Tag Archives: Chinese

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

Chinese Barbecued Chicken Drumettes

23 Jul

This is a blast from the past! These wings from Almost Bourdain remind me so much of the ones my mum used to make when I was little – moist, and full of this great, barbecuey flavour. It’s one of those great recipes that tastes really pro even though all you did was mix some sauces together, marinate the meat, then roast in the oven.

The flavour is much better when you let it marinate overnight, and it’s easy enough to just mix everything together before going to bed.

The original recipe specifies wings, but I always use drumettes because I am lazy and don’t like separating the wings (though I’ve used wings in my nutrition estimate, because Calorie King doesn’t have drumettes). The recipe is supposed to serve 4, but James and I normally split these 35/65 between us, so I’m counting it as 2 serves.

Mindful of the high calorie content, I usually serve this with steamed Asian greens. (That makes up for blowing my daily calorie limit on one meal right?)


  • 1 kg chicken wings
  • 1 TBSP peanut oil
  • 1 TBSP soy sauce
  • 2 TBSP char siu sauce
  • 1 tsp five spice powder


  1. Cut wings into three pieces at joints and discard tips.
  2. Combine oil, sauces and five spice in a large bowl. Add chicken and toss to coat all over. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 220C.
  4. Place chicken in a single layer on a wire rack set over a baking tray. Brush remaining marinade over chicken and roast for around 30 minutes or until the chicken is well browned and cooked through.

Very Rough Nutritional Guide:
1 serve: 1238 calories, 69% fat, 26% protein, 5% carbs


Simon’s Peiking Duck Chinese Restaurant

22 Mar

Simon’s Peiking Duck Chinese Restaurant
197B Middleborough Road Box Hill South

On Sunday evening Cat and I took mum out for her birthday meal. I’d been meaning to try this place for awhile, since I heard that this was the Old Kingdom guy’s new restaurant, and I do love me some Peking duck.

Cat and I even have a Peking duck song. It only has one line, and that line goes “I am peeking at your peeking Peking duck (peeking Peking duck, peeking Peking duck)”. And when you say “peeking Peking duck” you kind of bob up and down a bit. When I was waiting for mum on Sunday afternoon I went into the study where James was, and bobbed up and down a few times. James was like “are you mentally singing the Peking duck song?” (yes I was)

But anyway, while the places around Simon’s were pretty much empty (or doing a lackluster takeaway trade) Simon’s was absolutely packed – not a spare table in the house. Mum was pretty shocked because it was a Sunday, which is normally dead.

When I made the booking I was asked how many ducks would be required, and since it was just the three of us I just got one duck. It was just right for me, mum and Cat, but I reckon for big eaters you would either want to order some extra dishes, or just get an extra duck and be really full afterwards.

Here is the pancake. Looks homemade, very impressive. Cat and I really liked the pancakes here – they were super thin but also very strong. I’ve taken the photo on a bit of an angle, but if the pancake is a clock, then the cucumber and spring onion are at 3:00.

The duck and sauce get layered on top. Then apparently we fold 6:00, then 12:00, then 9:00 to wrap the pancake. There’s a reason the owner is called the Peking duck Nazi!

Mum was really impressed with the owner, Simon. She liked how he went around and chatted with all the tables. She kept looking at him, I think hoping that he would come back and chat to us again. She also said he was cute, but I don’t want to think about that.

The duck was excellent, and I really loved the sauce that came with it. I don’t know if it’s because I was really hungry that day (accidentally skipped lunch due to the excitement at the Vics) but the duck and sauce just tasted especially vibrant.

The duck meat that didn’t come with any skin was turned into a stir fry. You could choose what type of noodle to have with it, and we chose hand-pulled noodles. The second course was a bit meh for me, but I suspect anything would suffer in comparison to that lovely flavoursome duck.

Last of all was the duck soup, made with the bones and any leftover bits of meat. This was very light, but full of flavour.

Mum and dad are always really picky about Chinese restaurants, and this and Hutong have both gotten the thumbs up from them. I think mum will return here because she took a takeaway menu with her (though the menu was just your standard suburban Chinese takeout menu).

It cost $67 for one duck (if you go for a less premium second course there is a cheaper option on the menu) which is very reasonable for 3 people. Though if you are big eaters and get the second duck, suddenly it becomes a bit less economical!

