The second joint venture of hotelier Loh Lik Peng and chef Yong Bing Ngen, Jing at One Fullerton continues in the same contemporary Chinese vein as its predecessor, the award-winning Majestic Restaurant at the New Majestic Hotel. Such modern Chinese cuisine – designed to balance technique and presentation while sampling from French and other Western sources – can be a difficult tightrope act. Timidity won’t work; a proper hybrid needs wit and a spirit of invention, plus flawless execution. Jing wields the first two confidently, but doesn’t always deliver on the third.
Left: Pork belly rib baked with angelica root and garden greens
Right: Stewed egg noodles with boston lobster in ginger and scallion
Take the appetiser combination of wasabi mayonnaise prawns and Peking duck with foie gras. You may remember these dishes, originally from Club Chinois, as among the few worth canonising from the late-’90s progressive Chinese cuisine movement. Jing’s lacquered skin and sautéed foie were a notable improvement on their antecedents, crisp and plush textures harmonising elegantly in the key of duck. However, the so-so prawns lacked the dish’s properly operatic contrasts of sweetness and pungency.
But brighter moments outnumber lacklustre ones. Where a Western restaurant might cradle lamb chops in a bed of risotto or a buttery vegetable purée, chef Yong instead cushions morsels of lamb on soft radish cake cubes stir-fried with egg, an unexpectedly good combination. The kitchen seems to work its most impressive magic with protein-centred dishes, such as a perfectly cooked, moist fish fillet baked in a peppery honey sauce (though its use of Chilean sea bass, often fished unsustainably, is disappointing). A top-notch grilled pork rib steak, cut across the bones in Korean style, was deeply flavoured with a marinade that played the cool, parsnip-like bitterness of dong kwai (angelica root) off sweet honey. Lobster noodles paired half an impeccably fresh lobster – gorgeously creamy tomalley (lobster paste) intact – with simply sauced braised yee mein and some greens; nothing else was needed.
Desserts dispel the reputation of Chinese sweets as being mono-textured, starchy, sugary or all of the above. Lusciously fruity mango pudding didn’t need any of its six garnishes to shine, and a smooth avocado cream dotted with sago achieved the perfect sweetness. Fans of the Majestic’s creamy durian in a crunchy batter crust can get their fix here as well.
Service is excellent: observant but not intrusive. When I tried to order an à la carte dish on top of a set lunch, the manager explained solicitously that it was sized for four people, then without prompting arranged for the kitchen to make me a single portion. On another occasion, when I pointed out my appetiser sampler’s undercooked siew mai, the entire platter was quickly replaced without my asking, despite the fact that I’d already eaten the other items on it. The foxy brown, bronze and black decor and uniforms lend the ambience a certain chic, warm quality, but the atmosphere doesn’t quite equate with the calibre of the cooking. For instance, the crumpled-origami ceiling looks like recording studio insulation, but does little at peak dining hours to muffle the wheeling and dealing at the next table, and heels clacking across the floor. And are those tile warehouse samples scattered across the back wall?
Lunch sets stretch from $45 to $85 – good value given the number of components – while dinner sets range from $65 to $180; the highest price nabs you the six-course, five-wine Jing Experience. As an added incentive, Jing’s wine list is unusually expansive and well annotated for a Chinese restaurant.
Set lunch and dinner menus $45-$180.
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