*Restaurant is now closed*
While trying to finish up all the Dim Sum I foolishly ordered while at Nong, I briefly thought of a dinner revisit. Well, that didn't last long because everyone was complaining about all the food on the table. And about that food, it was a combination of Cantonese Dim Sum, Szechuan and Shanghainese dishes. We were wondering if one restaurant could be everything to everyone. Generally, that would be a recipe for disaster. Yet in the end, the food was acceptable albeit a bit pricey (reflection of the neighbourhood). Ironically, an upcoming ChineseBites dinner happened to be at Nong, therefore, I would be able to satisfy my curiosity. The fact it was hosted by ChineseBites didn't hurt either...
Once again, the usual crew of Rick, Janice, Alvin, Grace, Sean, Dave and Kevin were there to create the spectacle otherwise known as "when food bloggers attack with their DSLRs". Yes, every time we do one of these dinners, people gawk at the food nerds doing their thing... So we started with an array of appies, which are typically plated together, yet were served on individual plates. Starting from the top left and clockwise, we had the Vegetarian Goose, Five Spice Sliced Beef Shank, Chicken with Chili Sauce and Jellied Pork. The names of these dishes are not exactly as provided, but the last meal we had at Golden Ocean proved I just need to go with what I know than to rely on the supplied names. As for the food itself, I found the beef shank on the drier side, yet full of rich flavours such as 5-spice and sweetness. The mock goose was fantastic with nicely texture bean curd skin and a plethora of properly prepared ingredients (such as the crunchy celery and plump shiitake mushrooms). The jellied pork was a touch stiff and meaty. However, it did have a nice sweetness to it. The chili chicken lived up to its namesake providing a good punch as well as a peanutty hit. The chicken itself was moist and the skin was bouncy. Onto the soup course, we had the Crab & Wintermelon Soup. Although the soup had the right thickness, something about the texture was strange. It felt almost a bit gritty as if they used arrowroot or something like that. But it was actually the addition of wintermelon that threw me off. Looking beyond that, the crab was fluffy while the egg was silky. The soup itself was mildly seasoned and only slightly sweet. After this, an interesting dish of sorts arrived - Lobster with Bittermelon and Shredded Pork. Essentially it was a bittermelon stirfry interrupted by lobster. Hey, nothing wrong with that considering I'm not a huge fan of bittermelon. At the very least, there was lobster! There was good flavour happening in the form of spice and saltiness. The lobster meat was bouncy and naturally sweet while the bittermelon did its thing...
Have you ever had too much of a good thing? Well, this is how we felt when the Dong Po Pork Hock showed up. I think we've had this dish a few too many times lately. Even with that in our minds, we still enjoyed this dish. The skin was gelatinous and didn't feel fatty (even though it was all fat). The sauce was fairly sweet while the meat was much more tender and rich tasting than its appearance. With all that heaviness, we were relieved to see the Stir-Fried Shrimp with Vegetables. Sure, it was more of a "regular" dish, but it served its purpose. The prawns had a wonderful snap (although a touch overcooked) while the wood ear mushrooms were curiously soft. The veggies were crisp while the seasoning was balanced. Of course, the very next dish had to be heavy once again being the Braised Pork Belly with mui choy (preserved vegetable). This is a classic dish which I ate lots of at home when I was younger. Although this was pork belly, the meat was stringy. On the other hand, the fat melted in our mouths. The preserved vegetable added a nice amount of saltiness and some tang which made the sauce scream out foodgasmically - Need Rice!
Now on that note, what better dish to follow a foodgasm than the Spicy "Cumin" Lamb. Gosh I love cumin... Ahem... I found the lamb to be moist and tender while some pieces were a bit chewy. There was plenty of cumin as well as spice and sweetness. I would've preferred less veggies in the dish though because it made the dish wet (bad choice of words, I know...). From lamb, we went to the Tea Smoked Duck. Although its name would suggest a lot of tea flavour, there wasn't. In fact, the duck tasted more like the air dried variety albeit it more moist. Now, if we looked at it as a duck dish and ignored the name, it was pretty good with crisp skin as well as moist and salty meat. At this point we were bursting at the seems and of course we were presented with the Vegetable & Salty Pork Rice. I thought it was pretty good since the rice was chewy while not too dry. Furthermore, the addition of cured pork added plenty of aromatics and flavour. The crunch from the veggies didn't hurt either.
For our final dish, we had the Xiao Long Bao. Huh? Yah, kinda confusing, but welcomed nonetheless. As mentioned in my Dim Sum post, these were pretty decent. Sure, the skin could be thinner and yes, the soup could be more flavourful (although I like the hit of Shaoxing wine), but they were above average. And that pretty much sums up our dinner at Nong. I thought as a whole, the food was above average. Nothing really stood out, yet nothing was bad either. Therefore, that would be considered a success.
*Note: This was an invited dinner where all food was comped*
- Above average food
- Classy dining space
- Free parking
- Restaurant is below ground (lacks natural light)