to crave, to seek & to sin

Spring JuChunYuan @ Far East Square

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Being the only restaurant in Singapore to serve traditional Min cuisine, JuChunYuan first came about in China and her origins can be traced all the way back to 1865, whereby it was first known as SanYouZhai. Thereafter, she was later renamed as Ju Chun Tea Garden in 1904. For more than a century, the restaurant has attracted and retained many customers with her rich offerings of Min dishes. Carrying the legendary legacy of the JuChunYuan Fuzhou restaurant, Spring JuChunYuan hopes to enrich the food culture and culinary scene of Singapore with her introduction of Min dishes and more notably, their original invention/ house speciality of Buddha Jumps Over The Wall.

Stepping past the very traditional-looking frontage that reminded me of those found in Chinese Temples, I was immediately greeted by luminous spotlights and lush bamboo shoots that outlined the walkway to the restaurant’s entrance- definitely a warm welcome for her customers and visitors.

 

Furnished with oriental touches that ranged from Chinese decorative panels to suspended lanterns, the restaurant seems to exude a rather grandeur vibe that is further elevated by the brilliant use of bright yellow/ golden table cloths and even more so complete with the hanging of veils beside the window panes. JuChunYuan also houses four private rooms, intended to accomodate any intimate large gatherings of more than 10 persons.

JuChunYuan Salmon Sashimi Yu Sheng Platter

Our starter turned out to be none other than the traditional salad platter that has always been seen as a fun-filled obligation for many of the young and old during Chinese New Year. Consisting of the usual suspects such as Raw fish (Salmon Sashimi), shredded vegetables and matched with other similarly auspicious coloured constituents before finally drizzled with sweet plum sauce and honey,  it was a treat for us to have the opportunity to engage ourselves in this custom of tossing the ingredients into the air with our new friends we have just met. A straightforward dish that is hard to go wrong, I have always enjoyed how the textures and flavours came together in harmony.

Braised Monkey Head Mushroom in Imperial Stock

Known for its antioxidant properties and reputed to reduce blood glucose levels, the gratifyingly soft Braised Monkey Head Mushroom did taste fairly pleasant as they managed to retain much of the stock’s deep savour. Having settled prettily around the highlight of the dish, I must say that the fresh and crunchy Broccoli were a common yet fine addition that we all know, that can hardly ever go wrong in the execution of such offerings.

Original 1876 Buddha Jumps Over The Wall

Reputed to have been birthed in JuChunYuan Restaurant (Fuzhou) in 1876, it has been acclaimed that JuChunYuan has continued to set the standards of their Buddha Jumps Over The Wall for fine Chinese restaurants all around the world. Also know as the Culinary National Treasure of China, Raymond divulged to us that the Singaporean outlet has sold more than 16,000 bowls of their signature speciality since their opening in 2007. An individual serving costs $98.00 while a pot that would be able to serve around 10, is priced at $1288.00.

Touted as the clear winner of our uniquely Chinese meal, it was the moreish flavours of the restaurant’s Original 1876 Buddha Jumps Over The Wall that began to whet my appetite. A show- stopping dish that should never be missed, the aroma of the full-bodied broth hit me the moment the spoon was brought near to my lips. Full of collagen goodness, Raymond explained to us that the deep savour of the soup was lent by the use of Huadiao wine and the different bone parts of chicken, duck and pig. Consisting of top-notch ingredients such as Shark Fun, Sea Cucumber, Dried Scallop, Fish Maw, Pork Tendon, Cuttlefish, Abalone and finally Shiitake Mushroom, we were exposed to the varying textures and uniqueness of each constituent’s flavour that went perfectly with the soul- lifting soup.

Steamed Bird’s Nest Crab

Richard explained to us that the recipe had came about due to Master Chef Li Yan’s desire to create an offering that would be in line with many of our fellow Singaporeans’ soft spot for Crabs and I thought that the chef’s effort was definitely worth it. Other than delivering a delectable mix of flavours, I had particularly taken pleasure in the textural contrasts between the satisfyingly soft steamed egg, chewy minced pork and crunchy bits of water chestnuts. Satisfying our nostalgic cravings as well, for as Hoong An put it- the dish did remind us of a more exquisite re-interpreted rendition of a childhood favourite- steamed egg custard consisting of minced pork; those normally served in the Chinese stores located in our school canteens. The crustacean flesh was sweet and moist too, but that was not exactly what I was amazed by.

JuChunYuan ‘PaShao’ Stewed Pork Belly

Looking drool-worthy enough with its few good centimetres thick appearance, the super-sized slab of meat did not fare as well as the other dishes. Although I did like how the good mix of melt-in-mouth fats in the skin atop and decent composition of lean meat that was firm to the bite, I thought that the creation was largely let down by the rather one- dimensional sauce that was a tad too salty for one’s taste-buds.

Stir- Fried Heng Hwa Been Hoon

We were told that minimal oil was used in the preparation of the dish and that it was stir-fried with a pair of chop-sticks. Extremely thin and slippery noodles together with a concoction of bean sprouts, eggs, shrimps, carrot peels and so on, I thought that it could have been a more exciting entree since it came across as rather bland. As such, it should be highly encouraged that one make use of their specially home-made garlic vinegar soy sauce that was provided alongside, since it delivered distinct tangy and sweet accents to provide the bold balance that the creation required.

Fuzhou Yam Pudding

Notoriously easy to screw up, the popular Chinese dessert came out perfect. Abandoning the use of Coconut Milk and Pork Lard Oil, it was a totally new experience for some of us as the dessert was light and incredibly velvety.  I will like to add that I found it to be sweet but not too overbearing; just the way one will like it. Despite how bloated we already were, we found it incredibly hard to restrain ourselves from the dessert- so much so that I spooned up every bit of it. Boasting all the right elements, the restaurant’s Yam Paste/ Pudding should give many other Chinese restaurants a run for their money.

Raymond was extremely patient and detailed in introducing the different dishes and I could feel the sincerity in his hospitality towards us. Service was commendable as the service team was both courteous and polite. A few of them checked on our tea cups rather frequently and I felt that that was important as it would allow us to wash down the decadent cue every once in a while when required.

A delectable variety of dishes, fine service and great company-   it was indeed a memorable dining experience at Spring JuChunYuan. Who would be able to forget the all-so-famous Original 1876 Buddha Jumps Over The Wall? Anyway, for those who have yet to confirm their plans for their reunion dinner, I believe that Spring JuChunYuan is definitely a more than decent option to consider. Otherwise, the creations as introduced in this entry (other than the JuChunYuan Salmon Sashimi Yu Sheng Platter) are available for order from their ala-carte menu as well.

You may wish to know that the Prosperity Set Menu is priced at $1588.00++ (For a table of 8 to 10 persons) while the Fortune Set Menu is priced at $1888.00++ (For a table of 10 to 12 persons). The Imperial Set Menu would cost $3888.00++ (For a table of 12 to 14 persons).

 

We would like to appreciate our gratitude to Ms Adeline from Kitchen Language for hosting the food-tasting session and last but not least, Mr Richard from JuChunYuan for the very informative introduction of the dishes and the hospitality displayed at the restaurant.

 

Spring JuChunYuan
130 Amoy Street, #01-01
Far East Square
Singapore 049959

Contact Number: 6536 2655

Operating Hours:
Mondays to Saturdays, 11.30am till 3.00pm and 6.00pm till 11.00pm
Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays (JuChunYuan will be operating on both days of CNY 2012)

 

Jasper N. and Bryan C.

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