THE Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao
Finally, THE Crystal Jade that foodies are raving about in Hong Kong and Singapore is now in the Philippines! No, it's not the old Crystal Jade in old Greenbelt; to distinguish itself, the restaurant's name indicates its Shanghainese specialties -- La Mian and Xiao Long Bao.
This Crystal Jade took the open kitchen concept to a different level by having the kitchen open to people outside the restaurant. Although it seems like the chefs are fishes in an aquarium, they don't mind people looking at them. This is one of the best marketing tactics I've seen done by any restaurant in Manila :)
The place is quite small. It can supposedly fit a maximum of 150 people if you want to reserve the entire restaurant. There's no function room, but there are 4 sofa-type tables near the kitchen and bathroom that can accommodate 15 people for a "private" group gathering. But I wouldn't reserve those tables because they are near the bathroom and you can see the mess in the kitchen.
The good tables are located on the corner on the opposite end. Table 46 is the biggest lauriat table; up to 13 people can sit there. But the corner round table that is near the street is the best. Reserve that if you want to have dinner with your family at Crystal Jade.
The acoustics are very good -- even if the kids are running around shouting, the ceiling and walls absorb the sound. The flooring does seem cheap as it easily gets dirty. The ambiance is simple and nothing to rave about.
To start your meal, I would recommend this sweet, crunchy eel. It tastes like the sweet dilis (small fish) that we like and it is crunchy all the way. My mother-in-law commented though that eel is such a premium ingredient that it was made cheap by frying it this way.
Yes, it lives up to its name. You can taste the rich broth of the pork soup inside the dumpling. The skin does not easily get punctured; nevertheless, you have to eat it using a ceramic soup spoon. My father-in-law commented that it really tastes like the xiao long bao in Hong Kong.
This is actually a bit pathetic. It's supposed to be the fried siopao version of the Xiao Long Bao but there's little filling, the bun itself is slightly dry, and it's served at room temperature.
The soup is good and the shimp wanton has more shrimp than the dumpling skin. It is good for one serving only because of the soup. If you try to share it, it feels bitin. Definitely recommended for kids. :)
I like the artful rendition and the different crunchy layers of this pastry. But the radish filling failed to make an impression.
This is my personal favorite. I like the peanut sauce since it's not too strong and not too spicy. It reminds me of Laksa or Kare-Kare, but with this, you can drink or slurp the peanut soup on its own. It's not too oily and has just the right peanut-y taste.
The white chicken comes with a secret, spicy sauce. The noodles are served on the side, but already cut into two portions. A different way to enjoy white chicken.
This is actually a simple bowl of noodles with scallions and a small serving of spring onion oil soup. We asked for an extra serving of the soup, but it never came. I wouldn't recommend it except if you have kids. :)
What I like about the vegetable menu is that you have the option to choose from Baby Cabbage, Cai Xin, Broccoli, and seasonal vegetable. Then, you have to choose how you want it cooked -- sauteed (P250), sauteed with minced garlic (P250), sauteed with oyster sauce (P250), or sauteed with century egg & salted egg (P300).
The boys like it; they call this "mini-trees that you can eat".
I like super hot chicken dishes like the one in the Hunan place, but this one did not even register on the chili scale (not even level 1). This should be renamed to "Crispy Chicken with Chili on the Side". I don't recommend this for chili lovers.
One of the unique desserts in Crystal Jade. It's ok and simple -- just fried pancake with red bean paste inside. If I could, I would have ordered ice cream from the nearby Haagen Dazs to make this dessert ala mode.
The picture in the menu looks a lot better. These buns look depressed. It's basically the same dessert as the pancake with red bean paste, only this time they come in soft, spongy buns. I'll skip dessert next time.
The La Mian and Xiao Long Bao are really good. Better than any Chinese restaurants in Manila but I don't think it would match with Hong Kong's. Budget P500/head when you eat here :)
Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao
Unit 117-121 (near Haagen Dazs and Goodwill Bookstore)
V-Mall, Greenhills Shopping Center
Greenhills, San Juan City, Metro Manila
Telephone: +632 570-6910, 570-6912
Operating Hours: 11am to 9.30pm.
Reservations are accepted for a group of 8 or more only.
Disclosure: Nothing to disclose. We paid for our meals, and we are not connected in any way with the owners of the restaurant.
P.S. There is no additional service charge so make sure to put in tip for the guys. Also, expect long lines during lunch or dinner so be there early at 11am or 6pm. Best time to go probably is 3pm-5pm when there is no line but I heard they are closing down during this time :(