Restaurant Review

Crystal Jade Prestige offers Cantonese fare for the business crowd

Crystal Jade Prestige at Marina Bay Financial Centre is the restaurant chain's first forayinto the Central Business District

The Central Business District around Raffles Place may be where major banks and corporations make their million-dollar transactions, but the Crystal Jade group has never had a restaurant there.

Since the chain started in 1991 in the now-defunct Cairnhill Hotel, neither its fine-dining Chinese restaurants nor its casual Kitchen or La Mian eateries - which number more than 20 in total - has been located in the financial belt.

That has changed with the opening of Crystal Jade Prestige this month at Marina Bay Financial Centre, taking over the second- floor premises vacated by Paradise Pavilion.

It is billed as a new fine-dining concept. However, after having been to the restaurant for lunch and dinner, that concept is still not clear to me.

Perhaps it is because the restaurant has opened with a truncated menu to accommodate the Chinese New Year dishes that it will be focusing on for the next three weeks. The full menu will be launched only after the festive menus end on Feb 22.

The Smoked Peking Duck ($88, above) is smoked before being roasted in an oven and has a woody aroma. PHOTO: CRYSTAL JADE

What is clear, however, is that the restaurant targets the business crowd - whether lunching on expense account or office colleagues out for a treat - with a menu of Hong Kong-style Cantonese fare.


    02-01 Marina Bay Link Mall (Ground Plaza), 8A Marina Boulevard, tel: 6509-9493

    Open: 11.30am to 3pm (weekday), 11am to 3.30pm (weekend and public holiday), 6 to 10.30pm daily

    Food: 3.5 stars

    Service: 3.5 stars

    Ambience: 3 stars

    Price: Budget from $50 a person for dim sum, from $100 a person for a la carte

Within the Crystal Jade hierarchy, I would position the new restaurant as below its premium Crystal Jade Golden Palace in Paragon shopping centre.

Think of it as a smaller version of the Crystal Jade Palace Restaurant in Ngee Ann City - not cheap, but more family-friendly.

The cooking, too, falls short of the exquisite quality you find at the Paragon outlet, but lives up to the generally good fine-dining standards at Crystal Jade.

Out of the five dim sum items I try at lunch, only one - Steamed Shrimp, Scallop & Bamboo Pith Dumpling ($6.80 for three) - turns out disappointing. That is only because the stuffing is underseasoned. Otherwise, I enjoy the freshness of the seafood as well as the delicate, translucent skin of the dumpling.

The other dim sum are good. The siew mai ($6.60 for four) has a delicious filling of pork and shrimp and comes topped with fish roe. The Baked BBQ Pork With Sesame Pastry ($6.20 for three) is topped with pine nuts, not sesame, and boasts soft, buttery pastry.

The Deep-fried Crispy Beancurd Skin Roll ($6.20) lives up to its name in that the beancurd skin is much crispier than what is served in other restaurants. The springy shrimp paste wrapped in the skin is delightful too.

Among the main dishes I try at dinner, most turn out good, but not great.

The Smoked Peking Duck ($88) is a different interpretation of the classic dish in that the bird is smoked before being roasted in an oven.

I like the woody, smoky aroma that greets you when the dish is served, but find the meat, while tender, rather dry.

It may be because the chef has sliced the pieces too thinly, which I point out to the manager. When I return for lunch three days later, I notice the duck at a neighbouring table comes in thicker slices.

The Baked Japanese Cod Fish With Teriyaki Sauce ($20 a person) is also different. The teriyaki sauce is used sparingly, which makes the dish less cloying than most versions. The fish is served with slices of ripe mango that provide not only a refreshing fruity sweetness, but also a pleasant touch of acidity.

Because Chinese New Year is approaching, I also order a vegetarian dish Cantonese folk typically eat on the first day of the lunar calendar - Braised Assorted Vegetable with Fermented Beancurd Sauce ($22). This turns out to be very good.

There is a distinct fragrance of red fermented beancurd (called nam yu in Cantonese), but the seasoning is not too salty.

The assorted ingredients - which include Napa cabbage, Chinese mushrooms and black and snow fungus - are simmered long enough in the sauce to soak up the delicious flavours.

That is a dish I am happy to eat any time, not just during Chinese New Year.

  • Follow Wong Ah Yoke on Twitter @STahyoke
  • The Sunday Times paid for its meals at the restaurant reviewed here.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 31, 2016, with the headline 'Cantonese fare for the business crowd'. Print Edition | Subscribe