Joyden Canton, Orchard: When Traditional Cantonese Food Meets Modernity

Joyden Canton has opened at Shaw House Lido at Orchard a fortnight ago. This is the third Joyden Concepts I have eaten–the other two, Joyden Seafood and Joyden Treasures–and, to me, it is the best. Best partly because the food tastes better than other concepts’, and because it has a good mix of both traditional, little-seen Cantonese food and innovative dishes.

Cantonese cuisine are famous for three things: roast, dim sum, and soups. At Joyden Canton, soups are double-boiled (炖), not boiled directly (煲). This means that instead of putting the soup in a pot and boiling it, Joyden puts Chinese herbs and ingredients in individual ceramic pots, sealed in wax paper, and submerged in boiling water for about four hours.

I enjoyed the black bean, black-eyed pea, peanut, pig tail soup ($8, good to share for 2) immensely. I usually don’t like the earthy taste of black beans, but besides the muskiness, the soup is sweet and robust, elevated with hints of longan and mandarin peel. Wholesome and comforting.

I had THREE slices of Daliang pan-fried stuffed lotus root ($9), popular in Shunde, Guangdong. It’s stuffed with minced pork, shiitake mushrooms, water chestnuts, and cilantro. It’s umami and extremely salty, which I love, offsetting the sweetness of the lotus root, and it’s crispy on the surface, crispy of lotus root, and crispy of water chestnuts. The three levels of crispiness enhance the enjoyment of the dish.

Steamed cod fish with hua-diao and homemade ginger sauce ($32)

For those who dislike bitter food, avoid the pan-seared pork chops with homemade dang-gui BBQ sauce ($19), but since I like bitter food, it is very delicious: tender, sweet, and an aftertaste of bitterness.

Twice-baked golden egg gratin with caramelized you tiao ($18) is a twist on a classic, a classic that I have not known or eaten before. Instead of fish intestines, Joyden uses jelly fish, which is combined with vermicelli, mandarin peel, minced olives in a claypot. An egg mixture is poured into the claypot and baked. It is then topped with you tiao, which is brushed with a honey-based sauce, and the surface is caramelized.

The only dish that I didn’t like is the salted egg prawns ($21). The tiger prawns are wrapped in a homemade paste of prawns and salted egg yolk. It’s then crusted with almond flakes and comes with lemon-lemongrass sauce. It’s tough and the flavors are confusing.

For vegetables, I recommend the braised luffa gourd ($17) with poached egg white in conpoy sauce. I usually don’t like mao gua because it is usually slimy, but there is no sliminess here. Rather, the texture is excellent, soft outside, crunchy inside.

For carbs, the hak gam (black gold) olive fried rice ($18) has a deep aromatic wok hei. The olives are sourced from Meizhou, known for their quality olives. Chye poh provides a nice saltiness and pork floss a sweetness. Its melange of flavors delighted everyone at the table.

They do need to improve on the almond paste with hasma, which is thin and bland.

Of the three Joyden concepts, Joyden Canton is my favorite. It satisfies my need for variety, for tradition, for modernity, and for balance. The affordable price makes the food even better.

Joyden Canton
350 Orchard Road, Shaw House #04-00, Singapore 238868
tel: +65 6908 3833
M-F 11.30am-9.30pm; Sat, Sun & PH 11am-9.30pm; Dim Sum 11.30am-4.30pm

Food: 6.75/10
Price: 6.75/10
Ambience/Decor: 6/10

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Written by A. Nathanael Ho.

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