Crystal Jade has a giant menu, covering all the bases of meats, seafood, veggies and rice-centred specialities cooked in different styles, so you're really spoilt for choice here.
We started off with the Steamed Black & White Shrimp Dumplings (Rs. 900). Presented in a bamboo dumpling bowl they were simply a delight. With a thin, silky shell that effortlessly slides down the throat, each of them was stuffed with plumpy, chewy shrimps.
Rich and flavoursome, the dough was well-executed. The black dumplings had a nice glaze to it, as a result of infusing squid ink in the making. Topped off with roe that adds a playful burst, we enjoyed pairing them up with soy sauce and chilli oil.
Known as the ultimate Cantonese comfort food, we were quite pleased by this bowl of Shredded Chicken Congee with Century Egg (Rs. 700). Served warm, the rice here was slow-cooked to perfection to get that creamy consistency.
It would taste rather bland on its own, which is why the greens, shredded chicken and greens come in handy. There were lots and lots of shredded chicken swimming about, making every spoonful so rich and flavoursome.
The Century Egg was a quirky, yet surprisingly likeable experience for us. Century eggs are essentially preserved eggs. They are not necessarily 100 years old but would look as much. Preserving eggs like this involves placing them with a mixture of salt, lime and ash, then wrapping in rice husks for several weeks.
This mixture causes the yolk counterpart of the egg to have a creamy, smooth, cheese-like texture while turning the white into a dark-coloured, jelly-like character.
What grabs your attention first is the normal egg yolk flavour, which is followed by a musty aftertaste. This musty taste could be unbearable to some, but we weren't bothered by it, as the rice porridge did a nice job balancing out its flavours. If you're feeling a bit adventurous, this is a solid choice that you can go for.
The Fortune 5 Crispy Chicken (Rs. 1400 for half) arrived with five dipping sauces on the side.
A little firm from the outside along with a slight crisp to boot, the chicken had this beautiful fiery orange colour glaze, while the inside is tender and cooked through, all the way to the bone. Portionwise, it's enough to fill up two adults. We're not entirely sure about the names of these sauces, but safe to say that all of them were incredibly flavoursome. The orange coloured one on the left was tangy and had subtle spicy kicks, the green coloured one carried a slight leafy note and was spicy, while the one in the middle was more of a concoction of pepper, salt and sugar (we presume).
If you prefer a sauce leaning towards the sweet side of things, you can go with the fourth one from the left. Resembling the flavours of the soy sauce, the brown colour sauce on the right was a slightly salty, umami treat.
Clocking in at Rs. 2300, this one was an assortment of sauteed prawns, glass noodles, white pepper, ginger and scallion, served in a clay pot.
This dish lands on the spicy side. Each and every bite was enriched with spices and chunks of prawns. Blushed with white pepper, the messy tangle of glass noodles was properly cooked but had tinge of oiliness to it. Nonetheless, it's a filling meal, and a flavourful one too.
Priced at Rs. 520, Crystal Jade's Chilled Purple Rice Puree Topped off with Vanilla Ice cream is hands down one of the best desserts that we've had throughout this year. The rice puree was gorgeously purple, slightly mushy but rightly so, and had the right amount of sweetness. The sweetness mainly came from the vanilla ice cream while the crushed cashew nuts along with the drizzle of fragrant coconut milk improved the flavours even more.
On the drinks section, Crystal Jade does iced tea, hot tea, coffee, juices as well as mocktails. We went with the Blackcurrant Iced Tea (Rs. 350) and Cranberry Cooler (Rs. 500) mocktail.
*Pictured above – Blackcurrant Iced Tea (left) and Cranberry Cooler (right)
The iced tea had strong notes of blackcurrant syrup, which seemed to have subdued the tea flavour in the mix. Nonetheless, it was refreshing, and went well with the food we ordered.
With swirls of cranberry syrup running through, the Cranberry Cooler was sweet and fizzy. A couple of actual cranberries in the glass would have made it look more elegant.
Ambience & Service
Located on the Sunset Terrace of One Galle Face, the ambience at Crystal Jade is pretty cosy and spacious – easily enough to fit more than 40 customers at a time. The yellow, pale pink, orange colour theme they have going on here is quite soothing to the eyes, and ears too as they have peaceful mood music filling the room. It mainly caters to family/friends dinner/lunch outings, but not too shabby for a date either.
The staff greeted us as we enter the restaurant, and was quite helpful and efficient throughout. Despite the massive number of customers they had at the time, they managed to bring out our food without any delay.
With taxes and service charges, our whole bill came to around Rs. 8500 for two – which makes it one of the expensive and sophisticated options for dining at One Galle Face. However, it's an opportunity to dive into a unique range of both traditional and modern Chinese dishes with stellar flavour profiles, and we're all for it.