Crystal Dragon at Nuwa, City of Dreams Manila
Gone are the days when we can list off all the best and authentic Chinese restaurants available in town. Lately, it seems like they have dwindled in number and what's left are really just a handful of the tried and tested, best of the best, true blue authentic Chinese restaurants. It could probably be due to the pandemic where most Cantonese chefs decided to head home or it can also be the affected F&B industry where we saw a number of really good restaurants bade us goodbye.
Therefore, should you come across a really good restaurant, let's give our all-out support and dine there as often as we can. A few months ago, we discovered Crystal Dragon upon an invite from my cousin-in-law M. He's such a certified foodie whose recommendations I fully trust. He has been frequenting Crystal Dragon at Nuwa Hotel and after enjoying our first meal there, I instantly knew why M loves it so much.
First of all, the service is top notch. Servers were so attentive and they're very friendly too. They give you the privacy that you need but are quick to come to attend to your requests at any given point in time. The menu is quite lengthly but don't just stop there, the kitchen can even customize a dish or two for you. This is a fine dining Chinese restaurant so expect to shell out a bit more but I can assure you that you will feel that it's worth every penny after enjoying your meal.
To date, we've been there 3 times and each visit just leaves us so satisfied and happy. M always takes care of ordering and every dish that we get to try is another addition to my list of must-tries. So here are some of the stellar dishes that you should NOT miss when dining at Crystal Dragon:
Deep-Fried Prawn Ball with Aged Parmesan and Mozzarella Cheese
This was immediately a hit and mind you, we didn't had any kids in tow. Adults loved it and and so will the little ones too. These are giant-sized prawn balls filled with cheese inside. It's so good and makes for a good starter to your meal. It's sad that my little J is allergic to shrimps/prawns so we won't be able to let the twins try this but there are still a lot more dishes for him to enjoy.
Cold Herbal Chicken Roll with Ginger and Scallion Sauce
I love Chinese cold cuts but I've never had cold chicken before. First of all, let me assure you that it's thoroughly cooked so you don't have to worry there. The chicken was so juicy and tender. Since it's served cold, the skin somehow has this gelatinous texture. Not a huge fan of chicken skin but I love how the ginger/scallion sauce complemented the chicken so well. This can pass as the long lost cousin of the famous Hainanese Chicken.
Roasted Farm Peking Duck
On our first visit, M got the Peking Duck made two ways. This was how the first way was served -- thinly sliced duck skin on warm Chinese pancakes and served with fresh scallions and hoisin sauce.
I tell you, service was indeed so amazing that they save you the trouble of having to wrap the duck skin yourself and they have carefully laid all these out on a plate for you to just dig in.
As for the second way, they minced the duck meat and stir-fried this with veggies and served this with fresh lettuce cups. My favorite! We call it "hin din tsum mua" and it's one of my favorite Chinese dishes.
Vegetable with 3 kinds of egg Clear Soup
I've mentioned how Crystal Dragon can customize your dishes upon request. Here's one of those, cousin M would order this because he knows how much we love it. It's so refreshing and we love the inclusion of eggs and Chinese cabbage into the soup. I also love the whole cloves of roasted garlic too. It can go with rice or be enjoyed on its own as a soup.
Salted Egg Pork
Another special creation from the kitchen upon cousin M's request. The salted egg flavor was so rich and the pork remains so tender. If you want something different from the usual Sweet and Sour Pork then this is definitely a must-try. The meat falls off the bone so you don't have to lose your poise while struggling to get the meat out. The salted egg was obviously made using real salted egg and not the powder-type so you get a nice creamy texture coating your deep-fried pork ribs.
If I have to name ONE favorite dish at Crystal Dragon then this would be it. Ordering Fish Tofu in Hotpot is also a must for me whenever I dine at a Chinese restaurant and this one truly tops them all. The tofu is made of silky egg tofu, which we were told, was made in-house. The fish was fresh and delicious and everything about this dish was just perfect. On several occasions, one order is never enough and we would go for seconds.
On to dessert, on our first visit, cousin M told us that Crystal Dragon has the best buchi in town. This instantly made us to excited to give it a try as buchi is widely available in any Chinese restaurant and for us, they all taste the same so what made this extra special? One bite and we instantly got his point. Crystal Dragon's buchi was light and airy. It's perfectly deep-fried but not greasy. It has just the right amount of lotus paste inside thus making it a very good dessert indeed.
Mango Pomelo with Sago
The best pairing to your buchi would be the Mango Pomelo with Sago dessert. The sweetness level was just right and we love the fresh mango puree mixed with bits of sweet pomelo. It's served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream thus making it extra rich and creamy. If you ask me though, I like it minus the ice cream so Paul would happily take the entire scoop of ice cream before I split this between the two of us.
We also got to dine at Crystal Dragon sometime in June when it was the Dragon Boat Festival and it was the perfect time to enjoy some Zongzi (粽子), in Hokkien we call it Ma-tsang or glutinous rice dumpling. I grew up eating loads of Ma-tsang but I've never had it the way Crystal Dragon made it. It was indeed very unique and delicious. Served in bite-sized portions in a long platter, it's packed with yam, salted egg, hebi and a lot more. It's delicious yet not over indulgent. It pairs so well with their jasmine tea as well.
Every visit to Crystal Dragon was just superb and would always give us so much satisfaction. Of course, what makes it even more memorable is that we get to spend time with Paul's cousins whom I'm glad to call family too. Listening to their stories growing up over good food really is something that I always look forward to.
Check out Crystal Dragon at the Upper Ground Floor of Nüwa, Tower 1 Aseana Boulevard corner Macapagal Avenue in Paranaque City.