Paradise Dynasty @ Vivocity: Food fit for an emperor

Two posts in a day again? I am on a roll! I just had to share this with you all.

Today was Paradise Dynasty’s first official day at Vivocity. They have taken over Imperial Herbal Restaurant at Level 3, right next to Daiso.

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Since it was their first day, the restaurant was absolutely clean, and the service staff were all running about, eager to serve. We were promptly seated by the cheery staff, who attended to our every beck and call. I felt like royalty. They served us tea, warning us that it was hot, and constantly came back to refill our tea cups every few minutes (eager beavers I tell you). Then again, I spotted the founders of Seafood Paradise Group, Eldwin Chua and Edlan Chua, at the restaurant, so the staff were kept on their toes the whole time. I also spotted the likes of hotelier, Loh Lik Peng and his violinist wife, Min Lee, seated such a stones’ throw away from me, testing out the new outlet of Paradise Dynasty.

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All those people you see standing up in the photo above? They are the efficient service staff! One of the ladies came over to seat us, and explained the ordering system and listed some of their specialties.

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When the service staff hurried over to attend to the other customers, I managed to capture an unblocked view of the restaurant. Airy, spacious and without a doubt comfortable.

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Each table comes with a few condiments like ginger, and the usual salt and pepper.

First up, the Sze Chuan Hot & Sour Soup ($5.80)

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I’ve never had hot and sour soup before, but it all I can say is that I absolutely love it! The bowl looks small… but it had a generous amount of soup.

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The soup was chock full of ingredients. There was ee mee (egg noodles), mushrooms, scallions… a treasure pot of delicious ingredients. The vibrantly coloured soup was amazing. It was sour, almost tasting like vinegar, with a spicy kick to it! My two favorite flavors merged into the perfect dish. You have to order this.
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This was the closest I got to their signature Xiao Long Baos. These goodies were unfortunately unavailable today. A disappointment I must say, since they should have been prepared for their first day of opening. After all, this is their signature dish!

I had also planned on ordering the Veggie Dumpling La Mian, however, this was not available as well. Again, they should have prepared all their dishes for opening day. It is the most basic of all operations, no?

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Preserved Vegetable Pork Bone Broth La Mian ($8.50)
Phew, that was a mouthful. To be honest, I don’t even know if that is the exact name, since it was in Chinese. Whatever it is, it was delicious! The broth was very rich, similar to ramen broth. You could really taste the full-bodied flavor from the pork.

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It was served with my favorite kind of egg, in between hard-boiled and semi-boiled, ramen style! The difference between this and ramen would be the type of noodle used.

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Yes, I know the noodles aren’t exactly nicely raised… *sigh* Men, need I say more?

Jokes aside, they do serve a mean bowl of noodles. They use La Mian here, which is smoother and easier to bite through than ramen noodles. The portion was generous, and can easily satisfy a grown man for a meal. Very worth it I must say, given the high quality and large portion. Why, even meals in food courts are priced almost as high!

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La Mian with Fried Chicken Cutlet ($10.80)
This dish took quite a while to come. But the service staff remained attentive throughout, and constantly checked on us to see if our order was on the way. I suppose the extra time was needed to fry the chicken fresh! 
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The La Mian had a lighter broth than the previous La Mian, but still as good. This came with seaweed and some Bok Choy as well. I loved the seaweed.

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Apologies for the rather atrocious attempts at noodle photos. I’m not the kind of person who will spend ages trying to make the noodles line up with each other for the perfect photo. I like to eat my food hot, so if you can see the noodles, the picture has served its purpose. Trust me, you’d rather be slurping this bowl of deliciousness than snapping away at the noodles when the bowl is put in front of you.

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The fried chicken served alongside was perfectly crisp, and not too oily! You can hear the crackle each time you bite into it. The chicken cutlet tasted somewhat like roast pork, which worked well for the dish.

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Xiao Long Bao (6 pieces: $7.30)
The long awaited XLBs… they only had the original xlbs available today, so we ordered 6 pieces to share. They also offer a 10 piece option for the ravenous folks.

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The xiao long bao skin was a tad thick, but I give it to them, since the chefs are probably still a little new to this on their first day. The soup was good, but perhaps there could have been more soup. I think they should use fattier meat to make the xiao long baos juicier.

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Unlike other xiao long baos I have tried, they mixed a little bit of vegetable bits, presumably scallions, into the meat. Perhaps to add some color to the dish, but otherwise, the tiny vegetable bits didn’t contribute to the taste or texture. I’ve heard that some restaurants put a cube of lard in the centre of the meat, so that when the dumpling is boiled, the lard will melt down, and meld with the meat and soup to create a delicious fatty broth. Paradise Dynasty could look into that to improve their xiao long baos!

Their service staff also kindly reminded us to eat them while they were hot, since the soup tends to dry up, and the skin hardens when it is left in the open. So, please, heed their advice… they do know best.

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I like how the staff dress up in traditional chinese costumes. It adds to the vibe of the place. There were also some service staff dressed very smartly in suit and ties. Having so many people waiting on me? I’m not complaining at all! I certainly had fun pretending to be an empress in my foodie kingdom.

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Like many restaurants that sell xiao long bao, Paradise Dynasty touts an open kitchen at the entrance. A smart move to attract hungry customers, especially with the freshly made dumplings calling out to them.

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Payment is made at the counter, which resembles a hotel counter. The bill took quite a long time to arrive though, for several other customers as well, so that’s something they should be working on.

Next to the counter is a artistically lighted raised floor, which looks nice, but is a safety hazard. Bengawan Solo’s owner, Anastasia Tjendri-Liew, was unfortunate to suffer a nasty fall at the step. She did get up and maintained her poise quickly though, after being swarmed by concerned staff, so kudos to her for that. A suggestion would be to convert the step into a ramp instead, so that accidents can be avoided. The ramp would make the restaurant more wheel-chair friendly as well, making family reunion dinners with grandparents more convenient. I do hope they make the necessary changes for the safety of their customers!
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It has been a while since a chinese restaurant has left such an indelible mark on me. The service, and dining area was splendid. The food was of high quality, and the hearty portions leave little for me to pick on. All that, in addition to the affordable pricing, makes Paradise Dynasty a great place for a meal, for people of all ages, and for any occasion. Easy to say, I would definitely come back, it is after all quite close to paradise…just mind your step!

Rating: 8/10

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