Crystal Jade Jiang Nan at Vivocity has recently reopened, with a stronger focus on Jiang Nan and Sichuan specialties. The refined menu also draws your attention to communal dining over small plates or 小菜, paired with a selection of fine teas, wines and more.
Three Delicacies Platter 3/5
In the Jiangnan region, it is customary to start off the meal with some chilled appetisers. So what we had here is the trio of Three Delicacies Platter 巧手三拼 ($16.80 per portion); comprising chilled Nanjing Salted Duck Slices 南京盐水鸭, Chilled Spinach and fresh lily bulbs with sesame sauce 菠菜鲜百合 and Jiangsu Smoked Fish 江苏熏鱼. While the duck slices was slightly towards the drier side, the crisp Jiangsu smoked fish piqued my appetite with that layer of glaze, prepared with Shaoxing wine, black vinegar, brown sugar and dark soy sauce.
Conpoy and Chrysanthemum Soup 4/5
The soup - Double-boiled Conpoy and Chrysanthemum Soup with Pearl Abalone 杭菊干贝炖珍珠鲍鱼 ($18.80 per person) was superb with the addition of the chrysanthemum. The flora aroma opens up senses and the nature of this ingredient balances the richness of the soup. Fortified with wolfberries, pork and red dates, and served in a Chinese zisha teapot, every serving was palate cleansing and nourishing at the same time.
Cheesy Crisp Mochi Ball 2.5/5
For a touch of contemporary dining, Chef Martin Foo has also created a Cheesy Crisp Mochi Ball 芝士汤圆 ($10.80 for 6 pcs) featuring a chewy mochi exterior enveloping a soft and stretchy mozzarella cheese within. It was somehow too sweet and blend at the same time. This dish might work better should it appear in the dim sum category.
Mala Crispy Roasted Chicken 3/5
For hot dishes, we had one of their signature Mala Crispy Roasted Chicken 麻辣脆皮烧鸡 ($15.80/half, $29.80/whole) served in homemade piquant ‘mala’ sauce. The chicken itself was well done - tender meat with thin and crisp skin, those that you definitely shouldn't be chucking one side. However, the sauce was too saltish for other flavours to come through.
Steamed Yellow Croaker with Chinese Wine 3/5
Also known as the ‘land of rice and fish’, Steamed Yellow Croaker with Chinese Wine 酒香黄花鱼 ($28.80 per portion, about 400g) is a less commonly known Jiangnan specialty. A rustic dish you will find, dressed with just a touch of Shaoxing wine for its delicate flesh. A decent dish but it took quite an effort to have this fish, given the amount of bones and little yield out of the entire fish.
Sautéed Dried Shrimp and Vermicelli with Cabbage 3.8/5
At Crystal Jade Jiang Nan, wok-fried specialties are highly recommended, including this humble Sauteed Dried Shrimp and Vermicelli with Cabbage 虾米粉丝包菜 ($13.80 per portion). The shredded cabbage were lined slightly-charred edges and the wok hei made this pot of really simple dish irresistible. Should it be a little less oily, I think I could polish it clean by myself.
Crystal Jade Yangzhou Fried "Rice Shaped Pasta” 3/5
As I walked through the restaurant, this prominent green Crystal Jade Yangzhou Fried "Rice Shaped Pasta” 米形意粉,翡翠扬州炒饭 ($16.80 per portion) was on many of the tables. A quintessential Jiangnan dish, Chef Foo's version of Yangzhou fried rice is prepared not with rice but with orzo; a short-cut pasta. What gives it the emerald-green is a spring onion blend and then tossed with asparagus, shrimp and egg, topped with crispy sakura ebi. The execution was brilliant as it smelled and looked almost exactly like fried rice. However, I feel the taste and smell do not quite resonate with one another. Without the aromatic flavour of rice releasing from each bite, there is a connection deeply lacking when I really look forward to a moriesh bowl of fried rice. But if you are looking for a pasta, that's another story.
Double-boiled Snow Pear with Osmanthus 4/5
Rounding off the meal is a soul nourishing Double-boiled Snow Pear with Osmanthus 桂花炖雪梨($7.80 per person). It was such a pleasure biting into the soft and chilled pear. Available hot as well, I am sure it will be just as enjoyable.
Souffle Egg White Ball with Red Bean and Banana 2.8/5
What fell short of expectation is the Souffle Egg White Ball with Red Bean and Banana 高利香蕉豆沙 ($8.80 for 3 pieces), that made an dramatic entrance with smokey dry ice with each pillow-soft nuggets looking soft and beautiful. I couldn't wait to open it up, half expecting hot and molten red bean paste and sweet, mashy banana. But what fell out was a small dollop of red bean with a tiny slice of unripe banana. And what also didn't gel well is the taste of the egg white that came with it. A rustic fried red bean pancake would have fare much better.
Overall I feel that while there are some interesting take on some dishes, there are still rooms for fine-tuning and improvement.
Photos and words by Si An. A girl who is allured by travelling, loves the feel of freedom, smell of the rain and the aroma of fine coffee and food. Note: This is an invited tasting.
Crystal Jade Jiang Nan
1 Harbourfront Walk
Tel: +65 62211830
Nearest MRT: Harbourfront (CC Line, NE Line)
Mon-Thu: 1130am - 3pm, 6pm - 1030pm
Fri-Sun, Eve of PH & PH: 11am - 1030pm
1) Alight at Harbourfront MRT station. Take Exit C or E. Walk to destination. Journey time about 3 minutes. [Map]