The duck was definitely worth the trek out to Box Hill. If I lived in the area I would come here a lot more often! I don’t know if it’s the best Peking duck in Melbourne – that seems like a big claim – but I haven’t had a better duck in recent memory, and it passed the mum test, so two enthusiastic thumbs up!

Simon's Peiking Duck Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Asian Style Barramundi Fillets

5 Feb

I like Asian style fish, but not the bones (and James hates bones – he will complain bitterly about them the whole meal). Also a whole fish is usually too small for my bamboo steamer, so I use fillets instead.

When Cat and I were kids we used to fight over who got to eat the fish eyes. When we went out for banquets with my cousins they would look on, appalled, as we fought over our dubious prize.

James: You guys were stupid. Fish have two eyes!

I can’t remember where I got this recipe from, it’s been so long. Most Chinese fish recipes are pretty similar though.

There are some Chinese foods that are pretty shit (our desserts! Red bean soup, what the fuck) but our fish is dead on.


Soy Mixture

  • 4 TBSP soy sauce
  • 2 TBSP shao xing wine
  • 2 TBSP water
  • 1/4 tsp sesame oil
  • a few dashes of white pepper powder
  • 2 TBSP rock sugar (ground into a powder)


  • 2 barramundi fillets
  • 2 inches ginger (peeled and cut into thin strips)
  • 1 stalk spring onion (thinly sliced)
  • coriander leaves
  • 2 TBSP peanut oil
  • 1 TBSP shao xing wine


  1. Blend the soy sauce mixture and set aside.
  2. Lay the fish on a plate and drizzle with 1 TBSP shao xing. Top the fish with half of the ginger strips
  3. Steam fish for roughly 8 minutes
  4. When finished, discard the water and ginger. Lay the remaining ginger strips on top of the fish.
  5. Heat a pan over high heat and add 2 TBSP peanut oil and swirl around until hot. Pour over steamed fish.
  6. Place pan back on the stove and add the soy sauce mixture. When the sauce boils, pour it over the fish.
  7. Top the fish with coriander and spring onions


Very Rough Nutritional Guide:
1 (200g) fillet: 482 calories, 41% fat, 39% protein, 15% carbs, 5% alcohol

This Drawing is for Kalo!

3 Feb

I have titled it: The Sad Lament of the Egg

Yesterday for Chinese New Year there was a bottle of wine on the table. The adults each had a tiny bit, but basically that one bottle lasted 13 people the whole night. And that was only because James drank half of it once he realised the adults weren’t going for any more.

James: In my family, for special dinners we’ll go through 5 bottles between 8 people
Me: You know, they were probably expecting to take home half that bottle. We were going to save it for next Chinese New Year

Also, the butt of one of the lions (I think the red and gold one) at our CNY dinner knew my cousin Jon.

So when the lions paraded past us you could hear the butt half going “pst! Jon! Hey Jon! Jon!”

Even though I’m not really a fan of the traditional CNY banquet (especially since there were several bug sightings that night!), it was good to catch up with the cousins. Happy CNY to everyone!

Chinese Pork Spare Ribs

29 Dec

This is the one Chinese dish I can make that makes me sit back and think “damn, this is restaurant quality!” And just like my other favourite recipes it’s a combination of delicious and ridiculously simple. It’s even easier if you’re lazy like me, and get your butcher to chop the spare ribs for you.

Since I started eating better I don’t make this as often as I used to – it used to be in my weekly rotation but now it’s just an occasional treat. I used to have it with jasmine rice, then swapped to quinoa, and now I just add an extra serve of choy sum.

I found the recipe from a food blog that sadly is no longer updated.


  • 1 kg pork spare ribs (I use 1 strip of the ribs they sell at the butcher, which usually works out to about 300-500g)
  • 5 cloves of fat garlic – chopped
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp Shao Xing rice wine
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp 5 spice powder
  1. Marinate pork with all the ingredients and marinate in the fridge for at least an hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 200C.
  3. Line tray with a layer of foil and line marinated ribs on top. Reserve garlic and marinade for later. Bake 20 minutes.
  4. Turn the ribs around and baste with marinade. Bake another 20 minutes.
  5. Turn the ribs again and baste with marinade. Place garlic on top of the ribs and bake an extra 5 minutes.

Very Rough Nutritional Guide:
500g ribs (about 2 or 3 serves): 1483 calories, 73% fat, 21% protein, 2% carbs, 4% alcohol