Monday, September 2, 2013

Singapore Food Blog - Paradise Inn @ NEX

Location: Serangoon, Singapore

Updated 30-Dec-2013: This outlet in NEX Serangoon is permanently closed. Outlets of Paradise Inn can still be located in other locations through here: outlet locations.

Note: This piece was written base on the dining experience in NEX Serangoon branch. Experience may differ from those in another branch.

The name 'Paradise Group' (乐天集团) is rather famous in Singapore, holding numerous outlets across the island republic and different concept restaurants in tight competition with a few other big shots in Chinese F&B dining. That includes a group shared in my previous article, Imperial Treasure Restaurant Group (御宝饮食集团) (read more in Imperial Treasure Nan Bei Restaurant). While I tasted the latter's dim sum delicacy last time, this time I tried Paradise Inn's main course to see what they have to offer.

The outlet in NEX is really jam packed with diners. It is not unusual to see diners lining up to wait for a seat during dinner time, and this is worsened during weekends. This does not discourage diners from revisiting though, a testament to how popular the restaurant is with Singaporeans. 



The outlet of Paradise Inn in NEX. Notice how jam packed the restaurant is.

The unfortunate downside of Paradise Inn is not only its queue but also its claustrophobic arrangement of tables. Walking space is rather tight and my heart skips a beat whenever I see the waitresses wiggled past each other through those cramped aisles. Maybe slimness is one of the crucial hiring requirement here.

Putting the above aside, the food here is really superb, a fine specimen of Chinese dining in Singapore. Mouth watering dishes are spread throughout the menu, offering diners a varied choice amidst a rumbling tummy. It is time to dig in!




Each bowls and plates are printed with the name of the restaurant, reminding you where you are dining at. It makes a rather good photo op when viewed from the top. The menu itself is also very artistically done, although I have no idea what the front says.

If you aren't sure what to order, there are recommendations on the front of the shop before you enter, which you could just take some of those as your preliminary choice. Otherwise, the waitresses will be happy to entertain your request for explanation, even recommendations.

Even if you have tried Chinese cuisine before, it is still highly recommended to get a seat in Paradise Inn and sample their version to get a different taste of it. From the ordinary with a twist to the downright deliciously exotic, your choice depends on your sense of adventure. Whichever it is, you sure won't be disappointed!

My personal favorites are the Hot Plate Tofu with Minced Meat, Sauteed Kailan & Angelica Sinensis, and Sauteed Drumstick Mushrooms with Sweet Peas, dishes which encompassed the two types I highlighted above. If you are not sure of what to order, just pick from the above and give it a try!

Hot Plate Tofu with Preserved Cai Xin and Minced Pork (菜香铁板豆腐) (SGD10.90) is a godsend, a must try! This hot plate is cooked with a bottom layer of whisked egg, and spread all over it is a thick gravy that is filled with minced pork, chopped onion stalk and shrooms, all covering a generous portion of fried tofu. Spread the gravy on your rice for added oomph! 

Further from the focus is Sauteed Kailan & Angelica Sinensis in Ginger Sauce (姜汁当归炒芥兰) (SGD11.90), another dish which deserves its own photo in hindsight. For trying something truly Chinese, this should not be missed. Fresh crunchy kailan served into your mouth will reveal the taste of "dong guai" (Angelica Sinensis), combining healthiness of Chinese herbs with tasty vegetables. You could eat the "dong guai" slices which come with the dish but be warned that it is an acquired taste.

This dish of Steamed Minced Pork with Salted Fish & Water Chestnut (手剁咸鱼马蹄蒸肉饼) (SGD8.90) would have been just an ordinary dish of steamed minced pork if not for the water chestnut. Hidden within the tasty hunk of minced pork, every bite could reveal a surprise - the puckering saltiness of salted fish or a fresh crunch of the water chestnut, the latter a refreshing change distinguishing Paradise Inn from a roadside hawker or ordinary "zhu char" (煮炒). A recommended dish for first time diners in Paradise Inn who would prefer a safer trial before venturing to less conventional dishes.

Meet drumstick mushroom. Yes, that's right - DRUMSTICK mushroom. Those slices of flesh like item in the dish with a potato's complexion is just that. Featured in Sauteed Drumstick Mushrooms with Sweet Peas (蒜茸鸡腿菇炒甜豆) (SGD12.90), the drumstick mushroom (that's the fourth time I mentioned it) is really an exotic surprise, for that is the first time I tried it. Each bite into it is like biting into a slice of chicken thigh with the texture and chew of a mushroom, tough and tender at the same time. Coupled with the strong taste of crushed garlic fried in the dish, there is only a word for it - EXOTIC! The sweet peas, in retrospect, is but a healthy decoration to the dish compared to the shroom.

Pan-fried Pork Ribs with Kailan (香煎排骨炒芥兰) (SGD12.90) is the answer to the ultimate balanced omnivore. Half a dish of crunchy kailan serves to balance out the meaty pork ribs, fried to well done and each bite gets the flesh off the bones nicely.

Steamed Fillet of Grouper with Orange Day-lily and Black Fungus (金针云耳蒸班球) (SGD14.90) - a recommendation for Chinese herbs lovers. Although filled to the brim with herbal goodies, this dish is not the bitter type. The slight sweetness permeating the gravy is rather alluring, and the herbal taste penetrates even generous slices of grouper flesh. A really healthy seafood meal, right up!

The long queue greeting potential diners on the shop front is a testament to Paradise Inn's popularity, the jam packed interior a testament to their dishes' superior combination of taste and health. Why not join the throng and just try it out for yourself?








Suitable for:             for usual and everyday dining, family friendly restaurant as they have ample baby chairs available
Cost:                             This is no cheap dining option, but the food is really worth the price you pay.


Website:                    Official homepage
Contact:                     +65 - 6634 4228 (phone)/ +65 - 6634 4227 (fax)
Address:                     23 Serangoon Central, #03-15/16 NEX, Singapore 556083.

Operating hours:   Mon - Fri
                                               Lunch (11.30 a.m. - 3.15 p.m.)
                                               Dinner (5.45 p.m. - 10 p.m.)
                                        Sat, Sun, PH (11.00 a.m. - 10.30 p.m.)
Directions:                Disembark at Serangoon MRT station and exit towards NEX Mall (check out the directional signs overhead at the exits if not sure). Go to level 3 and locate Isetan - the restaurant is nearby the departmental store.




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