Flavours at Zhongshan Park is the latest restaurant to open its door at the food haven stretch of Balestier road. The hotel restaurant at level 1 of Ramada Singapore serves authentic Straits Chinese cuisine coupled with a selected mix of international and western favourite. Understandable since it is a hotel restaurant and the need to cater for the different guest's palate.
Started with a pre-dinner mocktail, Curry Leave Mijoto while we waited for the rest of the table to arrive. The drink was very refreshing and surprisingly the curry leaves gave the drink a tad of a aromatic spiciness which complemented with the sweet and lemon flavours of the drink, giving it a total new experience which was enjoyable.
Appertiser was Kueh Pie Tie ($14.90) which the crispy pastry cup was stuffed with thinly sliced seasoned turnip and carrots slow cooked with pork belly. Topped with a bit of the homemade chilli, it was bursting with delightful flavours.
A refreshing and delectable Pork & Cucumber Salad ($14.90) that is tossed with shallots and sambal belachan. The contrasting textures of the slow cooked pork confit and cucumber was quite an enjoyment.
Nonya Itik Tim ($20.90) is a traditional Nonya dish in which the duck is stewed in pork ribs soup with sour plum, pickled mustard green, tomatoes and fresh chilli. The soup was nicely balance in flavour not too sour. While roast duck is added which I enjoyed, traditionally the soup does not come with it.
Stir fried in a hot black bean paste and bell peppers, the Stir Fried Slipper Lobster was fresh, meaty and springy.
The Nonya Beef Rendang ($24.90) was very well received by the table. Using the premium cut of the beef cheek in a rich spice paste and simmered in a coconut milk with lemon grass and tamarind water, the beef simmply melted in the mouth. It was very tender.
A staple of Peranakan cuisine is the Nonya Ayam Buah Keluah ($26.90) consisting of braised chicken and keluak nuts. Sometime the flesh of the nut is mixed with minced pork and prawns before it is stuffed back into the nut. For the version at Flavours, it is more straightforward without with pork and prawns.
The succulent Chilli King Prawns "Singapore Style" was stir fried in a savoury tomato and chilli gravy that tasted similar to our chilli crab gravy. The table was actually asking for some Man Tou or bun to clean off the delicious gravy.
The gula melaka and peel fresh durian work harmoniously for the beautiful Durian Pengat with Pandan Jelly dessert to wrap up the dinner on a sweet note.
Flavours at Zhongshan Park is an ideal place for authentic Straits Chinese cuisine. Family style communal dining takes centrestage at Flavours where guests are encouraged to share and sample all the culinary delights the restaurant has to offer.
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The restaurant is quite spacious. The service staff was friendly and efficient. The buffet spread is peranakan style. I was a bit skeptical. Luckily, they do have the international cuisine such as cold prawns, cold crab, salmon sashimi, and sushi as well. The cold prawns are very fresh and the sashimi is also cut in thick slices.
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With a new Executive Chef Melvin Lim on board and a bigger selection of Straits Chinese delights, I looked forward to my second visit to Flavours at Zhongshan Park since I last dine here back in July 2013. The new menu consists of a larger selection of Straits Chinese cuisine while maintaining a carefully selected mix of international and western favourites, providing customers with more dining options.
Not to be missed is the condiments freshly prepared by the kitchen at Flavours. The different chilli sauces were so good that we actually suggested to the restaurant to sell them.
Whetting the appetite, we started with a hearty hot piping Clear Oriental Oxtail Soup ($13.90) of slow cooked oxtail infused with herbs and spices.
I still remembered how tender the Braised Beef Cheek Rendang ($24.90) was when I tried it the last time. Once again the beef cheek rendang did not disappoint me. Cooked in a homemade spice paste with lemongrass infusion, the premium beef cheek cut simply melted in the mouth.
Looks the the chef has made some changes to the menu. Previously the tiger prawn was cooked in a chilli crab type gravy but now it is done in a tamarind gravy with pineapple and ginger bud. The new version of Tarmarind Prawn was just as good. It has a more refreshing and fruity finish. If the prawns have been more crunchy it would have been perfect.
Located at Ramada Hotel, Flavours at Zhongshan Park offers hearty Peranakan food at a place near town, yet not far away from town.
There is a recent change in the kitchen and hence a new menu has been launched.
I recommend starting with the Clear Oriental Oxtail Soup, a herbal slow cooked soup to open up the palette.
From the main course menu, the Babi Kapitan, or pork ribs, has an interesting sweet after taste. For a more meatier bite, the Nonya Beef Rendang will do just that.
My must try though had to be the Ayam Buah Keluak. How can one not have that at a Peranakan restaurant?
For desserts, there are three heavy choices were trying. The Durian Pengat with Pandan Jelly consists of fresh durian with gula melaka.
Those preferring something a little lighter can go for the Pandan Tiramisu. Finally, those looking for something more traditional can go for the Sago Gula Melaka.
Overall, a heavy and hearty meal - one would certainly leave feeling full and satisfied.
We ordered the fish assam pedas, baby kailan, belly pork salad and beef rendang.
The assam pedas was passable.
Baby Kailan - its an ordinary dish; if you cant cook it, what can I say?
Beef rendang - meat was well done - melt in your mouth but the rempah although thick had no kick whatsoever - there was no oomph to the taste.
Pork Belly Salad - nothing great.
I wouldnt go back - its not cheap and I was better off eating in Whampoa market food centre.
The first time I dined at Flavours, I found food enjoyable but not memorable. However, on a more recent visit, I learnt that a new chef has taken over and the food quality has improved vastly. I very much enjoyed the prawns - a dish that is sweet and spicy and savory all at once yet does not overshadow the freshness of the prawn. The desserts too were great. I found myself torn between the Pandan Tiramisu (a familiar, child friendly version of the famous Italian dessert that retains the contrasting textures we love about the original version) and the durian pengat (served and meant to be mixed with an airy coconut foam). I can proudly recommend and will be back for more.