Want xiao long bao with foie gras, truffles?

By Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Nov 20 2012 04:55 PM | Updated as of Nov 21 2012 06:53 PM

Paradise Dynasty's xiao long bao comes in eight flavors: original (white), ginseng (green), foie gras (brown), black truffle (black), cheese (yellow), crab roe (orange), garlic (gray) and Szechuan (pink). Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com 

SINGAPORE – Would you like some foie gras with your dumplings? Or perhaps some black truffle?

A restaurant here serves those and more as it gives a twist to the well-loved xiao long bao, which is traditionally filled with pork and gelatin (which eventually melts and becomes soup).

Since it opened at the retail giant ION Orchard along Orchard Road in 2010, Paradise Dynasty has been offering eight kinds of xiao long bao, which the casual dining restaurant claims to be the first in the world. Aside from the original pork, foie gras and truffle, there are also soup dumplings in ginseng, cheese, crab roe, garlic and Szechuan flavors.

The unique xiao long bao are the brainchild of Eldwin Chua, chief executive officer of the Paradise Group, and the restaurant’s executive chef Fung Chi Kung. Customers have the option of ordering one batch of the same type of dumplings, or getting a sampler basket which contains all of the eight flavors.

The sampler basket comes with instructions on how to best enjoy the dumplings, with the restaurant recommending a specific sequence, which I religiously followed.

I started with the white dumpling, which is Paradise Dynasty’s Original xiao long bao. The mild flavor of the meat and the soup married well with the vinegar and ginger slices, which is a traditional accompaniment to the dish.

Next up is the bright green ginseng xiao long bao, which was only slightly different in taste compared to the original, followed by the brown foie gras dumpling. A clear standout, the foie gras dumpling was creamier because of the fattened liver.

The foie gras xiao long bao at Paradise Dynasty was a clear standout. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

Another winner is the black truffle xiao long bao, which came next. The black truffle lent a subtle earthy flavor, adding a touch of luxury to the otherwise plain dumpling.

The fifth xiao long bao came in a yellow wrapper to represent its filling, which is cheese. A bit bland at first, the dumpling slowly unveils a more intense cheese flavor, which may come off as odd for some. At one point, I felt like I was eating cheese-flavored junk food soaked in soup.

The next dumpling, the orange crab roe xiao long bao, tasted exactly how you’d imagine it – pork with crab roe. There was no marriage of flavors – more like the two ingredients are trying to outperform each other.

Second to the last – and for good reason – is the gray garlic xiao long bao. The garlic flavor which is clearly present in the soup may overwhelm your taste buds, with the rest of the dumplings ending up having the same taste.

If the garlic xiao long bao overpowered my palate, the last dumpling, the pink Szechuan xiao long bao, ruined my taste buds altogether, requiring me to drink three cups of tea to get rid of the heat. Incredibly spicy but still tasty, the dumpling is best eaten last.

Aside from the xiao long bao, Paradise Dynasty also prides itself on its la mian, or hand-pulled noodles, and its signature pork bone broth. The restaurant also has a variety of dim sum and appetizers, as well as other hot dishes.

While the other items on the menu look just as good, the xiao long bao sampler basket is reason enough for you to give this place a visit.