MIN JIANG'S NEW CHAPTER
On Oct 8, Goodwood Park Hotel's 38-year-old Chinese establishment Min Jiang will reopen after undergoing a refurbishment.
The elegant restaurant - designed by acclaimed architect Ernesto Bedmar - now boasts a brighter interior accented by warm honey-hued textile panels, white marble table and counter tops, and chairs upholstered in patterned or mustard fabric.
Start with the new dim sum offerings, exquisitely crafted by Master Chef Chan Hwan Kee. The Min Jiang Land and Sea Quartet ($16.80, lunch only) features rabbit-shaped steamed prawn and carrot dumpling; carrot-shaped deep-fried glutinous pastry filled with pork char siew and crunchy pine nuts; steamed squid and sea cucumber dumpling; and steamed prawn and Chinese stem lettuce with tobiko 'starfish' dumpling.
Standout dishes from the a la carte menu include the slow-braised beef brisket, tendon and radish ($36 or $72), and roasted chicken skin with prawn paste in sesame pockets ($36 or $72). The chicken skin, crispy beancurd skin, Japanese cucumber and rock melon are stuffed into a crisp sesame pocket with a deliciously spicy hoi sin sauce.
For a noodle dish, try chef Chan's stewed wonton noodles ($18 a person) with sweet Argentinean red prawns, deep-fried wanton topped with tobiko and the quintessential cubes of lard.
Complete your meal with deep-fried purple sweet potato with a crispy milk filling ($20 for eight pieces) and topped with gula melaka syrup. It is hard to stop at one.
WHERE: Min Jiang, Goodwood Park Hotel, 22 Scotts Road
OPEN: From 1pm on Oct 8, 11.30am to 2.30pm (Mondays to Saturdays), 11am to 2.30pm (Sundays), 6.30 to 10.30pm daily
SPICY RICE AND NOODLE BOWLS
If you find regular grain bowls too bland and boring, head to Chengdu Bowl - a spin-off concept by Chengdu Restaurant in Amoy Street - for a good dose of spice. Takeaway is also available from Chengdu Restaurant's sister outlet Taikoo Lane at Chinatown Point.
No bland chicken breast on salad here. Think la zi ji (Sichuan mala chicken), spicy sliced beef or juicy pork belly over pearl rice or whole-grain brown rice (from $10.60 for a small portion). Sides include corn, edamame, xiao bai cai and preserved vegetables. Toss the ingredients together to get a bit of everything in one bite.
Aside from the standard rice bowls, my two top picks are the Prawn Paste Noodles with Sour Pickled Soup (from $10.60) and Sichuan Spicy Maocai ($13.80). Both pack a tongue-tingling punch.
The house-made prawn paste balls have a nice chew, and I slurp the springy noodles with the sour and spicy soup.
The maocai, a Sichuan stew, has all my favourite ingredients that pair well with mala - sliced lotus root, soy bean sprouts, luncheon meat, fungus and enoki. It comes with rice, which you will need to balance the heat.
OPEN: 10am to 8.30pm daily
INFO: Order here or on GrabFood and Deliveroo
PEI PA KOA-INSPIRED KOMBUCHA
It has been used in cocktails and bubble tea. Now, kombucha gets a dose of herbal cough syrup Pei Pa Koa.
Homegrown brewery Le Vyr (levure means yeast in French) has launched a Herbal Remedy kombucha ($8), which has loquats, honey and menthol mint.
It is both bizarre and brilliant. You don't get the thick texture of the cough syrup, yet the concoction smells exactly like it.
The more I drink it, the more it grows on me, and I like the cooling sensation at the back of my throat.
Other local-inspired flavours (from $7 for a 330ml bottle, $35.50 for a bundle of five) include the calamansi-infused Teh Limau and Kopi O, which is brewed with local coffee beans. I also like the pronounced pineapple flavour from the Singapore Sling kombucha.
If you're not keen on kombucha, try the milk kefir (a fermented milk drink, from $7.50 for a 250ml bottle). The Mango Sago flavour reminds me of a mango lassi, while the Raspberry Ripple comes with white chocolate wafers for dipping into the kefir - like having an ice cream wafer sandwich.
INFO: Order here. Free island-wide delivery for orders above $50, or pay $10 for delivery.
CRYSTAL JADE'S READY-TO-COOK KITS
Do-it-yourself meal kits are one of the best things rolled out by restaurants during the circuit breaker.
After its ready-to-eat and frozen products, the Crystal Jade Group has now introduced ready-to-cook kits, with seasonal packages launched fortnightly.
Each kit includes clear cooking instructions and neatly packed ingredients - all portioned and prepped - for one dish. Good for those who still want to cook a hot, restaurant-quality meal but have no time to shop for or prepare ingredients.
I order the sauteed premium beef with black pepper sauce ($13.80, good for up to two people), which comes with tender sliced beef and the right amount of black pepper sauce to coat each piece; and mapo tofu ($9.80, good for two to three people) with minced pork, mushrooms and spring onions.
To complement the dishes, I also order the La Mian with Scallion Oil ($10.80, good for two people), topped with dried shrimp powder and deep-fried scallions. It is a best-seller at Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao.
The three dishes take only about 15 minutes to cook. It is quick, fuss-free and the food taste good. And I also love how the ingredients are sliced and diced with finesse - clearly done by a chef.
INFO: Order here ($10 delivery charge) or self-collect at Crystal Jade Palace in Takashimaya Shopping Centre