Joyden Canton Kitchen, of the Joyden Seafood Restaurant fame, brings the provincial Guangdong gastronomic experience to the up-and-coming, HillV2, a new mall in the Upper Bukit Timah area. The Joyden team has meticulously researched the local delicacies in the Chinese province and familiarised themselves with the unique, local ingredients used in their dishes. By taking excursions to Guangdong and its other municipals, the Joyden team has discovered how the local Cantonese use, in many of their delicacies, natural and herbal ingredients such as aged mandarin peel, Hawthorne and fresh Huai Shan (淮山, wild mountain yam).
As a prelude to a typical Cantonese dinner, a simple and yet appetizing offering is usually served. Joyden serves the Crispy Golden Lotus Root Chips which are sliced thinly and fried to golden perfection. This can be such an addictive snack!
For Joyden’s interpretation of a Cantonese soup, the chefs have concocted a low-boiled, mixture of chicken with fresh wild mountain yam (Huai Shan) and Wolfberry, in an old coconut (what a surprise!). The result is a fragrant, nourishing soup with hints of coconut scent. The medical benefits of the wild mountain yam (Dioscoreae oppositae), in Chinese medicine, include properties such as anti-inflammatory, analgesic (pain killer) and anti-spasmodic (relieves muscle spasms). Furthermore, there is also some anti-aging and aphrodisiac properties from this yam – so do try the Chicken with Fresh Huai Shan and Wolfberry in Old Coconut Soup, for what it is worth – your skin may feel younger and your body will appreciate its restorative nutritions.
The Signature Sliced Grouper Fillet with Pine Mushroom and Black Fungus in Rice Wine Broth is a signature broth that is kept heated in a claypot to retain the flavours of superior fish soup and rice wine. The typical fragrance of the Chinese rice wine kept me swooning for more as it enhances the main ingredients of the soup so well!
Being a Cantonese myself (my maternal side), the Cantonese chicken dishes are often simple but truly unforgettable. You must order the Signature Soy Sauce Chicken ($12 – quarter chicken; $18 – half chicken; $32 – whole chicken). This poached chicken is meticulously roasted with a proprietary blend of superior light sauce and herbs, in which, the standout item is the rosewater that gives a subtle floral sweetness to this Cantonese dish.
In the Guangdong province, the majority of the province’s population is the Han Chinese, in which the three largest subgroup are the Cantonese, Teochew and Hakka people. So, do not be surprised when you find their cooking influences in their local dishes. Joyden’s Signature Traditional Hakka Salt Poached Farm Chicken ($17) is one of good example. Whole kampong chicken that is marinated in salt and herbal stock, is served in Joyden’s secret-recipe ginger sauce. This one is my favourite chicken dish at Joyden, as it reminds of my mother’s cooking*!
*Mom, your cooking will always be the best!
My other two favourite dishes from Joyden are the Braised Pork Ribs in Aged Mandarin Peel Sauce and the Fish Maw and Prawns with Glass Noodles in Homemade XO Sauce.
I would describe it as a bold move for the next dish that I am about to introduce – Joyden chefs break from the run-of-the-mill choices of using either coffee or chinese wine based gravy. They have used aged Mandarin peel sauce for their Braised Pork Ribs in Aged Mandarin Peel Sauce ($16.80). Bite into the tender meat of these pork ribs, let its meat and gravy linger over your palate, and you will realise the magic of this simple addition of the Mandarin peel sauce.
In Chinese cooking, the claypot is known to preserve the breath of the wok or “wok-hei”. The Fish Maw and Prawns with Glass Noodles in Homemade XO Sauce is one prime example of Joyden’s obsession with preserving the taste and texture of delicate Cantonese dishes. I would urge you to consume this dish quickly as the fish maw is best eaten when the “wok-hei” is at its warmest and the texture is at its crunchiest state.
Another demonstration of the importance of the “wok-hei” is the Signature Traditional Rice Vermicelli with Poached Egg White, Crabmeat and Scallop ($15.80). To impart breath of the wok the traditional way, rice vermicelli is tossed with crabmeat, fresh and dried scallop. Then, it is cooked in a seasoned wok over a high flame while being stirred and tossed quickly. This dish is finished with a swirl of vinegar, a dash of pepper and a dollop of egg on top.
In another showcase of Joyden’s prowess in Cantonese dishes, the chefs made the Braised Homemade Beancurd Coin with Poached Shanghai Baby Cabbage. This heavenly thick pork broth combines the sweetly succulent Shanghai baby cabbage. Simple and yet, packed with all the goodness of painstakingly boiled superior broth!
Joyden has more to offer than just wonderful Cantonese gastronomy. They make decent desserts, and also pretty respectable dim sum, that they serve during office hours. Dessert standards like Mango Pudding and Gui Ling Gao are among the diners’ favourites. To let me have a mini-preview of their dim sum, the chefs tempted me with a couple of really oozy Steamed Salted Egg Custard Buns ($4.50 for 3 pieces)!
Do take a short road trip out to Upper Bukit Timah, key in this post code, “127157”, into your GPS and let it find you Joyden Canton Kitchen, which is located on the first floor of the spanking new shopping centre, HillV2. It may just make your trip worth the while!
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