It's funny how irony pops up at the most inopportune of times. I'd veto-ed Ernie's suggestion of Cherry Garden's ala carte buffet brunch earlier, citing dietary constrains as a reason, and steered him towards Jiang Nan Chun, another pre-eminent Chinese restaurant that's just as distinguished as Cherry Garden.
So.....we were taking our seats the restaurant, all the while Ernie was lamenting to the waitress how I always curtail his food intake, the waitress inquired if we would be taking the buffet or the ordering from the ala carte menu. Fortuitously, Jiang Nan Chun also offered an ala carte buffet brunch on Sundays ($78 per pax). After Ernie peeled himself off the floor laughing, he insisted on making the call for the buffet brunch.
It also dawned on me that...no wonder, when I made reservations, the hostess had asked which of the 2 seatings, the first at 11 am, or the second at 1.30 pm, I wanted for lunch. I was a little bewildered then, that, for a restaurant that wasn't exactly swarming with hungry crowds, it was a little odd to have 2 seatings.
Oh well, turned out Sunday brunch was phenomenal. From the succulent roasted meats, to the exquisite soups and the well-executed mains, just about every dish on the fairly extensive menu was incredible. So even if we had to waddle out of the restaurant, Jiang Nan Chun is definitely on my to-return list! Finally, a worthy competitor to Cherry Garden!
Service was as of you'd expect of a Four Seasons, attentive but unintrusive, efficient and slick but warm and gracious.
We started off with the roasted meats for appetizers, clockwise from top right: Crispy Roasted Pork Belly; Marinated Soy Sauce Chicken; Barbecued Honey-Glazed Pork; and Roasted Duck; which were all amazing. These may not be the best I've ever had, but they were very good. Usually, the roasted meats at most restaurants are a hit-and-miss, but at Jiang Nan Chun, the meats were fresh, tender, and moist. I couldn't find any fault.
Another starter dish, the Crispy Fish Skin, simply seasoned with salt and pepper, was delightfully crunchy.
From the dim sum section, the ubiquitous Steamed Pork Dumpling dotted with shrimp and mushroom was juicy and sparkling fresh.
The Steamed Wagyu Beef Dumpling, laced with onions and mushrooms, flavoured with a black bean and pepper sauce for a robust taste, was swaddled in a glutinous rice flour skin that was nicely thin and chewy.
The fluffy Steamed Bun with Salted Egg Yolk, with a perfectly molten core with just a hint of sweetness, was delicious as a dessert.
The beautifully caramelised Pan-Fried Radish Cake, speckled with chinese sausage, mushrooms, and carrots, was mouthwateringly moist and soft.
The Deep-Fried Prawn Roll with Mango, wrapped around crunchy vermicelli strands, was a fantastic complement of the sweet and savoury.
The Deep-Fried Cod Fish, Scallop, Shrimp, & Mayo Filo Wrap, was like a creamy seafood platter compressed into a tiny little cute parcel, varied and complex but delicious nonetheless.
Onto the seafood mains, which were excellent, we had the Deep-Fried Grouper Fillet with Oats. It may look like an unappetizing mountain of sawdust, but the fish was fried beautifully, and piled on with oats fried with curry leaves and chilli for a mild heat.
The Stir-Fried Scallops, with carrots, peppers, and sugar snap peas, was a wonderful medley of crunchy and succulent textures.
The Wok-Fried Prawns with Dried Chilli, aromatic basil and red onions, was robust and punchy.
The meats fared very well too, like the tender Wok-Fried Sliced Beef with spring onions and satay sauce for a local touch.
The Sweet & Sour Pork was taken up a notch with the use of pork ribs, and the glaze was spiked with chilli for a bright heat.
The Wok-Fried Pork Shoulder with Black Olive Sauce, with asparagus, black fungus, and king oyster mushrooms, was perhaps my favourite meat of all. This was slightly unusual, and the pork was just sumptuous.
We only ordered one dish from the vegetable section, the Braised Beancurd Casserole with black mushrooms, carrots, kailan, and bamboo pith, bubbling with a comforting wholesomeness.
The Double-Boiled Tianjin Cabbage with Bamboo Pith Soup and Chinese black mushroom was polished and delicate.
The Pork & Century Egg Congee was lovely as well, smooth but with the tiniest of grains still discernible.
Limited to 1 serving per person, the Steamed Live Prawn (3 per pax) were swimmingly fresh and impossibly sweet. Even Ernie, who hates having to peel prawns, lapped up his share.
For dessert, the Chilled Cream of Mango with pomelo and sago, was sweet and refreshing.
The Chilled Aloe Vera with Lemongrass Jelly was superb as well, balanced.
This was the Hubs' favourite, a chewy Peanut-Coated Glutinous Rice Dumpling filled with oozy black sesame paste.
Jiang Nan Chun
Four Seasons Hotel Level
190 Orchard Road
Tel: 6734 1110 (note: it's currently "undergoing revitalization" until 1 February 2016)
Open Mondays to Saturdays from 11.30am to 2.30pm for lunch; 6pm to 10.30pm for dinner;
Sundays from 11am to 3pm for weekend brunch; 6pm to 10.30pm for dinner