[Invited Tasting & Revisit] Crystal Jade Golden Palace

I was thrilled to receive an invitation from the Crystal Jade Group to preview some of their Chinese New Year offerings at their fine-dining Golden Palace branch. It's one of my favourite restaurants and I generally love the food and service here. A huge bonus of this tasting was that I got to bring the Hubs as my plus-one. It's possibly the only part of my blogging hobby that he truly appreciates. (Usually, I'll have to strap him down and "force" him to read my blog posts!)

As per S.O.P. of my invited tastings, we returned twice, in order to sample all of the dishes tasted. While service at the tasting was that little bit more attentive and personalised, it was, afterall, a VIP room, and I expect that most VIPs would get the same treatment. That said, service at both revisits, in the main dining hall and not private rooms, were still above-par, efficient, speedy and so thoughtful and nice they helped me stage the dishes properly when they noticed that I was taking pictures of the food.

The newly-launched Hearty Five-Treasure Yusheng was the best yusheng I've ever had. By the way, that's considered a huge compliment as I'm not a fan of the CNY fish salad. BUT, the Golden Palace's rendition is truly one-of-a-kind, with luxurious gold leaves, juicy mangoes, and hazelnut oil all upping the ante in extravagance.

CJGP's yusheng uses the ubiquitous salmon and luxes it up with premium amberjack. Both were impossibly fresh and sweet.

The before shot of the Hearty Five-Treasure Yusheng ($128.80 for large) at the L.A. Dinner revisit, where this ginormous portion easily fed up to 12 persons.

The devastated after-lo-hei shot. The staff had, very disappointingly, forgotten to say all those auspicious words when dumping in all the oils and powders and fish. Even if I'm one of those who can't quite understand any of those auspicious sayings.

I realised, at the revisit, why I love this yusheng so much. This is much nuttier than the usual yusheng, with pinenuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds that all added to the crunch factor. This was more like a mixed nuts combi than a fish and vegetable salad.

We were introduced to the Deep Fried Japanese Amadai ($5.50 per 37.5gm), a type of snapper, at the tasting. This was simply flavoured with zesty shichimi powder, a blend of orange peel, peppercorns, sesame seeds, dried ginger, seaweed and chilli.

Apparently the Japanese amadai is some kind of Japanese delicacy, which you're supposed to eat this with scales and all. This wasn't as icky as it sounded, as the scales are paper thin, so if you can eat those kinds of fishes with bones and all, you'd have no problem doing the same with this.

At the revisit, my friends made the exact same face I did when told they were to eat the scales and all of the Deep Fried Japanese Amadai ($54 at $5.50 per 37.5gm). Like me, they took to it after the initial bite. A lightly adorned dish made delicious by skilled frying and really fresh ingredients.

The Hubs loved the Stewed Canadian Lobster ($11 per 100gm) at the tasting. This was his favourite dish, slathered in a superior broth from the bones of the halibut fish. I loved that kitschy heart shaped mango on the side.

At the revisit, the Stewed Canadian Lobster ($88 at $11 per 100gm) was very well received, in no small part thanks to that velvety mellow sauce that complemented the delicate springy flesh of the lobster.

The Sauteed Kurobuta Pork Strips with assorted mushrooms, cordycep flowers and capsicum, was my favourite dish. This was uniquely fragranced with extra virgin coconut oil so at first whiff, mental images of Thai cuisine come to mind.

We didn't quite realise that both this Sauteed Kurobuta Pork Strips ($28) and the next dish below are ADVANCED orders, and we weren't quite told this at the tasting either, so remember to call ahead to pre-order these 2 dishes.At the revisit, this was slightly different from the version I had at the tasting, mostly because of the mushrooms, but this was no less scrumptious.

A great alternative to the obligatory end-of-meal carb dish was the Braised Sea Cucumber and Scallop with barley, corn kernels, asparagus in some kind of "special sauce". This was sufficiently substantial without stuffing us to the gills. 

At the revisit, Braised Sea Cucumber and Scallop ($68) was a hit, with the sea cucumber braised to chewy perfection, and the scallops cooked just right. That said, I thought its pricing was quite excessive.

We rounded off the tasting with a trio of Chinese cakes for desserts.

First up was the Pan-Fried Carrot Cake ($25.80 for whole cake), a savoury radish cake that we usually order during dim sum. I didn't realise you could buy the whole cake home, cut it up and pan-fry it in your kitchen to serve. I'm so gonna buy these home to serve up as savoury snackers from now on!

The Black-Eyed Pea Cake ($25.80 for whole cake), a variant of the carrot cake, was a little nuttier and possessed a mellow sweetness to the radish version. Nice, but I still prefer the carrot cake.

The Glutinous Rice Cake ($23.80 for whole cake) or "nian gao", steamed and lightly tossed with shredded coconut and peanuts, was really good. It didn't have that yucky sickeningly sweet and slightly stale after-taste present in most nian gaos. I don't usually eat this, even during the CNY festive period, but I actually finished this up, so that's saying something.

Thanks to JJ and Samantha of Crystal Jade for the hospitality!

Crystal Jade Golden Palace
290 Orchard Road
Paragon #05-22
Tel: 6734 6866
Open Mondays to Fridays from 11.30am to 3pm, 6pm to 11pm
Saturdays from 11am to 3pm, 6pm to 11pm
Sundays from 10.30am to 3pm, 6pm to 11pm

Website: www.crystaljade.com/

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