Paradise Group welcomed its most recent dining outlet in July – a Paradise Teochew branch in Takashimaya. The 5,300 square foot space is the second of the same concept by the group, the other being the Scotts Square outlet that was renovated just recently.
The Takashimaya space is rather swanky, and features a grand entrance evoking a feeling of calm. Unlike many other Chinese restaurants, the space gets a lot of natural light especially when one sits by the elongated windows. Paradise Teochew has 7 VIP rooms which are tastefully done up with recurring motifs of flying swans and marble dining tables adding a touch of sophistication.
Teochew cuisine is one of Singapore’s most popular but it isn’t usually seen in a similarly glamorous light as, say, Cantonese cuisine. The availability of classic dishes such as braised meats, Teochew porridge and kway chap in coffee shops and hawker centers throughout the country make Teochew cuisine seem pedestrian compared to its regional counterparts. At Paradise Teochew, this perception is somehow mitigated by the masterful technique of the culinary team as well as the premium ingredients included in some of the quintessential dishes.
Being a Teochew restaurant, I was curious to see how the Teochew Dumplings (S$6.80 for 3pcs) would be interpreted here. Indeed, the dumplings are not of the standard variety found elsewhere. What makes Paradise Teochew’s Teochew Dumplings different from the rest (even when compared to other Paradise Group restaurants) is the inclusion of peanuts which add a nice crunch to each bite.
The Siew Mai (S$7.80 for 4pcs) came plump and juicy with a generous filling of pork, prawn, mushroom and sole fish. Overall, it is reliable and as tasty as I recall from visits to other Paradise Group restaurants. This is not a Teochew dish but Paradise Teochew does have a decent range of dimsum to offer in the day.
The Deep-fried Prawn in Beancurd Skin Roll (S$7.20 for 3pcs) was particularly noteworthy because the skin was flakier than what I often encounter. Paradise Teochew’s version is lightly coated with flour before it is deep-fried, so it’s not just purely the beancurd skin that fills the exterior. It was also slightly peppery and reminded me a bit of the skin of the Taiwan fried chicken street snack.
Tomato broth does not figure regularly in Chinese cuisine but I thought pairing it with pomfret – the most quintessentially Teochew of all fish – worked wonders. The Stir-fried Pomfret Fillet with Tomato and Salted Vegetables (S$42) contained generous portion of pan-fried pomfret while the soup was made with a combination of chopped Italian tomatoes, salted vegetables and celery, among others. The soup dish is served in a clay pot to retain the heat throughout the meal. In terms of heartiness, the soup is somewhere in the middle with the tomato flavor figuring in prominently. It’s not heavy but it wasn’t a lightweight either.
One of the most laborious Teochew dishes to prepare is the Braised Crisp-fried Sea Cucumber with Superior Abalone Sauce (S$22.80 per person). In Paradise Teochew’s version, the sea cucumber is first soaked for 8 to 10 days and deep-fried to achieve a crispy exterior. Compared to the crispy sea cucumber I’ve tried elsewhere, Paradise Teochew’s version seems to contain a light coating which prevents any surface of the sea cucumber itself from getting burnt. Sea cucumber is a type of meat that naturally absorbs the moisture surrounding it so the key in having a good one is the sauce. The abalone sauce used here was more on the lighter side, as evidenced by the color as well. I liked that it was not too heavy on the palate.
You can get a few types of braised meat at Paradise Teochew including pork, duck and even innards if you are looking for something similar to kway chap. I had the Teochew Style Braised Trio Combination Platter (S$32) which consisted of Irish fat duck, pork knuckle, sliced octopus as well as a couple of pieces of tofu. The highlights here were the duck and pork knuckles which had to be braised for 45 minutes before resting for 30 minutes. This resulted in meat that was soft, with a flavor that provided for an attractive mix between sweet and sour.
My favorite dish of the meal has got to be the Minced Pork and Conpoy Teochew Porridge (S$11 per person). Any self-respecting Teochew restaurant has to do its porridge well and the one here certainly did not disappoint. Mine came in a claypot and was brimming with dried sole fish, minced garlic and hand-beaten minced pork that were cooked in a superior broth before the grains of rice were added. As comfort food, the Teochew Porridge here hits the right spots with its umami notes.
Yam figures in heavily in Teochew cuisine, especially when it comes to desserts. Rather than having a cookie cutter Orh Nee, which is already too predictable, our Teochew Style Trio Dessert (S$6 per person) offered a few surprises. The trio consisted of an egg tart, deep-fried yam stick and Deep-fried Japanese Sweet Potato Puff with Yam Paste topped with Gingko Nut and Pumpkin. The puff was the best of the three, in my opinion. It’s practically orh nee but in a small edible “bowl” encrusted with sesame seeds. The yam paste possessed a smooth consistency and I thought it contrasted nicely against the crispy shell.
In Singapore, suggesting a Teochew restaurant for a family gathering is usually an easy way to get the consensus of family members. If you are looking for a more refined Teochew experience and with a heightened ambiance as well, this new outlet of Paradise Teochew is worth a try. I dropped by for lunch on a Tuesday when approximately half of the diners were tai tais having tete-a-tetes over braised duck and dimsum. I would imagine the clientele being vastly different on weekends. Whichever group you fall under, you are likely to leave with a satisfied tummy.
391A Orchard Rd
+65 6805 8994
Daily, 11AM to 3PM / 6PM to 10PM (opens at 10:30AM on Saturday and Sunday)