Food is no exception when it comes to nostalgic recollections, and in no small part, childhood food memories tend to fill the older generation with the most sense of longing and desire.
This is maybe why folks over the age of 50 tend to harp a lot about food that are now lost and insist on how good it was in the old days.
Well, times change and tastes evolve. What we used to enjoy as a kid may not seem as amazing as it is today and that is only to be expected. We need to constantly improve and absorb different aspects of culture and that includes the arena of food.
Yet, every once in a while, a piece of relic will just appear on our windscreen to remind us of days gone by. And that is exactly what Jade has accomplished with its presentation of its Nostalgic Feast menu by Chef Leong, ably curated by renowned food critic, Wong Ah Yoke.
|Quail and Scallop in Melon Soup|
The main menu reads like a classic wedding banquet for the 70s or 80s. Cold lobster platter with the almost lost dish of sharks fin omelette. Classic roast chicken with prawn crackers. Yam ring. Egg doughnuts, red bean pancakes etc. The list goes on.
The menu is precise in its choice of classic dishes, but yet not obtuse that it will leave you befuddled. Each dish has been carefully reproduced, albeit with modern considerations. That is, it is more refined, less greasy and ultimately, a more subtle level of seasoning.
What started out as a vegetarian dish by one of the Four Heavenly Kings has become a staple dish in most zhe char stalls. Most versions of this popular fried dish have been badly bastardised, and save for places like Dragon Phoenix, I will usually avoid this dish.
Thankfully, Jade has produced an almost immaculate yam ring dish that left me completely satisfied. It was huge, beautifully crisp on the outside and the yam flavours wonderfully culled into a mushy and flavourful soft interior.
The fillings of Kung Pao chicken and cashew nuts might be just an added incentive, but they were faultlessly executed with all the classic flavours left intact. Nostalgia is back in full swing.
The prawn crackers with the colourful outlines almost transported me back 30 years to the days when my dad would bring me to Lei Hua and the old Majestic for a family meal. And quite honestly, the roast chicken here at Jade tasted even better than the good old days.
The skin was suitably crisp and well seasoned, and the meat itself was baby tender with just enough of a bite to be playful. Accompanied with a simple salt dip, this was and in some ways, still a regular feature in most wedding banquets. And rarely has it been done so well.
|Eight Treasures Duck|
Truth be told, I only remember having this dish on a few selection occasions in the past. Braised duck with stuffed goodies that included the likes of Chinese dried scallops, mushrooms, salted egg yolk and lotus seed. Marinated overnight, the eventual dish was a gastronomic sensation for the palate.
The duck was so soft and tender it hardly needed any chewing, and the culmination of flavours were so elegantly combined that it displayed the virtues of classic Chinese cooking to its fullest. My favourite dish of the feast.
|Fragrant Rice in Lotus Leaf|
Chef Leong has taken the effort to plate these classic dishes with great care, and included some of the old school hand carvings of vegetables into his plating. This lotus leaf rice is no exception.
Beautifully cooked and presented, the addition of chestnuts added an extra dimension of sweetness and texture to this familiar dish. Each grain of the rice was beautifully polished and distinct, displaying a care in the preparation process that many other kitchens lack. A very well done take.
|Chinese Sugar Egg Puffs|
I used to remember this popular dessert dish back in the 70s when my dad used to bring me to Sea View Hotel's restaurant to savour this and that used to be my favourite dessert. It was nice of Chef Leong to resurrect this childhood food memory for this.
This version is denser than I used to remember but nevertheless, the fragrant aroma of eggs that has been fried to a puffy appearance and texture was just so good to bite into. A Chinese doughnut as some would call it. Dusted with a simple coating of sugar, it is a dish that takes effort to do and perhaps that is why not many restaurants do it nowadays.
This is Chef Leong, together with Ah Yoke and Jade's tribute and salute to the SG50 campaign this year and it is a well appreciated move. For the older folks, this will be a joy and comfort to savour again.
The younger audience will find this interesting too as it can trigger a newfound curiosity in the classic restaurant dishes of old. As for me, I always applaud those that adhere to the classics and when they are executed this well, I often wonder why Chinese restaurants here still find the need to experiment with western techniques.
And perhaps this is the direction for Chinese cuisine. Digging out those fan favourites from the past and presenting them in a more refined manner for today's discerning diners.
1 Fullerton Sqaure