After feeding capital-based diners for more than two decades, Asian eatery Lan Pin is serving up accessible and creative dishes to match its updated look. Writing by Joanna Mayhew; photography by Charles Fox.
In a city where Chinese restaurants abound, Lan Pin aims to differentiate itself by providing a range of Asian delicacies rather than only traditional Cantonese fare. Specialising in Chinese, Khmer and Taiwanese food, Lan Pin offers almost 100 dishes, encompassing seafood specialities, herbal soups, and “oriental creative dishes” ranging from poached chicken with herbs, to beef and mozzarella-stuffed peppers. “We try to make it different,” says Sander Chiang, executive assistant to CEO for TM Group, which owns the Tai Ming Hotel-based restaurant.
With the name derived from the words for flower and high-class taste, the smart eatery was re-launched three years ago after extensive renovations. The restaurant appeals to big groups, with family-style eating catering to business, wedding and birthday celebrations. “If you want to eat with just two people, it can be difficult to order,” says Chiang. It’s easy to see why, as the standard serving portions are enormous – particularly when compared to the complimentary Taiwanese oolong tea, served in individual mini teapots and petite brown cups.
One oversized example is the salt and pepper lamb ($18). Served in a festive red basket – a sign of good luck – the dish combines meat, peanuts, seeds, peppercorns and oversized red chillies. While the recipe remains a house secret, the dry rub sees the Australian-imported lamb deep-fried then mixed with traditional Chinese medicine. Each small slice of the fragrant lamb is painstakingly skewered with a toothpick for easy access, and the spices pleasantly linger long after finishing.
Substituting traditional duck for pork, the shredded pork with Beijing pancakes ($20) resembled palm-sized tacos. The thin tortillas can be loaded up with sesame sauce-drenched minced and sautéed pork, spring onion, cucumber and cilantro, as well as extra sweet bean sauce. The fresh toppings keep the dish light, but it’s difficult to stop at just one.
The deep-fried soft-shell crab ($18), fried in yellow and red curry, is another standout dish. The local crabs are battered with duck eggs for a crispy finish, and the chilli flake-dotted curry remains mild enough for the seafood flavour to shine. It is served alongside a sliced baguette topped with garlic. The local prawns ($20) are also a good option. Cooked with chilli powder, garlic and salt, the fresh and oversized crustaceans remain light despite being deep-fried.
The updated space has a modern new look, with sleek floors, 10-seater round tables and recessed lighting, highlighted with ornate china dishes, flower-filled bird cages, oversized urns and vases, and red-accented decorative lamp shades. Private dining is also available, with tables accommodating up to 16 people.
As the next phase of its overhaul, the restaurant is planning to simplify its menu, and will feature a special dish each month at 50 percent off. While not listed, vegetarian mains can be prepared upon request – just come prepared to eat.