THE TASTE OFANERA’S 'DYNASTY' AT SM AURA PREMIER
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