there’s a funny story to how my family ended up in cherry garden for my birthday dinner. you see, i had sampled food from peach blossoms @ marina mandarin during the cornell hotel school asia pacific conference and had found the offerings from the new HK chef to be pretty awesome, and so had planned to bring my parents there. so, when my parents asked me where i would want to go, i simply said “marina mandarin, peach blossoms”. but somehow, this mandarin business is super confusing, what with mandarin oriental, marina mandarin and mandarin gallery. lol. and my parents were more familiar with mandarin oriental and well.. absent mindedly booked at cherry garden @ mandarin oriental.
so we ended up there. and i was kinda annoyed initially, complaining that my parents should check which fruit i referred to next time. haha. but to their credit, all this nonsense of peach blossoms and cherry gardens and mandarin stuff.. is seriously confusing.
anyways, its not as if cherry garden is at any rate worse, so let’s get on with it. to be honest, the ambience in cherry garden trumps peach blossoms - cherry garden has a modern interpretation of a traditional chinese inn, mixing ultra-modern glass paneling and stone walls with traditional elements like wooden arches and pavilion-styled roofs. the servers seem to be mostly from china, and are pretty professional — one server accidentally spilled a dollop of tea on my tablecloth and insisted on changing a fresh one for me. however, it must be noted that i was kinda annoyed with their semi-audible comments of “ta zai pai she me (what’s he photographing)” whenever i whipped out my camera to take photos of the dishes. like.. seriously, deal with it. its an occupational hazard. and its free publicity. =)
so, we ordered the orchird set menu, which was $78 per pax (min 2 people). let’s start the show.
first up was the chef’s special appetizer of the day (see picture above) which happened to be wasabi prawns and drunken chicken. the wasabi prawns were big and juicy, bursting with flavor and with just the right amount of wasabi that was not too overpowering. and the prawns were pretty big and satisfying for an appetizer. the drunken chicken was smooth and tasted pretty decent as well. i’d note though that i found no relevance between the two dishes that were plated together – its not as though we’re expected to eat both together, which is something you would assume if you found yourself in a french restaurant. hmm, the difference in food cultures eh?
i apologize to the animal lovers out there, as i really did not know the menu include shark’s fin. =( but oh well, since the damage is already done, let’s just tuck in alright? now, you know there was a time where i thought double-boiled simple meant boiling twice, but one of my friends later kindly corrected me that double-boiled essentially means placing the ingredients (in this case the shark’s fin) within a ceramic jar that is immersed in a water bath in a pot that is then boiled. essentially, its using two layers of boiling to protect the special ingredients. cool eh? the soup was amazingly nuanced and flavorful, with every spoonful bringing out immense subtle flavor and texture with the shark’s fin.
ahh innovation (at least to me)! never really tried a combination of fish (cod in this case) and tofu with black bean sauce but i must say, this was an inspired pairing. the black bean sauce nicely coated both fish and tofu and brought the two seemingly disparate ingredients together to create a dish with great flavor (from the black bean sauce) and different levels of texture on the same bite (fish and tofu). nice stuff.
this dish puzzled me for a few reasons. when it was first served, i questioned the rationale of an atas restaurant serving something that looked as though you could buy it off a western hawker stall for possibly 1/4 of the price. then i also questioned the notion of asking us to eat this chicken (tendons and all) with just a pair of chopsticks, when it seemed to be begging for a fork and knife to operate on. ahh well, those initial questions aside, the chicken was juicy and well flavored, the barbecue sauce being just right and the flavor seeping into the entire piece of chicken. but yeah i rather eat this with a fork and knife please?
this dish is worth its money — look at the luscious scallops and prawns! the vermicelli was perfectly balanced and tasty, and i liked how the shredded egg strips brought a freshness and change in texture to the dish. yummy. and i don’t know whether its an odd practice, but i like to add vinegar to my noodles after the initial few samplings, because i think the vinegar adds a different and equally tasty twist to the noodles (usually i do it for e-fu noodles, but it seemed to work here as well)
ahh.. a healthy way of ended a sumptuous meal. the sorbet had the right amount of sourness and complemented the herbal jelly, aloe vera and fresh fruits perfectly. its a simple dessert to be honest, but its good and hmm.. the use of herbal jelly and aloe vera is kinda unique. upon looking at the photo i realised i actually ate watermelon without feeling like puking because these watermelons had no seeds! haha
so overall, nice ambience, good food at an acceptable price range. come here for an family celebrations and the likes for guaranteed good food. 7.25/10
cherry garden | 5 Raffles Avenue, 5F Mandarin Oriental Singapore, | chinese, cantonese, family, upscale