Philippine Daily Inquirer - - LIFESTYLE - By Raquel P. Gomez

Out­side the newly opened Par­adise Dynasty in the up­scale SM Aura Premier, there’s a long line of cus­tomers sit­ting on chairs wait­ing to be ush­ered in­side the restau­rant, which brought and pop­u­lar­ized the 8 fla­vors Xiao Long Bao dish among din­ers in the metro.

Xiao Long Bao, which lit­er­ally means "lit­tle bas­ket bun", is the del­i­cate steamed dumpling filled with pork and soup that orig­i­nated in Shang­hai, China.

Some 40 years ago, it was a very com­mon fare pre­pared in­con­sis­tently by var­i­ous cooks—some had thick wrap­pers or bland soups or oily meat—re­quir­ing the dish to be dipped in vine­gar, ac­cord­ing to Ed­lan Chua, COO of Par­adise Group, the Sin­ga­porean com­pany that brought Par­adise Dynasty chain in the coun­try.

But lately, the dish has be­come a del­i­cacy and sought-af­ter in many Chi­nese restau­rants, par­tic­u­larly in Par­adise Dynasty, where cus­tomers are crav­ing for the dis­tinct taste of the rich soup fla­vor, tasty meat, and tex­ture of the del­i­cate thin wrap­pers—which amaz­ingly can hold the hot soup with­out break­ing.

At Par­adise Dynasty, the en­joy­ment of Xiao Long Bao no longer re­quires the dish to be dipped in vine­gar, but sa­vored right from the spoon. The tech­nique in en­joy­ing Xiao Long Bao, says Chua, only re­quires a sim­ple skill of pick­ing the dumpling from the tip us­ing chop­sticks and plac­ing it on the spoon. Us­ing the chop­sticks, poke a small hole to let the hot broth out, then sip the rich soup, and con­sume all the re­main­ing good­ness.

Par­adise Dynasty’s Spe­cialty Xiao Long Bao comes in Orig­i­nal, Gin­seng, Foie Gras, Black Truf­fle, Cheesy, Crab Roe, Gar­lic, and Szechuan fla­vors. The dish, which has given the restau­rant its brand iden­tity, is a great ap­pe­tizer to start off the din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in the restau­rant that fea­tures pop­u­lar dishes from north­ern and south­ern China such as Shang­hai, Szechuan, Fu­jian, and Bei­jing.

The open­ing of the third branch of Par­adise Dynasty in the coun­try within a short span of time since the first store opened in S MaisonCon­rad Manila in Pasay City in 2016 is an in­di­ca­tion that the restau­rant chain has built and es­tab­lished a big fol­low­ing in the coun­try. Par­adise Dynasty is also present at The Podi- um in Or­ti­gas, Madaluy­ong City, where the restau­rant is also serv­ing up a plate—lit­er­ally—to a big crowd there.

Chua re­mem­bers the open­ing day of the first Par­adise Dynasty in S Mai­son-Con­rad Manila had given him the tell-tale sign that the restau­rant would be a hit among Filipino con­sumers. “Dur­ing open­ing day, I was sur­prised to see a huge turnout of cus­tomers. Where did all th­ese peo­ple come from? I wasn’t ex­pect­ing it,” says Chua.

Chua ad­mits that Par­adise Group’s restau­rants in Sin­ga­pore, Malaysia, In­done­sia, China, Ja­pan, Hong Kong, Tai­wan and Myan­mar must have pro­vided Par­adise Dynasty the word-of-mouth boost that made peo­ple an­tic­i­pate the open­ing of a branch in a par­tic­u­lar area.

“In terms of in­ter­na­tional pres­ence, a lot of Filipinos al­ready know the restau­rant brand is from Sin­ga­pore,” says Chua. “The com­bi­na­tion of the fla­vor­ful dishes and the variety of menu is what at­tracts the lo­cals in every coun­try we are present in.

In fact, for a Sin­ga­porean restau­rant, Par­adise Dynasty branch in Shang­hai, China—where the Xiao Long Bao orig­i­nated—had peo­ple lin­ing up for a taste of the soup dumpling.

