Inside Typhoon Shelter, Phoenix Mills | All the Deets
When we entered, we were taken in by the spacious dining area. The walls were lined with booths decorated with Chinese motifs on either side for diners who preferred their privacy while the open dining area overlooked a well-stocked bar. Above us, the ceiling displayed the changing colours of the sky, switching from warm hues to evening, advancing storm skies, reminding us once again of the culinary typhoon we were in for.
The concept of the menu, designed by the Hong Kong based Chef Christian Yang is quite simple. It is the chef’s take on the amalgamation of the food served in visiting vessels in Hong Kong. The ingredients involved staples like scallions, garlic and white pepper, but also a number of items with a longer shelf life, such as pickles and cured yolks. All these items needed to be stored for a large number of days, thus making it consumable during the days of a typhoon.
We started off with the Tuna Tartar served in a salt bowl. The cubes of tuna along with the cured yolks made a lovely creamy dressing and set our mood for the afternoon. The salad was delicious with right amount of bite to the tuna uplifted by the fresh watercress. The salt bowl makes the salad saltier the longer it rests in it, so be sure to wipe this plate soon.We then sampled the Chilled Soba Noodles. The pickled carrots added a crunch and pungency which was balanced by the sweetness of the lychee and ginger emulsion which was used as a dressing.
Amongst the several aromatic soups; I loved the Shanghanaise Wonton in Double Boiled Soup. Spice free with a strong and flavorful broth, this soup would be lovely to drink during a cold, windy night. The Sweet Corn Bisque could have had more flavor as I missed the boldness of a bisque, finding the soup a tad bit sweet. The Shanghanaise Hot and Sour Soup was a thick soup loaded with shitake, choi choi and chicken, making it wholesome with nice balance of sweet and sour.
We then started my favourite part of the night, our dim sum party! We sampled the Succulent Lamb Crystal Ball, which looked beautiful and glassy in its potato starch coating. The minced meat was enhanced with the flavours of basil and chiliwhich offered a nice mix of sweet and spice. However, the flavor of meat dominated this dumpling, which was a bit too much even for a meat lover like myself. The Ruby Dumpling, as suggested by the chef is beautiful to look at it, hence it makes it an impressive appetizer to call for, if on a date. The crunch of the corn in the filling gave it a nice texture within the glistening red, beetroot juice injected coating. My personal favorite was the Wild Mushroom and Edamame Dumpling. With eight different types of mushrooms used, further enhanced with the flavour of truffle, I could have eaten maybe five more of these! The millet skin just made this all the more interesting to have.
The Bo Lo Baos looked extremely enticing. The buns were shaped like a pineapple and each one had a different filling. My favorite was the Craboli, which consisted of a soft bun enveloping a crispy soft shell crab and a generous smear of crab aioli to moisten the bite. There is an option for the vegetarians too called the Veggisauraous, which was quite delicious as well. In the small plates, the Red Braised Pork Belly Spring Rolls were an absolute hit! The spring roll was crispy and the meat inside was beautiful and tender and loaded with sweet and spicy flavor. Yolanda’s Crispy Prawns featured perfectly cooked prawns in a thin yet crispy batter. I loved the horseradish emulsion served along with these fritters. The chargrilled flavor along with the cumin rub made the Xin Jiang Lamb Chops a unique dish to sample breaking away from the regular flavours of sweet and spice that were now feeling overused. The Lotus Root Casino Chips had a hint of barbeque from the smoked honey used as a drizzle over the fried lotus root. Another good vegetarian option is the Typhoon Shelter Turnip Cake. Shreds of crispy philo coated a mushy turnip mix. The chili relish with it was spicy and served a good condiment to this dish.
In the big plates, the Monsoon Mock Duck completely blew my mind. The firmness of the soya could easily be mistaken for actual meat and the Singapore chili sauce served with it made it a spicy, flavourful dish. The Typhoon 8 Pomfret used the signature ingredients of fried garlic and scallions, sweetened with soy but beautifully spiced with bird’s eye chilies. The massive pomfret looked beautiful on the plate! Being so full, we could barely make our way through the Seafood Fried Rice and the Hakka Braised Pork Belly. Both were tasty but within the same vein as the rest of the menu.
The dessert menu, designed by Solanki Roy, who previously worked with chef Gaggan Anand, is phenomenal! The Zen is a beautiful plate of edible stones mixed with actual stones. Once we figured out the edible ones, we broke into a beautiful creamy caramel-vanilla with a hazelnut crunch. The Luna is a sugar ball which is stuffed with a mango sticky rice pudding with a hint of caramel, served with a shining moon, totally Insta-worthy. The Learning Mandarin looked like an actual orange and was filled with cream and orange zestand was served with Kek Lapis, a Chinese cake.
Our dining experience as the Typhoon Shelter was certainly memorable though perhaps more for the décor and presentation than the food. With so many Chinese restaurants in the city one really needs to create a brilliant menu to stand out from the crowd. That being said, I would definitely go back for the dim sum and desserts!