried rice dish.
Caramelised Lamb Rack with Dried Chilli “kung po” style ($38.90++)
On the a-la-carte menu was another fusion creation, the chef’s signature balsamic caramelised lamb rack with dried chilli “kung po” style. The asian flavours of soy sauce are replaced with a balsamic reduction and topped with almonds not cashews. A bold take on a very traditional Chinese dish which paid off.
The richness of the caramelised glaze complemented the original flavour of the lamb, accompanied with the earthy almonds and sharp spring onions.
The semi-buffet requires a minimum of 2 people per table and comes with a free flow of white rice.
For a more refined take on local zi char, Flavours at Zhongshan is mostly successful at fusing both Western and Eastern influences together while keeping the communal spirit of eating zi char. With the gorgeous backdrop of Zhongshan Park as well.
Although some standard dishes could have been executed better, there definitely were dishes that stood out to me as something unique to the restaurant.
Here you are spoilt for choice, with a huge number of possible combinations for you to try each time. Which could be overwhelming and confusing for the indecisive diner. But it really is a bang for your buck. I was properly stuffed by the end of this meal.
Expected damage: $40++/pax on weekdays, $48++/pax on weekends (minimum 2 people per table)