We haven't been to Lei Garden in some time, not since Chijmes unveiled its refreshed facade and revamped dining options. It's still as awesome as ever: an old reliable that churns out consistently exquisite Cantonese cuisine, and graciously serviced by knowledgeable efficient personable waitresses.
The Sauteed French Beans with Preserved Vegetables ($22) seasoned with jalepeno, and studded with mushrooms and barbecued pork dice, redolent with a smoky char, was wonderfully crunchy.
In contrast, the Steamed Egg White with Crabmeat & Shrimp ($22) was smooth like the airest, fairiest cloud. Incredibly delicate, this bore a hint of shellfish essence for sweetness.
The XO Braised Tofu ($26) dotted with minced pork was robust and punchy, and it's amazing how they manage to fry such delicate silky beancurd. That takes real skill and finesse!
And because we love tofu so much, we also ordered the 'Lo Han' Vegetable Braise ($28). The assortment of firm beancurd, beancurd skin, black fungus, black moss, straw mushrooms, Chinese black mushrooms, and choy sum, slathered in a velvety gravy, was sumptuous but mellow.
The only lackluster dish, the Peking Duck ($36 for half) was disappointingly pedestrian. No crackle when we bit into the skin. In this regard, Imperial Treasure Super Peking Duck is really still the best when it comes to peking duck.
The rest of the duck, we Sauteed with Salt & Pepper ($18), and while the seasoning was faultless, the dish was let down by the gamey meat.
The Braised Assorted Vegetables with Conpoy ($22) was pure comfort bubbling in a claypot. Choc-a-bloc with broccoli, kailan, baby choy sum, straw mushrooms, glass vermicelli, tempura squid, this was a riot of textures and a beautiful balance of flavours.
The Poached Homemade Noodle with Prawns ($13) displayed restrain, the broth was rich and sweet but not cloying. Add to that the delightfully chewy noodles, and the sparkling fresh prawns, and you've got a major hit.
The Preserved Meat Rice Cooked in Claypot ($16 per pax x 2 portions) was a Cantonese take on our local claypot rice. I loved that this was done with polish, and generous with the waxed sausages and fat slices of barbecued pork belly.
For dessert, we had the Mango Sago Pomelo ($7), which was balanced and refreshing.
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