Usually, when you’re looking for Chinese cuisine, there’s two ends of the spectrum to pick from. If you’re trying to please the more traditional elders in the family, you’d be advised to err on the safe side: think good old dishes that have been done to death. Delicious, but not quite adventurous. Or, you can go experimental. But that’s not always a good option when it’s a large group.
Nestled within these walls is a really cosy place to gather and eat!
Which is why I was very pleasantly surprised when I recently dined at BLOSSOM, a fairly new outfit at Marina Bay Sands. It’s located in the lobby of the hotel area: I admittedly had some misgivings about noise, thinking it might be a little too bustling. But the design of the restaurant put me at ease quite quickly. Nestled along the side, with tasteful partitions, the high ceilings of the lobby dissipated noise while allowing a wonderful amount of light to come in. As the evening went on, the light faded, setting a wonderful atmosphere around the table.
What the interior of the restaurant looks like. All that natural light.
But of course, ambience only brings you so far. The purpose of visiting a fine dining establishment like this one is to eat, and there is not much point if the food’s not up to scratch.
Luckily, it’s more than up to scratch: it will probably satisfy the older generation with its quality, and pique the tastebuds of the more adventurous with its subtle twists! I began my meal with two appetisers: Crispy Silverbait with salt and pepper ($12++) and the Deep-fried Fresh “Huai Shan” (a carrot cake of sorts) topped with pork floss ($10++).
This silverbait is good. Really.
The silverbait disappeared quite quickly: it was crispy with punch, and definitely very more-ish. It came with a light batter, with bits of spice embedded in it. Altogether, while it’s a type of dish you can get elsewhere, there was something I quite enjoyed about this version.
The carrot cake with pork floss, on the other hand, was definitely unique. The carrot cake bits were crisp, but still moist and crunchy inside. The pork floss added a burst of flavour that really came out nicely, and the taste just keeps growing on you. I started by eating more of the silverbait, but kept taking the carrot cake subconsciously. Definitely something to try!
Next up was the combination platter, with 3 items: the Golden Pear Stuffed with Minced Pork ($5.80++ for 3 pieces), BLOSSOM’s Signature Steamed Prawn Dumplings ($7.80++ for 4 pieces), and the Steamed Siew Mai with Quail Egg ($7.80++ for 4 pieces).
Combination platter for the tasting; you’ll have to order each item dimsum-style!
Do not be fooled by the appearance of the golden pear: it merely resembles one (beautifully so, in its presentation). But it’s actually a semi-savoury dough that is slightly gooey, with minced pork inside and a crispy stem. The dough is made from tapioca flour, with that elusive QQ texture that’s quite the rage in Chinese cooking. I know your parents taught you not to play with your food when you were growing up, but I think the chef had a lot of fun playing with the food he makes here!
The prawn dumplings were interesting as well, with a bit of squid ink. Firm bite of prawns, though this wasn’t as unusual as the other dishes. What I enjoyed though, to my own surprise, was the combination of siew mai and quail egg. The siew mai has crunchy prawns, and the quail egg has a gorgeously soft centre that goes with the texture. Have a bite of each together, and you’ll get quite the flavour explosion!
After the dimsum, came the Baked Chilean Cod in Chef’s Recipe ($26++). This was a real highlight for me: soft, milky cod, with a tangy sauce that goes excellently with the fish. Usually, you’ll find that cod can be rather limp, and the sauce dominates a bit too much, with the fish providing just texture. Here, the sauce managed to balance the flavour explosion of the tang with the opening for the fish’s fragrance to come through. I’m told there’s a mix of Japanese soy sauce and mirin here, but Chef was rather discreet about his own secrets! Definitely try this!
Unassumingly stellar cod: this was great!
The next dish came out rather interestingly: shrouded in a glass cover all steamed up. Naturally, curiosity got the better of me and I got rather excited!
As it turns out, it was the Smoked Chicken with 15-Year Old Pu Er Tea Leaves and Chrysanthemum ($50++ per portion). This was really quite the surprise for me, and ended up being a real highlight. Most chicken served in Chinese restaurants can be a bit boring: dependable, tasty, but boring. And I’ve sat through enough Chinese banquets to associate them with the last bits of the meal: it comes out, people eat it, and the rice course comes out after.
This was different. This was very different. Somehow, they’ve managed to smoke the chicken to have it still be juicy, but with incredibly fragrant tea aroma in each bite. I am not kidding: this dish had me baffled in how wonderful it was. Each piece had a luscious bite to it (gently coated in the natural oil from the cooking), and a wonderful head of the pu er.
Look at how glorious this is. Gorgeous. Just gorgeous.
There is nothing I can say about this dish that won’t fall short of the mark. Just order it, and experience it for yourself. It’s a real winner.
Last dish of the night: Crispy Rice and Lobster in Lobster Soup ($24++). After the excesses of the previous dishes, this was a nice comforting note to close on. The soup had a sweetness from the crustacean that counterbalanced the richness of the meal prior, and lobster bits had just the right amount of bite to it. The addition of the crunchy bits of crispy rice (popped and then fried) gave it a nice texture in the mouth: this is not your usual lobster soup dish! Overall, this was a simple dish, but evocative of the colours and home in its complexity. I can imagine coming here just to have this on those days when you need something simple to relax with.
BLOSSOM was quite a surprise: for the location and cuisine, prices really are quite reasonable. I’d come back with the family folks for special evenings when you want to cater to a broader spectrum of tastes without sticking to the boring tried and tested. Remember to order the smoked chicken!
Thank you Blossom for the invitation.