Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Crystal Jade Steamboat Kitchen in Plaza Singapore

For locals here in Singapore, Crystal Jade has been a household name since 1991. Today, it's the leading Chinese dining concept with more than 120 outlets all over the world. In fact, my first taste of Crystal Jade was in Manila when it opened a couple of years ago. I could still remember the long queue that would form almost all throughout the day in the V-Mall branch. That's also where my love for Dan Dan Mian began.

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Often times, I would say that dimsum is one of my top 3 favorite food in the world and having steamboat or what we commonly call hotpot / shabu-shabu for dinner is always something that I look forward to. Never mind that my kitchen diva skills are not Master Chef level yet but at least, I get the opportunity to cook even if it means tossing everything into the boiling pot with the confidence that everything will still be so delicious.

So, when Paul and I were invited to have dinner at Crystal Jade Steamboat Kitchen in Plaza Singapura, this was one of those dinners that I was really excited about. In contrast to the other Crystal Jade restaurants all over Singapore, this one allows diners to go on a 90 minute eat-all-you-can steamboat with free flow drinks and ice cream! It brought back memories of the time that Pan, Paul and I had this amazing 2 hour eat-all-you-can hotpot lunch in Taiwan which later turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip.

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First you start by choosing your soup stock. You can choose two to make it more fun to interchange from one soup base to another. There are a total of six options to choose from: pork's bone soup (clear soup), tomato soup, curry soup, miso soup, superior soup and spicy mala soup.

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Then, you hop over to the buffet section where you can take your pick from a variety of veggies, fresh meat, meatballs and even cooked items too which you can either eat right away or toss into your boiling pot too!



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One of the things that I found to be very interesting are the Minced Pork Paste and the Home-made Minced Chicken Paste. You basically scoop these up into tiny balls and throw them into your steamboat pot. The outcome is a very chewy meat ball which is so yummy!

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Of course, what's a delicious steamboat dinner without being able to make your own sauce? This is something that Paul and I really enjoy doing that we each have our own concoction and it's just one of those rare moments that we'd rather not share with each other. I like my sauce with lots of garlic, a small amount of sesame oil to perk up the flavor, a generous serving of scallions, peanut sauce and just enough soy sauce. As for Paul, he has his own mix which basically has more garlic and even some chili oil in it too. "To each his own", that's our ultimate motto when it comes to making our steamboat sauce.

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The secret to eat-all-you-can meals in general is to stay away from carbs and to start with something light. However, I broke this rule at Crystal Jade as I couldn't resist trying the Fragrant QQ Rice. Look at this beauty! Polished glutinous rice topped with a spoonful of scallion oil. It was so good that I fought the urge to go back for more. Take my word, don't ever miss this!

As if the eat-all-you-can steamboat buffet selection is not enough to fill you up, we just had to have some of Crystal Jade's dimsum selection too:

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Roasted Combination Platter (S$25.80)
You'll never go wrong starting your meal with a platter of all the yummy roast meats -- Roast Duck, Roast Pork Belly and Honey Barbeque Pork. My favorite was definitely the crunchy Roast Pork Belly which goes so well with some mustard. It's so sinful yet so good. Oh dear..

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Steamed Shrimp Dumpling "Ha-kau" (S$4.60)
I love ha-kau and this is one thing that I make sure to order every chance I get. Crystal Jade's version was very good. The shrimp had a good crisp bite which was so succulent and tasty. The wrapper was definitely of good quality that it stays firm as you lift it up yet it also has that silky texture when you bite into it.

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Steamed Pork and Shrimp with Crab Roe "Siew Mai" (S$4.20)
I love siu mai too! This is my go-to dimsum whenever I want something light, delicious and one that I can eat on the go. I think I must have had close to a hundred siu mais in my life that it takes a really good one to impress me. Crystal Jade's siu mai passed the test with flying colours. I guess it's because every bite gives you pure meat and none of those extenders. Yum!

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Deep-fried Yam Puff with Minced Meat (S$4)
Not so bad as I love anything with yam but I just find it a bit too oily to be enjoyed beyond one piece.

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Pan-fried Fish Cake with Radish (S$4)
This is an old traditional dimsum favorite and one that's quite hard to find in Singapore. It's a huge wanton filled with minced fish cake and radish giving you that interesting texture in every bite. I'm not a fan of the deep-fried wrapper but the filling was indeed very good as we were told it was.

Going back to the steamboat, I love the clear pork broth as it eventually brought out the flavor of our veggies, taro, corn and seafood most especially when we boil it for a longer period of time. The selection covers the essentials but it would have been better if the selection of seafood goes beyond the usual fish balls and if there are creative ones like seafood cheese balls, mushroom balls and more.

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Whatever happens, be sure to save space for dessert. You surely wouldn't want to miss being able to make your own soft-serve ice cream sundae topped with your choice of sprinkles and syrup. So yummy!

I will surely be back though as I finally found a place to enjoy a nice steamboat dinner with a bowl (or two) of their signature Fragrant QQ Rice.

Eat-all-you-can rate:
Weekday: S$20.90++ (adult) / S$17.90++ (kids 12 and below)
Weekend: S$26.90++ (adult) / S$23.90++ (kids 12 and below)

Crystal Jade Steamboat Kitchen is located at Plaza Singapura, 02-32 68 Orchard Road, Singapore. Call them at 6336-2833. 

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