Wednesday, July 29

Crystal Jade Kitchen

Last weekend, Jeffrey and I weren't feeling very well so we decided to head to Crystal Jade Kitchen for some porridge. Personally, I don't really like eating porridge on normal days because I find it a hassle to eat and I don't think porridge keeps me full for long. Perhaps the few occassions that will make me want to eat porridge is when I'm feeling a bit under the weather or when it's really cold. In these few circumstances, I tend to crave porridge from Tiong Bahru Porridge at Bukit Timah Food Centre or Crystal Jade Kitchen because these two places serve the the nicest porridge, in my opinion at least.

Unfortunately, Jeffrey forgot to bring his camera battery along so I decided to upload photos that we took during our past visits to Crystal Jade Kitchen. One thing we really like about Crystal Jade Kitchen is the dim sums that they serve, which explains why we love the Crystal Jade Kitchen outlet at Holland Village because unlike other outlets which serves dim sum during the day, the Holland Village outlet serves dim sum all day long! (: There are a few standard dim sum dishes that Jeffrey and I always order when we dine at Crystal Jade Kitchen and they never fail to satisfy our Chinese food/ dim sum cravings. Here are some of the food items that we have tickled our fancy:

Custard Baos. I order this dish whenever possible because I absolutely LOVE how the sweet yellow custard complements the soft bao skin. Although baos are supposed to make you feel full, I don't think these custard buns are that filling because both the custard and bao skin have a certain lightness to them. I'm thankful that I found this delicacy in their menu.

Char Siew Baos. This serves as a savoury alternative to the sweet custard baos. I usually donate all my charsiew to Jeffrey and eat the skin which is coated with layer of charsiew sauce. Yummy stuff.

Har Gaos (little prawn dumplings). We love the har gaos because they contain extremely big, juicy and succulent prawns! I don't know how Crystal Jade manages to make their prawns taste so springy! It's amazing (: I like the texture of the har gao skin as well because it's soft and it's not completely tasteless because of the prawn filling.

Chives Dumplings. We don't usually order this dish very often because Jeffrey doesn't really like chives. I wouldn't recommend this to people who don't particulary like chives because each dumpling contains a ball of chives! Also, the skin tasted harder and drier than the har gao's.

Jeffrey's all-time favourite and a MUST order dish whenever we visit Crystal Jade Kitchen: Carrot Cake. He can finish the entire plate on his own! That's how good it is (: I think one reason why this tastes so good is because of the little pork bits in the carrot cake! They give the carrot cake the extra oomph and they help the carrot cake taste spectacularly nice.

Water Chestnut Cake. If you prefer to have something less oily, you can order a plate of waterchestnut cake instead. This dish is probably the sweet counterpart of the carrot cake. Each piece of waterchestnut cake contains very generous portions of water chestnut bits, which gives the cake a very crunchy taste. The outside of the cake is slightly crispy because it is panfried but the inside is warm and soft. A delectable dish to have if you like water chestnut! (:

Char Siew Puffs. Another of Jeffrey's favourite dishes. We order this dish when Jeffrey's feeling exceptionally hungry because he has to finish all three puffs if we order this! He says it's like the fried/ puff version of Char Siew Bao. I guess you'll like this if you like their Char Siew Baos!

Fried Spring Rolls. They taste like ordinary fried spring rolls that you can find elsewhere, nothing spectacular and nothing to rave about.

Okay I'm starting to realise that most of Jeffrey's favourite dishes have something in common: they contain char siew. This dish - Chee Chong Fun with BBQ Pork - is also one of his favourites and a MUST-order whenever we dine at Crystal Jade. I think this dish is very popular with diners because it's always one of the first dishes to be sold out. Personally, I think the sauce that comes along with the chee chong fun is a key ingredient that makes this dish so appealing to people. It's neither too salty nor too viscous and it definitely complements the thin and comparatively plain chee chong fun very well.

