Upon entering the opulent dining hall of award-winning Taste Paradise, the diner is transported to a world that evokes associations with gilded dragons and the sophistication befitting refined court dining in the imperial days of yore. Except it is 2017 and you are in the heart of a bustling city at ION Orchard. And then you realise how well the ambience gives way to a sensibility similarly reflected in its thoughtful menu, one that celebrates traditional Cantonese cuisine while affording its chefs a free hand at contemporary interpretations.
For Signature Indulgences, a specially curated dinner event that is part of the ION Orchard Culinary Creations 2017 programme, conceived in collaboration with Singapore Tatler Dining, the menu dazzles with dishes developed for modern taste buds, but that also convey a deep respect for the cuisine’s cultural heritage. Elegantly presented with intricate hand-drawn designs garnishing the plates, they comprise new creations with nods to some of the restaurant’s signature favourites.
To start, there is a trio combination of crackling pork belly, chilled Japanese cucumber peels and laksa-infused prawn. Eaten exactly as it is read, diners begin the meal with two dainty cubes of satisfyingly crisp pork belly with a dollop of mustard, before cleansing their palate with some piquant pickled cucumbers and readying themselves for the robust flavours of the laksa-infused prawn paired with a refreshing cylinder of watermelon.
Next up is the poached dragon tiger grouper fillet in superior Chinese wine. Sourced from Sabah, Malaysia, the fish is favoured for its succulent texture. Here, it is the perfect complement to the light broth it is poached in. Made with a mixture of exceptional rice wines, the broth displays a hint of complexity without upstaging the sweet freshness of the fish.
And what is a Cantonese meal without some roasted meat? The crispy roasted duck in black truffle sauce takes the classic staple and elevates it with a luxurious sauce made with black truffle, black pepper and some gratifyingly decadent foie gras.
Offering some well-timed respite, the sauteed white asparagus with conpoy and minced garlic showcases one of the star ingredients of the season, this time hailing from Germany. The delicate white asparagus is dressed with just a touch of dried scallop and garlic, displaying the chef’s restraint and proficiency in allowing the produce to shine.
The last of the savoury courses, the stir-fried ramen with Australian scallops in XO sauce is a real treat. Displaying the kitchen’s keen attention to detail, the ramen is first boiled in a rich prawn stock for flavour and colour, before it is stir-fried and coated in a spicy and full-bodied house-made XO sauce.
Another pleasing reinterpretation is found in the chilled silky beancurd topped with coconut ice cream. Taking the humble soya beancurd dessert as a point of departure, this elevated variation adds bird’s nest to the pudding, the natural tartness of fresh fruit for balance, and a scoop of ice cream for that final bit of sweet indulgence. Like the meal that it rounds off, the dessert encapsulates the restaurant’s winning approach—an inspired rendition of traditional fare brought to the present with creativity and culinary prowess.
This year also marks ION Orchard’s eighth anniversary and a delectable array of delightful deals await diners. As part of the ION Orchard Culinary Creations festivities from June 9 to July 31, diners can savour 1-for-1 Holideals, via the ION Orchard Mobile App, from several well-loved restaurants. What’s more, ION Orchard is offering eight continuous months of free lunchtime parking from Mondays through Thursdays (noon to 1pm, excluding public holidays) from March 17 to October 29. Shoppers can also redeem complimentary refreshments at The 1872 Clipper Tea Co. and shopping vouchers, which are part of the ION Orchard 8th Anniversary Spending Rewards. Visit ionorchard.com for details.