Happy belated birthday, Singapore! Yep, our tiny nation celebrated 43 years of independence yesterday. And tomorrow is mom-in-law’s birthday! So, the family had a celebratory lunch today at the elegant Lei Garden, a name synonymous with exquisite Cantonese cuisine.
Starting things off on a cold, rainy day was a tummy-warming, slow-cooked soup. A Cantonese specialty, 老火湯 (literally “old fire-cooked soup”) is achieved by simmering various ingredients for at least 3 hours, resulting in a “sweet”, clear, nourishing broth.
Because of the long cooking time, many restaurants do not deem it economically profitable to have this on the menu. Not Lei Garden, and they have a faithful following, going by the numerous earthen soup pots we saw. Today’s poria cocos, sweet corn, and pork soup was extremely flavorful and full-bodied, simply superb!
Our lunch comprised mostly of dimsum items. I didn’t try the chicken feet ‘cos I get squeamish just looking at them! Hubby said they tasted typical.
Well, this is something more atypical. Mashed pumpkin sandwiched between finely shredded yam (taro), the exterior fried to a crispy brown. I enjoyed this very much!
Don’t know why, but it’s so hard to find well-made fresh cheong fun these days. Lei Garden’s version was more than decent; the rice roll was thin (but not super thin), silky, and resilient, while the prawn was fresh and crunchy.
We also had the char siew cheong fun, S$4.30 (sorry, no pic), which was similarly delicious.
I didn’t try this, so can’t comment. The skin looks thin, though. Can you see the soup through the translucent skin?
This is one of MIL’s favorites, eggplant and chilli stuffed with fish paste, then pan-fried and doused in a tasty gravy. Very homey but yummy. I suspect the bouncy filling was a mixture of fish and prawn, resulting in its complex tastiness.
Ooooh, the taro puff is absolutely a must-try! I’m still drooling over how that delicate lattice-like crust gives way to a most creamy mashed taro. Then, the contrasting textures magically melt in the mouth! Oh. So. Divine…
Another stunner, I thought the cod fish was worth every penny of its price tag. A fat steak glazed with soy and grilled, the fish was perfectly cooked, but still melt-in-the-mouth soft and juicy, with a hint of smokiness. The onion rings by the side were an unusual but fun accompaniment.
This was one of the specials highly recommended by the staff. Well, I wasn’t blown away, but still sufficiently impressed. The crackling, similar to that of suckling pig, was beautifully crisp, while the very tasty, smoky meat was lean but tender with bite.
My only peeve is that it’s pricey. The six of us only had two, tiny slices each! Then again, considering the labor and expertise gone into roasting these knuckles, it’s not that expensive.
What’s a Chinese birthday celebration without noodles? We had one and a half portions of this. The noodles used here were exceptionally thin, and fried till very crispy, moistened only by the prawns cooked with aromatic spring onion and ginger.
Lesser versions of crispy noodles involve icky, starchy gravy to drench the noodles. But here, things are kept simple, allowing us to appreciate the natural flavors and textures of the ingredients. Such a feat can only be pulled off with fresh ingredients and masterful skills.
To end on a sweet note, birthday buns (filled with lotus paste) to wish our dear mom happiness and longevity!
We came here with high expectations, and we sure weren’t disappointed. It was a marvelous experience: fantastic cooking, premium ingredients, great service, elegant table settings. No wonder Lei Garden has been in this business for years and is still going strong.
Total bill for the 6 of us: S$203.15 inclusive of 10% service charge and 7% GST. On average: S$33.85 per person.
Lei Garden Restaurant
30 Victoria Street
Tel: (65) 6339 3822