Pan-fried Chee Chong Fun Rolls. If you're more adventurous and you're craving for something with a bit of kick, I'd suggest you order this dish because it has a mixture of tastes. The outer layer is spicy and salty but the inside is made of nothing but plain chee chong fun. You can dip your rolls into either a bbq-taste-alike-sauce or peanut sauce, which will be served in a small dish that comes along with this plate of yumminess. Personally, I think the peanut sauce is an ingenious creation! (: It gives the rolls an added roughness in terms of texture and the peanut flavour gives your tastes buds an additional second or two of pleasure whenever you take a bite of this wondrous chee chong fun roll.

Crispy Noodles. We didn't take a photo of our porridge because we didn't have battery with us so here's a photo of a "main" that Jeffrey tried last time. He doesn't usually order this dish but he said it's nice to eat anyway! I think the portion is quite generous so two people can share this, along with other dim sums.

Dining at Crystal Jade Kitchen is always a pleasure, especially when you're ravenous, because the staff are friendly and the service is quick. It's definitely a place to drop by whenever you can't decide what to eat or whenever you need a quick Chinese food fix. =)

Sunday, July 26

Cafe Biz

Hello! (:

Jeffrey and I decided to go to Cafe Biz, which is located inside Trader's Hotel, for buffet dinner ($45+/pax before discount) on his birthday a few days ago since they were having a birthday discount promotion. I absolutely LOVE discounts/ sales, especially if they are for good stuff like good food! (: There were a few other restaurants that offered birthday-treats/ birthday discounts but Cafe Biz seemed the most wholesome in terms of price and variety of food served, hence it wasn't a surprise that Jeffrey chose to have his birthday dinner there.

One thing that Jeffrey and I liked about Cafe Biz is the relatively spacious eating area. Cafe Biz adopts a split-level concept to separate the food and seating areas. With the exception of the daily special counter, the rest of the food items are located on the upper level of the restaurant. The seating area isn't overly cramped with tables and chairs and this gives patrons sufficient room to walk about. I think it's exceptionally important to have ample walking space in a restaurant that serves buffet because it makes the overall dining experience more pleasant. I don't think many people would fancy squeezing in and out of their seats as well as trying to squeeze past the narrow walkway in between two rows of backseats whenever they have to get more food. Also, the interior decoration of Cafe Biz is modern and homely. Unlike Carousel which played rather distracting music, I don't think any music was played at Cafe Biz, and I felt that the relative quietness made conversing much easier as neither of us had to concentrate too hard to hear what the other party had to say.

Part of the upper level, where all the food items are

The "Daily Special" Corner. Daily special items for that day were Indian naan as well as wanton mee

I like how the green and brown complement each other (: The choice of lamps is also worth mentioning because they look very IKEA-ish, and I like IKEA furnishings

Close-up shot of a lamp near our table

Table setting: clean, neat and simple. I like that they used fruits to decorate the table because the fruits seem to act like a visual-appetizer of sorts.

Things that occupied a corner of our table top: Cafebiz holder with green apple as decor, salt & pepper shakers, mustard sauce as well as sugar sachets

Cutlery and a small little white plate, presumably for us to place our used-cutlery for re-use


A glass of water. The only hotel that I know of to date that provides fizzy drinks/ fruit juices as part of their buffet menu is Marriot Cafe, I wonder why the other hotels don't do the same. I was having a sprite-craving by the end of the meal!

Perhaps I should say a little about the food at Cafe Biz before we move onto the photos of food that we took that night. Like Carousel, Cafe Biz serves predominantly Asian cuisine but it also has some international food items. Since both Carousel and Cafe Biz serve "Asian" buffets and they have similar price tags ($45+/pax for Carousel lunch buffet and $45+/pax for Cafe Biz dinner buffet), I think it's pretty reasonable to compare the range and quality of food served at both places.

