It's been a while since we last dined at Cherry Garden. Ever since we signed on the dotted line for our home, we've tried to be more financially prudent. Operative word being "tried". Since Ernie's birthday was coming up, we chanced upon the opportunity to have ourselves an indulgent brunch. It's all Ernie's fault, of course. He wanted dim sum and also, he wanted brunch, and really, no one else does dim sum brunch buffet like Cherry Garden.
In my view, Cherry Garden offers the best weekend dim sum brunch buffet around. I usually stay away from buffets because they typically place quantity and variety over quality, and seriously, if I can stuff myself silly with dim sum at Lei Garden for less than Cherry Garden's pricey tag of $68++, then to hell with quantity and variety right? But, Cherry Garden's dim sum brunch is awesome in that most of their dishes are pretty much on par with Lei Garden's dim sum. Every dish is exquisite and epicurean.
Service is also flawless, attentive but not in the slightest bit intrusive, professional but still warm and genuine. Our teacups were never left half-filled for more than a minute. And, the best part about brunch here is the lack of a crowd. It always seems so exclusive. Although the restaurant has been around for ages, it seems that the masses haven't quite caught onto its presence. I love how underrated this hidden gem is!
The Siew Mai was lavishly capped with a mini abalone. Too bad I ain't no fan of this shellfish. So I promptly took it off and gave it to Ernie instead. Save for the abalone, I thought this was great. A nice bouncy texture, and great flavour with fresh pork and juicy mushrooms.
The Har Gow was dusted with edible gold powder for a touch of luxury. The translucent skin on this was thin and ever so slightly chewy, and the prawns were sweet and fresh, enlivened by bits of spongy bamboo pith.
The Steamed Conpoy Dumplings was topped off with fish roe for a burst of seafresh flavours. The delicately sweet scallops and shrimp mix filling was a nice contrast against the umami fish roe and conpoy topping, while parsley lent additional flavour.
The Steamed Xiao Long Bao was decent but a tad forgettable. Din Tai Fung still reigns as king over this Shanghainese classic. The skin could have been thinner and the soup content higher, but the broth was very good. Not a hint of MSG. Just good ol' double boiling of pure chicken bones.
The Steamed Dumplings with Shrimps and Crabmeat laced water chestnut for a bit of crunch and parsley for a flavourful lift. Ernie liked the sweetness of the crabmeat in this.
The Crystal Dumplings with Assorted Mushrooms and Zucchini was my favourite. I had myself third helpings of this! It had a plainness about it that I loved. The clear chewy gelatinous skin was complemented by the delicate sweetness of the carrots, beans, zucchini and woodsy mushrooms.
The Steamed Kurobuta Char Siew Bao was another respectable dish, with sweet and smoky barbecued pork encased in fluffy airy buns.
The Hubs loved the Wok-fried Radish Cake in XO Sauce. A little spicy, a little eggy, a little shrimpy, beansprouts provided a refreshing crunch to the babyfood-soft cubes of radish cake. We got seconds of this as well.
The Beancurd Skin Roll of Avocado and Prawns was fried very well, achieving a crisp, not oily finish, and the avocado was a unique twist.
The Pan-fried Gyoza stuffed with spicy eggplant, minced chicken, tofu and mushrooms had a delectably chewy skin. Nice balance of textures and flavours.
The accompanying fruit salad was a refreshing counter to the Deep-fried Crystal Prawns Dumpling. A welcome lift to an otherwise run-of-the-mill dish.
Cherry Garden's Steamed Sweetened Custard Bao is uniquely filled with dark chocolate. We liked the bittersweet elements of the dark chocolate to this.
Apart from the dim sum selection which is free flow, everything else on the menu is limited to one portion. The soups are similarly limited to one portion per person. I got the Double Boiled Trio of Mushrooms Soup loaded with white fungus, bamboo pith, carrots, baby corn, and sweetened naturally by wolfberries and red dates. A nourishing but delicious clear broth.
The Hubs, a meat-lover, opted for the Thick Superior Soup with Wagyu Beef and Egg White. This was surprisingly light, and the beef was oxymoronically delicate and robust. I loved the shimeiji caps and plentiful egg white drops in this.
Ernie got the nutritious Double Boiled Lotus Root Soup, and I liked that the lotus roots had been stewed long enough to be super soft so eating it didn't require a titanium-strength teeth.
We also got a duo of roasted meats.
The Roasted Pork Belly was sufficiently flavoursome but the skin wasn't great. It was more chewy than crunchy. This was a bit of a disappointment.
Same goes for the Cherry Wood Charcoal Roasted Duck. The duck wasn't sparkling fresh, but the skin was delicious. We stripped this clean of them skin and gobbled them up.
The Wok-fried Kurobuta Pork with garlic, leek, and honshimeiji mushrooms was surprisingly full-bodied. The meat was tender but not artificially so, and the oyster based sauce was complementarily light.
The Cooked Live Prawns in Herbal Soup was swimmingly fresh, sweet on its own but made even sweeter by the herbal accents of the soup. We slurped up every last drop of the delicious broth.
The Braised Cod Fillet with Spinach Tofu was another winner. The fatty cod was lightly coated in a thin batter and fried to an even crisp. A thin sauce provided additional libation.
The Deep-fried Mantou with Chilli Crab Dip was perfect for a lazy bum like Ernie who hates having to scrape out the flesh from crabs. Here, fresh, not frozen crabmeat was used to chunk up the tomato-ish, mildly spicy chilli crab dip.
We loved the vegetables selection, in particular, the Wok-fried Seasonal Vegetables and Mushrooms in XO Sauce. I think it all boils down to the XO sauce. It just adds that special pizazz to any dish.
A more delicately seasoned green, the Poached Chinese Spinach with a Trio of Eggs, was also a hit.They were very generous with the century, salted and farm fresh eggs, while woldberries lent a subtle sweetness and roasted garlic bulbs lent extra taste.
The Chilled Cream of Mango with sago pearls, pomelo and lime sorbet was a perfect way to round off the heavy meal. The sour overtones of this was just such a refreshing palate cleanser.
The Cherries in Nui Er Hong and Kuei Hua Chen Chinese Wine Cocktail Jelly and lychee sorbet was another refreshing dessert. A perfect end to a perfect meal. We'll be back. Real soon.
The Mandarin Oriental
5 Raffles Ave
Tel: 6338 0066 / 6885 3030
Open daily from 12noon to 2.30pm for lunch and 6.30pm to 10.30pm for dinner