This was our first Lei Garden visit of 2015 (but not the last!), and we've noticed that the once-sleepy dining enclave cum drinking hole is slowly coming back to life. Refurbishments are still ongoing, but by and large, the place looks pretty sleeked up. A bonus of the massive overhaul resulting in extensive closures of the dining outlets at Chijmes: Lei Garden has taken to giving out complimentary parking to lure back prodigal diners. Yay to free parking!
At the risk of jinxing myself, I think that there's no real need to do so though, as the consistency of their food and service is more than sufficient to keep regulars sated and happy.
The Braised Beef with Homemade Sauce ($8) was an absolute must-try, with beef chunks melting into oblivion in a pool of mellow, cloved-infused brown gravy.
The Braised Beef in Curry Sauce ($9.80) was a spicier rendition of the brown sauced one. Velvety and robust, this was incredibly sumptuous.
The Panfried Beef in Japanese Sauce ($12) was no wallflower either, and these teriyaki glazed beef cubes were served alongside a mildly curried dip.
The ubiquitous Steamed Pork Dumpling with Black Mushroom ($4.80), always a safe bet, was toothsome, and impossibly fresh and juicy.
The Steamed Dumpling with Minced Vegetables and Mushroom Cubes ($4.80) was a wonderful juxtaposition of chewy and crunchy.
The Steamed Glutinous Rice in Lotus Leaf ($4.80), moist and soft, was scrumptious in its simplicity.
As a change-up, I asked for the Steamed Carrot Cake with Waxed Meat ($4.80) instead of the usual pan-fried version. This was very delicate, and very light, but a tad uninspired. I think I'll revert to the pan-fried, oiled rendition.
The XO Fried Carrot Cake ($14.80), a luxed up version of the pan-fried carrot cake slabs, was intoxicatingly fragrant, spiked with a heady spice from the shrimp seafood sauce.
The Steamed Cheong-Fun with Minced Fish and Dough Fritter ($5.20) was atypical, but it was a lovely contrast between the crunch of you tiao and softness of the fish mince.
The Baked Bun with Honey Pork ($4.80) was as reliable as an old pillow, with a perfect ratio of sticky honeyed barbecue pork and steamed bun.
A dessert favourite of ours, the Steamed Custard Bun with Salted Egg Yolk ($4.30) was swirled with chocolate for a nuanced sweetness.
The Deepfried Cuttlefish ($8) was perfectly battered, with an addictive umami flavour.
The Crispy Silver Fish ($7), another regular feature on our order slips. Fine baby silver fish coated in a thin batter and fried to a beautiful golden crisp made for non-stop pecking.
The Deepfried Vegetarian Beancurd Skin ($8) stuffed with black fungus, glass vermicelli, carrots, radish, and mushrooms recently became one of our favourites. Very light, very balanced.
The Deepfried Beancurd Sheet Roll with Fresh Shrimps ($4.80) was a little flat, but I may be a little biased...they'd laced this with coriander bits!
We really liked the Deepfried Roll with Shredded Chicken and Mushroom ($4.80), delightfully crunchy and delicately filled with a blend of chicken and diced mushrooms.
The Deepfried Dumpling with Chicken Cubes and Mushroom ($4.80) was also very commendable. Chewy glutinous casing, and succulent tasty stuffing.
The Rainbow Egg and Shredded Pork Porridge ($4.80), my go-to carb option at Lei Garden, was generously dotted with tender pork and diced century eggs. I love the congee at Lei Garden, the texture is always perfectly smooth and velvety, with the slightest hint of grain.
The sunny-hued Crabmeat Porridge ($10.80), spiked with crab roe, was speckled with freshly shredded crabmeat for maximum sweetness.
The Shredded Abalone & Chicken Porridge ($14.80) was equal parts exquisite and comforting, with luscious strands of abalone flecked in the blend.
Chijmes Lei Garden Restaurant
30 Victoria Street
Tel: 6339 3822
Open daily from 11.30am to 2.30pm for lunch and from 6pm to 10.30pm for dinner