Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Crystal Jade La Mian @ Lot 10

Of all the la mian (pulled handmade noodles) restaurants around, Crystal Jade is perhaps the one that I frequent the most, be it in Singapore or Kuala Lumpur. There are many reasons to that, but the most important reason is the consistent quality of the la mian and certain pastries.

It all started in 2004 with a try-out session with a Japanese ex-colleague who was hooked on the chicken soup la mian. That surprised me as this guy has, afterall, consumed more ramen in his life than my fair share of salt (how much more can I exaggerate!). The la mian must be quite a "something", I told myself. When it opened its first outlet in the once-hip Lot 10, I brought my folks (the "Gordon Ramsay"s in the family) to sample the food. Again, I was surprised that even they acknowledged the la mian and the radish pastry.

Fast forward to two Sundays ago, I revisited Crystal Jade before a walk in the Pavilion, which by the way, is overflowing with lots of exciting restaurants. Silly me? Well, not a bad decision, I thought.

The la mians were as usual, al dente and refined, with a hint of flour fragrance. However, the soup for the Sichuan Style La Mian RM12) tasted slightly bitter and burnt, despite the generous amount of sesame and peanuts which provided an interesting texture. Perhaps the sesame and peanuts were over-toasted.

The soup for the Hot and Sour Soup La Mian (RM12) tasted tangy, with the right amount of heat (for me). Shredded pork and mushroom added extra flavour and texture to the ensemble. Appetising, as usual.

A dish which I have not tried before was the Sliced Noodle In Beef Stew (RM13). The first impression of this dish was the generous amount of ingredients. The tendons were wonderfully smooth and soft. Personally, I would have preferred the tendons slightly overcooked to enjoy that melt-in-mouth collagen experience. The well-cooked slices of beef (I'm guessing it's flank) were soft and flaky. A sip of the stew revealed a rich beef stock with a faint hint of five spice herbs. The chopped scallion and cilantro added extra texture and a freshly contrasting taste to the soup. Let's not forget the al dente and consistently sized sliced noodle which reminded me of the thick pan mee (flour noodle), only shorter.

Next, dumplings galore. The Xiao Long Bao or pork dumpling with melted lard (RM 8 for 4 pieces) was well-flavoured, as usual. The "soup" was clear and sweet. The skin was thin, much to everyone's delight. I do not know how to explain this, but despite the good quality, I felt it still lacked in subtlety or refinement (in taste) as compared to Din Tai Fung's version. The Pork and Vegetable Wanton Soup (RM10) was pale in comparison with the Xiao Long Bao. It was rather bland but was compensated by the generous amount of minced pork, which was also quite fresh, by the way. The greens added texture and colour to the wantons. A pragmatic way to further enjoy the wanton (to me) was to eat it with the julienned ginger and black vinegar from the Xiao Long Bao.

Another interesting dish that made it's debut on my "tried-that" list was the Minced Pork With Rice Cracker (RM16) combination. The dish was called "ants climbing up the tree" in Chinese. I'm guessing it's due to the small bits of rice that resemble ants. Metaphor aside, it was basically crispy rice cracker with dipping. The dipping consisted of minced pork drenched in a sweet and sour sauce. Interesting idea despite an uninteresting taste.

The Radish Pastry (RM7 for 3 pieces) convinced us that the visit was worthwhile. The savoury and soft grated radish wrapped in crispy and aromatic pastry skin never failed to whip up our appetite. A word of caution: the filling is hot. What made it the champion among all the available versions is the refined taste and texture. Enough said.

The finale came in the form of Souffle of Egg White Ball (RM9 for 3 pieces). The warm red bean paste and banana slices filling was sweet with a hint of banana scent but was not evenly distributed when the souffle was halved. The souffle skin was soft and the icing sugar added extra sweetness to the dessert.

Chinese Tea cost RM2 per person (unlimited serving). The meal for 4 cost RM113.85 including an uninitiated towel costing RM1 each.

Another satisfying meal at Crystal Jade despite a few glitches. We were so full that an earlier plan to visit Bisou was postponed. Though I've been here a couple of times, I have yet to try the rice and stir-fried dishes. But for now, the grass looks greener on the other side.

Crystal Jade La Mian and Xiao Long Bao
R2, Lot 10
50, Jalan Sultan Ismail
50250 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: +603-2148 2338


"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

not as refined as ding tai fung? hv you tried the one in kl? it wasnt great when i had it..

the number of xlb restaurants are mushrooming so quickly that i personally dont knw which is the better one d..all have thin skins, filling and soup..

yammylicious said...

Minced Pork With Rice Cracker!! awww i guess is real delicious.. and lot 10's srystal jade famous wif their dim sum too.. yamm yamm

ling239 said...

during my last trip there i had a very bad "chinese food syndrome"...XD

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

thanks for such a detailed review. Will definitely take your recommendations into account when I go there this week. ;-)

~Christine~Leng said...

La Mian and xiu long bao... thay are mushrooming around the town nowadays right? I've not tried Crystal Jade, but have already heard several good comments on them. well.. what am I waiting for? haha..

wenching & esiong said...

I've heard of this place but haven't been there yet. Their la mian looks good. Might wanna try it out one day!

Big Boys Oven said...

yet to try but looks good tho!

Tummythoz said...

Hi! Thx for dropping by my blog. Whoa nice pictures u have with such detail reviews. I'll b stalking..

ai wei said...

xiu loong bao and rice cracker!!! thanks for introducing this place. will hop by if i were around bintang area.

Nic (KHKL) said...

Joe - yupe, i've reviewed kl's dtf b4...i think the xlb there has much less "flavouring"...pork taste is there...guess that's y i said it was refined :>

yammylicious - is it? i din know that their dim sum is famous...thanks for the info!

ling239 - what's "chinese food syndrome" ar? i hv no idea...pls enlighten me.. :)

Lyrical Lemongrass - have a great time there! will be waiting for yr delish pics!

~Christine~Leng - haha! i guess the temptations in the pavilion is distracting, right? overshadowing crystal jade too...

wenching & esiong - yeah, but must also try the radish pastry!

Big Boys Oven - yupe, some of the dishes are good...just drop by the next time u visit pavilion la! hehe

Tummythoz - thanks for stopping by...stalking, oh no! I must call the food police already...hehe

ai wei - no let us know your experience there, ya!

Jason said...

Hi there, thanks for drop by my blog :)
I saw some professional writings here :P

tankiasu said...

Wanted to come here sooo long but somehow never been able to convinced my friends to join me! :P

Nic (KHKL) said...

Jason - thanks for stopping by! and for the compliments's something i enjoy doing :) like "shiok sendiri" kinda thing lar...

tankiasu - thanks for stopping by...try convincing them with the radish pastry and the la mian :>

Xiu Long Bao said...

heard dat Din Tai Fung in s'pore serves real good xlb. The msian outlet is still struggling tho.

Nic (KHKL) said...

Xiu Long Bao - i've tried both kl and sg's versions of xlb and thought that they are quite similar. the queues were also similarly long too! hehe...