Fine Cantonese Restaurant Review: Jade Dragon at City of Dreams, Macau

August 06, 2014

Most people, when fine dining is mentioned, will think of white linen cloth, sparkling or still water and heavily European-accented waiters recommending the fish or duck to be served to you in tiny portions on a huge plate. But in recent times, Chinese fine dining has finally found its way to the international scene and managed to stand on its own with exquisitely-made dishes and premium ingredients. There is premium pu'er tea, vintage wine, and soup boiled for hours on end to be paired with steamed buns with exactly 18 folds in the skin.

The perfect example of this will be Jade Dragon at Macau's City of Dreams, helmed by Michelin-starred Chef Tam. I had the pleasure to try Chef's creations in carte blanche/omakase style for dinner on a Thursday evening with my dear sister.



Walk into the restaurant, and it was already a preview of what's to come. The sleek golden opulence was non-apologetic, luxurious and simply just impressive!



Now let's get on with the food shall we? We started with some amuse bouche - fried carrot cake and molecular soup on the spoon. The textures were a mix of crunchy, soupy and soft that's meant to tantilize. 

This was followed by a trio of tomato on gelatin, little cubes of duck (?) and a xiao long bao, which was very good. Being a Cantonese restaurant, you cannot run away from the steamed pork bun.


We then move on to one of Jade Dragon's signature dishes from their Herbal Soup menu. Chef am had worked with a herbal master to design the range of double-boiled soups that is meant to be good for you not just as a stomach filler, but from the traditional Chinese medicine view. Thus you have soups that are for people who are 'heaty', or those to get rid of dampness, like the double-boiled frog wintermelon soup we had.

It tasted so homely I wish I can have a bowl of it every night! The soup was rich with the essence of the ingredients in there.


Next we had the garoupa on a bed of mushrooms with fried silver bait on the side. I have never had such fresh garoupa that's done in this way before. The fish slivers are just so fresh and bouncy! I really liked this for the cleanness in taste. 




It was followed by some fluffy fried rice with char siew, which is good but skippable amidst so much goodness.



Next, the highlight of the evening - the Sichuan beef hotplate. Man does this dish sizzle, in every sense of the word! The beef slices were so tender and juicy, it was unbelievable. Couple that with the strong spicy kick you receive from the Sichuan mix of chilis and you're nearly sent off the edge of spicyland, but the spices were merciful enough by stopping short of killing my tastebuds for anything else. That was magical. I could literally just have this dish and a bowl of rice and be perfectly happy. Now this is how beef can be done differently than as a steak!




Then, just a sampler of what Jade Dragon is famous for - their litchi-wood roasted iberico honeyed barbeque pork, or what we call, char siew with the shoulder cut of the black pig roasted in a lychee wood oven.


MINDBLOWING.

Really, the Chinese are probably the only ones that can be so ingenious when it comes to pork. The litchi-wood oven really made a difference to the smokey flavor of the char siew when you can smell hints of lychee. The cut of the meat meant it melted in our mouths with just the right combination of fats and sweet pork. I highly recommend that you don't miss out on this when you visit Macau!

We ended with 2 desserts and some petit fours. The white truffle milk pudding with bird's nest was really just over-the-top delicious decadence using those ingredients that turned the humble milk pudding into a creamy truffle scented taste. Beat that, panna cotta!



The creme brulee with bird's nest was good too, though my preference was for the milk pudding. Again, the use of bird's nest in this manner on a 'traditional' Western egg custard elevated it to the next level by balancing out the sweetness with the light crunchy bird's nest.


The presentation was undeniably a modern homage to classics.


There were also some delicious mini milk tea ice cream cones to be had, in a tea pot of course.


Look at how tiny they are compared to our faces.


"Petit fours" rounded everything off, and even though we were really full we couldn't resist! Sweet treats are the best. We also received a calligraphy writing of what we had by the calligraphy master at the end of the meal. If you can read Mandarin, you'll see what we ate. This is rather ingenious - a bespoke souvenir of your food experience, done in the most classic and poetic Chinese style!


And here they are. 

I was absolutely blown away by this unexpected Chinese fine dining experience. Everything was authentic, honest-to-goodness Chinese food but done with thought, creativity and sincerity using the best ingredients the chef has to offer. You might not be as surprised as I am if you visit Jade Dragon after reading this, but I reckon you'll be in for a treat if you do. Highly recommend that you make Jade Dragon a necessary pit stop in your Macau itinerary!

Jade Dragon
Level 2, The Shops at The Boulevard, City of Dreams, Macau
Reservations: (853) 8868 2822
Daily from 11:00am – 3:00pm and 6:00pm – 11:00pm

Thanks to Jade Dragon for hosting us for the opportunity to taste Chef Tam and team's amazing creations.

After the dinner, we took a walk around the SOHO area of City of Dreams, where there are amazing digital/tech installations that people can interact with. The amount of theatrics is really over the top cool. I really like the sleek New Chinese type decor.



And thus marks the end of this restaurant review. Watch out for the next one soon!

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