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27 Mar 2016

SingaPlural Design 2016

I wasn't even aware that SingaPlural 2016, a design exhibition that was going on from 7 Mar - 13 Mar existed. It was just pure coincidence that I happened to be around Bugis that day, walked past that attractive looking poster and ended up spending more than an hour in exploratory mode. If I wasn't in a hurry, I guessed I would have spent my entire day there. It was a $10 entrance fee for the public while students and teachers could enter for free. 

Since I was alone, my ootd shots with some of the artworks/designs were taken by strangers. I would have taken much more shots if I were with my friends of course. I felt that art and design exhibitions definitely would be a good place to snap unique ootds pictures since no two works would be of similar concept. Everything was unique in their own ways, depending on the creator's level of inspiration.  

Since there were quite a lot of exhibits around, I guess they usually categorise them into similar categories or depending how large scale the works would be, thus assigning them a suitable space for showcase. That unique beehive looking table above was one of my favourites that day!

I wanted my ootd shot to be in that composition below but that little girl who took my picture ended up taking the picture above. Oh well, she just stood at the same position where I managed to ask her to take for me. This shows that different people have different perceptions of what would be artistic to them.

There were actually many other picture-friendly art/design area that would promote interactivity between the works and the public. Just that those more popular spaces were usually crammed with people trying to capture ootds as well. I was not the only one inspired to do that you see.

Works that attracts people to take with/of them usually involves certain elements such as craziness (cockroaches), cuteness (rocking tiger with music), simplicity (white shirts), artistic beauty (gradient walls), inspirational (mushroom lights) or maybe vintage/retro (some of the furniture).    

The visit to this exhibition flooded my brain with reminiscences of the time during my polytechnic days. The class studio, the mad rush for deadlines, consultations with lecturers, the strict critiques, the final year project exhibition that was similar to this and much more. Some of the artists and designers were present to explain their works for those who expressed their interest, whom might also be their potential bosses.
It was quite enjoyable and I would love to visit more of such exhibitions in future as well!

21 Mar 2016

Grand Mandarina Restaurant Review

Chinese restaurants seems to be getting far less attention as compared to their Western counterpart these days. Perhaps the overwhelming growth in the number of Western restaurants due to modernisation unknowingly supressed the presence of those few Chinese Restaurants. I felt that it would definitely be a sad thing for the Baby Boomers and Gen X if their children or grandchildren from the Gen Y / Z would not be able to find an authentic Chinese restaurant to celebrate their birthdays.

I myself admit that I wasn't really fond of Chinese cuisine since I being from a Gen Y category. I was one of those who seek exotic food thus neglecting the opportunity to thoroughly appreciate Chinese cuisines. We should all change our mind set to actually think that Chinese food is never comparable to Western. Before I begin the review of some of the prominent dishes that were served by Grand Mandarina Restaurant, let me just introduce to you the CEO, Benson Tong (on the right) who is the chef of vast experience gained from different F & B establishments, a F & B consultant as well as a private chef. On the left is Executive Chef Eric who helmed the kitchen of Grand Mandarina Restaurant. They work hand in hand, with a group of experienced chefs under their wing.

It is so true that diners would trust a chef much more since they are the ones who would prepare our food. It could be a physiological factor but the presence of chefs who made the effort to come out of the kitchen to interact with diners definitely set us at ease.

Cherry Tomato with Plum Sauce (Complimentary) 

With my plate's outer circumference glittering with gold, I couldn't wait for the meal to start!

We started off with the complimentary Cherry Tomato with Plum Sauce to whet our appetite. Popping the skinless cherry tomatoes whole into my mouth and enjoying the sweet-sour explosion that ruptured in my mouth definitely delighted me. I was already hoping to have more pops!   

Steam Vegetarian dumpling with dice assorted mushroom and vegetable in black pepper,  $4.80

Crispy Rice roll filled with smoked shredder duck and bamboo shoot,  $7.50

Pan-fried bun filled with mince pork and cabbage,  $5.00

The Steam Vegetarian dumpling with dice assorted mushroom and vegetable in black pepper is a vegetarian dish. An excellent option for vegetarians out there since this dish is one out of other vegetarian options from the menu. The crystal skin was of a chewy texture, slightly sticky and thin. Wrapped within was a mixture of mushrooms with a hint of peppery taste.

