I will interrupt my US restaurants tour with a review of our lunch yesterday. Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao is currently the hottest restaurant in Manila as evident with the long lines that form from the time they open until they closes.
I didn’t really want to eat there yet since it just opened last week. I wanted the restaurant to be more stable before I tried it but since my dad got a reservation for the 3 of us I might as well go. Reservations are only given for parties of 8 or more but my dad knew someone who knew someone and he was able to get a prized table on a Sunday no less.
Some naysayers predict that after six months the lines will be gone. I’ve eaten in Crystal Jade branches in Hong Kong (pre-blog days) and Singapore and both branches were more than a few years old and there were still long, long lines. If they can match and maintain the quality of the food in those countries then I don’t think we’ll see the end of queues for quite some time.
The place was small for a Chinese restaurant specially in Greenhills. I heard from some of my friends who’ve eaten there that the noise level was very loud and the food took a long time to arrive. The noise didn’t really bother me and the food came out very fast. It seems they have improved since they opening day.
Just like in several Hong Kong restaurants they give you an order sheet with the entire menu on it. Just check which dishes you want to order and give it to the waiter. Be sure to bring your reading glasses!
Crystal Jade’s order sheet (click to enlarge)
We ordered some of our favorite dishes and a lot of them were on the first page of the menu. We really have to go back to try the food on the other pages. The chicken was hard and not very spicy. I found it expensive since the chicken consisted on less than a quarter chicken cut in small pieces. The chicken in chili sauce of Peking Garden is a 100x better.
cold spicy chicken sichuan style P188
The xiao long bao (soupy dumplings) was actually good. The skin had the right thickness, the meat soft and the soup very flavorful. Peking Garden has a new competition. Although it’s still a far cry from the xiao long bao I had in Din Tai Fung Taipei.
xiao long bao P158
We made an error ordering the noodles with the same chicken as the appetizers but at least the was more chicken and it went well with the noodles. The noodles were hand made daily in the restaurant and it was the best noodles I’ve ever eaten in Manila. It was the perfect al dente with a ‘bite’ often lacking in Chinese noodles. I took home the left-over noodles and had it for dinner. The noodles were softer and lost the ‘bite’ but it was still good. The sauce was just mildly spicy and good for those who have low tolerance for heat like me.
noodles w/ spicy chicken P288
Baked radish pastry is one of our favorite dim sum and this one passed our standards. The crispy, flaky crust wasn’t oily and the filling of grated radish was plentiful and very tasty. All it needed was a little soy sauce or vinegar dip.
radish pastry P98
This is one of my favorite Chinese desserts and I always order it in Spring Deer Hong Kong where they make it best. I didn’t expect much but it was actually good. The crepe was egg-y and soft while crisp and the red bean paste had just the right amount of sweetness. I’m happy that now I can get this dessert anytime.
red bean paste pancake P128
Yes, the eel came after the dessert. That was the only foul up with the service. I don’t eat eel but I tried a piece. It was super crispy and didn’t taste like eel at all. That was good for me but my parents who love eel hated this dish. They said it was fried beyond recognition of the eel’s natural quality and flavor. They like the normal sauteed eel like here.
crispy eel in wuxi style P288
Overall it was a good meal specially the noodles and the xiao long bao. I will definitely go back to try other noodle dishes. The only other thing that spoiled our lunch was the length of time for the bill to get settled.
In the Philippines senior citizens who have government issued cards can redeem a 20% discount on their meals in restaurants and hotels. Normally restaurants just subtract the discount based on what the senior citizen ordered. So if there are 2 people out of 3 who are seniors then the discount should be pro-rated. It was the first time we’ve encountered a place where they divided each food item into 3 separate bills, 2 with the discount and 1 without. No wonder it took so long. I hope they improve this part. They don’t realize that there is a BIG community of senior citizens in Greenhills who will definitely use their cards.
Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao
Unit 117-121 (across Jollibee) V-Mall,
Greenhills Shopping Center
San Juan City, Metro Manila
telephone: 570-6910, 570-6912