Sherman's Food Adventures: New Mandarin

New Mandarin

Here I am again at New Mandarin with my usual bunch of foodie friends.  Yep, it was another invite to try out their solid dim sum service.  They do incorporate some creativity into their dishes and when I was doing the whimsical piece for Openroad Magazine, I did feature some of their cute desserts.  I've actually been back to New Mandarin several times with my family and others since I enjoying eating there.  In fact, even before I been coming here for invites, I was regularly coming here (on my own coin) for dim sum!

So yes, it didn't take much arm-twisting to get me to go!  Let's get right to the most important dish in the Ha Gau (Steamed Prawn Dumpling).  These were textbook with medium-thick dumpling skin that was delicate with a good elasticity.  The shrimp filling was mostly whole pieces that had a good bounce texture that was moist and well-seasoned.  Along the same lines, we also had their signature Wasabi Scallop & Shrimp Dumplings that featured a bright green dumpling skin that was a bit firmer than the regular version.  The background bitter spice came through and offered up something different.  In terms of the filling, the scallops did add some sweetness, but the overall texture was similar to the regular Ha Gau.

Onto the two versions of their Siu Mai including the Steamed Black Truffle Siu Mai as well as the Quail's Egg Sui Mai.  Comprised mostly of whole shrimp, both siu mai were fairly light and featured a buttery rebound texture.  They were steamed just enough so nothing was overcooked.  Seasoning was on point where we had savoury and sweet notes, but nothing overpowering.  The dab of truffle sauce was restrained so that it didn't take over the dish.  As for the quail's egg siu mai, the egg inside added some creaminess from the yolk.

So we actually had one more version of Siu Mai in the form of Steamed Dace Fish Siu Mai.  This ate considerably different from the shrimp and pork version.  This still exhibited a bounce texture due to the airy fish paste, but it was firmer and more uniform.  It was sweet with mild seasoning.  The Shrimp & Pork Dumpling in Spicy Sauce were not mild at all with an immediate hit of heat, saltiness and sweetness.  The heat lingered and was quite pleasing.  The dumplings were large with a juicy pork filling.

Another one of their signature Dim Sum items is the Steamed Hot & Sour Soup Dumplings.  Yes, they are similar to the ones found at Mott 32, but for way less money.  That doesn't mean they are any less in terms of execution though.  They featured a fairly thin dumpling skin that was delicate with a bit of chew.  Inside, the pork was tender and moist with plenty of soup.  It was balanced in terms of spiciness and tanginess.

So we had 3 types of Siu Mai, therefore it was no surprise we had 3 types of Ha Gau including the Crispy Shrimp Dumplings with some mayo in the middle.  Even though the shrimp filling was the same as the others, it was a bit different due to the cooking method.  It was more robust and impactful due to the oils and activation of flavours.  The dumpling skin was fairly light and had an airy crunch.

Keeping with the deep-fried stuff, we had the Deep Fried Shrimp Paste Stuffed Egg Tofu.  Personally, I love egg tofu since it is so silky and lightly sweet.  Cooking with it can be a real challenge since it falls apart even if you look at it.  This stayed in one piece and had a lightly crispy exterior.  The shrimp paste was bouncy and had a buttery snap.  Even though it was a rather defaultish to use sweet chili sauce, it did go with the dish.

Why not keep this deep-fried train going and talk about the Deep Fried Squid Tentacles with garlic & five spice?  These were really good with almost juicy squid that had a tender chewiness.  That snap texture was on point and the batter on the outside was perfect as well.  There was a solid crunch while not too hard.  It was properly seasoned with a balanced saltiness and of course the 5 spice.  Had some Taiwanese flavour vibes.  Best of all, this dish was not greasy despite the portion size.

This is a good segue to a similar protein in the Steamed Curry Cuttlefish.  Again, this was a large portion with cuttlefish literally overflowing over the plate in the bamboo steamer.  This was also very good where the cuttlefish was tender but had a slight resistance that provided the desired texture.  There was plenty of curry flavour that was only mildly spicy with some sweetness.  Some potatoes underneath soaked up the sauce.

One of my favourite dishes of the meal was seemingly one of the most simple.  The Deep Fried Taro Cake with seaweed was probably the best version I've ever had.  The pudding cake itself was texturally on point being delicate with soft chunks of taro.  Seasoning was spot on as the it was balanced as well as offering up meatiness from the cured sausage.  Due to the deep fry, the whole thing was intensely aromatic and nutty.  Moreover, the seaweed added some umami to the dish.

