The night before my early morning flight out of Singapore back to Boston, Bryan got an alert on his phone from American Airlines. Uh no. A huge typhoon had hit Hong Kong, and the airport was closed. All flights in and out of Hong Kong (my stopover destination) were canceled - including mine. We knew it would be a mad rush of flight rebookings, so Bryan immediately called AA. Thankfully (partly due to his executive platinum status), he was able to rebook me on a later British Airways flight with a 12-hour layover in Heathrow.
Though the situation wasn't ideal, all of a sudden I was unexpectedly blessed with a whole extra day in Singapore. Instead of getting up at 4AM to catch my super early flight to Hong Kong, I could now sleep in, spend the day with Bryan (who was still flying out the next evening to India), and then leisurely head to the airport for a 9PM flight.
Where to eat? Unlike the rest of my trip, I hadn't planned for meals on this surprise day.
Then I remembered one of my readers asking if I had tried Crystal Jade. Although I'd tried it once in Shanghai (and thought it was excellent), I had never tried it in Singapore, where the popular Cantonese restaurant began.
It just so happened that Crystal Jade's flagship restaurant was located at Ngee Ann City, a huge shopping complex right on Orchard Road, one of the most fashionable shopping districts in Singapore. In fact, inside Ngee Ann City, there are four different Crystal Jade restaurants to suit all different tastes and budgets: Crystal Jade Korean Ginseng Chicken & BBQ, Crystal Jade Kitchen, Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao, and Crystal Jade Palace, the high-end Cantonese restaurant.
We only had time for lunch, but we wanted to experience higher-end Chinese food (something that is pretty rare in the U.S.), so we headed to Crystal Jade Palace.
We came during an off peak hour (around 2PM), so the place was not very packed at all - a far cry from what I had read online, where people indicated they hadn't tried Crystal Jade Palace because they didn't like "queuing up". The place definitely wasn't like Tim Ho Wan, which had a line out the door by 11AM.
The menu is extensive and it was a bit hard to narrow down what to get, especially since it was just the two of us. We decided to try Hor Fun Penang Style, something our New England-born American pastor (who lived 15 years in Singapore as a missionary and married a Malaysian woman) told us that he craved and missed here in the U.S.
Funny thing is, when we sent him a picture, he chided us for eating this dish at an eatery with "tablecloths". "Next time," he said, go to a "hawker center, coffee shop . . ."
Despite all this, we still enjoyed this delicious bowl of hor fun very much. The flavors were excellent, with nice smoky wok hei and soft noodles.
I love turnip cakes, and these were solid, though I sort of wished they were just a tad crispier on the outside.
These steamed rice noodle rolls were pan fried in a soy based sauce and topped with scallions and sesame seeds. I loved the texture of the rice rolls and the overall flavors were great.
In an effort to be healthy, we ordered this broccoli dish topped with a crab egg sauce. I was initially surprised to see this dish made with (what I call) American broccoli. The steamed broccoli was a nice, healthy vehicle for the crab sauce, but I'm not sure how much synergy the two components had. I wonder if the sauce would have tasted better over tofu. Nevertheless, it was a fine way for us to get our greens.
We're suckers for dumplings, so we had to get their soup dumplings (xiaolongbaos), which were delicious. The skins were paper thin (yet didn't break!), and the flavor of the filling was excellent.
These mushroom crystal skin dumplings (the skins are made with rice flour instead of wheat flour) had a beautiful, earthy mushroom flavor inside.
The shining jewel and best dish we had was most definitely the 9-Spice Roasted Crispy Pork Belly. Execution was perfect, and each little piece was a delight to eat, with its perfect layers of meat, fat, and that perfect crispy skin. If I could just order one dish, it would most certainly be this one.
It's no surprise how Crystal Jade became so popular and grew to be in so many countries. Every menu item we had was very good, with a few being exceptional. I really enjoyed the variety of menu options. I could see myself having all different types of events here, from a work or family dinner to a date or even a wedding banquet. The Ngee Ann City location is particularly convenient, being inside a huge mall filled with fancy stores. Even if you had to wait, at least you could shop around the nice, air-conditioned mall (though I'm not sure how far you can wander).
All in all, you can't go wrong coming here if you want some excellent Cantonese food.
I guess I was kidding when I said Iggy's was the final post last time. Heh, I had forgotten about this one. This is the 22nd and FINAL post in the Malaysia and Singapore! series. Other posts in this series include Malaysia Posts: Lot 10 Hutong - Kuala Lumpur's Most Famous Hawker Stalls Under One Roof, LaZat Malaysian Home Cooking, Otak, Otak Fish Dumplings in Banana Leaf, Little Penang Cafe + Visiting the Petronas Twin Towers, Roti Jala - Malaysian Lacy Pancake, Nonya Malaysian Chicken Curry. Bijan, Onde Onde, Jalan Alor -Kuala Lumpur's Most Famous Food Street, Walking Food Tour of Kuala Lumpur, Mamak - Malaysia's Indian Muslim restaurants, Hiking the Rainforests in Malaysia (and swimming the waterfalls!) with Open Sky Unlimited, and Singapore Posts: Din Tai Fung, Marina Bay Sands, Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, Tim Ho Wan, Food Republic, The Red House (Chili Crab), Newton Food Centre (Singaporean Hawker Stalls!), and Iggy's.