Jumbo Seafood is known for its chilli crab, but that is actually not my favourite dish from this popular local chain of seafood restaurants. I find the sauce too sweet and ketchupy, probably because I do not have a sweet tooth.
But I do like the chilli crab dim sum items specially created for its latest outlet at Ion Orchard.
The restaurant, which opened almost two months ago on the fourth floor of the swanky mall, marks the chain's first foray into Orchard Road. It is also the only outlet to offer dim sum.
There are three types of chilli crab items - Baked Jumbo Chilli Crab Puffs ($8.80 for three), Pan-fried Jumbo Chilli Crab Buns ($8.80 for three) and Chilli Crab Meat Sauce With Sliced Fried Mantou ($16.80).
The last item is the closest to eating actual chilli crab, except that you don't get a whole crab, only crab meat without the shell. But the sauce is different. It is a lot spicier and less sweet, which gets it my vote. Eaten with accompanying deep-fried mantou (wheat bun), it is also a lot less messy to eat.
My favourite, however, is the baked puff, which is like char siew so but with the char siew filling swapped with chilli crab sauce. The pastry is light and buttery and goes perfectly with the spicy filling.
The pan-fried buns, which are derived from Shanghai buns, are less successful because the dough is too thick and overwhelms the filling.
There is one other dim sum item I heartily recommend. Rice Rolls With Prawns And Laksa Sauce ($6.80) reminds me of curry chee cheong fun in Kuala Lumpur, with the rice rolls drenched in a mildly spicy gravy. I have always found flat rice noodles to be perfect for laksa and am glad to find this dish here.
You should also try the Crispy Fried Cigar Spring Rolls Stuffed With Prawns ($6.80), which are very crispy and packed with sweet and springy prawn paste.
The more common dim sum items I tried, such as Siew Mai ($6.80 for three) and Har Kau ($6.80 for three), are run-of-the-mill though.
The new outlet also features dishes that are exclusive to it. They include Cod Fish Otah In Coconut ($16.80), with the otah steamed in a whole coconut and gratinated so the top layer is a bit burnt. It tastes good, but the texture is a tad dense. Perhaps the spicy fish mousse should be whipped further to introduce more air for a lighter mouthfeel.
Another new dish, Boston Lobster Fragrant Rice In Seafood Broth ($78), is good as it is. It's what the Chinese called pao fun, a dish where puffed rice is added to hot broth at the table to create a sizzling effect. The broth here is delicious and the rice stays a little crisp even while it soaks up the flavours.
A cheaper option is King Prawns And Fragrant Rice In Rich Seafood Broth ($38), which is similar but with prawns instead of lobster. That gives the broth a different flavour, which is good too.
Another attraction for the Ion outlet is the view. The main dining room is small, but it looks out on the Orchard Road and Scotts Road junction. In the day, you get daylight streaming in and at night, the twinkling lights outside create a pretty effect.
Unlike the other Jumbo outlets which are popular with big groups, you find smaller tables - for two to six persons - to accommodate the executive crowd and smaller families who are more likely to form the clientele here. There are private rooms for bigger groups.
Follow Wong Ah Yoke on Instagram @wongahyoke
The Straits Times paid for its meals at the eateries reviewed here.
04-09/10 Ion Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn, tel: 6737-3435
Open: 11.30am to 3.30pm, 6 to 10.30pm daily
Food: 3.5 stars
Service: 3.5 stars
Ambience: 3.5 stars
Price: Budget from $70 a person, more for live seafood