If there’s one thing that I don’t miss when I’m in London, it’s dim sum. I seem to be able to find better ones here than in Singapore. You might be quick to say, ‘Maybe you haven’t had the good ones in Singapore, so don’t be too quick to judge.’ To this, I say ‘You’re absolutely right’.
My sister wanted to give M and I a treat, so I thought we could give Crystal Jade Dining In at Vivocity a try since we planned to go over to Resorts World Sentosa to get some of that delicious Garrett popcorn. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made; the dim sum was so good that we visited the restaurant again with my family. Shan’t go on too much about the non-food-related details, here’s a quick rundown of the food we had.
The carrot cake was pan-fried to a light and crispy exterior, there was a good dose of lap cheong (Chinese sausage) added so the carrot cake turned out rather flavoursome. The ha gau (shrimp dumpling) was well-made, with generous servings of prawns wrapped in a thin, delicate skin.
The char siew pastry was one of the stars, owing to the addition of century egg to the char siew filling. I’m a fan of century eggs, so I was very delighted to have this.
I never had steamed radish cake cooked this way before, and this was very well-executed. Slippery, smooth slivers of radish steamed with egg white, dried scallop and a hint of lap cheong, this was delicious eaten hot.
I am not a fan of siew mai, as many vendors tend to make them too artifically sweet for my liking. I’ve only approved of the siew mai at Royal China (London) ever in my life, and I would say this was comparable. There was less of the oddly sweet marinade, and more of the natural flavours of prawns and minced meat coming through, which in my opinion is how good siew mai should taste.
The chee cheong fun was very well-made too, the dough was smooth and thin with rather generous char siew fillings. What set this apart from the other versions I’ve had was the clever use of finely chopped chives (or was it spring onions) in the char siew filling; the freshness and acidity of chives lifted the char siew flavours very well (I usually find traditional char siew fillings to be cloying when consumed in larger quantities).
Having mentioned my reservations about char siew filling, I must say the best dim sum dish Crystal Jade Dining In has to offer is the baked char siew bun. These are the most refined buns I’ve ever tasted in my life, and I would return over and over again just to have a taste of these. The dough was so unexpectedly soft and smooth, almost like a baby’s bottom, that it scared me when I picked it up; the bun felt too fragile, but this was good because it meant that the texture wouldn’t disappoint. It certainly didn’t. The fluffliest buns I’ve ever had, with the most addictive char siew filling, I think they should rightfully charge more for this because the skills that go into making such soft buns are faultless.
As if my infatuation with buns weren’t over, I fell in love again, this time with the salted egg yolk custard buns. These warm babies ooze piping hot liquid gold, and by gold I mean gooey salted egg yolk goodness. The sweetness of the custard was a perfect marriage with the slightly grainy and savoury salted egg yolk goo. These are worth fighting over.
We also had a portion of the crispy pork belly, which were fabulous to say the least. There was nary a hint of nasty porky aroma that I’ve come to associate with cheap siu yok. The rind was delightfully thin and crispy. Each bite gave way to tender, juicy cubes of marbled pork. No wonder it cost us quite a bit for a small portion of 9 pieces.
The only thing that I didn’t quite like was the chicken feet. Although it was quite tasty, the skin was a little too hard, and it wasn’t falling off the bone.
The yam puffs were very good too, the pork filling was a good balance of sweet and savoury and it wasn’t too thick, this went very well with the crispy shell.
It wasn’t too expensive for the high quality of dim sum served at Crystal Jade Dining In, for 6 people, we paid just slightly more than S$100. The ambience was good, service was efficient and friendly, although I must say that we were horrified to find a strand of hair in one of the dishes on our second visit. I wouldn’t boycott the restaurant just because of this, like it or not, these things do happen and if anyone’s unlucky, you’ll be served a strand of hair somewhere at some point in that one restaurant. I believe this is more of an accident than a consistently careless and unhygienic routine, so I’m not fussed about it and I will return for more good quality dim sum.
Crystal Jade Dining In is located at:
1 Harbourfront Walk, Unit 01-112, Vivocity, Singapore.