One of the most interestingly-plated items was the Deep Fried Shrimp Bean Curd Skin Rolls.  The rolls themselves were awesome with an inordinate amount of buttery well-seasoned shrimp encased in crispy bean curd skin.  However, the cucumber in between them did soften up the texture.  Maybe use a less wet ingredient?  Also, not sure mayo and blueberries go together.  Ultimately, I loved the dramatic way it was presented though because hey, why not try something different?

Onto something more conventional, we had the Steamed Chicken Feet (or Phoenix Talons when directly translated from Cantonese).  These were fairly plump with tender skin and mostly soft cartilage and fat underneath.  A bit of it was still firm, but still completely edible.  They were completely seasoned with a sweet and savoury garlicky sauce that was nicely soaked up by the peanuts underneath.

For our rice noodle roll selection, we had the Pork Floss Salty Donut Rice Noodle Roll.  I love the one that they have here because they really load on the pork floss.  It was airy and light while being salty enough to flavour the dish.  The rice noodle roll was fairly thin and had nice elasticity.  Inside the salty donut was light and crunchy.  In addition to the sweetened soy, we had the usual sesame sauce and hoisin.

Surprisingly, I really enjoyed the Steamed Mixed Wild Mushroom Dumpling.  Yes, normally, I prefer the meat dishes, but this was "meaty" due to the bevy of mushrooms stuffed in the translucent dumpling wrapper.  Nice textures there including the appealing chew to the wrapper.  On top, we found vegetarian "kidney" which added some firm texture on the top.  Creative way of presenting this, but ultimately, it was delicious.

To get some veggies into this indulgent Dim Sum meal, we had the Stir-Fried Tong Choy (Water Spinach) with fermented tofu.  This is a super classic dish and they nailed it.  The water spinach was fresh and cooked just enough to wilt the leaves while the hollow stalks still had a crunch.  There was enough garlic and fermented tofu to offer up a rich saltiness that was balanced off with some sweetness.

Presented in a stunning black colour, the Stir-Fried Mushroom Fried Rice with Squid Ink was something I've had before.  Sure, your teeth and tongue will go black, but it is well worth it since the rice is delicious.  Generally, squid ink doesn't have too much flavour, but it did offer up some background brininess as well as saltiness.  The stir-fry was done right where the rice was dry, nutty and chewy.

Something that I was hesitant to try was the Pan-Fried Vermicelli with Bitter Melon in Black Bean Sauce.  I have a love-hate relationship with bitter melon and it is mostly hate.  However, they must've soaked it enough to take away most of the bitterness.  Hence, we had tender slices of melon that still retained a bite, yet wasn't too bitter.  It mostly tasted of black bean sauce.  Loved the crispy vermicelli that soaked it all up.

Onto the sweets, we had  both the Steamed Egg Yolk Buns QQ Style as well as the Steamed Oatmeal Egg Yolk Buns.  They were somewhat similar but the egg yolk filling was more molten in the former.  It was sweet with a bit of background saltiness and aromatics.  The oatmeal bun was more robust as expected, yet it was still fairly fluffy.  The first bun was fluffier and was also more delicate (as exemplified in the picture).

So we had an array of desserts that included Almond Cookies, Baked Egg Custard Tart, Strawberry Mousse Sleeping Bear, Ginger Ale Mousse Cake, Mango Pudding shaped as a corn on the cob and Coconut Pudding Piggies.  Had all of these before and strangely, I like the ginger mousse cake since it is so gingery.  Not everyone agrees with me, but I love ginger!  I also like the mango and coconut pudding since they are pretty textbook.

Finally, the most killer dessert of them all - Deep Fried Purple Yam Chrysanthemum Balls with a sweet syrup.   These were actually super light and airy with aromatics and sweetness.  I've had these before and this is the dessert to order here!  So another tasty Dim Sum service at New Mandarin.  It wasn't really a surprise since it is like this every time I've visited recently (they've improved since it first opened).  Head chef Tony Zhang has really put his stamp on the food here and it is no wonder they are Michelin-recommended.  Sure, some will debate whether Michelin means anything at all.  But even if we ignore that, don't just take my word for it, you'll find many others echoing the same sentiments.

*All food was complimentary for this post*

The Good:
- Solid dim sum across the board
- They try to be creative and it mostly works
- Service has improved immensely over the years

The Bad:
- Seating is a bit tight still
- With creativity, some dishes will need tweaks


Search this Site