Sherman's Food Adventures: New Mandarin (Dim Sum Service)

New Mandarin (Dim Sum Service)

I've actually been to New Mandarin many times for Dim Sum and in fact, for dinner as well.  A group of us were initially invited for dinner (and there is a blog post about it), but then the Executive Chef Tony Zhang asked us to come for Dim Sum as well. Well, I know that the Dim Sum service is solid at New Mandarin, so I didn't need much convincing to return.  We were here to try some new dishes along with the usual stuff.

Starting with the new dishes, we had the Deep Fried Fish Curd (more like a puff) tossed with salad dressing and wasabi sauce.  This was not as crispy as it appeared, but I'm pretty sure it was partly due to the incessant picture-taking delaying us trying the dish.  Due to the airy nature of the fish puff, each piece was very light.  Although it looked like there was plenty of mayo on top, it really wasn't.  Flavours were subtle and the wasabi was not strong.

Another new specialty dish was the Deep Fried Pork Jowl tossed with citron and honey.   We absolutely loved this because of the large sticks of pork jowl.  Texturally, it had all the usual elements of bouncy, juicy and succulence.  It was lightly coated and fried until crispy.  The ample amount of citrus rind helped balance the sweetness of the honey.  It provided some appealing bitterness and aromatics.

Continuing with the new dishes, we had the Clams with fish curd and bitter melon in Tom Yum soup.  This was a whole lot of strong flavours all in one pot.  I'm not a huge fan of bitter melon, but according to those who enjoy it, the dish was prepared well.  The Tom Yum broth did flavour the buttery clams which were all open and fresh.  For these fish puffs, they absorbed the broth and were tender and squishy while exhibiting the classic tang of Tom Yum.

Yet another dish featuring fish curd was the Seasonal Vegetable (in this case, yau choy) in soup.  I would say the yau choy was prepared perfectly being vibrant and crunchy while cooked all the way through.  Beyond the initial bite, the choy ate tender and soft.  It fully took on the flavour of the broth in a subtle manner.  Moreover, the fish puffs soaked up the sweet broth and were tender with some chew.

So the most striking dish was the Stir Fried Mushroom Fried Rice with squid ink.  Beyond the cool black colour, the rice itself was fried beautifully being in discernible grains that were chewy and nutty.  The dish was well-seasoned and the plethora of mushrooms meant there was both texture and umaminess.  Add in the veggies, there was some crunch and the fried egg on top provided both visuals and even more texture in a crispy chewy manner.

Onto the standard stuff, of course we had to order the Ha Gau (Steamed Shrimp Dumplings) because it is the one dish that defines a Dim Sum restaurant.  I am happy to report they were on point.  They were medium in size and featured a translucent wrapper that was chewy, yet tender.  Inside, the whole shrimp filling had a nice buttery snap that exhibited both natural sweetness as well as enough seasoning and aromatics (sesame oil and pork fat).

If you looked to the left of the Ha Gau, you would've noticed a green version of them topped with tobiko.  This was the Wasabi Scallop & Shrimp Dumplings.  As such, the green colour skin had a slight bite and bitterness to it.  Definitely something different and interesting.  Inside, by virtue of adding scallops to the mix, the filling had some softer elements in addition to the rebound texture of the shrimp.  In terms of flavour, there was a bit more sweetness.

Of course with the Ha Gau, you have to get the ying with the yang in the Siu Mai.  However, this was no ordinary version because it was the Quail Egg Siu Mai.  As such, the texture was a bit different beyond the pork filling.  In the middle the soft cooked quail egg was tender and creamy.  The pork outer layer was bouncy and juicy with plenty of seasoning while still natural-tasting.  I've had this in the past and I recommend you try it.

If you have ever tried the Hot & Sour Pork Soup Dumplings at Mott 32, you will recognize that the one at New Mandarin looks strangely familiar.  Now these are less than half the price but not half as good.  In fact, these were pretty solid with a medium-thick dumpling skin that was still delicate and al dente.  Inside, the pork filling was tender with plenty of soup that was indeed hot and sour.  I always order these when I have Dim Sum here.

Another core dish at most Dim Sum meals is the Rice Noodle Roll and we got a good variety including salty donut, prawn and beef.  All 3 plates were large in portion size and featured a delicate rice noodle that was soft with some elasticity.  I have to say the prawn version featured some of the largest and snappiest prawns I've ever had.  Good stuff.  The beef was tender and well-portioned with some cilantro mixed in.  As for the donut rice noodle roll, the donut was pretty crunchy and stayed as such even until the end.  There was an abnormal amount of pork floss on the top (which was fine by me).

