Bangkok Post reviews
On cloud nine, almost
- Writer: Bangkok Post Editorial
- Published: October 26, 2012 at 8:11 am
A taste of the Lion City's legendary signature dumplings, and more
Dine amidst the garden with a modern Chinese feel.
Back in Singapore, Paradise Dynasty resembles a dark lavish cave, with lots of black marble and velvet too, and, honestly, food that didn't really taste that great. Except for the legendary signature Dynasty dumplings, the dishes in the food court probably taste better than the offerings there. And fried rice, but if you can't master fried rice then, well, reconsider your existence.
When Paradise Dynasty finally arrived on the shores of Thailand and opened in Paragon a month ago, I prayed to the Food God harder than ever that it was not going to be a full-on fail like the home branch in the Lion City.
Thankfully, there were many differences to note, with the first being interior design. The Paradise Dynasty here is a white-hued and sunny pleasure, with plenty of sunlight from the floor-to-ceiling windows and a spacious dining area. The vibe is also more casual and modern, with wooden sofas and fluorescent green chairs against the backdrop of contemporary wooden dividers and potted plants to create a Chinese garden.
Pork dumpling with hot chilli sauce.
A sleek wooden pavilion creates an outdoor atmosphere and stands in the centre for large groups that would like to throw parties.
With no in-your-face "Chinesey" extravagance, it's practically the opposite of the dim and crowded branches in Singapore. The menu, however, is a carbon copy with its three main categories of noodles (la mian), dim sum and fried/appetisers.
The most important and legendary luminary that has brought this restaurant its fame is, of course, the signature Dynasty dumplings or xiao long bao (eight flavours/285 baht). The different flavours are original, ginseng, foie gras, black truffle, cheese, crab roe, garlic and Szechuan. For the love of fusion, you have not lived until you have tried it. Steamed just right and generous with the broth inside, the best and most flavourful ones are original, foie gras and garlic. The dish is really a smash both taste-wise and originality-wise, but all could have had a more distinctive and stronger flavour that beguiled me when I first tried them in Singapore.
Another unique cold dish here (albeit less celebrated) is the chilled assorted egg loaf in Yang Zhou style (125 baht). Cut into slick rhombuses, the texture of the normal egg is like woon, or Thai jelly. It is extremely smooth and light as a feather, with chunks of century egg and salted egg at the bottom. It's not heavy despite being an egg dish and it still looks sleek even though so many different types of eggs are thrown together. The saltiness from the preserved egg gives it perfect weight that makes it worship-worthy.
Chilled assorted egg loaf in Yang Zhou style.
Noodles here are quite a punch too and although they enjoy nowhere near the god-like status accorded the dumplings, they are still worthwhile. La mian with dried shrimp and scallion (145 baht) was selected. If it strikes you as mundane, look at the cooks in the see-through kitchen and remember that they are (toiling and) kneading the noodle flour one bowl at a time.
Despite the simplicity of this dish, the tremendously pleasant taste from the broth and fresh noodles won't leave you bored. It's also easier on the tongue compared to la mian with Dan Dan sauce (145 baht), which is plain spicy and devoid of any other taste. Boo.
Pork dumplings with hot chilli sauce (6 pieces for 125 baht) were not a disappointment either. Each piece is more than sufficient to give you a mouthful of the soft pork and cooked to the perfect temperature. The sauce is also not too spicy and brings just enough acidity to cancel out the greasiness you've encountered so far.
The rice dish that was picked was Shanghai fried rice (195 baht). Again, it looks terribly plain, but you will be amazed once more at how simplicity can pack a wallop. It's fried dry just right and leaves the slight lingering aroma of the wok. Opt for this instead of the usual egg fried rice you see at Chinese restaurants. A handful of desserts are also available, with the noteworthy ones being chilled aloe vera and osmanthus jelly in honey lemon juice (75 baht), and pan-fried pumpkin pastry (three for 75 baht).
I wouldn't say Paradise Dynasty is a divine, celestial trip to cloud nine, but it is still well worth a visit. Things here come fast, but also leave fast. In this case, I'm referring to taste: eat it hot or don't eat it at all. I can't emphasise it enough _ DON'T wait for the late idiot boyfriend because as the minutes fly by, so will the good taste. Especially with the signature dumplings: the minute they touch down on your table, gobble up all that glory immediately to get those euphoric bursts of paradise, because we all know it's never easy to catch a glimpse of heaven. Not at this reasonable a price, anyway.
La Mian with dried shrimp and scallion.
Signature Dynasty dumplings.