Dining at The Gardens also includes free entry to the gardens.
We were greeted by the lovely and professional staff and taken to our table. Our table was at the back in the very imitate section (only three tables) of the teahouse and offered an awe-inspiring backdrop of the views from the gardens.
Upon arrival, it was raining but this didn't ruin our outdoor dining experience. On the contrary, it is enhanced with the rain hitting the pond and gentle, beautiful traditional Chinese music playing in the background.
The musician was across the pond. Her gentle strokes on the traditional Erhu (Chinese violin) echoed gently to where we were sitting and added to the serenity of the ambience.
The decor is exquisite, with almost every table having a view of the gardens, regardless if you are sitting in the main dining area of the intimate room at the back of the teahouse.
It is all open to the gardens so you can enjoy the sounds, fresh air and tranquil views.
The Lunar New Year Banquet featured a 15-dish feast ($79pp) of Pacific oysters, soy, ginger and finger lime, Purple cabbage, pickled cauliflower, iceberg lettuce, soy ginger dressing, Lamb with carrot and leek spring rolls, Shallot pancake, Steamed pork and prawn siu mai, Jade prawn dumplings, Vegetable dumplings, Pork xiao long bao, Daikon radish cake, Snowy mountain pork buns, Rolled duck pancakes, Asian greens, Salt and pepper whitebait, Soy noodles, and Seasonal fruit plate. We also were treated to the Year of the Rabbit Dumplings ($24)- hand-crafted dumplings filled with mud crab, prawn and ginger.
The dishes didn't come in order of menu and came out randomly throughout our dining experience. The first three dishes to come out were the Pacific Oysters, Purple cabbage and Rolled duck pancake.
The combination of the classic and traditional Chinese flavours of soy and ginger was such a perfect meld. The soy added hints of saltiness, sweetness and slight acidity, whilst the ginger added sharpness, yet both ingredients didn't overpower the delicate oyster.
The salad was refreshing and packed with classic Chinese ingredients. The pickled cauliflower was nutty, slightly sweet and had an enjoyable crunch. Combined with the fresh crispy ingredients of purple cabbage and iceberg lettuce, followed by the slight saltiness and sweet dressing, this starter dish created a magical dance on the palate.
The pancake itself was cooked perfectly and was smooth. Once we got to the filling of duck, hoisin, shallots and cucumber, it was tasteful. The small duck piece was cooked perfectly, and the hoisin sauce combined with crispy freshness from the cucumber and shallots was delightful.
The dumpling "pastry" was cooked perfectly, as it was a soft, smooth and elastic texture.
The Lamb was flavoursome and juicy, and the aromatic flavours from the Chinese spices infused the lamb. The humble vegetables carrots, and leek, added texture to the mixture and invited the earthy flavours to blend with the spices and the juicy lamb, making it a sublime combination of flavours and textures.
The exterior was crispy and flaky and had a slightly chewy interior. Then inside was packed with an addicting fragrant, and the shallots did not overpower.
The Daikon Radish Cake was quite interesting, and I must admit, never tried this before. The exterior was slightly crispy, and the inside was pillowy, creamy and hearty.
The Steamed Pork Siu Mai and Jade Prawn Dumplings come out together in the bamboo steamer. The iconic Chinese dim sum, the Steamed pork siu mai, had a delicious paper-thin wonton wrap and was filled with a flavourful pork filling topped with crab eggs, adding texture.
It was seasoned well and steamed perfectly. The pork retained its juices and was not dry.
The dumplings were filled with a generous helping of fresh prawns, and the outside layer was soft and smooth and had the perfect elastic texture.
Overall, both the siu mai and dumplings were a treat to eat and satisfied the palate with an array of flavours and textures.
The Vegetable Dumplings and Pork Xiao Long Bao were the following dishes to arrive in the bamboo steamer.
Like all other dishes, the Vegetable dumplings were packed with authentic aromas and full-flavoured textures with hints of a combination of saltiness and sweetness.
The richness of the broth complimented the tender pork, making it the perfect marriage of ingredients, textures and flavours.
The Snowy Mountain Pork Buns were the next culinary delight to hit our table. What a treat this was! When we thought our taste buds couldn't overdose further with tastier food, the buns teased our palate and pushed our taste buds to crave more.
The Soy noodles were cooked al dente and packed with balanced Asian flavours of sweet, savoury and aromatic.
The noodles had the right amount of soy sauce, and the garnishes of bean sprouts, sesame seeds and shallots added texture and earthy tones and were the perfect garnishes to complete the dish.
The whitebait was seasoned well and didn't lack in flavour and texture.
It was pretty underwhelming and wasn't a pleasant way to end our mouth-watering culinary journey. They could have been slightly generous or added more fruit, such as lychee or dragonfruit, to stick to the authenticity.
The fruit could have been better, probably because we had a bad season for fruit due to poor weather.
Our culinary New Year celebratory lunch was packed with authentic flavours and textures and teased the taste buds for more. Each dish was filled with flavoursome ingredients that created the perfect unison.
The staff were friendly and attentive, filled our glasses with sparkling water throughout our dining experience, and explained each dish as it arrived.
Our palate was pushed to the limit with traditional Chinese dishes that created their very own celebration.
There are two banquets to choose from:
We were given the $79pp option with the addition of the Year of The Rabbit Dumplings ($24).
The second Banquet is $88pp and includes additional dishes. See the website for more information.