Avenue Joffre – Culinary Legend’s Award-Winning Dishes in RWS
If you are looking to pamper your tastebuds this May, do make your way to Resorts World Sentosa and head to Avenue Joffre at Crockfords Towers! This Chinese restaurant is currently showcasing legendary Culinary Master Chef Zhou Yuan-Chang’s contemporary Shanghainese cuisine to gourmet lovers here.
Chef Zhou is regarded as one of the top chefs in China and has prepared numerous national banquets held for China’s national leaders, foreign presidents and dignitaries. As a culinary master and state-level top chef, Chef Zhou holds many titles, such as an international judge of the World Association of Cuisine, a Grade A State Level Judge of China’s food and beverage industry, and a member of Shanghai Cuisine Association Standing Committee.
With his exceptional culinary knowledge and skills, Chef Zhou makes use of authentic Shanghainese cooking methods to enhance the ingredients’ natural flavours and textures, and he has created more than 500 Shanghainese dishes over the years. Don’t miss the chance to savour nearly 20 of his award-winning signature dishes, together with the authentic and comfort food from various parts of China that Avenue Joffre offers, including from Zhejiang, Szechuan, Beijing and Guangdong.
The restaurant name Avenue Joffre itself refers to the same road in the Shanghai French Concession of the 1930’s and 1940’s, and is now known as Huaihai Road. The restaurant looks to the Shanghai Filmmaker’s House and the Chinese film industry of the 1930’s and 1940’s for inspiration, and its interior is filled with photographs and memorabilia from that decade.
A while back, I was invited to sample his creations and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We first began with several appetisers, and among them, I enjoyed chomping on the fragrant and crunchy Shredded Jelly Fish & Turnip in Scallion Oil. The jelly fish and turnip were blanched and thinly sliced, and then topped with fragrant scallion oil. Meanwhile, sweet and sour pork lovers will relish in the Sweet & Sour Spare Ribs with Dried Mandarin Peel. Slightly fatty ribs were used in Chef Zhou’s rendition and dried mandarin peel were added, giving the balanced sweet and sour flavours in this dish an additional citrusy fragrance.
The Shanghai Smoked Fish was quite interesting – the yellow croakers were actually not smoked! In fact, they were fried to crisp and soaked in a special sauce that Chef Zhou made, giving this dish its mild smoky and slightly sweet taste. Another seafood dish, the Stir-Fried Fresh Prawns with Wild Garlic, was flavourful and piquant with savoury, spicy and sweet touches. Farmed prawns were deep-fried till crunchy and sauteed with dried wild garlic shoots.
We then moved on to the main dishes. Chef Zhou’s rendition of the classic Shanghainese dish Braised Pork Belly with Preserved Vegetable was very memorable – the pork belly is tender and rich in flavour with a slightly sweet taste, and the fats melted off in my mouth. It went through five cooking methods – boiling, frying, heating, stewing and steaming – before it was further cooked with Shaoxing preserved cabbage.
The Stir-Fried Shanghai “Eight-Treasure” with Chilli Paste reminded me a little of Kung Pao chicken, except that it had more dimensions. This authentic Shanghainese stir-fried dish consists of eight specially selected ingredients, including prawns, chicken, pork, pork tripe and bamboo shoots, and has a variety of tastes – sweet, salty and spicy.
The crab was perhaps the star in the Simmered Mud Crab with Asparagus Lettuce in Clay Pot, but I drank many bowls of the soup broth instead. Little wonder, since the clear soup had a light and appealing aroma, with the fresh mud crabs and asparagus lettuce cooked in it. The natural sweetness from the crustacean also enhanced the soup’s flavours and I really liked it.
The Stir-Fried Shredded Blotched Snakehead Fish with Chinese Chives is one of Chef Zhou’s award-winning dishes, and while it may not be very photogenic, it poses a massive challenge on any aspiring chef’s knife skills. Blotched snakehead fish fillets were finely cut into equal slices, somewhat resembling short strips of noodles, and then stir-fried with Chinese chives quickly to ensure its tenderness. (#respect!) Be careful of the little bones while eating though!
We also had the chance to try a dish that Chef Zhou brought to France in December.The Stewed Fillet of Beef with Kumpat in Clay Pot was one of the dishes he prepared, and together with the other top chefs’ dishes, they were presented to promote the push of China’s cuisines into the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List. Juicy beef steak was first sauteeed with onion and then cooked in brandy and kumquat, giving a citrusy flavour with every tender bite.
Chef Joffre is also helmed by three other top chefs, and they each presented a dish that will be available during this period. Chef Ip Chi-Kwong’s Dee[-fried Chicken Wing Stuffed with Bird’s Nest is yet another classic in Cantonese cuieins – the chicken wings were deboned, stuffed with bird’s nest and then deep–fried until golden brown and crispy on the outside, yet remaining soft and succulent on the inside.