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Jiang-Nan Chun Singapore Restaurant Review

Chef Albert Tse Wai Shing Paves the Way to Modern Chinese Cuisine

by Juliet David

Jiang-Nan Chun Restaurant

Outside of China and Hong Kong, the best place to enjoy a wide range of Chinese cuisine is Singapore. Here in this little island-city-state is to be found a wide selection of the many regional cuisines of China, including Szechuan, Cantonese, Hunanese, as well as those from Beijing and Shanghai, and even the lesser-known ones.

A fascinating new development is the birth of Modern Chinese Cuisine, a hybrid creation that is gaining popularity within the culinary community in Singapore. Amongst the Chinese restaurants that offer their interpretation of Modern Chinese Cuisine, the best is The Four Seasons Hotel Singapore’s Jiang-Nan Chun Restaurant, where Chinese Executive Chef Albert Tse Wai Shing reigns as one of the region’s top veterans of Chinese Cuisine.

A five-course tasting menu for lunch at Jiang Nan Chun, well-known for its traditional Cantonese cuisine, presented in an innovative, contemporary style, is a delightful experience that I was able to share with André Gayot while in the midst of one of his around the world voyages in quest of the best.

It begins with a trio from the restaurant’s signature dim sum selection: deep-fried yam dumpling filled with Chinese mushroom and chicken, steamed dumpling with minced shrimp and crabmeat, and fresh scallop with minced chicken dumpling. But the novelty is that each dumpling is prepared in the classic Western tradition that added an intense flavor dimension.

The second course, braised sharks’ fin with crab meat en papillote, is sharks’ fin baked in a paper pouch and served with a distinct flourish as waiters snip away the wrappers to release the fragrance of the protein-rich combs of sharks’ fin topped with succulent wedges of crab-meat and smothered in superior chicken stock. It’s a magnificent treat
for the taste buds and for the eyes as well.

The third course featured one of Chef Tse’s award-winning gastronomic creations:
Fresh Abalone with Truffle
braised quality fresh abalone with truffle. This delicacy took two whole days of preparations, beginning with six hours of steaming of the fresh whole abalone in a stock made from combining chicken, pork ribs, sea cucumber, dried mushroom and Shaoxing rice wine. The abalone is then removed from the stock and air-dried for one whole day to develop a glaze and enhance the “bite.” It is then returned to the sauce, to which shaved truffle is added and slow boiled for two hours, after which it is left to soak for another day for the flavors to be absorbed. Before serving, the abalone is quick-braised and presented whole, garnished with seasonal greens and truffle shavings, and bathed in the rich much-reduced sauce. As the sauce ingredients and natural abalone juices have melded so perfectly, one can easily imagine that the explosion of flavors presented by each succulent mouthful of abalone defies description.

Spinach Bean Curd and Sautéed Monkey-Head Mushrooms with Oyster Sauce

The simplicity of the next course, braised homemade spinach bean curd and sautéed monkey-head mushrooms with oyster sauce, provides a clever contrast to the richness and depth of the two preceding dishes. The fist-sized monkey-head mushroom is named for its physical resemblance to a monkey’s head (This probably gave rise to the popular tale of the barbaric practice of eating of live monkey brains. But really, has anyone out there ever experienced it first-hand?). The monkey-head mushroom, as its name implies, is a member of the mushroom family and, of course, not of the monkey family. Thoroughly edible, it is served in bite-sized slices, sautéed in oyster sauce. Crunchy to the bite with a smoky, nutty flavor, it contrasts well in taste and texture with a smooth, spinach tofu.

A Chinese meal has come to an end when the fried rice or noodles (as in our case) is served. But after such a succession of magnificent dishes it was difficult to do justice to the tempting, delightfully crunchy seafood fried noodles that appeared there before us.

A finalist in the Asian Ethnic Chef category of the World Gourmet Summit in Singapore in 2002, Chef Albert's summarizes his happy philosophy of food:

“I derive great joy and happiness in cooking and creating new dishes, and I hope to translate that into my dishes so that any guest who walks into my restaurant will eat away their worries and anxieties when they dine on my food.”

Indeed, our lunch provided a totally satisfying experience.

This classic Cantonese menu is modernized in its presentation, and its interpretation is prepared with finesse and imagination by one of the finest Chinese chefs in Singapore at Four Seasons Singapore’s Jiang Nan Chun Restaurant, named after the rich verdant lands south of China’s Yangtze River. Gayot/GaultMillau, who remember discovered “The Nouvelle Cuisine“ in 1972, is more than intrigued by this trend represented by Chef Albert. Make no mistake, this is not simply a variation of “fusion.” It could very well be the “Nouvelle, Nouvelle” of the global village.

Not to be missed if a visit to Singapore is in the cards.

Jiang-Nan Chun Restaurant
The Four Seasons Hotel Singapore
190 Orchard Road
Singapore, 248646
(65) 6831-7305


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