Crystal Jade Prestige
Our team goes undercover to suss out the latest and most talked about restaurants in town
Taking over Paradise Pavilion’s plush pad at the Ground Plaza of Marina Bay Financial Centre, Crystal Jade Prestige looks to target the same audience of corporate types. Gone are the original sumptuous turquoise velvet interiors – instead, Crystal Jade Prestige goes the more traditional route with muted beige (but no less plush) furnishings and lantern-shaped pendant lights. The space is less colourful, but in turn feels more approachable as a casual meal destination as compared to Paradise Pavilion’s opulent surrounds.
It was a full house when I first visited for a weekday lunch – reservations are recommended. As if determined to squeeze every inch of space from the premises, the tables are tightly packed, and my companion and I are seated in an odd corner directly below an unpleasantly chilly draft. Our soups warmed us up nicely – the rich broth of the Lobster & Seafood Tomato Thick Soup ($28) was served in a young coconut and was chock-full of tangy nightshade and sweet lobster flavours. But we both preferred the lighter and more layered vegetarian option of Double-boiled Morel Mushroom & Bamboo Pith Soup ($18), which carried the delicate aromas of young coconut in its clear, earthy stock.
We were less taken with the Combination of Pan-fried Foie Gras and Sautéed Carrot Cake in XO Sauce ($18) starter, one of many ‘combinations’ on the menu. The foie gras almost seemed like an afterthought – it was overcooked and had none of the fatty, silky flavours characteristic of the delicacy. In contrast, the radish cake, topped with XO chilli and spring onions, was scrumptiously moist and fragrant, and left such an impression that I ordered a full portion of it ($12.80) on my second visit. I was not disappointed – the dish didn’t let us down with its wok hei perfume, and was tossed with crunchy bean sprouts and morsels of fried egg.
And of course, the star of the show was the Tea Smoked Roasted Duck ($78). It takes 30 hours to prepare, so you’ll need to order it beforehand. The duck is first marinated for a day, then regularly basted while it is roasted, so that the skin emerges glistening and golden. Finally, the fowl is smoked in a wok with Pu-er tea leaves, instead of with the usual apple or lychee woods. The duck is carved tableside and served three ways – shatteringly crisp skin is dipped in sugar, juicy and tender thigh meat is savoured with sweet and sour plum sauce, and the succulent breast is wrapped in soft, floured crêpes.
The other meats didn’t fare as well. The Baked Lamb Rack with Red Wine & Black Pepper lacked the meat’s signature gaminess and had a strange texture, like it was cooked sous-vide, while foie gras sauce rendered the Sautéed Beef Cubes ($30) too rich. Unfortunately, the Pan-fried Beancurd with Black Truffle Sauce ($8.80) was also nothing to shout about – the beancurd’s skin bordered on soggy when drenched in the thick sauce.
Skip the plain rice and order their creative carb dishes. The Baked Crispy Glutinous Rice with Scallop ($12) is surprisingly textural due to its mix of salted egg crumbs, dried shrimp, plump mushrooms and puffed rice. The Poached Rice with Lobster Meat ($30) can be likened to comforting Teochew seafood porridge – the grains retain their firm texture even in soup. We slurped up every drop.
There were more mentions of truffles and foie gras in the menu than we would have liked, as it just leaves the impression that this is all Crystal Jade knows how to jazz up humble Chinese fare. But this couldn’t be further from the truth – creative dishes such as the morel soup, tea-smoked roast duck and poached lobster rice are executed with impressive finesse. #02-01 Marina Bay Link Mall (Ground Plaza), 8A Marina Boulevard. Tel: 6509 9493
Average dinner bill for two, with tea: $200
Must-tries: tea-smoked roasted duck, pan-fried carrot cake and double-boiled morel mushroom soup