Frankly speaking, if we hadn't eaten at Carousel the week before we dined at Cafe Biz, we would probably have thought that the food at Cafe Biz was pretty good and would have given it 7.5 out of 10. However, because Carousel superceded our expectations of an "Asian" buffet in terms of quality and variety of food (we would rate it 7.5 or 8 out of 10), we invariably adopted Carousel as a benchmark for "Asian" buffets and ended up giving Cafe Biz 7 out of 10. Undoubtedly, the range of food at Carousel was much wider than that at Cafe Biz and the quality of food at the former place was distinctly better as well. Nevertheless, Cafe Biz does have certain interesting and nice dishes that make the buffet worth going for. However, if one had to choose between Carousel and Cafe Biz, we'd surely recommend the former.

Crackers, salad, some sushi and potato&tuna salad
Lettuce, carrot stick, smoked salmon, crabstick salad and kueh pie tee
A think slice of yam cake (which was too dry), lor mai kai/ gluttinous rice and stewed carrots

Slices of yam cake, seafood siew mai (which Jeffrey said was absolutely delectable, and I agree!), fried long beans with sambal, stewed potato, stewed carrots, fried fish fillet with cereal and vanilla sauce (it's probably one of the most interesting and most tasty fish dish that I've ever had, definitely something that I'd eat again!)

There was a friendly and jolly Indian man going around the tables asking whether we wanted to try the different types of meat he had on his skewer. He brought a different kind of meat each type he walked around the restaurant! I think it's a great idea to have food served to you like that because you'll never run out of food.

The sausage that we got from him! (: Jeffrey said that it tasted a tad spicy. I think it's because it's cooked with some Indian spice(s) since the restaurant had an Indiany/ Chinesey theme that day for its daily special.

Two chicken wings that we got off the skewer! (: In Jeffrey's words, they tasted "soft and juicy". Unlike the sausage, these weren't spicy so people who can't take spiciness can choose to eat this instead of the sausage.
Although I wasn't particularly interested in Indian/ Chinese food that night, I couldn't resist trying out their daily specials: garlic naan with curry and chicken satay (top photo) as well as wanton with vegetables in a bowl of soup (bottom photo). Personally, I didn't enjoy the garlic naan because it wasn't very warm and I felt like I was eating plain prata instead of naan. Jeffrey said that the wantons weren't very nice either and I suspect it's because they weren't made on the spot? They look like prepacked wantons that we can get in supermarkets.
More seafood siewmais, thin slices of pizza and pieces of black beef. Jeffrey said that the vegetarian pizza slices were good! (:

More seafood siewmais, nasi lemak rice, more slices of beef, cereal prawns (which had shells that were extremely difficult to remove) and lor mai kai.
I didn't try cold soba at Carousel so I thought I'd give it a shot here. Frankly, I thought the soba sauce tasted pretty weird - it seemed a tad too sour and flat. Thankfully I only took a small helping otherwise it would've been quite torturous trying to finish the entire bowl.
Sushi platter with cold soba without sauce

DESSERT TIME! (: The dessert selection here was also very "Asian" so I felt like my options were halved because I didn't want to eat Asian desserts, which included nonya kuehs. My parents run a nonya kueh business so I get to eat nonya kueh whenever I like, which explains why I don't really fancy eating nonya kueh nor do I purchase nonya kueh when I'm out (unless I'm having a sudden craving for them). Also, Cafe Biz doesn't serve bread&butter pudding! =( It's alright since there are other desserts which I can indulge in.

Apple tart, waffle with maple syrup and azuki bean cake
Chocolate mousse (which was chocolatey enough but it was also harder than expected!) and a slice of blackforest cake

A scoop of vanilla icecream (which wasn't nice in my opinion)
Waffle with icecream

