Oh yes, we're back at Cherry Garden. Now that the (renovation) dust has settled, we're back to our favourite ala carte dim sum buffet ($68++) at the Mandarin Oriental. We've been here so often that we've got the entire menu down pat, and may even be able to recite it in our sleep.
The Crispy Squid with Salt & Pepper, with its crunchy battered crust and soft and chewy insides, makes for a wonderfully addictive nibbler.
A perennial favourite with Ernie and the Hubs, the Wok-fried Waxed Meat Radish Cake with Silver Sprouts in XO Sauce is a must-repeat order for its soft squishy cakes and caramelised crusty layer.
The Crystal Dumplings with Assorted Mushrooms and Pumpkin, my personal favourite, is awe-some and one of the best versions ever. A great mix of diced sweet root vegetables and chewy glutinous skin makes this MY repeat order.
The Steamed Bamboo Pith and Prawn Dumplings ("Har Gow"), smeared with a luxurious edible gold paint, is fresh and possesses a bouncy texture.
The Steamed Mini Abalone Siew Mai with Pork and Mushrooms was also impossibly fresh and sweet. As usual, we gave our mini abalones to Ernie to eat. For the uninitiated, we're not fans of abalone.
The Steamed Xiao Long Bao was decent but can't quite stand up to the incomparable Din Tai Fung. The skin here is just a smidge too thick. On the upside, it doesn't ever break.
The Steamed Kurobuta Char Siew Bao is another favourite of the Hubs, with its sticky and sweet and smoky barbecued pork.
Another of Ernie's fave, the Steamed Sweetened Custard Bao is married with dark chocolate for a bittersweet finish.
The roasted meats here aren't as spectacular as their dim sum selections, but they are still pretty decent. The smoky Cherry Wood Charcoal Roasted Duck is very fresh, with nary a hint of game.
The Seasonal Vegetables in XO Sauce, our obligatory greens, is flavoured with an aromatic spiciness, so crunching on these sweet veggies is no feat at all.
I'm not usually a fan of wasabi-flavoured prawns, but Cherry Garden's Wasabi Prawns were very commendable, with fresh mangoes and tiny roe for a good balance with the creamy but never cloying wasabi cream.
The Deep-fried Mantou with Chilli Crab Dip is great for lazy bums, as the crabmeat have all been extracted for easy eating. No dirty fingers while digging into the gooey spicy sauce.
Sadly, the Braised Cod Fillet with Spinach Tofu is a one-off order, so relish it while you can. Luscious braising gravy slathered over soft beancurd, Chinese black mushrooms and cod fish fillets.
The Wok-fried Kurobuta Pork is seasoned with garlic, leek, and oyster sauce, and textured with honshimeiji mushrooms and baby asparagus.
The Sesame Fried Rice is both delicate and flavoursome, laced with roe bursting with umami goodness.
I love Braised Ee-Fu Noodles, with nameko mushrooms, yellow chives and silver sprouts. Uncomplicated but so tasty.
For dessert, I'd recommend the Chilled Cream of Mango with sago pearls, pomelo and lime sorbet. Very refreshing and such a great palate cleanser after stuffing your face silly with the awesome food here.
The Cream of Avocado with black sesame ice-cream is a richer dessert, but still very light.
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 dinne