Jade, the choice of name for a Fine Dining Chinese restaurant is perhaps one of the most apt. While not overly exorbitant in sheer adjectives, the term alone leaves a sense of fineness, mystique, glimmer and most importantly, class.
And it is the place of choice for my 20th birthday where I celebrated it with my family and most importantly my two grandmothers. Already in their twilight years, they are just like the fine pieces of shimmering green with its robust features and cool textures. And I must say that for my 20th birthday, this has been a very special moment.
The Fullerton Hotel, formerly the Singapore General Post Office, exudes a breathless feel and its architecture is reminiscent of the wide spaced, glorious structures during the majestic buildings of the colonial years yet hinting with a touch of classic Greek inspiration.
With its facade overlooking the once bustling Singapore river, this was where the beginnings of modern Singapore started. Now, towering skyscrapers, colossal to the restored shophouses that line the river form part of the scenery.
Tradeships and sampans no longer, now the river pays homage to the electric boat filled with tourists and the occasional Singaporean wanting a breath and view of the Singapore story.
The Singapore River itself is lined with bronzed sculptures depicting the life of former Singapore.
And you might just spot the cats who are “playing” by the river. Very realistic.
From past to present, The Fullerton Hotel has stood the test of time. It is a piece of memory that has lasted through the generations and this is the very place where I shall begin my 20th year into the decade.
The meal was simple, not extremely lavish in nature but intricate in variety and ambience. Dim Sum buffets are uncommon in Singapore and with one at Jade, a promise of classiness and elegance it an almost definite accompaniment to the meal.
First dish on the table. Crispy Honey Vinaigrette Sliced Sea Bass. Very crispy, sliced pieces of bass that were coated in a sweet yet sesame fragrant sauce. Thumbs up for this unique entree.
Soups are limited to one serving per diner. And there is a choice out of 4 different types. For me, I had the Braised Spinach with Crabmeat and Roe in Chicken Consomme. Quite warm and hearty with the flakes of crabmeat and roe adding a touch of decoration to the broth, otherwise it is essentially a chicken and spinach soup.
Now, the Beef Brisket with Chilli and Chinese Peppercorn is one dish that should be ordered. Very, very tender with a melt in the mouth texture. Excellent. The Hone Glazed Barbecue Pork tastes almost like Char Siew, has an aroma almost like Char Siew, so I suspect it is Char Siew.
Ahhh, the Deep Fried Prawn Coated with Wasabi Mayonnaise. Crispy, yes. Topped with a sauce of tropical fruits, yes. Wasbai leaving a good lasting kick, maybe.
This was good. The Crispy Chicken with Mushroom, Dry Chilli and Spiced Fragrant Salt is not overtly oily yet coated with a daring amount of spices and flavour that will tickle the tastebuds.
Of all things Chinese, I found this adaptation of the Ngoh Hiang to be interesting. Named Tea Smoked Bean Curd Sheet Roll, there is a typical stuffing of fish paste, vegetables and spices that is wrapped in a bean curd sheet that exudes a warm tealike aroma.
Unfortunately, this is one dish that didn’t leave to impress. The Deep Fried Golden Cheese Dumpling was filled with a rather tasteless cheese, which I suspect to be mozzarella. It could have been done better with an extra sharp cheddar or even vintage edam. Or if they were daring enough, blue cheese? But I reckon that would make the dish distinctively non-Chinese.
Crispy Prawn Dumpling is so-so.
Ah, this dish was presented uniquely with the table going “wow..” The Pan Fried Pork Dumpling had each piece adorned with its own “pancrisp hat”. Dip it in the chilli vinegar sauce for flavour.
The Steamed Abalone Siew Mai was served up with a tiny piece of abalone placed on each siew mai with a somewhat haphazard attempt to garnish the top with prawn roe. Good if you want to eat abalone, but rather ok in taste and texture.
Compare these two dumplings – The Poached Shrimp Wanton with Chilli Vinegar Dressing (red) and the Steamed Crystal Prawn Dumpling. Tastes almost the same except for the vibrant red hue encapsulating the crab meat dumpling. Wanton skin dried out rather quickly resulting in the filling falling off and the skin sticking to the chopsticks and paper base. Still, nice to the crunch and munch with crisp fillings that are almost crystal in nature. Do pardon the pun.
I would have reckon any typical value for money go getter would have spotted the Steamed Shark’s Fin and Scallop Dumpling. Shark’s Fins on its own does not add any presence to the overall taste and it only looks good and exquisite. Scallops were fine but I suspect the made the filling with an addition of prawn paste as well. Still, good enough for 2-3 servings.
When it comes to the Pan Fried Radish Cake, I must say that it should have been softer, more jelly like and with a generous sprinkle of ingredients within.
The Steamed Crystal Crab Meat Dumpling was unique for its black dumpling skin that hint strongly of a seaweed colouring. Not too bad, something different and out of the box. When it comes to the Steamed Beef Ball with Sun-Dried Orange Peel, I must emphasize that nothing beats a well blended meat ball with spices. And this dish was just right for me. Nice touch of shoyu about as well.
The Steamed Xiao Long Pau is a little small with a little too much stuffing in the center. Resulting in only a teaspoonful of broth is present. Though, it was still good and I regret not ordering another basket.
I know its a buffet but isn’t the portion of Steamed Pork Rib with Black Bean Sauce a little dismal? 3 tiny pieces. That’s all. But then again, the choice parts of soft bone is nothing to complain about.
The Steamed Chicken Feet with Oyster Sauce looks tempting but I didn’t try it. So I would just leave the picture to express its taste to you.
And to top off the meal for me, I had a serving of Congee with Preserved Egg and Shredded Pork. The sparkle of the dish is the topping of crispy biscuit lookalikes (found in Yu Sheng) that add a delightful crunch to the overall texture in what would only be a smooth and savoury porridge. Top marks!
The restaurant knew it was my birthday, and a complimentary portion of Chocolate Mousse was served to me with the waitresses and captain singing “Happy Birthday” much to my grin.
The Weekend and Public Holiday Dim Sum Buffet is quite value for the price as there are 50 dishes to choose from and a majority of them are well crafted to suit the palate. While the establishment loses a little marks in the fried foods section and with the absence of tarts, they mark up for it in the setting and comfort factor. And definitely, this was one birthday to remember!
The Fullerton Hotel
1 Fullerton Square
Tel : 6877 8188
Sat, Sun & PH Dim Sum Buffet : $33++ (Adult)
Two Seatings : 11.30am to 1.15pm & 1.45pm to 3.30pm
Attire : Smart Casual, no slippers