Signature Dynasty Xiao Long Bao, $13.80 (Original, $6.80)
Food is a funny thing. It originates somewhere, but eventually ends up pretty different when it lands elsewhere after a couple of coats of local touches. The irony really kicks in when you find yourself digging the transformed product more than the original itself. A friend once commented that he really doesn't give a damn about authenticity as long as the food tastes good. I vehemently disagreed then, mainly because he was gushing about a Thai restaurant in Europe which really had me yearning for a plane ticket straight to Bangkok. But you know, in this context, he may just be right. I remember being full of anticipation when I visited Shanghai for the first time - the land of these little soup dumplings! Yu Garden (Yu Yuan) was my top priority, because that was where it all began, wasn't it? At Nan Xiang Restaurant. Unfortunately, my first bite left me aghast - thick, starchy skin, meagre soup fillings. That, that, was the original?
I'm sure you'll agree that for the longest time, Din Tai Fung, which originated from Taiwan, was the de facto standard in Xiao Long Bao worldwide. But Paradise Dynasty is certainly giving them a run for their money, at least here in Singapore. Xiao Long Bao specials isn't new to Ding Tai Fung - they had a really popular chilli crab version that went on for a while. But Paradise Dynasty has taken the spin to a whole new level - 7 unique flavours, not promotional items but menu staples. Almost feels like a Xiao Long Bao revolution of sorts. Completely inauthentic, but darn good. My friend did have a point, didn't he? Of the 7 special flavours, I found the cheese and truffle ones slightly faint in terms of flavour, while the foie gras, crab roe and szechuan ones were downright tasty. The flavoured Xiao Long Baos are pretty much double the price of the original ones though, so it's probably best to order their signature mix before deciding which ones you love the most, or that you don't care for these flavours at all (anything is possible).
Egg Fried Rice, $6.80
We had a serving of Egg Fried Rice too since it didn't seem like we could survive on soup dumplings alone. It was alright but I thought I detected some soy sauce - I do prefer my fried rice flavoured without relying on soy sauce... Din Tai Fung comes to mind here.
Pan-fried Pumpkin Pastry, $3
Speaking of Shanghai, M spent a couple of months there when he did an internship abroad, so when he suggested having these, I went ahead even though it sounded rather foreign to me. It was excellent! Seriously crispy on the outside and wonderfully chewy on the inside, a little reminiscent of nian gao. Really great stuff.
Overall, this meal was a satisfying one. Have you tried these Xiao Long Baos yet? Which is your favourite flavour? I'm looking forward to a whole steamer basket of foie gras xiao long bao the next time!
2 Orchard Turn, #04-12A
ION Orchard, Singapore
Tel: +65 6509 9118
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