From the south of the Yangtze River, the culinary fare found across this particular region has made their way to Singapore. Crystal Jade is bringing forth authentic Jiang Nan dishes including delights such as the Braised Pork Knuckle served with Beancurd and Vegetable to the Poached Eel with Flour Skin in Spicy Hot Soup. To cater to the wider tastebuds of guests, multi-flavour Xiao Long Bao will also be making their appearance as a specialty of the restaurant.
Crystal Jade Jiang Nan offers up four distinct styles – Sichuan; Jiangsu; Hunan and Shanghai. With a smorgasbord assortment of over 120 dishes, this is one restaurant that fits in nicely in the niche palate as a starter for Singapore.
To start off with appetizers, the first dish I tried was the Marinated Pig’s Ear with Cucumber($8.50) . Pig’s ears spiced with chilli oil are tossed with slices of fresh cucumber, to be coated later with a good dressing of sesame oil. Fragrant from the sesame dressing, crunchy and crisp from the chilled pig’s ears, this is a refreshing yet tantalizing starter to begin with.
The Deep-Fried White Bait “Wu Xi” Style ($8.50) is a creative twist for an appetizer. Fresh white bait is deep fried with batter and thereafter coated well with sugar. Sweet and satisfyingly tasty, this is a snack that should be popular with all.
Chef deftly crafting out Truffle Xiao Long Baos
For the night, the media were treated to a Xiao Long Bao making demonstration. Crystal Jade’s Xiao Long Bao now comes in 7 varieties of :
- Original (White)
- Prawn (Gold)
- Spicy Beef (Pink)
- Spicy Chicken (Orange)
- Vegetable (Green)
- Foie Gras (Brown)
- Cheese (Yellow)
- Black Truffle (Black)
Ready for steaming
Clockwise from Traditional (White), Foie Gras (Brown), Cheese (Yellow), Prawn (Gold), Black Truffle (Black), Spicy Chicken (Orange), Vegetable (Green), Spicy Beef (Pink)
A set of 8 multi flavour ($14.50) comes with a serving of Custard Bun in the middle. To be enjoyed at the end, the sweet custard is a delight in clearing any heavy after flavours.
The Cheese Xiao Long Bao was recommended as one of the most popular flavours on the menu. With its smooth runny interior from the melted cheddar, the umami slightly salty flavours were an excellent blend with the meat.
The Black Truffle Xiao Long Bao carried a slight smooth earthy aroma with the first bite. Hints of truffle oil aside, the meat is mixed with pieces of black truffle, lending a touch of texture and fragrance along the way. At Crystal Jade Jiang Nan, you can also choose which Xiao Long Bao flavours you like to create a basket of minimum six pieces with, pleasing palates if you want just both Black Truffle and Cheese in a sitting.
For a soup to go around, there is the Spicy & Sour Soup with Beancurd ($9.80 a serving). The Sichuan inspired creation comes with fresh soft beancurd to give varying textures to the tangy and slightly hot soup. Not excessively hot, with more sourness throughout, the soup is comforting at best.
For an elaborate serving to impress guests at a dinner party, the order of Braised Pork Knuckle Served with Beancurd & Vegetable ($28.80) is one possible dish. Its arrival on the table in full glory before cut is almost jawdropping. An easy enough portion for 8-10 people, or 4 if you really love this dish, the Braised Pork Knuckle comes with a smooth caramelized flavour throughout. Its melt in the mouth skin and layer of fat is equally seductive, and a delight to enjoy once in a while. For $28.80, I say this is one dish well worth the price.
A Chongqing specialty, the Poached Eel with Flour Skin in Spicy Hot Soup ($18.80), is one dish to pepper the tastebuds of diners. The spiciness from the soup livens up the flavours and textures of the ingredients, and its fiery red colour is not to be gently handled with. While I enjoyed the eel, I had a bit of trouble scooping up the slippery flour skins.
However, when compared to the Beef variant, I would prefer the latter. The spiciness from the soup complements the meaty texture more than the smooth eel. Perhaps its a personal preference, but the meat does go very well with the peppery soup.
One dish that could be on the diner’s choice is the Sauteed Minced Pork with French Bean & Preserved Tamarind ($15.50). Preserved tamarind plays a role here in giving a tinge of sweet tanginess to a viscous serving of savoury minced meat. Made to stuff within the pieces of sesame “pita bread”, the flavourful dish is good for 2 to share.
An honorary mention has to to go to the Not Fried Rice ($12.80). Supposedly coming from a legend where a Qing Dynasty Emperor challenged his chef to create fried rice without using rice, the final creation is one involving finely chopped beansprouts. A slightly smoky flavour encapsulates the ingredients with, diced ham, egg, carrots all recreating the fried rice experience. Shreds of fine vermicelli are tossed in while cooking to soak up the natural juices, leaving a relatively dry and fluffy dish to enjoy with.
Assortment of La Mian Styles and Freshly made noodles
La Mian dishes at Crystal Jade Jiang Nan is quite similar to the concept at Crystal Jade Kitchen. The base is chosen and a wide variety of handemade noodles are selected off the menu to accompany the dish. Above, the La Mian with Spicy Chicken, Preserved Egg & Cucumber in Sichuan Style ($11.80) is served with “dragon beard noodles”. While it was a tasty dish, I didn’t really appreciate the cold chicken that was part of the dish. Though I understood the contrast in supposed “temperatures” from the chilled meat to the spicy sauce, I would have preferred a different style. Yet, it is still a variety that would please diners who love this contrast.
Dessert of Pumpkin Cake with Red Bean Paste & Salted Egg Yolk ($4.50 for 3). Tiny pumpkins, texture like bao, one bite to reveal a salted egg yolk infused skin. Delicious.
The Japanese Glutinous Rice Dumpling with Fruit & Cream ($3.60) is Crystal Jade’s take on the mochi. Piped with pieces of fresh fruit and cream, this is a chilled delight that end the meal nicely.
Jasmine Flower Tea
Interior of Crystal Jade Jiang Nan. Lotus Leaves and Bird Cages in modern style to relieve the moment.
I came back to Crystal Jade Jiang Nan the next day for lunch to celebrate my friend’s Anthony’s birthday. For the meal, we all ordered 3 portions of the Sets for 2. For $36.80++ for 2 pax, we had a serving Multi-flavour Xiao Long Bao, a portion of 6 pork dumplings, an appetizer (We chose white bait), and 2 servings of half bowl la mian and dessert. A nice assortment, and one I thought would not have been enough. I even ordered a Braised Pork Knuckle for the table to share, but it was served up to the wrong table as we waited. A stroke of luck perhaps? $140 for 6 persons, I would say its quite a good deal.
Dining at Crystal Jade Jiang Nan is a real experience and treat to flavours from the southern part of the Yangtze river. Dishes are good and flavourful, though its appeal is more to diners looking for creations beyond the popular Cantonese fare. I would come back here for Braised Pork Knuckles and the Xiao Long Bao, and perhaps a serving of Not Fried Rice to top it off. A tasty adventure into the realms of Jiang Nan cuisine, one that would go well with a glass of iced water if you are apprehensive of the heat.
Thank you Crystal Jade for the invitation
|Crystal Jade Jiang Nan
1 Harbourfront Walk
Reservations : 6221 1830