Of all the million eateries in Bugis Junction, Crystal Jade La Mian XLB probably ranks as my first choice. This Shanghainese-style eatery under the formidable Crystal Jade Group consistently churns out decent fare at very affordable prices.
It's recently undergone a mini facelift so it now looks spiffier and more contemporary. Hidden away in a little corner of the food basement in Bugis Junction, it's actually a lot bigger than it appears from the outside.
Service here is like a well-oiled machine, efficient with a clockwork-like precision.
The Pork Dumplings with Spicy Chilli Sauce ($7.50) comprised 6 fat, juicy wantons in a pool of vinegar and soy and chilli mix. The wantons, stuffed generously with fresh pork mince and chopped leafy greens, was nicely lifted by the bright acidity of the piquant sauce.
The Sautéed French Bean with minced pork and olive leaf ($12) is a must-try here. The greens are nicely charred with "wok hei" and the mei cai imparts just the right amount of saltiness. A sprinkle of chilli bits lent a subtle heat.
The Deep-Fried Beancurd with Salt and Pepper ($7.50) was one helluva addictive snack. Smooth plain bite-sized beancurd cubes were thinly coated with flour and fried to a pretty golden hue, and tossed in a grounded salt and pepper seasoning.
Despite the noticeable MSG flavouring, the Double Boiled Chicken Soup ($8.80) was superbly comforting. This had nice depth of flavour and an old-school homecooked quality about it.
Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao
230 Victoria Street
B1-04A Bugis Junction
Tel: 6339 6902
Open daily from 10.30am to 10pm