Tucked away at the second floor of the Grand Mercure Singapore Roxy in Katong is Jia Wei, an unassuming Chinese restaurant in the chain hotel. Although most of Singapore’s best Chinese restaurants are usually located in town, this Katong gem piqued my interest after an acquaintance on Instagram posted a couple of mouthwatering dishes from the venue. A quick check at various websites also revealed a few value-for-money deals so the decision to come was really a no-brainer.
Get a 20% discount voucher at Jia Wei here
As of this writing, I have been to Jia Wei three times. The first two times were for the value lunch sets. Portions were quite big and I was amazed by the 4 courses that came with the meal I chose. Following that, I was invited by the restaurant for dinner to check out the ala carte menu.
Jia Wei uses locally sourced ingredients whenever possible and that includes the greens in its vegetable dishes and even some of the seafood. Believe it or not, Singapore does have a thriving agri/aquaculture sector.
For starters, we had the Crispy Local Farm Soft Shell Crab with Crystal Ice Plant, Plum-infused Tomato and Yuzu Dressing (S$20). This was simply a delight to the senses with its varying textures, most notably from the ice plant that gave it a cold, crispy feel. This juxtaposed nicely with the distinctively sweet tomato, made fruity due to the plum infused in it. The yuzu dressing on the other hand wasn’t as pronounced as I expected.
A must order at Jia Wei is the Crispy Iberico Pork Collar with Sweet and Sour Hawthorn Sauce (S$28). Sweet and sour pork is a guilty pleasure of mine and this restaurant’s rendition comes with a delectably tangy sauce that would go nicely with a bowl of plain rice. The Iberico pork used here ensures that each piece is as plump as can be, with less of the starch fillings that often overwhelm this quintessential dish in other places.
Jia Wei has just 5 vegetable dishes in its menu with an emphasis on leafy greens. The Wok Fried Local Farm Pea Sprout with Minced Garlic (S$22) came recommended and didn’t disappoint with its chewy stalks.
While it is tempting to just settle with a bowl of plain rice – especially given the juicy sweet and sour pork that came previously, the Jia Wei Ocean Gems Vermicelli in Opeh Leaf (S$28) is a carb dish I can personally vouch for. As the name suggests, the noodles came brimming with lots of seafood including scallops and prawns as well as generous servings of mushroom. The secret here is the broth which has been boiled for hours using chicken stock, giving the vermicelli a heightened appetizing flavor.
Chef Victor dishes out seasonal courses which change by the month. During my visit, I chanced upon his beguiling barramundi and sea bass fillet, where the meat of the two types of fish are lumped together as if to form the continuous whole of one. It was a rather interesting thing to see and a first for me to encounter. The flavor was enhanced with what seemed like chye poh or preserved vegetables.
We ended the meal with a highlight for dessert – the Chilled Home Made Coconut Pudding with Ice Cream (S$12) was presented in a novel manner, with the pudding and ice cream housed inside a young coconut and with smoke billowing out of dried ice for added effect. Theatrics aside, I found it to be a rather refreshing sweet ending. The coconut pudding here is homemade and you can immediately make out the greater concentration of the actual fruit in Jia Wei’s version compared to the ones readily available in the supermarkets.
Overall, with this third visit within a span of six months, I remain quite impressed with Jia Wei. It is quite underrated and not a lot of people know about it but the food is really quite topnotch. It is one of those few restaurants that I have saved in my mind and intend to revisit regularly. The ambiance may be a tad ordinary but the cuisine certainly is not. I can’t wait to be back soon.
Jia Wei Restaurant
50 East Coast Road
+65 6340 5678
20% discount vouchers for Jia Wei available here