Local diners are very familiar with Singapore-based F&B conglomerate Crystal Jade and its diverse portfolio of restaurants. The relaunch of Crystal Jade Jiang Nan has recently seen an exciting restyling of the restaurant decor at VivoCity, along with a new dining concept, revamped menu and refined touches into traditional regional Chinese cuisines.
Formerly focusing on the much-loved Xiao Long Bao and La Mian, the opulent Crystal Jade Jiang Nan brand now puts spotlight on the rich culinary traditions of Jiangnan and Sichuan regions, bringing a small-plate focused menu of exquisite delicacies that draws inspiration from the two landmarks; and is specially crafted by Group Executive Chef Martin Foo and his stellar team of expert chefs.
Guests will be able to savour an extensive selection of famed Jiang Nan dishes and select Sichuan specialities with a modern twist in a charming and chic setting. The fare ranges from a choice of chilled appetisers, wholesome soups, stir-fry hot dishes to heartier items like Steamed yellow croaker with Chinese wine and Mala crispy roasted chicken. Some of the Chinese delicacy plates get pretty elaborate, but you don’t need to spend extravagantly to have a taste of the signature dishes here. A selection of fine teas, wines and other refreshments are also on hand.
The China bay area encompasses a large region south of the Yangtze River that includes Shanghai and Nanjing. The cooking of Jiangnan is much more subtle than the chilli-heavy cuisine of Sichuan, but you can expect to find some chilli-laced dishes on the Crystal Jade Jiang Nan‘s menu such as the Mala Crispy Roasted Chicken 麻辣脆皮烧鸡 (Half $15.80 / Whole $29.80) is a winning combination of succulent meat and crispy skin. Unlike the classic hot pepper chicken dish 四川辣子鸡, this rendition is served in moat of homemade piquant mala sauce, so that guests who can’t handle the fiery heat can still enjoy the wonderful roast chicken.
Those who love the idea of small bites platter, Crystal Jade Jiang Nan offers a great bunch of hot and cold appetisers on the menu.
Typical good examples 精美前菜 include chilled items like Iced Drunken Chicken 川椒辣子鸡丁, Chilled Poached Chicken in Chongqing Style 重庆口水鸡, Chilled Sliced Pork with Signature Minced Garlic & Chilli Oil 蒜泥白切肉, Chilled Jellyfish with Black Fungus in Mustard 芥末海蜇拌云耳, and more.
The Three Delicacies Platter ($16.80 per portion) of Chilled Nanjing Salted Duck 南京盐水鸭, Jiangsu Smoked Fish 江苏熏鱼, Chilled Spinach with Sesame Sauce 麻酱波菜鲜百合 feature a few key regional appetisers and help to tease your palate before the main meal arrives.
When it comes to hot appetisers, it’s quite possible that these light and subtly-sweet Cheesy Crisp Mochi Balls 芝士汤圆 (six pieces for $10.80) are sure to be a hit. When bite into, the golden-brown crust reveals a milky soft, stretchy heart within made of melty mozzarella cheese. It’s a wonder how chef made the mochi cheese balls so equally rounded.
There’s no better way to fill up and warm your soul than having wholesome Chinese soups. The luscious flavours of Song’s Thick Fish Soup 宋嫂鱼羮 ($9.80 per person), and meaty Double-boiled Tender “Lion Head” Meatball 清炖狮子头 ($8.80 per person) are great satisfying choice to warm you up.
Presented in a Chinese Zisha clay teapot, drinking the light and soothing Double-boiled Conpoy and Chrysanthemum Soup with Pearl Abalone 杭菊干贝炖珍珠鲍鱼 ($18.80 per person) from the tea vessel is quite an experience. You can chew on mouthfuls of remmants such as wolfberries, pork and red dates between sips of the soup and finish it off before the next dish.
The Steamed Yellow Croaker in Rice Wine Broth 酒香蒸黃花鱼 ($28.80 per portion approx 400g) may seem familiar like other steamed fish, but is different from the more prevalent Cantonese style in a few ways.
The large yellow croaker species native to the Chinese aquaculture is a prized Jiangnan speciality and include ingredients like Chinese Jinhua ham 金華火腿 and Shaoxing cooking wine 绍兴黄酒 which brings out the pristine fresh flavours of the delicate sea fish — a must-have for every fish lover.
Moving on to stir-fry specialities, I found it hard at first to get my head around these unassuming dishes from Crystal Jade Jiang Nan, but they ended unexpectedly tasty, despite them looking inelegant and sounding too plain.
The homely Sauteed Dried Shrimp and Vermicelli with Cabbage served in Claypot 虾米粉丝炒包心菜 ($13.80 per portion) features sweet shredded cabbage with slightly-charred edges and a hint of numbing-heat from Szechuan peppercorns, while the sauteed dried shrimp and stir-fried vermicelli delivers the legendary wok-hei 锅气 aroma, which together provided a kind of bite that I’m pretty sure I would eat it again and again.
There are many variety of fried rice dishes in China and Yang Zhou fried rice originating from Jiangsu Province is the most popular in the world and has the longest history in Chinese culture.
Chef Martin Foo gives the fried rice superstar an unique twist by replacing the grain with Orzo, a form of short-cut pasta that is shaped and served just like rice. The Crystal Jade Yangzhou Fried “Rice Shaped Pasta” 米形意粉，翡翠扬州炒饭 ($16.80 per portion) is not only substantial but also extremely satisfying. A fragrant spring onion blend and asparagus give the fried rice its appealing green colour and flavour, complemented by the fried egg and pink shrimp, adorned with a flourish of sakura ebi. This interesting fried rice dish of pasta demands all the attention.
For classic desserts, enjoy the nourishing and comforting Double-boiled Snow Pear with Osmanthus 桂花炖雪梨 ($7.80 per person) or sweeter options like Japanese Sweet Potato Pastry 日本紫薯酥 (3 pieces for $7.80 and Cream Custard Mochi 奶黄麻糍 (4 pieces for $6.80).
Clouds of pillowy-soft Souffle Egg White Ball stuffed with Red Bean and Banana 高丽香蕉豆沙 (three pieces for $8.80) is somewhat a tasty cross of airy souffle pancake and puff wrapped with sweet filling of red bean paste and mashed banana.
For those who have cravings for La Mian and Xiao Long Bao, Crystal Jade Jiang Nan at VivoCity still offers a selection of noodle dishes and dim sum on the menu. Valid for a limited period only from Monday to Friday, customers can enjoy a 3-course meal of $18.80 Set lunch, instead of $25.70 with a choice of La Mian, side and dessert at Crystal Jade Jiang Nan.
CitiBank card holders can get $10 off their a la carte food bill with a minimum spend of $60.00 in a single receipt, before service charge and taxes at all participating Crystal Jade outlets from 1st March to 30th June 2019 from Monday to Friday.
CRYSTAL JADE JIANG NAN
Location: 1 HarbourFront Walk, Vivocity, #01-52, Singapore 098585
Tel: +65 6221 1830
Opening Hours: Mon to Thur 11:30am to 3pm, Fri to Sun 11am to 10:30pm