We had Sunday brunch with Ray & Pat here for our monthly meet-up. They both live near Orchard so it was a lot more convenient for them to get to this location than the Chijmes one. Pat's from Hongkong so I was eager to see if she'd approve of the dim sum here. For the record, she did.
While lunch with Ernie was a more relaxed affair with relatively unintrusive service, Sunday brunch was a much more bustling atmosphere and felt a little more rushed. Plates were cleared super speedily and dishes arrived in quick succession. After we'd finished our meal and been lingering over tea for a while, service practically shooed us away. They did explain to us and seek our understanding that it was because they had diners waiting outside for available tables though.
The Baked Honey Pork Pastry ($4.80)was buttery, flaky, and generously stuffed with a sweet and savoury barbecued char siew filling.
I love the Pan-fried Carrot Cake with Waxed Meat ($4.80) here, soft, moist and with the Chinese preserved sausage lending just enough flavour, it had a delectable caramelized toasty crust.
We also had the Steamed Glutinous Rice in Lotus Leaf ($4.80) which was steamed to perfection.
The rice was moist and soft, not dried out, and it was filled with plenty of ingredients, diced salted egg yolk, mushrooms, shrimp and chicken.
I still maintain that Lei Garden's Steamed Custard Bun ($3.80) with salted egg yolk is the best anywhere, mostly because they add chocolate swirls onto the bun which makes it a little dessert-ish.
We all loved the Steamed Wagyu Beef Cheong-Fun ($6.80) with wild mushroom. This was unusual but executed perfectly. Smooth and chewy skin, with flavoursome diced beef and lots of shimeiji mushrooms, this was simply slurp-worthy.
The Braised Pork Wanton in Spicy Sauce ($6.80) had a spiced up tomato-ish gravy slathered over silky, fat dumplings. Not something I particularly liked because of the coriander in the dumplings.
We liked the teriyaki glaze brushed over the Grilled Cod Fish ($9.80) with sauce. The sweetness and smokiness of the glaze balanced out the oily properties of the fish.
The Steamed Shanghai Dumpling ($5.20) with minced pork in Lei Garden special broth was very commendable. The skin was thin and barely translucent, and thick enough to hold up with the soup and meat inside. The broth was delicate yet rich in flavour, while the minced pork was fresh and clear.
Pat introduced us to one of her favourites, the Baked Bun with Custard Paste ($4.80) a big airy bun with a cream custard filling.
The Steamed Red Dates Cake ($4.50) with coconut juice was a sweetened nian gao. Jelly-like but with a chewy texture, this ruby-hued layered cake was nuanced and quite refreshing.
Lei Garden Restaurant
321 Orchard Road
#03-00 Orchard Shopping Centre
Tel: 6734 3988
Open daily from 11.30am to 3pm for lunch; 6pm to 11pm for dinner