June 09, 2014
By Venika Menon
Crystal Jade is tucked away in the corner of the small Central Plaza Mall but don’t let the unassuming exterior deceive you. With a seating capacity of 200 people including the top floor which can be booked for events, it’s no surprise that this international name in fine dining means business and is here to stay.
The seating is well spaced to provide optimum privacy and the round tables only add to the intimate food experience Crystal Jade aims to provide. The servers are polite and helpful and advise us, a team of five, on what to order. The drinks menu is short but has quite a few unique combinations (A Date with Crystal Jade- Dates, Strawberry and Honey, I am looking at you!). And though it does not serve alcohol yet, their bar will be well-stocked soon, we are told. We go in for a Cranberry Mojito, Mint Storm (i.e. plain Mojito), A Date with Crystal Jade, Crystal Queen and Eight Treasure Tea. The first two drinks werenot that impressive, but the rest of them should definitely be tried if you are looking for something new, especially, the Eight Treasure Tea. It is presented in the most exquisite glass pot to complement the many dried flowers and spices floating in it.
We were then presented with Poached Chicken Dumpling with Spicy Chilli Sauce and the Multi Flavoured Xiao Long Bao. The first had quite a strong, almost putrid taste and cannot really be called “spicy chilli sauce” because it definitely lacked the heat. On the other hand, the colourful Xiao Long Bao packed a punch of flavour with each spoonful tasting very different and unique.
For the main course, we ordered deep fried Prawn with Salad Sauce, Sautéed Diced Chicken with Dried Chilli and Cashew Nut, Braised Pork Belly (their speciality) and Pecking Roasted Duck. The prawns were tender and complemented the sauce well. The Chicken dish was average and could have been skipped whereas the braised pork was rich and soft. The sauce used, complemented the richness of the pork perfectly. The Pecking Roasted Duck arrived at our table on a side tray and looked scrumptious but unfortunately, the waiter stood behind it for quite a while, awkwardly trying to carve the meat as we tried not to stare. It was a painstaking process and by the end of it all, the eagerness to eat was gone.
We finished our meal off with Mango Pudding and Chilled Mango Cream with Sago and Pomelo. Though both were suggested by our smiling waiters, the first tasted like any other mango pudding- good but still just mango pudding. However, the mango cream was quite light and different. It marked a fitting end to our day’s culinary journey.
Our experience at Crystal Jade was a refreshing change from “Indian-ised Chinese” to say the least. The restaurant serves authentic Cantonese and Teochew cuisine whichis certainly not for everyone. Even within our team, there were mixed reviews about dishes like Poached Chicken Dumpling with Spicy Chilli Sauce. Nevertheless, I definitely urge you to give this place a try! Their pricing is as fair as other fine dining outlets in NCR even though their ingredients are mostly imported- from sauces to some meats- to try and preserve the traditional taste.The head Chef Leon, too, is from Singapore. This is clearly appreciated by their current clientele who are mostly the far-east expat community though Indian faces are not rare. Go into Crystal Jade with an open mind and an empty belly and from your first step to your last bite, this place will transport you to a foreign land!