Restaurant review: Premium class at Crystal Jade Premium

This story was first published in The Straits Times on March 31, 2013

Yet another Crystal Jade restaurant has opened here, adding to the dozens of Chinese eateries under the chain that range from high-end Cantonese restaurants to casual noodle eateries.

But Crystal Jade Premium, which is in One Degree 15 Marina Club in Sentosa Cove, is different in many ways.

The fine dining restaurant, which opened in January, is the rare Crystal Jade outlet not inside a shopping mall, for example. Instead of shops, diners enjoy a relaxing view of the marina, which is dotted with luxury yachts. Also, unlike the other outlets which open daily, this is closed on Mondays, a practice imposed by the club, which is a partner of the restaurant.

The menu is also slightly different. In keeping with its seaside location, it offers Cantonese and Teochew dishes with an emphasis on seafood dishes.

That means expensive shark's fin and abalone items as well as live fish and shellfish. But even if you do not have deep pockets or a fat expense account, you can still dine pretty well here.

In fact, one of my favourite dishes is a relatively affordable braised prawn with superior sauce in mini casserole. It says seasonal price on the menu and I paid $27.50 for eight prawns when I lunched there last week.

The shellfish is fresh and perfectly cooked but it is the superior sauce that takes it up a notch. A mix of sweet, sour and spicy flavours, it has a hint of sambal because of the bits of dried shrimp in it. The flavours penetrate the prawns, yet do not take away their natural sweetness.

The braised mee pok noodle with baby lobster, spring onion and ginger ($28.80 a person) is also worth ordering.

The classic Cantonese stir-fry with ginger and spring onion is turned into a noodle dish, making it a two-in-one item and a good filler at the end of the meal. The baby lobster is mid-sized and has a good amount of meat. And unlike its bigger cousins, which often get tough when fully cooked, it has a more succulent texture.

Other affordable seafood dishes include deep-fried cuttlefish with pepper and salt ($14), an excellent appetiser cooked to perfection here. And whether you order the quick-fried scallop in Teochew style ($36 for small) or the spicier sauteed scallop with seasonal vegetable in XO sauce ($34), you are rewarded with plump and sweet scallops that are cooked just right.

If you want to take a break from seafood, there are good meat dishes too, ranging from a simple crispy roasted pork belly ($14) to pan-fried wagyu beef fillet ($58 each).

The chef also introduced me to an off-menu dish that both looked and tasted good.

There is no English name for the dish and its Chinese name translates to steamed tofu with double mushrooms ($12). It comprises thinly sliced pieces of steamed tofu arranged in the shape of a fan. Forming the base is a mix of stir-fried diced char siew, mushrooms, capsicums and ginkgo nuts. A light brown sauce binds the various ingredients together.

It appears simple but calls for considerable skill with both the knife and the wok for the dish to taste good. And the chef succeeds in both areas.

ahyoke@sph.com.sg

SundayLife! paid for its meals at the eateries reviewed here.