(THE NEW PAPER) - When you first step into Nanjing Impressions, you might feel like you've stepped into the set of a Gong Li movie. The lanterns on the ceiling provide a sky of lights, and you'll feel like you're dining at a courtyard.
All this in the middle of Plaza Singapura, so that was impressive. Pardon the pun, but Nanjing Impressions left a good first impression.
Founded in 1994, it has 40 outlets around China, and it just opened its first in Singapore.
A few weeks back, I was invited to eat at the original outlet in Nanjing.
The Singapore menu is smaller, but the restaurant has kept a lot of its key items.
This is great for Chinese diners, but the quality of raw ingredients differ, so manage your expectations.
The pricing is not as friendly as it is in China too. Expect to spend about $40 each person here.
You cannot miss the Poached "Lion's Head" Meatball (above, $13.80) because it'll be the one you talk about for the next few days.
Fatty meat and lean meat are diced and combined, steamed and served in a simple and delicate broth.
The sweetness of the pork is highlighted by the fatty texture. You won't be able to finish the ball by yourself, so order this as a shared dish.
The next dish is a seemingly simple dish, and you won't be faulted if you thought it was a noodle dish either.
It is actually strips of bean curd.
The sesame-scented Beancurd Julienne (above, $11.80) is smooth and fragrant, and this cold starter is a great warm-up to the meal.
The Jinling Signature Salted Duck (above, from $16.80) is the dish you must try when in Nanjing.
It was salty but still juicy and aromatic when I tried it there, but that wasn't the case here.
Thank goodness the main part of the Baby Rooster Stew with Special Sauce served with Crispy Sesame Bun (above, $23.80) is good because the sesame bun is a fail.
The Nanjing version of the bun was crispy and not heavy, unlike these.
Still, the sauce - slightly salty but with plenty of flavours - makes up for it.
One dish I didn't like when I was in Nanjing was the Celestial Roast Duck Dumplings (above, $6.80 for three), I felt it was too dry and salty. The one here isn't.
Each dumpling contains the right amount of soup and shredded duck.
#04-46 to 51
Opens daily, 11am to 10pm