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 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