Crystal Jade

6 Oct

Crystal Jade
154 Little Bourke street, Melbourne

One of James’ high school friends was visiting from Sydney, and being one of those lovely people who organises outings, she arranged for a dinner at her favourite Chinese restaurant, Crystal Jade.

It was filled with old Asian people, which is always a good sign. When James and I got to the counter, the lady was like “are you with Jess?” – I guess because we were the only young(ish), mixed race group there. Still, it was spooky at the time.

I liked the fancy teapots, which the waiters were very good about keeping filled.

We started the meal with melon soup. It tasted just like how my mum made it (and made me somewhat nostalgic), but the presentation was much cooler, and we all oohed and aahed over it.

The main dishes started arriving after that, so I had to quickly guzzle my soup. Apparently James did the same thing, and the next day we had matching burned tongues. =(

From the top left clockwise: steak with garlic, deep fried taro filo with duck fillet, sauteed vegetables with shimeji mushrooms, and king prawns with salted egg yolk.

I read that the taro duck is a specialty of Crystal Jade, but I think I prefer my duck barbecued. No complaints though, everything was very well done.

This is some sticky rice with chicken mince. It tasted like zongzi, which is wrapped in bamboo leaves, though the rice here was dried and crispier than you get in the wrapped ones.

Some steak with black pepper. All the steak dishes were super tender, and were among the first to go on the table.

Fish (the notes I have aren’t any more specific than that), some sort of scallops with mushrooms, chicken in chinjew sauce, and mapo tofu.

The fish was probably my least favourite dish – and I normally love Chinese fish! My parents would have prodded it and commented that the restaurant overcooked it. I loved the mapo tofu and I think the chilli chicken was James’ favourite of the night.

We were still feeling a bit peckish after dinner so most of us ordered dessert. The dessert menu had some departures from your usual Chinese desserts, so we decided to be a bit more adventurous. (Also I figured I could tick them off as that week’s new experience)

Fried durian served with ice cream.

James’ face after eating the fried durian.

It wasn’t as terrible as it smelled. I have childhood memories of coming home and wailing because my parents had cracked open a durian and the smell was wafting its way around the house. There were echoes of that, but the durian was more muted and oddly creamy. Kind of like a mix between a banana and rotting meat. Also later I kept burping up the smell of the durian which was gross. Though James and I both agreed that we were glad we had finally tried it.

We also ordered double boiled hasma in an almond pudding-like cream. Jess recommended it but wouldn’t tell us what hasma was until we ate it. That probably would have worked 10 years ago, but James looked it up on his iphone and found that hasma was frog fallopian tubes.

Unfortunately the hasma didn’t really taste of anything – it’s kind of like those tapioca pearls you get in bubble teas. The cold almond cream was delicious though, and we much preferred it to the fried durian.

Overall I’d say this was a really good Chinese restaurant – good enough that I would bring my parents here. The food is competently done, but the main draw would probably be the unusual dishes that you can’t get at other Chinese restaurants (I saw one with mozzarella cheese??). It’s a little pricier than average, and the portions are slightly smaller than I’m used to, but the ingredients seemed to be better quality than most Chinese places use.

The bill came to about $45 each, spread between 11 people.

Week 1: Made vanilla extract
Week 2: BJJ day camp
Week 3: Used Myki and went to Beatrix
Week 4: Tried new skincare
Week 5: Competed at the Pan Pacs
Week 6: Joined Kiva
Week 7: Tried durian and frog fallopian tube
Crystal Jade on Urbanspoon

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