Nanjing Impressions – Indulge in Culinary Delights from Nanjing
One day old Nanjing Impressions has taken over Chef Wan’s former restaurant at Plaza Singapura. Nanjing Impressions is founded in 1994 and has established 35 outlets across China. Their first overseas expansion brings them into our foodie paradise, right in the heart of town. Nanjing Impressions is a Top 50 Chinese Heritage Restaurant, awarded by the National Restaurants Association of China. Also, China’s Ministry of Commerce has named the restaurant one of China’s Top 10 Food and Beverage Brands. With the aim of preserving its time-tested recipes and promoting the natural flavours and heritage of Huaiyang cuisine, you can look forward to enjoying the Chinese locals’ favourite street food, classic dishes and dim sum here.
Walking into Nanjing Impressions is like taking a step back in time to Nanjing’s glory days. Upon entering, you’ll be greeted by a “bar”. People who want to unwind after work can choose from a selection of Chinese wines such as Summer Yellow Wine with Red Dates ($18.80 per 250ml pot) and Winter Rice Wine ($18.80 per 250ml pot). The former has 14% alcohol content and is made from red dates while the latter has 10% alcohol content and is fermented from plum. All fermentation is done in-house and the restaurant imports ingredients directly from Nanjing. Drinking the latter might cause you to get drunk easily as it tastes so sweet, with a slight resemblance to Barley drinks so much so that you might forget the existence of alcohol in it.
Going deeper into the restaurant brings you to the main area that seats about 300 guests, with a few 4-seater semi-private booths at the sides. You will notice a stage at the far end where Nanjing musicians will be performing during lunch and dinner hours. There are also two VIP rooms which seat 10 guests each. There are also some “stalls” where you get to watch the chefs work their magic. You can order from them directly as well. Just place your table number tags at their counters and the food will be served to your table. The chefs at Singapore’s Nanjing Impressions are all locals who have been sent to Nanjing for training for 4 months. They have to constantly pass examinations while mastering the traditional recipes. Very minor changes have been made to the food to cater to Singaporeans’ tastebuds, but the original taste of Huaiyang flavours are still distinct.
The Chinese in Nanjing believes that each meal must consist of 10 dishes, especially during festivities due to the proverb, “十全十美” (to be complete and perfect). Therefore, we were treated to 10 items from their interesting menu. Here are five of our favourite items, beginning with a cold dish – 麻油素干丝 Sesame-scented Beancurd Julienne ($11.80 per portion). Respect to the skilled chef for cutting the beancurd into noodle-like portions! Soft and smooth in texture and dressed with the chef’s special sauce, this cold dish is light and refreshing.
The other cold dish – 金陵盐水鸭 Jinling Signature Salted Duck ($16.80/small; $32/medium; $62/big) dates as far back as 1,400 years ago during the Southern Dynasty. Nanjing’s famous salt-water duck has a deceptively simple name, but it is a 400-year-old recipe that involves a complicated procedure of more than 10 precise steps from dry rubbing, seasoning, brining to hang-drying. The result is a rich, delicious and very tender braised bird that possesses layered depths.
The next dish is created when Emperor Sui Yang visited Yangzhou to admire the spring flowers. He commanded the Imperial chefs to create four flower-themed recipes and the 清纯狮子头 Poached “Lion’s Head” Meatball ($13.80 per portion) was created based on the sunflower. This is a masterpiece of knife work, with the meat carefully diced by hand so that the fat and lean meat are evenly distributed for the best flavour and texture. The meatball is then gently steamed for 6 hours so it retains its shape and flavour. The melt-in-your-mouth meatball is simply delectable.
桂花拉糕 Osmanthus-scented Steamed Sponge ($4.80/3pieces) features home-made traditional Nanjing steamed cake served with Osmanthus sauce. The chewy texture with subtle floral fragrance makes these steamed “cakes” very addictive. It is categorised as a Jinling snack but it was more of a dessert to us.
One last dish that’s worth mentioning is 民国美龄粥 Madam Chiang’s Nutritious Beauty Porridge ($6.80 per portion). Named after Soong Meiling, also known as Madame Chiang Kai Shek, who lived till a ripe old age of 106, this is a healthy sweet soy milk porridge made with lily bulbs and Chinese yam. These are nutritious, guilt-free ingredients that are good for you, especially after all your festive feasts.
It was an interesting experience dining at Nanjing Impressions, learning about the heritage of Huaiyang cuisine. For those who haven’t found a place for your Chinese New Year meals, you might want to consider trying their Fortune Yu Sheng and Reunion Treasure Pot. From the careful preservation of the original cuisine to the traditional decor, to the calligraphy, and down to every bowl and plate, much thought has been put into Nanjing Impressions’ expansion into Singapore. And we believe that it’s worth trying a different cuisine that isn’t easily found elsewhere on our little island.
Address: #04-46-51, Plaza Singapura, 68 Orchard Road, Singapore 238839
Phone: 6352 7877
Opening Hours: 11am to 10pm daily.
Note: This is an invited tasting.
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