I admit that I squeezed an entire sliced segment of Crispy Rice roll filled with smoked shredder duck and bamboo shoot into my mouth, afraid that it would fall apart. It was actually skilfully and firmly wrapped that falling apart was not a concern to the other bloggers. The contrasting texture of the silky smooth cheong fan and the 'crunch' factor pleasantly surprised me. (As crunchy as a fried bean curd!) 

The Pan-fried bun filled with mince pork and cabbage, also known as shen jian bao was definitely not an easy dish to prepare. Since making it would be rather time consuming, many places in Singapore do not sell this dish. The bun itself was a mixture of slight fluffiness and crisp, resulted from pan frying. The ingredients were quite compact but could do better with more meat.

Crackling pork belly,  $18

Signature Crystal Char Siew, $18

Roasted Duck with summer truffle sauce, $32 

Being a meat lover, I rejoiced at the sight of meat.

As we all know the skin of pork belly has 2 types of textures. Biscuit hard or waffle crisp, explained by Chef Benson. The skin of the Crackling pork belly here belongs to the waffles crisp texture that doesn't challenge our teeth. As for the fatty juicy tender meat, I had no issues with them.

The Signature Crystal Char Siew definitely was my favourite dish that day. Just like its name suggests, the char siew was evenly torched, its surface caramelising and forming a thin layer of delicate 'crystal'. I could even hear the cracking sound as I bite into the tender char siew!

The Roasted Duck with summer truffle sauce was also one of the restaurant's note-worthy dish. Nothing would go wrong with crisp skin, tender meat as well as fats (not everyone would enjoy eating fats though). Not forgetting the presence of little truffle bits spotted in the sauce itself. 

Deep fried Chilean Seabass with crispy fish skin served with egg white crumble and golden broth, $26/pax

Steam wild yam in Imperial sauce, $12

King prawns in Coconut, coconut crustacean broth with silken longevity noodle, $26

Deep fried Chilean Seabass with crispy fish skin served with egg white crumble and golden broth was another dish that plays with textures. The fish skin was as crispy as a keropok (prawn cracker), balancing nicely on the slab of Chilean Seabass which was also slightly crispy on its outer and firm within. It compliments so well with the fluffy texture of the egg white as well as the rich golden broth. 

The textures of Steam wild yam in Imperial sauce somehow reminded of aloe vera in terms of its firmness as well as its sliminess, not necessary in a negative way. Chinese yam was used for this dish with vinaigrette and finely sliced chilli padi to enhance but not overwhelmed the neutral tasting yam.

The last dish that I was so tempted to try but couldn't, due to allergy was the King prawns in Coconut, coconut crustacean broth with silken longevity noodle. The coconut husk was first steamed before the prawn broth boiled with coconut juice was added in. By observation, the noodles was silky smooth and the other bloggers were enjoying slurping them down. I could also only watch them enjoy extracting the cholesterol juices of those big prawn heads as well.

Dessert of the day

Last but not least, we had Dessert of the day which was not from the menu. (You may make a call to check if its available.) I felt that each component of the plated dessert was to be enjoyed separately since they were not exactly complimenting each other. I would say it was a Chinese version of petite four that includes coconut ice cream, red bean paste, durian pengat and crispy charcoal shell coated with black and white sesame seeds. 

Overall the dining experience was surprisingly positive, from a Gen Y person's perspective whom wasn't quite fond of Chinese cuisine in the first place. Thanks to Chef Benson who loaded us with plenty of F&B knowledge regarding the dishes as well as his team for the preparation of the food. Thanks Vet for extending the invite as well.

The restaurant is situated in a really accessible location, conveniently located just a road across Outram Park MRT Station. It is a 2 storey building that should not be difficult to spot.

Grand Mandarina is open daily from 11:30-­2:30pm for lunch and 6:30-10:00pm for dinner.

325 New Bridge Road #01/02-00
6222 3355