Yeah yeah I know, Din Tai Fung now is a very famous and busy chain of Chinese Restaurants… I have even visited their main flagship branch in Taipei, had to wait for quite a while, but the food was quite nice. No surprises there, as that branch is the famous one… But, even in Singapore, it is almost always crowded at all their branches, because a lot of people think DTF serves the best Chinese Noodles, or La-Mian and Xiao Long Bao, a Steamed Chinese Pork Dumpling… But, are they???
Now, you see, there are plenty of these Chinese Chain Restaurants that serve La-Mian and Xiao Long Bao, I could think of Crystal Jade and Imperial Treasure, but had you heard of this chain called Paradise Group? They are also a Chain Chinese Restaurant serving similar dishes to the rest, and many believe that they are the best among all the other chains… But yet, they are said to have lesser customers than the others… Well, that certainly was the case with the branch at One KM, where it was easy to get a table, but I dare say for a Sunday Evening, it was rather quiet (Maybe it is just because the mall catered mostly to the Muslim community).
Now, what I truly think sets Paradise Dynasty apart from the rest, is they do a rather unusual twist to their Xiao Long Bao… What they do is add in flavours like Cheese and Truffles to their Xiao Long Bao! Well, this is a rather subjective dish, many love it, many hate it… I have sampled a few of their flavours, and I must say, I prefer the classic one with an unadulterated flavour!
The interior and ambience of Paradise Dynasty is typical of any Chinese Restaurants, Wooden and marbled Tables and Chairs, with Paintings of random Chinese paintings… But, what really captured my attention was the traditional Chinese costumes the Waiter and Waitress were wearing! There were really flowy and bulky, not like a Chinese Cheong-Sam, it almost reminds me of a Korean Hanbok haha!
The menu was quite intensive, with classic dishes, but the emphasis was definitely placed on the Soups, La-Mians and Dumplings… Now, onto the food!!!
To start off, this is the 10pcs of Original Xiao Long Bao ($12.30), a must-try even if you ordered the flavoured ones… Now, the correct way to eat this, is pick it up with your chopsticks from the top and place it on your spoon. You then bite a little hole and sip a little of the soup inside, then dip it in a little vinegar and ginger, and devour it slowly (IT IS REALLY HOT!).
Now, I really enjoyed the Xiao Long Bao, soft and delicate skin, hiding a tasty soup and tender, delicious minced pork… Compared to DTF’s Xiao Long Bao, it had a deeper depth of flavour, especially in the soup, and the skin is softer!
Now, this is Scrambled Egg White ($12.80). Yeah, I know, this looks very simple and boring, but it is flavoured with Salted Fish and Dried Scallops, and let me tell you, they work together… And somehow, by incorporating those ingredients, this turns from a Western-looking dish to a Chinese dish…
Next up is the Deep Fried Garlic Pork Ribs ($13.80). Tender and crispy, the Garlic flavour really comes through and it is a very nice alternative to those sweet and sour Pork Ribs… Simpler in terms of execution, but in some ways, more satisfying!
This is the French Beans with Minced Pork ($11.80). Slightly tasteless, the French Beans were cooked well and crunchy, but would have preferred a bigger kick in terms of spiciness and flavour… Pretty mediocre I guess…
These are the Steamed Pork and Chive Dumplings ($5.40). The skin was slightly tough and the Pork wasn’t as juicy as, let’s say, the Xiao Long Bao.
Next up, are the Pan-Fried Pork Dumplings ($4.20). Yeah, they are pretty much like a really fat Gyoza. The Skin was only a little crispy, but mostly sticky, with the Pork inside… Again, not juicy and slightly dry.
This is the Yang Zhou Fried Rice ($11.80). It had a slight ‘Wok-Hei’ flavour, a stronger one would have been preferred… And the rice was overcooked and mushy. Also, there wasn’t enough egg incorporated in it… It almost looked like just chopped up Fried Egg mixed in.
Finally, The Braised Pork Belly La-Mian ($11.80). The broth was tasty, a Pork Bone base, but I would have preferred a bigger kick of flavour, like you get in Japanese Ramen. The Noodles were springy, and the Pork Belly was tender and flavourful… But not juicy, almost slightly dry at the meatier parts of it!
In conclusion, yes… I do feel that Paradise Dynasty can beat DTF in terms of flavour, price wise… Well neither are cheap, but other most famous rivals like Crystal Jade is probably more expensive… But nevertheless, Xiao Long Bao and La-Mians shall always remain as one of my ‘go-to’ Chinese food, and I shall always be looking forward to eating them, regardless where!
11 Tanjong Katong Road
02-33 One KM Mall
(The Paradise Group has many different restaurant concepts, spread across Singapore, click here to locate all of them)