Crystal Jade Restaurant, spanning over 10 Countries and 20 Cities, is in Central Plaza Mall on Golf Course Road in the very same premises where Hao Shi Nian Nian, a popular Chinese Restaurant, used to be housed but with a slight make over. It is spread over two floors with the second floor having the facility to host private dining parties.
Crystal Jade opened up just a couple of months ago and I had the good fortune of dining there in its infancy stage – I say good fortune because the food they dished out then totally bowled me over in their awesomeness. But fast forward to a mere two odd months later and I was bowled over again – by the fact that a restaurant could plunge so low so rapidly !
Before I comment on the food, let me just touch upon certain ancillary but essential aspects of a restaurant.
It would help if management and staff are in sync with what a restaurant proclaims. While the “Menu Highlights” section of their brochure states that Sichuan cuisine has a spicy taste and liberal usage of chili, ginger and spices, we were told that Sichuan cuisine is bland. As a common knowledge, Sichuan cuisine does use many spices and chili, atleast this has been the case in last 100 years. We were further informed that vegetarian dishes do not figure much in Chinese cuisine because of which the options here are very limited. But towards the fag end of our meal, we discovered that Crystal Jade has a separate, fully fledged vegetarian menu with around 24 dishes to choose from.
The air conditioning needs a special mention. My companion and I were sweating it out through most of the meal and on asking why the air conditioning could not be turned up higher, we were told that they keep it low as, otherwise, the expat customers find it too cold – guess they will have to learn to strike a balance for the Indian customers.
Please also try not to make any request to the chef for extra sauce like I did on my first as well as this second visit because your request will be turned down – this indicates a rigidity in trying (or rather, not trying) to adjust to the palate of the Indian customers.
Onto the food now….
The Steamed Pork and Shrimp Dumpling (Rs. 350) was sans the crab roe even though mentioned in the menu. They were juicy alright but were over steamed with the skin tearing off. On the other hand, the multi coloured and flavoured Xian Long Bao Dumplings (Rs. 400) are an absolute must try – these were delightful baos though not the thick variants of bao as we are used to. With one bite, the whole dumpling just bursts with all the meaty juices of chicken, pork, prawn and mutton pouring into your mouth. Same goes with the Deep Fried Crispy Shrimp Dumpling with Minced Pork (Rs. 300) which was served with an interesting mango mayo sauce.
The Sour and Spicy Thick Soup with Shredded Chicken in Sichuan Style (Rs. 250) was a very poor take off on a hot and sour soup as it was neither spicy nor sour. The Spicy Chicken in Chengdu Style (Rs. 500) could be an awesome cold starter with boiled chicken, a tangy and spicy Chengdu sauce and crushed peanuts – but a turn off on the very first bite for me was an unexpected bone in the mouth. It would be an absolute hit if boneless.
What can be totally avoided are the Braised Honey Spare Ribs (Rs. 600) as they were too tough to chew on, Mushroom with Bean Curd and Crispy Garlic which had an overdose of soya sauce and no flavour and the Deep Fried Chicken and Prawn with Salted Egg Yolk which had a chalky coating to it which puts you off.
The Sautéed Diced Beef in Black Pepper Sauce (Rs. 550) was a dish which I had fallen in love with on my first visit here. Unfortunately, on this occasion, there was hardly any sauce on the beef and whatever little there was had no soul to it – it lacked the punch of the black pepper and was missing out on the light sweetness to the sauce balancing the heat which I had experienced earlier.
The Steamed Sliced Fish with Cut Chili (Rs. 700) has a thin gravy though the chili did nothing much to enhance the bland basa fish. Sichuan pepper could possibly be a saver.
The Desserts do nothing for the Indian palate so try them at your own risk.
In passing, I would like to mention that this was an invited review, with other food reviewers other than myself also present, where the PR representative was so cordial that they came in half an hour after us, totally skipped interaction with the reviewers in preference to sitting with her friends/colleagues throughout and left much before we were even ready to leave.
Crystal Jade was a place I had recommended to friends but after this not so great experience, if I go back it will only be for Xian Long Bao Dumplings whose aroma and flavors still lingers in my mouth.
RATINGS (OUT OF 5) :
FOOD: 2.5 | AMBIENCE: 3.0 | SERVICE: 2.5 | OVERALL: 2.5
MEAL FOR TWO: Rs. 1,500 | CREDIT CARD: YES | TIMINGS: 11 am to 11 pm |WHEEL CHAIR ACCESSIBLE: No
ADDRESS: G 01, Ground Floor, Central Plaza Mall, Golf Course Road, Gurgaon | TELEPHONE : 0124 4001505, +91 9811474888
Disclaimer: This review was done on an invitation from the restaurant. Due judgment and care has been applied by the author to remain objective and unbiased in the review, but readers need to consider this review keeping this fact in mind.