I have fond memories of visiting Min Jiang as a kid, and I recall with nostalgia many meals there. The wood-fired Peking Duck at the One-North branch has always been a highlight for me as well, although it has been many years since I have been to either. Since I’m not going to be in Singapore for Chinese New Year, I jumped at the chance to have a festive meal at a restaurant that I would be sure wouldn’t disappoint.
The meal started with a few snacks that Min Jiang sells to takeaways in jars. Proving that the salted egg yolk fad isn’t about to die down any time soon, fried lotus root coated in salted egg yolk, chili padi, and curry leaves was a delicious way of distilling the original tze char sauce into an addictive snack. (14/20) ($36.15/jar)
Bak kwa strips were also very good, although I have to admit I would have found far more pleasure tearing into a huge square of meat. Perhaps useful when you haven’t yet surrounded all sense of dignity like I tend to do in the face of food. (13/20) ($53.50/600g, 83.45/1kg)
We then moved onto what almost always signals the start of a Singaporean or Malaysian reunion dinner: yusheng. Each plate has a rooster drawn onto it with edible food colouring, which is very pretty indeed (and extremely Instagram-worthy) but of course doesn’t add any actual flavor to the dish. In an effort to elevate the dish, ikan parang (wolf herring) was replaced with amberjack (kampachi for those more familiar with Japanese fish names). It’s a substitution that makes sense, since both have fairly similar flavor profiles. However, I do feel like the subtle flavors of the amberjack were lost in the sweetness of the sauce. Extending the attempt at making the entire dish slightly Japanese, wasabi was also added. While interesting, I’m not sure it really made the dish better. I get it, as a society, we seem to fetishize Japanese food far more than Chinese food but was this really necessary, or even an improvement? Nonetheless, I didn’t enjoy the yusheng any less than I normally do. (14/20) ($168++ for 6 people)
Next, we got a sampler platter of another takeaway set that Min Jiang does. This consisted of Ngor Hiang, Salted Egg Yolk Prawn, Jellyfish, Sesame Chicken Wings and Coffee Pork Ribs. ($115.55 for 6-8 people)
Ngor Hiang was competently cooked, and there was little I could actually find to fault about it. However, I just had an absolutely spectacular variant at Candlenut last week (although undoubtedly more expensive) that this could not even come close. (13/20)
Salted Egg Yolk Prawn was fairly ordinary, and again I could find little to fault, even if it was boring. The sauce had plenty of flavor, and the consistency just thick enough to coat the prawn nicely. This did benefit from an excellent prawn, though. If nothing else, the ingredients have been outstanding. (14/20)
Jellyfish was very nicely crunchy, and the sauce well balanced with a very tasty, sweet, tang to it. I do normally like it slightly spicier than this variant, but that does come down more to personal preference than anything else. (15/20)
Coffee pork ribs was, I am told, made with Kurobuta pork. Again, I’m not sure about the merit of insisting on sourcing from Japan apart from being able to boast about it on the menu. In this case, while tender, I think the lighter flavor of Japanese pork actually detracts from the dish considering the coffee flavor in the sauce is so strong. The sauce was also far too sweet, throwing the balance off. Heavy-handedness with sugar was going to be quite a trend in this meal. (13/20)
Chicken wing with a sweet and sour sesame sauce was also overwhelmingly sweet to the point of being cloying. The chicken itself was cooked well, although I wouldn’t expect any less from a restaurant of this caliber. (13/20)
Next was double-boiled chicken consommé with abalone, wanton, and fish maw. This was undoubtedly the highlight of the meal. The broth itself was spectacular, with great depth of flavor and the premium seafood used in the stock shining through. The prawn wanton was very luxurious and with the excellent prawns Min Jiang seems to stock, also fabulously tasty. The fish maw was of very high quality as well, and fantastically slippery in texture. Possibly the only letdown was the abalone, which was of a markedly lower standard than those I’ve had in Japan. Then again, Japan probably isn’t the fairest benchmark when it comes to seafood quality. Overall, this was amazing and I would come back just to have this again. (17/20) ($228++ for dine-in, 243.95 nett for takeaway, 6 people).
Braised pork belly with sea treasures was very luxurious with sea cucumber, scallops, and abalone. Again, the abalone was the weak point here. Cooked in claypot, everything else was of a wonderful standard, the pork belly fantastically fatty. The sauce was rich and full of flavour, bringing together all the ingredients wonderfully. I was very happy eating this dish indeed. (16/20) ($268++ for dine-in, 286.75 nett for takeaway, 6 people)
With the savory dishes wrapped up, the dessert courses arrived. A golden pineapple which I had mistakenly thought of as decoration turned out to be a vanilla sponge cake masquerading as a gaudy Chinese New Year ornament. While sure to turn a few heads with its presentation, I’m not entirely sure it adds much to what was very ordinary vanilla sponge cake. The sponge cake, for one, had neither pineapple nor gold in it. (12/20) ($94.15 nett, 1kg)
The other larger than life dessert for the night was the restaurant’s ‘Huat’ tart, which is really just a massive pineapple tart. The filling was refreshingly, pardon the pun, tart, with the acidity providing a very nice balance. Due to the size of the tart, the filling-to-pastry ratio was much higher than one would normally get in more normal-sized variants. I’d wager this was a good thing, because no one ever complains of more filling and the pastry crust itself was rather ordinary. (13/20) ($40.65 nett, 500g)
We were also served three variants of ‘nian-gao’. The first was a twist on ondeh-ondeh, with coconut dusting coating the glutinous rice ball. I enjoyed every moment of the two bites this lasted for. The sesame nian-gao was slightly strange, with the sesame sprinkling feeling almost like an after-thought, never really complementing and feeling separate from the rest of the sweet. It’s called ‘yuanyang’ on the menu, which is a term often used to describe a ‘pair’ of unlike items, but still felt very jarring to me nonetheless. Finally, there was a durian roll nian-gao, which while very tasty, was a little sweet for my tastes. (14/20 for all 3) ($27++ for 9 pieces, $36++ for 12 pieces, $45++ for 15 pieces)
Overall, I had a very enjoyable meal at Min Jiang. It is as I remembered it as a child; tasty and hearty Chinese food in a lovely environment. I left with a full belly, feeling very happy.
This article is written by Joel Teo (@tipplingepicure) who eats too much, drinks too much, and is permanently caffeinated.
Min Jiang Restaurant @ Goodwood Park Hotel
22 Scotts Road, Singapore 228221
Tel: +65 6730 1704
Operating Hours: Lunch 11.30am – 2.30pm (Monday to Saturday),
11am – 2.30pm (Sunday)
Dinner 6.30pm – 10.30pm
Dim Sum High Tea Buffet available from 3pm to 5.30pm on Saturday, Sunday and Public Holiday
CNY Menu runs from 10 January to 11 February 2017