April 29, 2016
Four Seasons Hotel’s Jiang-Nan Chun bounds back into the fine-dining scene after a months-long hiatus with a new look and concept.
Their fresh concept of Xiang Le Zhu Yi (享乐主义), meaning the principle of enjoyment and happiness, champions pleasure-seeking and fulfilment. As promised, every aspect of our Jiang-Nan Chun dining experience felt lavish and luxurious, down to the most intricate details.
Much thought has been put into the revitalisation of the restaurant, evident in the restaurant’s new interior that melds opulent furnishing with Jiang-Nan influences.
The blue streaks in the plush carpet mimic the movement of the Yangtze River, while the peculiar netted lighting is symbolic of the fishermen and their livelihood. These subtle touches meld to an almost story-like effect, lulling diners with an idyllic scene of life in Jiang-Nan.
As part of the Xiang Le concept, Jiang-Nan also boasts a curated and extensive tea list. Staff members assisted us in selecting and pairing teas based on the dishes that we would be having.
I found this to be a valuable service, as it exposed us to new varieties of tea (White Peony and eight-year aged Pu’Er with Mandarin Peel to name a few) where many of us would have stuck with tried-and-tested Chrysanthemum or Tie Guan Yin.
We began our meal on a high with the Signature Jiang Nan Chun Peking Duck ($98 for a whole duck), which was carved at our table by the Chef himself. The process of preparing the duck is an elaborate one, and I was surprised to find that Jiang-Nan Chun is one of few restaurants to utilize a mesquite-wood fired oven.
The high temperatures of the oven roast the duck skin to a beautiful amber crisp, all the while preserving the soft succulence of the red meat.
Two different crepes, scallion and plain, were served alongside julienned scallion and cucumber to complement the duck.
The Signature Jiang Nan Chun Peking Duck also arrived with a ‘Xiang Le‘ twist: a side of chilled caviar for the ultimate indulgence. Though it would have been equally satisfying without, I felt that the twinge of sea-saltiness from the caviar added a unique dimension to the Peking Duck wraps.
After our wraps were devoured, we were served the Soft Shell Prawns with Sliced Almond and Crispy Rice ($15), a highly addictive dish whose name is really quite self-explanatory. We agreed that the crunch of the puffed rice would be the perfect accompaniment to an ice-cold beer on a lazy day in.
Next to arrive was a combination of the Crispy Puff Pastry with Black Pepper Beef ($3/piece), Char Siew Slider with Pickled Green Chilli ($15/serving) and Steamed Shrimp Dumpling with Eryngii Mushroom ($2/piece).
My personal favourite was the slider for its generous cut of Kurobuta pork in a sweet char-siew sauce. The rather inconspicuous green chillies were tart and tangy, balancing the richness of the meat perfectly.
Jiang-Nan Chun’s dim-sum can be ordered on a per piece basis, which comes to me as a welcome relief from tricky ordering situations involving dim-sum served in baskets or longs (笼). Everybody knows it’s a chore to eat in groups of 5 when most establishments serve 3 or 4 pieces of dim-sum per basket. Now, the struggle is over.
Jiang-Nan Chun is known for its double-boiled soups that are characteristic of Cantonese cuisine. We tried one of the newer additions to the menu, the Sea Whelk, Maka, Dried Scallops and Pork Rib Soup ($38).
The soups at Jiang-Nan Chun boast wholesome ingredients with a plethora of wellness benefits. Boiled for a remarkable sixteen hours, the soup was rich in flavour, yet felt light on the palate.
The Steamed Cod Stuffed with Mushrooms and Water Chestnuts in Paper Roll ($38) was a visual delight. Elements of the Chinese legend of Xi Shi are subtly reflected in the aesthetics of this dish — do ask the staff to explain it to you if you have this dish, I found myself quite amazed by the story.
As a Xiang Le surprise, the Chef visits your table to shave luxuriant black truffle over the rice paper roll, apparently meant to symbolize Xi Shi’s down to earth personality. Altogether, the dish was delicious, with clean and fresh flavours from the cod and mushrooms.
We also enjoyed the Wagyu Oxtail with Aromatic Lemongrass Infused Oil ($32). Slow cooked with red wine, the meat was unbelievably tender and melted right off the bone. The lemongrass added a subtle fragrance to the thick sauce, which would have been simply lovely served over steamed rice. But by this point, we were beyond stuffed.
Jiang Nan Chun has a refreshing take on traditional Chinese restaurant desserts. For dessert, we sampled a trio of desserts. From left, clockwise: Crispy Salted Egg Yolk Puff Pastry with Almond ($12), 似水流连 Shi Shui Liu Lian ($14) and 花样年华 Hua Yang Nian Hua ($14),
The Crispy Salted Egg Yolk Puff Pastry with Almond was a sublime golden sphere that oozed warm almond paste. Think liu-sha bao, but crispier, sweeter and with a distinct almond filling. 花样年华 Hua Yang Nian Hua, on the other hand, was very refreshing with cold avocado cream, coconut sorbet, osmanthus jelly and cacao nibs.
I particularly liked 似水流连 Shi Shui Liu Lian, which was an interestingly modern combination of yoghurt cream, mung beans, longan, chia seed and sour plum granite. The components seemed to me somewhat mismatched at first, but the flavours and textures actually worked very well together.
With delectable Cantonese cuisine and intuitive service staff, Jiang-Nan Chun offers one the opportunity to immerse oneself in mesmerizing storytelling and decadent dishes.
If you are feeling indulgent, do pay Jiang-Nan Chun a visit.
Jiang-Nan Chun is offering a 25% off their Signature Peking Duck now. Simply call the restaurant and quote “25% off Peking Duck” to book. In addition, there is a special wine-pairing promotion happening at $65++ for 3 glasses of wine, curated by resident wine experts.
Expected Damage: $80 – $100 per pax