Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone:(03) 9639 2633
I remember the old Crystal Jade well when it was off Little Bourke St in an alleyway. While the new (or rather newer) premises is much bigger in square footage, there is a bit of nostalgia for the smaller cosier feel of their old stomping ground.
Nonetheless, the food has a familiar Singapore Chinese restaurant feel/taste about it. And no wonder. The owners' mother mentioned her sons were chefs in the Singapore restaurant of the same namesake. Originally from Malaysia, the restaurant is very much a family affair with their sister and brother-in-law involved in the running of the operation.
We were disappointed on this trip they were sold out of one of their signature dishes, Sea Cucumber with Fish Maw and Mushrooms braised in a rich thick master stock. Not a surprise really. It was CNY and the always-full and bustling restaurant had celebratory patrons all around us.
Service was efficient and with a great menu of various teas, we opted for a premium brew of Jasmine tea ($12). It was fragrant and really helped to erase some of the greasiness of the fried dishes.
This was a special order. Egg or Japanese Tofu deep-fried with spicy salt. The batter was light and crunchy and the tofu tasted home-made.
We definitely enjoyed our Kurobuta (Berkshire) Pork with Garlic Shoots sauteed with curry leaves ($32). For the uninitiated, pork is not just pork. Kurobuta pork has a beautifully non-porky and sweet flavour. I would urge you to try it before thumbing your nose with "overpriced" or "overated" "pork is pork" statements.
I am all for fresh and best produce treated with respect. I think personal judgment is fair when it comes to food but brazenly denouncing the taste of something without having tried it? Makes me wonder if one is judging the food itself or the person endorsing it...
The Deep-Fried King Prawns with Duck Egg Yolk is a staple at most Cantonese restaurants nowadays. Crystal Jade does their version well, but was just slightly too greasy and personally I do prefer the Pacific House (South Yarra) version.
The Braised Yee Fu Noodles with Seafood was generous with servings of seafood. While the seafood were cooked perfectly, there was something lacking in the sauce and the noodles had a strangely bland taste and the mushrooms took over in a bizarre woody aftertaste.
Complimentary fruit to make us feel a teensy bit better before the following arrived.
Red Bean Pancake was decent but not outstanding.
The Yam/Taro Paste (Or-Nee) with Ginko Nuts is definitely my FAVOURITE dessert. So velvety smooth and decadent, it took every ounce of self-control and threat of public humiliation not to lick the bowl clean. Although the portion is tiny, the richness packs a punch in a small serve.
The Hashima in Almond Milk is truly amazing. What's Hashima you ask? It's technically dried frogs' fallopian tubes or uterus. It definitely sounds way grosser than the actual dessert. To be honest, I am not even sure they've used the real deal or substitute jelly, which seems more likely the case. But for the chilled almond milk, they could really put anything or nothing and I am just as happy having it.
There have been many other dishes we have had on prior visits. I have always enjoyed every single one. It is a great place for supper or a comfortable dinner with family. The constant hum and waiters bussing around dishes of wonderfully delicious platters of food is exciting. Try the Chilli Crab with Mantou next time.You won't regret it.