I met up with Kong, a long-time friend, for dinner. Even though I haven't seen him for the past 3 years, it was so lovely that our friendship has remained exactly the same. We wanted a restaurant quiet and fairly private to facilitate our endless chatter so I brought him to Cherry Garden at the Mandarin Oriental.
Although the award-winning restaurant is right smack in the heart of the bustling Suntec / Marina Square area, it still manages to exclude a serene and tranquil atmosphere. I love it here, it's like stepping into another world, hidden away from the maddening crowd that throng the nearby malls.
The cuisine at Cherry Garden is predominantly Cantonese, with a modern take on traditional classics.
We ordered the Oven-Baked Spring Chicken in Barbecue Garlic Sauce ($22), which was one of the best renditions around. The chicken was moist and juicy, with incredibly crisp skin. The sweet garlicky fried onions and sesame sprinkles were an exquisite touch.
We also got the Vegetarian Fried Rice ($18). This purple-hued fried rice was smoky, delicate and mildly peppery. The addition of fish roe, freshly shredded crabmeat and diced melons made this dish a unique and luxurious offering.
The Braised Homemade Tofu with Monkey's Head Mushroom ($22) was another hit. The use of premium monkey's head mushroom was a nice touch. The mashed spinach encrusted beancurd was silky smooth, and the ginger-accented oyster sauce gravy was luscious. I loved chomping on the Chinese spinach served on the side.
Because one veggie dish wasn't enough, we also got the Sauteed Baby Pak Choy ($18), simple, light, crunchy and not too salty.
We also got the Fried Prawns with Garlic and Oats ($8 per 100g), deshelled for our convenience. The prawns were sweet, crunchy and fresh. Bits of savoury deep fried garlic and oats topped off the delectable dish.
We may have overordered, but we wouldn't miss out on Cherry Garden's exquisite and nourishing soups. I got the Double Boiled Chicken Consomme with Agaricus Mushrooms, Fish Maw and Water Chestnuts ($18). This was refreshing and delicate, but amazingly full-bodied from the hours of painstaking double-boiling.
The other soup was the Superior Broth with Shrimps, Scallops, Crabmeat, Conpoy and Maitake Mushrooms ($14), with a heavier seafood base. This was clear and light, but with depth of flavour.
We were served a complimentary Amuse Bouche of Sesame Ginger Chicken, to whet our appetites. This was deliciously sweet, soft and slightly peppery.
The Mandarin Oriental
5 Raffles Ave
Tel: 6338 0066 / 6885 3030
Open daily from 12noon to 2.30pm for lunch and 6.30pm to 10.30pm for dinner