Restaurant Review: Jin Shan 金山楼 at Marina Bay Sands
During our recent 3 days staycation at MBS (courtesy of my MIL), we took the opportunity to try quite a few restaurants at MBS. For hotel guests staying at MBS, you get some dining privileges like 15% off your bill at Jin Shan, or 20% off at 9 Goubuli, etc. So we also tried to dine in places that we can enjoy discounts since this is a privilege we can enjoy only while staying here. Besides Jin Shan, we also dined at 9 Goubuli, lunched at Sky 57 (no discount, but always wanted to try) and snacks at TWG (ouch). Initially I had really wanted to dine at Adrift especially since we get 30% off the bill. But an unpleasant service experience Ed had with the staff when he and his friends went over for drinks before dinner resulted in us giving the place a miss.
I have heard good things about Jin Shan from family members and since I am at MBS, I am excited to finally sample their dishes. According to their website, Chef Huang Ching Biao is one of the top Chinese Chefs and was Chef at the Taiwanese Presidential kitchen, serving to royalty and high ranking officials. Well, that sounds impressive enough to me! So I do have pretty high expectations.
Jin Shan specializes in Cantonese, Hunan and Sichuan dishes. Thus, you can expect a spectrum of Chinese dishes from Cantonese classics to different styles of spicy dishes. Hunan dishes are known to be fragrant and spicy 香辣while Sichuan dishes are known to be numbing and spicy 麻辣. With their wide variety of dishes from premium seafood and delicacies to vegetarian dishes, Jin Shan is able to cater to a variety of dietary requirements, budget and tastes.
The first dish was the reputed Roast Pork Cubes 脆皮酥烧肉 (around $20 or $22, I cannot quite remember… Sorry! but for 9 cubes, I find that a tad expensive). This dish is much raved about online by other bloggers. Because of that, I had high expectations of the dish. The roast pork was good, but not outstanding. Ed found it a little under seasoned, though I found it nicely seasoned with no “porky” taste. Skin was crispy, but fats were a little too solid and chewy for our liking (I like mine soft and melt in the mouth). Not the best out there, but a good dish nonetheless.
Next came the soups. We had their signature Double Boiled Supreme Soup of Seafood Delicacies in Pumpkin 金瓜炖海中宝 as this was also widely raved by bloggers. At $28 per serving, I was initially a little disappointed with the small serving size, but definitely recovered once I tasted the soup. There were dices of seafood like shrimps, sea cucumber with shredded dried scallops in the soup which had the delicate sweetness from the dried scallops. Creamy, but not overly rich. Definitely a tasty “atas” version of the regular pumpkin soup. LOL… We also had their soup of the day at $9 per serving, which although I did not get to taste, I was told was very tasty and done well.
The Stir Fried King Prawns with Sour Cream 奶柠大明虾 $38 was very tasty and a pretty pleasant surprise. I ordered this because it was one of their Chef’s recommendations and it sounded healthier compared to the salted egg yolk prawns which was also another recommendation. Furthermore, I am a little sick of salted egg yolk stuff. The refreshingly tasty and tangy sauce coated each prawn evenly and together with the curry leaves, went very well with the big and fresh prawns.
We had 2 types of cod fish. Steamed Cod Fillet with Chinese Wine and Egg White 花雕蛋白蒸鳕鱼 $18 and Pan Fried cod fillet with House Special Sauce $18. We loved the texture of the steamed Cod but I personally preferred the sauce of the House special sauce as I found the Chinese Wine sauce a little too light though if it was stronger, it may well overwhelm the delicate flavours of the fish. The steamed cod was buttery and fragrant. The fried cod was a tad too tough for my liking and did not do justice to the fish. Overall, I guess I would still go for texture and choose the Steamed Cod Fillet with Chinese Wine as the winner.
Ok, I do not quite remember the actual name of the next dish, but I remember it was something like 3 types of Vegetables pot $20. There was potato, eggplant and ladies finger in a tomato like sauce. It was extremely satisfying and flavourful while vegetables are perfectly cooked with the eggplant soft, moist and flavourful; potatoes firm yet creamy and ladies finger firm and tender. The sauce was the perfect balance of tangy, sweet, savoury with a gentle touch of heat.
Although we ordered simple dishes, it was a satisfying meal. A little pricey, but considering the other choices around MBS, I would say this is a decently priced dinner with quality food. Service wise, it was courteous and professional though a tiny tad cold. Although the order taking was a little careless and they got our orders slightly wrong, but the dishes were changed readily without much prompting.
In fact, we enjoyed the food enough for us to visit them again 2 days later for breakfast dim sum. This is partly because Ding Tai Fung was not open that early and I had a craving for Chinese breakfast, but also in part because we know their quality can be trusted and prices are not ridiculously expensive.
So for a light breakfast, Ed and I shared a bowl of Chicken meat and Salted Egg Congee $10, Fresh Crab Meat Xiao Long Bao $8, Black Truffle Pork Shao Mai $8 and Crispy ‘Honeycomb’ Yam and Strawberry Balls $7. Honestly, prices are a tad steeper than expected, but I guess if quality is good, it can be justified. It seems that breakfast is pretty quiet compared to dinner the other day.
The meal started with guava pieces marinated with preserved orange peel and it was really appetising and addictive. The congee tasted free of loads of seasoning and strong flavours, which is actually quite refreshing. You taste the delicate flavours of the congee, the fresh shreds of vegetables, the chicken and bursts of flavour from the salted egg. I was tempted to add some soya sauce and sesame oil initially, but with the second mouthful, you actually appreciate the delicate flavours of each ingredient, combined together for an actually “fresh” tasting congee. At $10, I find it a tad expensive as I don’t remember eating much chicken.
The Xiao Long Bao was pretty good. In fact, much better than the crab ones at Ding Tai Fung (which started off good, but nowadays, I find the crab meat no fresh, little and dry.) In this case, Jin Shan’s Xiao Long Bao had a sweet broth within each dumpling and a good balance of pork and crab.
The Black Truffle Shao Mai was a tad disappointing. Although nicely seasoned, there was totally no taste of truffle and the shrimps although generous and chunky, it was a little too tough. Basically tastes like any other shrimp shao mai I have had at other decent dim sum places at a lower price.
The yam balls are faultless, tasting how they are supposed to. Crispy and light on the outside, smooth creamy yam puree within with a burst of savoury pork pieces in the centre. Besides adding a burst of colour to the dish, the strawberries also provided a refreshing balance after the rich yam. However, this dish although well executed, lacks an oomph in taste and I have loved this dish before.
Dinner was good and a place I do not mind coming back to, especially if I am in the vicinity and wants some trustworthy and good Chinese food. However, the dim sum was a tad disappointing from what we have tasted and a tad too pricey.
Jin Shan is located at Marina Bay Sands Hotel Tower 2 Level 1. They also have a Teochew Porridge menu for supper if you are in the area and looking for food.
湾畔大道1号, #01-05 酒店大堂 2
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