Chocolate fondue! I think the chocolate tasted rather flat =( It was neither creamy nor was it as sweet as it should be.
Asian desserts: a bowl of tapioca and a bowl of pulut hitam (black beans if I'm not wrong). The tapioca tasted normal but the pulut hitam wasn't sweet! I'm starting to wonder whether this is a buffet for health-conscious people!
To end the entire meal off, the thick-skinned me asked the waiter whether we could have a special slice of cake since it was Jeffrey's birthday! (: The waiter explained that they usually serve such special birthday cakes on weekends only but he offered to ask his supervisor, and his supervisor said ok to giving us a slice of birthday cake! (: I was tremendously pleased about it.
Jeffrey's oreo cheesecake/ birthday cake. The oreo cheesecake wasn't as smooth as it could've been and it tasted rather dry, but I choose to overlook this because I felt happy that the staff/ manager agreed to give us a free slice of birthday cake!
I hope that Jeffrey enjoyed celebrating his birthday over dinner with me! (: Happy birthday again, Jeffrey! (:

Tuesday, July 21

Crystal Jade Dining Place

Hey! (:

Last weekend, my family went to Crystal Jade Dining Place at IMM for family dinner. My parents like Chinese food so we try to have Chinese food every other week when we are out so that they will be happy (: They were quite enthusiastic about trying Crystal Jade's peking duck after hearing good reviews about it so we headed to IMM because we expected a relatively smaller crowd or a shorter queue at a "neighbourhood" outlet.

Because my family is very big, we're quite used to having to queue or wait for a table. This explains why we were pleasantly surprised that we were brought immediately to our table upon our arrival at the restaurant! =) Since we were only given two menus and none of us requested for more menus for some strange reason, we took turns to flip through the menus and ordered a dish each!

While we were deciding what to order, my brother started practising his chopsticks skills by trying to pick peanuts up with his chopsticks! There was a mixture of normal peanuts as well as wasabi flavoured peanuts! It was the first time I ate wasabi flavoured nuts and I like how they taste! (:

A dish of nuts and a dish of chilli sauce
We ordered just the right amount of food because we managed to polish everything off! (: Most dishes tasted pretty alright with the exception of the french beans, which were overcooked, as well as a fish dish that my mum ordered to try. Here are photos of the food we ate:
Sweet & sour sliced fish ($27)
This dish was neither disappointing nor was it mindblowingly fantastic. The fish slices were crispy on the outside and tender on the inside and the sauce wasn't too sour nor too sweet.
French beans with shrimps and bits of pork ($18)
As mentioned above, the french beans were overcooked so they lacked crunchiness. I think we should order another vegetable dish in future just to see whether it tastes better.
Braised beancurd with fresh mushroooms ($18)
One thing I liked about this dish is the different kinds of mushrooms that were included in this dish! Personally, I don't really like the big black mushrooms so it was nice to have other types of mushroom in this dish. The beancurd pieces were soft and flavourful.
Fried prawns covered with salted egg yolk ($28)
I think it's the "in" thing to cook seafood such as crabs and prawns with salted egg yolk these days. We ate salted egg yolk crabs on my father's birthday so this method of preparing a seafood dish wasn't novel to us. Everyone commented that the prawns were tasty so I guess my family members like the taste of salted egg yolk with seafood.
Peking duck! ($28.80)
Peking duck meat (additional $10 for cooking this dish, which in my opinion is ridiculous)
I didn't eat the duck dishes so I don't know how they taste like but my sister commented that the duck meat was too tough =( Thankfully they liked the duck-skin crepe rolls as well as the crackers that came along with the crepe rolls.
Pan-fried fish fillet on toast ($18)
Most of us didn't like this dish because we found the fish meat too dry. However, there was mayonaise/ salad sauce for us dip the fish fillet in, so I guess the overall taste wasn't that bad.
Water-chestnut cream with pomelo ($4)
A refreshing and sweet dessert which balances the sweetness, saltiness and spiciness of the antecedent dishes very well.

Mango cream with sago and pomelo ($4.50)

On the whole, we were pleased with the food as well as the service provided at Crystal Jade Dining Place. Personally, I was just happy to be able to spend some time with all the people who are dear to me because we hardly see or talk much to each other during weekdays due to our different schedules and workload. =)

Alright that's all for now! I can't wait for this week to be over so that I can take a short breather. Have a great week everyone! (: