January 3, 2012 at 6:00 pm
It is pretty common for most families these days to opt to dine out when it comes to dinner time. With the childrens’ busy schedules both during and after school hours together with their parents’ long working hours, it is not easy to find the time to prepare a proper home-cooked meal every day. Therefore, it is not surprising to find more restaurants established every now and then, in particular those that serve Chinese home-cooked style dishes.
Dining out is never a cheap affair when compared to eating at home. A simple meal for two can easily set one back by RM 50 or more, which over a period of time can add up to a big sum of money. At times, the prices charged for these dishes may not seem worthwhile because of the lack of quality in terms of taste and ingredients used.
So it was with much curiosity and anticipation that we accepted the invitation to try out the food at Paradise Inn, located at OB3, Lower Ground Floor of Sunway Pyramid Shopping Centre in Bandar Sunway, Petaling Jaya. Previous experiences with other Chinese cuisine restaurants have showed me that having a posh outlet does not automatically ensure that the food will be great, so we were curious to see how this restaurant will turn out at the end.
The grand archway that greeted us was somewhat impressive and reminded one of those ancient archways found at a palace in China. Stepping into the restaurant, we were greeted by warm and friendly staff who ushered us to our tables. The set-up of the restaurant was done in such a way that guests would feel like they were dining at home instead of another outlet in a mall. The one thing that struck my fancy was how spacious it felt, unlike other eateries where the tables are placed so close to each other that it felt claustrophobic. I observed how easy it was for the waiters and servers to navigate around each table when serving the food.
To kick-start the meal, we were first served with Paradise Inn’s Stewed Pork Belly served with Lotus Bun. This dish is eaten the same way like our modern burger, where the stewed pork belly is placed between the folds of the soft lotus bun. This is a definite must for people who love pork belly, as each slice has a good ratio of fat and meat to it. All the stewing made the meat so tender that it almost melts as one takes a bite. Each guest was also given a menu to select their choice of drink from the list of floral and herb infused tea (hot or cold). The menu is extensive and offers a funky cocktail of floral and herb infused tea like Jasmine, Osmanthus, Dried Longan and Chrysanthemum tea; which helps to nourish the spleen and heart, strengthen our eyesight and improves the immune system; and Lily Flower, Forget Me Not, Dried Longan and Chrysanthemum tea, which helps in expelling ‘heat’ from our body, relieves cough and nourishes the lungs at the same time and contains beauty enhancing properties. As the need to quench our thirst overruled all other needs that night, we selected Very Berries Iced Tea (strawberries and blackcurrants blended with classic Earl Grey tea) and Lemongrass and Passionfruit Iced Tea (a blend of aromatic lemongrass and passionfruit with Earl Grey tea). For those who have dined at the restaurant prior to reading this, one may have noticed that the restaurant uses Earl Grey tea as a base for all of their iced tea series. Upon inquiry, we were told that Earl Grey tea has an added body compared to other types of tea and it makes a good blend when combined with other flavours such as strawberries or lemongrass.
After whetting our appetites on the delicious stewed pork belly with lotus bun, we were finally served with the first course of the day – the Paradise Inn Trio Combo Appetiser. Made up of three different dishes, that is the Crisp-Fried Fish with Preserved Bean Paste, Teochew Style Crispy-fried Prawn Roll and Marinated Jelly Fish with Vinaigrette, this appetiser dish was the best dish to start off our culinary adventure. The jelly fish was marinated very well, as the vinegar was not overpowering, instead producing a subtle flavour that was surprisingly refreshing. The vinegar infused jellyfish turned out to be crunchy and light, a perfect starter for the evening.
The second dish that was in store for us was two of Paradise Inn’s famous traditional double-boiled soups – Double-boiled Water Goby with Spare Ribs and Fresh Apple and Double-boiled Sea Whelk with Spare Ribs. All of the soups served begin with the same base, a superior stock made from pig’s bones and a few other choice ingredients to lend it flavour, simmered for two days. The soups was light and tasty and the best part was, there was no heavy after taste to it despite it being so rich in flavour.
After the soups, we proceeded on to the main course. There are six different dishes in total served as main course and they are Crisp-fried Crystal Prawn in Wasabi Mayo Sauce, Steamed Minced Pork with Salted Fish and Water Chestnut, Braised Tofu with Crystal Prawns, Crisp-fried Shrimp Paste Chicken, Poached Chinese Spinach with Egg Trio and Minced Pork in Superior Stock and Paradise Steamed “Song” Fish Head with Spicy Bean Sauce. All these dishes are best enjoyed with a steaming bowl of Jasmine Steam Rice, and boy did we all enjoy it! The salted fish served on top of the steamed mince pork was so aromatic that when the server started spreading it all around, everyone on the table could smell it! Unlike some places where the steamed mince pork tastes mushy, the texture of the pork can still be tasted here and together with the water chestnuts and a bowl of rice, it gives a nice firm and slightly crunchy texture.
The Braised Tofu with Crystal Prawns and Poached Chinese Spinach with Egg Trio and Minced Pork in Superior Stock were delicious. The braised tofu was soft and silky to taste and the poached spinach was so delicious, one could just eat the whole serving by itself. The taste of the eggs complemented one another and the vegetables were soft but not overdone. But the best dish for the night (other than dessert!) was the Braised Vermicelli with Pork Trotters. This dish was specially cooked for our sampling and with just one mouthful, we were hooked on it. The vermicelli is cooked in the pork trotters’ own fat drippings, which gives the whole dish that extra body and tastiness to it. The meat was so soft and tender that it just melts away in the mouth. This dish is definitely by far the best that I have ever tasted.
Of course, what better way to round up a perfectly good meal than with a bowl of yummy dessert. We were given a choice to select one dish from the list of desserts which included Sweet Almond Paste, Chilled Lemongrass Jelly with Lemonade, Mango Sago, Water Chestnut and Sweet Corn Sago and Black Sesame Paste. We opted for the Mango Sago and Chilled Lemongrass Jelly with Lemonade. The Mango Sago, though it was light, was sweet and did not bear a slight tinge of artificial taste in it. The Chilled Lemongrass Jelly was refreshing and rounded off the full bodied taste of the vermicelli perfectly.
According to the management, everything is prepared fresh daily and utmost care is taken when preparing these ingredients. The almonds are roasted in a wok for about 45 minutes everyday before it is prepared to be grounded into powder form. The Mango Sago is prepared everyday and it is a challenge that the chefs happily embrace to ensure that it tastes the same every single day. In fact, every single dish goes through elaborate preparation to ensure that quality and taste is never compromised. It is this very fact that makes the people at Paradise Inn so proud of their dishes and offerings, as they make it a priority to give their patrons a taste of delicious tasting meals prepared with much care at an affordable price.