Onto some Dim Sum staples including the Steamed Chicken Feet in special sauce.  Not sure where they got their chicken feet from, but they were extra large and plump.  The skin was fried just enough that it was robust and didn't break.  At the same time, it was soft and underneath, the fat and cartilage was all intact.  As for the special sauce, it was a sweet with hits of saltiness and a touch of spice.

One of my favourite things to order at Dim Sum is the Bean Curd Roll with prawn and pork.  I've had this one before and it was just as good as I had remembered.  It featured a perfectly fried bean curd skin wrap where it was chewy at first and then giving way to a delicate and tender interior.  The filling was a good mix of pork that had a rebound texture as well as crunchy shrimp.  Best of all, the starch thickened sauce was just enough to coat each roll.

Much to my dismay, there was not tripe nor mixed offal on the menu.  However, they did have the Beef Tendon in teriyaki sauce.  Again, this is a dish I've had before and I'm not sure if it is actually teriyaki sauce, but it was indeed sweet and soy elements.  As for the braised tendon, it was in large pieces and super tender.  Yet it wasn't so much that it had melted or could not hold its shape.  Hence, it was the perfect doneness.

Even though I wasn't dining with my kids, I'm still conditioned to order the Deep Fried Shrimp Spring Rolls with garlic.  Good thing I did because these were on point.  Wrapped tightly enough, the exterior exhibited a firm crunch while not being overly greasy.  Inside, the whole shrimp filling was moist with a buttery snap.  Plenty of seasoning and garlickiness too.

Over to something more decadent - the Abalone Pastry.  Featuring a whole baby abalone atop puff pastry, this is not something you will find at most Dim Sum joints.  Beyond the visuals, the pastry itself was quite good being flaky and extremely buttery (or lardy).  It was aromatic and texturally perfect.  The small abalone was tender with its classic chewiness.  The finishing element was the starch-thickened oyster sauce glaze on top.

Instead of the usual deep fried taro dumpling, we found the Deep Fried Mashed Taro Dumpling with Scallop and Tobiko.  Normally, these can be pretty greasy but they were able to minimize that.  Outside, it was light and crispy giving way to soft and creamy mashed taro.  Beyond that, the pork filling was tender with a hint of curry.  On top of the whole thing was a scallop that was still tender despite being deep fried.

Something a bit different was the Steamed Oatmeal Bun with sweetened salted egg yolk.  By virtue of using oats in the bun itself, the texture was more robust and although oats do not have a lot of inherent taste, it was obvious that they were there.  As for the filling, this was not the runny egg yolk filling version.  Rather, this was more of a custard and honestly, it is way easier and less messy to eat.  It was only lightly sweet.

So we had a few more interesting desserts coming up with a polarizing ingredient (spoiler alert - durian).  So before that, we got one of the most classic Dim Sum items in the Baked Egg Custard Tarts.  I've also had these many times before and they do a good job here.  The flaky puff pastry shell was baked enough that it was light and buttery.  The egg filling was light and silky while being just sweet enough.

As promised, here are the Durian Glutinous Rice Balls.  I have to say the quality of the think layer of mochi has to be one of the best I've had lately.  It was so soft and pliable, definitely a good mouth feel for every bite.  Personally, I tolerate durian in conservative quantities and there was just enough encased in fresh whipped cream.  Hence, there was the usual pungency and sweetness, but not too much that it was overwhelming.

Continuing with durian, we pre-ordered (you can't just order this on a whim) the Baked Tapioca Pudding with durian and sweet crunchy topping.  Oh this was so delicious with its buttery and sweet topping.  Underneath, there was a layer of durian that provided just enough flavour.  The tapioca pudding was not too sweet and had a good consistency.  Overall, the Dim Sum at New Mandarin didn't disappoint.  For me at least, I've been here many times and I can confidently say that the food is consistent.  Many people feel the same as the place was bustling even for a weekday.

*All food was complimentary*

The Good:
- Solid Dim Sum
- Nicely appointing dining space
- Free parking

The Bad:

- Free parking, but it gets full fast
- Maybe too much fish curd in their new dishes?


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