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Variations on a Cantonese theme
Publication Date : 30-10-2012
Thai, Indian and Japanese cuisine have all undergone a swank evolution so it was really only a matter of time before Chinese dining went the same way. The "makeover" has come in the form of Mandopop, a fine dining restaurant in Bangkok that retains authentic Chinese tastes but offers them in a sleek, modern presentation.
Opened four months ago, Mandopop doesn't anything like the traditional Chinese restaurant with which Bangkok diners are familiar. Gone is the red and gold decor, the live fish tank and the super large dishes designed for family meals. Instead the restaurant boasts high ceiling with lots of natural light in modern shades of blue and grey with smaller tables and bar stools. Even the music is modern - Chinese pop.
But don't let the look deceive you into thinking that this is a funky fusion restaurant; Mandopop serves only the authentic tastes of Cantonese cuisine with Singapore and Hong Kong flair.
Overseen by Singaporean chef Adrian Chua who has 20 years of culinary expertise under his belt, the dishes here look very international with very little garnish.
"We just want to reinvent the look - not the tastes - of Chinese food," Chua says. "Chinese food is very colourful, but the traditional presentation is often a clump or a big pile of food on a big plate, which is not creative at all. Here at Mandopop we use the Western or the Japanese and Malay styles to present the food and we involve several Western ingredients while maintaining the true Chinese tastes."
The food here comes in smaller portions too so you don't need to bring the whole clan out for dinner to get your money's worth. Mandopop allows you to dine alone, with your significant other or with a small group and still enjoy a great variety of dishes.
Whet your appetite with some piping hot dim sum. Recommended is a plate of four steamed prawn dumplings with spinach skin. The flour is infused with grounded spinach that gives dark, glutinous green hue to the springy dumplings. It's not bitter at all and it fact it doesn't taste of anything - just makes your dumplings green.
If you like colourful food, get another plate of steamed scallop dumplings with ebiko or fish roe that comes in three colours. The green is from spinach and the pink is from beetroot. The white is the flour's natural colour.
In addition to Chinese vinegar we often dip our dim sum in, the kitchen offers other two choices - a sweet sambal dip with oil and dried shrimp and savoury ginger and scallion.
Another must-try is scallop noodles with superior stock. The soup is specially fragrant and tasty, because it is "superior" broth made of dry-cured ham and chicken left to simmer for at least eight hours. It is the same kind of broth used in many expensive soups, such as shark fin soup or wonton soup. Oh, and don't fish through the bowl for the scallops; they are infused in the noodles which are made purely of egg white.
The main course menu is extensive with both meat and vegetarian dishes to choose from.
Most Chinese eateries serve you the whole fish - head and all - but at Mandpop they fillet the fish for you. Tuck into juicy and firm pan-fried salmon with scallion sauce if you want fish for main course. Beef lovers should try the succulent and mouth-watering black pepper tenderloin beef, which is cooked very quickly at high heat to preserve the meat's juices.
Wash it all down with the mild and refreshing soft bean curd with dragon fruit, served cold.
Mandopop also keeps a big wine cellar, as well as a full bar. The recommended cocktail is Kok-Fah mojito with rum, chrysanthemum, mint and Thai lemon basil seeds. If you like your drink alcohol-free, order a sweet and creamy Berry Berry with blackberry, raspberry, milk and vanilla.
The restaurant is not part of Oriental Residence but you can use the parking there.