Thursday, December 9, 2010

Lucky on Three at Crystal Jade Manila

I'd consider myself a loyal diner.

After having a wonderful dining experience with delicious food and impeccable service rendered, expect that I will definitely be back again and again bringing in friends and relatives who are eager to try after hearing my non-stop raves. That's how passionate I am about restaurants that I love. Not only will I blog about it here, I'd definitely keep on talking about it as well.

Such is the case with Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao, the newest addition to my list of favorite restaurants in the Metro. The buzz about Crystal Jade coming to Manila began spreading like wildfire late last year. Initially, just like Happy Lemon, people were not sure which foreign restaurant is coming in. Guesses where thrown here and there and finally, last September, Crystal Jade opened its door to a long long long line of waiting customers.

I've been wanting to try Crystal Jade since it first opened but after a couple of failed attempts, I've decided to just wait it out until the crowd mellows down.

Finally, two months after, my brother-in-law got a reservation for us to celebrate his birthday at Crystal Jade. Despite the Sunday Christmas traffic, we all made it on time and were all so excited to enjoy Crystal Jade's specialties.


First was definitely their signature Steamed Soupy Pork Dumplings a.k.a. Xiao Long Pao (Php. 158/5 pieces). I had the best tasting Xiao Long Bao during our Honeymoon in Singapore and this was my benchmark for good Xiao Long Baos.

So how did Crystal Jade's Xiao Long Bao fare?

Compared to DTF's Xiao Long Bao, we noticed that the meat inside was less and the wrapper wasn't as thick as we would have preferred it to be. I was very careful in picking each piece up as it easily tears open spilling the delicious soup inside. It wasn't so bad but I've definitely have tasted better.

Dad-in-law also got the Crispy Eel in "Wu Xi" Style (Php. 288) which was an instant family favorite. I enjoyed munching on bite-size crunchy eel which has a sweet-salty taste. It's like our local dilis only better. :)

We also enjoyed the Deep-fried Wanton with Sweet and Sour Sauce (Php. 170/6 pieces). I love the crunchy wrapper and the wanton is packed that its bursting with meat and chopped veggies. Delicious!

Since we were celebrating my brother-in-law's birthday, we had two noodle dish that evening. First was the Fried noodle in "Beijing" style (Php. 250) which had a mix of veggies and meat. Nothing extra ordinary about it but everyone loved it nonetheless.

Second was my personal favorite -- Fried Noodle with Shredded Eel (Php. 308). If you noticed, I liked the two eel dishes that we had that evening. I love the stir-fried noodles with sweet-salty eel strips. The noodles had the right bite and the eel really gave a good accent to the entire dish. This is definitely one thing I'd order again on my future visits.

Dinner was wonderful however we were unfortunate to be there on the night their exhaust fan broke so our eyes began to get teary and painful due to the smoke that was starting to fill up the restaurant.

And I shall return

Just four days after my first visit, I was back at Crystal Jade this time with my High School best buddies. Since there were only three of us, no prior reservations were needed to be made and I was able to get a table right away.

While it was T's first time to try Crystal Jade here in Manila, she has been frequenting their branch in Shanghai so she recommended that we try the popular Noodle with Dried Shrimp and Peanut in Spicy Sauce a.k.a. Dan Dan Mien (Php. 288). Knowing that I have very low tolerance for spicy dishes, she assured me that it's something I can handle and will surely love after the first bite. I took her word for it.

As soon as our bowl of steaming noodles came out, T wasted no time in serving this into our tiny soup bowls. I took a careful sip and the delicious taste of peanut immediately filled my taste buds. The noodles was very al dente and I love the thick soup with a little spicy kick. T was right, the spicy level was something I can still handle as I had three servings of this noodle soup.

We also got the Sauteed Chicken with Cashew Nuts in Spicy Sauce (Php. 288). This one comes with thin tortilla-like pancakes where you fill it with the sauteed chicken and wrap it up like a burrito. Just like the soup, this dish is a bit spicy yet very flavorful.

I also ordered the Deep-fried Beancurd Skin Roll with Shrimp (Php. 135) after seeing this from our neighboring table. Nothing special here, I also find it too oily. This is one dish we could have done without.

Lastly, we had a bowl of Fried Rice with Diced Chicken, Sausage, Shrimp and Egg in Yang Chow Style (Php. 248). This is good for probably 4-5 pax. Truly delicious and fragrant fried rice with just the right amount of meat. Wish they have added in more crunchy shrimps though.

The Third Round

After enjoying the Dan Dan Mien, I invited my sister and Paul just two days after my second visit to have our afternoon snack at Crystal Jade. We shared on a bowl of Dan Dan Mien and Xiao Long Bao which we all enjoyed nonetheless.

I can't believe that I ate at Crystal Jade three times in just a span of six days! Luckily though, I've found a number of amazing discoveries such as the Crispy eel in Wuxi Style, Dan Dan Mien and the Fried Noodle with Shredded Eel. I love it that in all my visits, the taste has remained consistent and the service was great all three times.

No wonder the line never disappears in front of Crystal Jade, I'm glad that it has arrived in Manila and I hope that it will continue to tickle our taste buds every so often.

*photo credit: Paul Ang (1st visit)

Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao is located at Unit 117-121, Virra Mall, Greenhills Shopping Center in San Juan City. For reservations, call them at 570-6910 / 570-6912.

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