The Place Taking over the now defunct Chef Wan restaurant at the new wing of Plaza Singapura is Nanjing Impressions, an established brand from Nanjing, China which recently opened its first overseas outlet in Singapore. With more than 40 outlets over major cities in China, we were surprised to see a strong crowd on its opening day, despite the huge space it has taken over with about 300 seats. The interior of Nanjing Impressions is reminiscent of the olden Chinese city, from its utensils and even to its menu which resembles the Chinese secret manual.
The Food Unlike Sichuan cuisine which is quite the rage in Singapore in the past year (think the Two-Michelin starred Shisen Hanten, or the few months old Birds of A Feather), we found out that Nanjing cuisine is anything but heavy in terms of flavour. The dishes we tried were generally light, and we also experience some slight misalignment between what we expect and the actual flavour of the dishes.
We started off with some cold dishes such as the Jinling Singnature Salted Duck (S$16.80/small, S$32/medium, S$62/big), Nanjing Chilled Vegetarian Delights (S$10.80/portion) and Sesame-scented Beancurd Julienne (S$11.80/portion). Our favourite is the seemingly simple Nanjing Chilled Vegetarian Delights, which contains an assortment of crunchy veggies to whet our appetite.
The Salted Duck is a famous dish from Nanjing, which involves a 400-year old recipe with a complicated preparation procedure from what we learnt. Unfortunately, this dish didn’t resonate very well with us as we thought it wasn’t as rich in flavour as expected. The texture was also on the dry end for us.
Conversely, the Sesame-scented Beancurd Julienne is easily a crowd’s favourite with its silky texture and dressed with chef’s special sauce.
For the hot dishes, the must try for us is the Baby Rooster Stew with Special Sauce served with Crispy Sesame Bun (S$23.80/portion). Served in a piping hot basket, the chicken was well prepared with a special sauce to a tender texture. That said, the highlight for me was the Crispy Sesame Bun, which goes well with the sauce and chicken. In fact, I enjoyed having it on its own too!
The Jiangnan Seafood Bucket (S$18.80/portion) is an assortment of fish, shrimps, crabs and clams stewed in fish broth. I thought this dish was a promising one, but I thought that the fish broth didn’t blend so well with the rest of the seafood, which was a pity.
For some dishes good for sharing, we recommend trying the Celestial Roast Duck Dumpling (S$8.80/3 pieces), which looks like the ‘Xiao Long Bao’ we are all too familiar with. This version though, is filled with shredded duck fillings instead pork.
For a light option, I was intrigued by the Madam Chiang’s Nutritious Beauty Porridge (S$6.80/portion), named after Soong Meiling, a historical figure whom supposedly have this porridge regularly and lived to a ripe old age of 106. This is not your usual Cantonese or Teochew style congee, as its taste is closer to that of soy milk porridge, made with lily bulbs and Chinese yam. I wasn’t used to the taste initially, but it does take some convincing on my end to accept this unique porridge flavour. No doubts about its nourishing contents though.
Rants It’s probably authentic, but the main dining area feels like a food court setting. You can also be sure to expect a boisterous ambience.
Will I Return Again? Does Nanjing Impressions leave an impression on us? We can foresee Nanjing Impressions to be a popular dining option for diners who love and are familiar with the flavours of Nanjing. For us, we confess that it is our first time trying Nanjing food with no prior benchmark to accurately gauge the standards of this specific cuisine at Nanjing Impressions. It does take time to get used to a new cuisine, but we would still give it a worthy-of-a-try verdict. Go with an open mind and for all you know, it may well suit your palate more than ours hopefully.
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Taste bud: 3/5
Hole in the pocket: 3.5/5
Overall Experience: 3/5
#04-46 to 51, Plaza Singapura
68 Orchard Road
Tel: +65 6352 7877
Daily: 11am to 10pm
Ranted by The Ranter