The restau­rant known for its tasty Xiao Long Bao adds an­other sur­prise to din­ers at Par­adise Dynasty at SM Aura Premier. For a lim­ited time only, the restau­rant will be of­fer­ing Xiao Long Bao in Chilli Crab fla­vor—in­spired by the pop­u­lar dish from Sin­ga­pore. Chua says an exclusive chef flown from Sin­ga­pore pre­pares the “chal­leng­ing” dish, which ac­tu­ally uses the same in­gre­di­ents of chilli crab—so you’d taste the gelati­nous melt-in­y­our-mouth tex­ture of the dim­sum broth com­bined with crab meat. To make the dish, which needs a par­tic­u­lar chef ex­per­tise, most of the in­gre­di­ents are sourced from Sin­ga­pore, in­clud­ing the chilli sauce.

Par­adise Dynasty’s menu lineup rep­re­sents the best of the Chi­nese cui­sine that peo­ple would al­ways love to go back to time and time again, ac­cord­ing to Chua.

Must-try sig­na­ture dishes in­clude the Let­tuce Roll dipped in Home­made Sesame Sauce—the fresh let­tuce dipped in fla­vor­ful sauce is pleas­antly crunchy when bitten into. The Radish Pas­try is so crunchy on the out­side, yet soft in the in­side it melts in your mouth. The Stir-fried Shred­ded Pork in Black Bean Sauce served in Chi­nese Crepes brings back the art rolling the dish in crepes and rel­ish­ing it along with the tasty sauce. The Crispy-fried Crys­tal Prawns tossed with Salted Egg Yolk is pure heaven in your mouth, while the good­ness of the Spicy Szechuan Crispy Chicken tin­gles the taste buds.

The Scram­bled Egg White with Fish and Con­poy is a very clas­sic Bei­jing cui­sine and has a leg­endary story to it, says Chua. “The story goes that one day the Em­press Dowa­ger wanted to eat crab meat but the im­pe­rial chef couldn’t source crab meat. He came up with an idea. He used egg white to mimic the taste of the crab meat. The Dowa­ger be­came fond of the dish so it was passed down to generations.”

Given the par­tic­u­lar tex­ture of the dish—lumps of egg white to mimic crab tex­ture—it takes a spe­cial chef skill to pre­pare it, says Chua.

In terms of din­ing at­mos­phere, Par­adise Dynasty veers away from tra­di­tional Chi­nese restau­rant with the in­fu­sion of mod­ern el­e­ments com­bined with dis­tinct sym­bols of op­u­lence as­so­ci­ated with a high-end Chi­nese restau­rant. It’s got up­scale mod­ern look high­lighted by gold col­ors and ac­cents and chan­de­liers. To add more to the mod­ern Chi­nese at­mos­phere, the uni­forms of wait­ers are in­spired by Chi­nese kung fu movies.

We wanted to cre­ate a the­matic restau­rant. We wanted to present to our cus­tomers the op­u­lence—we want them to feel that there is sat­is­fac­tion for the money they spent when they come to the restau­rant—that’s why we cre­ated the con­cept of a dynasty. It’s like en­ter­ing an era of Chi­nese dynasty when you visit the restau­rant.

Par­adise Dynasty's newest branch at the up­scale mall of­fers din­ers its fa­mous Xiao Long Bao 8 fla­vors plus de­lec­ta­ble dishes from north­ern and south­ern China


Ed­lan Chua and Joyce Lao, Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment & Part­ner Re­la­tions Head of Par­adise Group Hold­ings, pos­ing for the me­dia with the 8-flavours Xiao Long Bao mas­cots dur­ing open­ing day of Par­adise Dynasty in SM Aura Premier.

Spe­cialty Dynasty Xiao Long Bao Spicy Szechuan Crispy Chicken

Crispy-fried Crys­tal Prawns tossed with Salted Egg Yolk

Ed­lan Chua, COO of Par­adise Group Hold­ings.

Chilled Gluti­nous Rice Roll with Red Bean Paste topped with Grated Nuts

Let­tuce Roll with Home­made Sesame Sauce

Radish pas­try

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