I have a very close friend named Wafa. She has been SO super supportive of my blog since day 1. I realized the other day that I’ve actually never taken Wafa to any of my tastings! So I decided to fix that and take her with me for my tasting at China Grill- something to look forward to as we both love Asian food. Said tasting was to take place last Wednesday, but as (bad) luck would have it, both her kids fell ill and she had to bail, but the tasting must go on so I went with M instead.
I was invited to experience the new terrace at this Asian Fusion, sharing-concept restaurant, and since the weather was ridiculously romantic that day, I was smugly pleased at the alignment of my stars. I’m not good with the cold, so I made sure to dress extra warm. Once we got there though, we were seated indoors as the terrace was closed due to the rain 😐 #nevergetsmug #iloveoutdoorseating #nowgonnasweatpellets . The hip and contemporary Asian restaurant was notably bustling for a weeknight, which is always a good sign, so there was still hope for the food to offer redemption.
Instant redemption did follow, with very hospitable staff and one of the best rounds of appetizers I’ve had the luxury of enjoying. Crispy Shrimp Purses (with shitake mushrooms, leek and a sweet chili sauce), Crab Dumplings (prawns, black mushroom, black vinegar and soy sauce), and Beef & Scallion Dumplings (rested atop a spicy mango, capsicum and cucumber salsa) reminded me of why I fell in love with dimsum in the first place. Also, these were some very large dumplings- and no, I’m not complaining! I could have just called it a night after the appetizer round and gone home a very happy camper. Perfectly seasoned, cooked, and served piping hot, these parcels that dreams are made of were devoured within seconds.
Crispy Shrimp Purses
The manager had welcomed us to order whatever we liked, but we gave the chef the liberty to surprise us with what he’s most proud of. So in addition to the above appetizers, for the mains he sent us a Szechuan Wagyu Striploin, and Grilled Garlic Shrimp Linguine with Coconut Red Curry. The Szechuan Wagyu Striploin deserves a moment of silence of utmost respect, followed by a standing ovation. Wow, wow, WOW. The beautifully marinated strips of beef melted in our mouths and we just couldn’t hold back till the plate was wiped clean. This buttery soft beef was accompanied by the crispiest pile of potato strings, which was the perfect and polar opposite textural contrast.
The Grilled Garlic Shrimp was also spectacular. Succulent and boldly flavored with garlic and black pepper, this was one of the rare occasions when I truly enjoyed a grilled shrimp. The squid ink linguine with fish flakes scored points for visual appeal, but the coconut red curry lacked the oomph factor I was hoping for.
With this, M enjoyed a Watermelon Lychee Mocktail. I stuck with water.
Our mains were accompanied by a plate of creamy Lobster Mash. This was a colossal, Americana sized heap of mashed potatoes with chunks of poached lobster playing hide-and-go-seek. We also received a plate of Sweet Potato Chips, done two ways- paper thin and crispy, and thick cut and soft. Both the sides seemed a little out of place- too American for an Asian restaurant, but that didn’t change the fact that they were delicious and we keep reaching for more. I couldn’t help but notice that there was far too much potato on our table for our own good though.
Halfway through our mains, an unsuspecting bowl of Edamame showed up too. The chef was spoiling us rotten, but sadly, our aging stomachs had started groaning under the weight of all this good food, and we could eat no more.
And then it went downhill. The appetizer round was the Philharmonic and the dessert round was an amalgamation of all things mime. We were thrilled at the idea of Ice-cream Sushi and Cheesecake Lollipops, but the practical execution was feeble at best. The Ice-cream was crystalized (which makes it next to inedible for my brainfreeze-prone self), and it’s flavors unimpressive. The cheesecake lollipops had a nice chocolatey+fruity flavored shell to them, and while the gooey filling on the inside was fun to have burst in your mouth as the shell cracks, it tasted nothing like cheesecake. I hate to compare oranges with apples, but the only other time I’ve had anything close to cheesecake lollipops was the Fried Cheesecake Balls at -wait for it- Chili’s (see what I meant about the oranges and apples?). They were phenomenal. Warm, molten cheesecake oozed out of those balls and made our eyes roll to the back of our heads. I was expecting a similar taste from these lollipops but my expectations came crashing and burning as I struggled to identify the faintest hint of cheesecake in them.
Thankfully, I had some lemongrass tea to wash the dessert away.
Will I be going back? Probably. They accept Entertainer vouchers and we all know how I feel about a good bargain, haha. Judging from how delicious the food I got to sample was, and the plethora of items that I still haven’t tried, China Grill promises some exciting options. Will pass on the dessert though.