Fortune in Food: Crystal Jade Dining In’s New Menu

Along with my new year’s resolution to be more physically fit and the (futile) attempt to grow taller by jumping on New Year’s eve, is my shameless hope for a more financially rewarding year ahead. I can’t help it. As a salesperson I’m used to having my life measured in numbers, and one of those numbers I’m pretty enthusiastic about is the one that I see on my bank account (which is always fluctuating by the way).
I even remember sprinkling a good amount of rock salt all over my work desk last year because they said it’s supposed to bring good luck and more money (which reminds me I haven’t done it yet this year). Now I’m not that superstitious but I won’t lose anything by doing it so why not?
And now it’s the Chinese New Year that’s approaching, and another chance for me to call on whatever luck I can summon to help me get through 2015. If you remember, I had a wonderful experience at Crystal Jade Dining In last year so I thought it may be a good time to revisit, especially that they have a new set menu prepared exclusively for the coming Chinese New Year, which includes dishes that inspire prosperity and wealth! How can my yuppie heart resist?
I was lucky (see? It’s already kicking in!) to have a sneak peek at Crystal Jade Dining In’s upcoming dishes to be served as part of the New Menu starting February this year.  These dishes are soooo new some of them don’t even have prices yet!

Yúshēng 鱼生* aka the Prosperity Toss Salad

Now this is what I’m talking about! The Yúshēng is a traditional dish primarily enjoyed by Chinese communities living in Malaysia and Sinagapore. It literally means “tossing up a good fortune”, so you can tell I’m pretty enthusiastic about making a mess with my chopsticks.

We were offered a large plate of fish, lime, carrots, radishes, and other spices and ingredients which all had a symbolic meaning of prosperity and abundance. There is a ritual that you do to maximize the good fortune offered by this salad – you toss and mix the ingredients while chanting “Lo Hei!”, which means “to rise”. The higher the toss and the messier the outcome the better, so I let myself go in tossing up those veggies in the air! Imma tell you about each ingredient and what they symbolize in a separate post.
Making a mess…finally something that I’m good at!
For somebody who often prefers meat over the veggies, I surprisingly like the Yúshēng that I actually had several servings of it. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m allowed to put as much soya oil and apple sauce as I wanted over my own mess of a salad.

Xiao Long Bao

The BGC branch of Crystal Jade used to not serve Xiao Long Bao because the only dishes they serve on this branch are Cantonese (Xiao Long Bao is Shanghai, if I’m not mistaken). Luckily, after a long, dedicated persuasion to the guys upstairs, the branch managers are finally allowed to serve these popular soup dumplings. They’re only serving the regular flavor though (so far).
The dumplings were just the right size to be gobbled up in one go, and they did have that satisfying burst of warm soup and meat on your first bite. However, I would have preferred the wrap to be thinner so my taste buds can concentrate better on the flavor of the soup and meat.

Double-boiled Fish with White Fungus and Papaya

This soup somehow reminds me of my mom’s cooking – only she uses green papaya instead of orange ones. I don’t know how they do it but surprisingly, the papaya slices are still whole and not too mushy in spite of the fact that the soup is double-boiled, which means that ingredients were boiled separately, then boiled again all together.
Swimming with our papaya are chopped pieces of mudfish. It tasted fair enough although as my food buddy suggested, the soup would have went better if there no fish bones in it – kinda ruins the slurping.

Peking Duck – 2 Ways

Aaahhh Crystal Jade’s signature Peking Duck. I’ll never get tired of this one (read about our first experience here). 

I’ve always wanted to learn those complicated carving skills.
There were 2 ways that our poultry was served to us:
Roasted Pecking Duck in Pancake Wrap – They say that this is sooo good that each piece takes away 5 seconds of your life. I think I may have lost almost a minute of my lifetime back there.

These were the duck meat before they were wrapped. Is it a sin if I’m imagining of having them with rice?
Braised Noodles with Shredded Duck Meat & Mushroom – I’m telling you, these noodles taste so much better than they look. Gives a whole new meaning to the pansit canton I know.

Golden Sesame Balls Stuffed with Fresh Mushrooms

On first look these may look like your typical buchi but these oversized delights have something else in their cores – mushrooms! The size of the balls and the bulk of mushrooms stuffed inside them is already enough for a few pieces to make you full.

Aside from the sesame seeds, the crust is also coated with salted egg. Together with the mushrooms, this gives the dish a salty taste, which also goes so well with the sweet layer of glutinous rice.

Crispy Prawn with Sliced Apple and Sweet and Sour Sauce

This isn’t very different from the other sweet and sour prawns I’ve tried before, except maybe for the nice touch of thinly sliced apples. Personally though I thought the apples were no longer necessary given that the sauce of the prawns were already sweet enough for my taste.

The Sautéed Prawns with Wasabi Salad Sauce that we tried before was more memorable to me because of the creative kick of wasabi. I wouldn’t mind having that one again.

Steamed Live Garoupa with Olives

Unlike the steamed garoupa that we had on our first visit, this one is not served in rolls, and the whole fish was steamed (the one we had before was fried on the head and tail parts). But what’s even more unique about this dish is the pile of olives sitting on top of our fish. I’m not a fan of olives so I skipped that part. Anyways, the garoupa itself already tasted nice and soft with the sauce it was swimming on.
If you ask me, I like steamed garoupa rolls with Chinese sausage better. But that’s only because I’m less tolerant of olives.

Sautéed Assorted Vegetables

Now after all those meat, fish and strong flavours of sweet, sour, and salty, we knew that the Yúshēng we had at the start of the meal isn’t enough to compensate  for all the calories and cholesterol we oh so willingly had. We just needed to have at least one more veggie dish to somehow tone down the guilt of ruining our “New year, New me” diet. 
Crystal Jade’s sautéed assorted vegetables wasn’t bad but I think I’d still stick to the meats and the desserts.

Speaking of desserts…

Mochi Balls

My sweet tooth may have been a source of bias but out of all the dishes I’ve tried that day, the Mochi Balls (I hope that’s what they’re called) are the most memorable to me. Soft mochi (pounded sticky rice) coats a delicately sweet filling of mangoes and cream. This one is soooo good I won’t mind forgetting my weight-loss resolution for a few minutes just to savor every bite of every piece. Sadly, there was enough for only one piece for every person in our table so I wasn’t able to gobble up more L

The Mochi Balls are best had when chilled. But aside from these treats, we were also served other desserts like the Coffee Jelly. Trust me though, the Mochi balls have got to be the best.

Crystal Jade Dining In’s new menu made me loosen up my belt as I left the restaurant! It’s a delightful experience, as always. Don’t worry though because all the dishes from their old menu are still available, so you can still have those prawns with wasabi sauce I was talking about.

Oh, and don’t forget to ask for the Yúshēng on Chinese New Year for prosperity and fortune for the rest of 2015!

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