For those who love their Steamboat07 February, 2011 by Chad
In Chinese majority Singapore, it’s almost impossible to miss such a historically and ethnically rich dish such as huo guo (hot pot), better known locally as Steamboat. In lieu of the Lunar/Chinese New Year festivities, here’s a post on the local’s favorite new year dish.
The recent years have seen a surge in popularity in budget hot pot buffets throughout the country. Specialty stores have even been established, such as the “Maid Cafe” themed Tora Shabu. Crystal Jade is an up-classed Chinese restaurant, known locally for its quality Chinese cuisine so it’s a little curious to learn that their Holland Village outlet is home to a (comparatively) budget steamboat buffet experience. Available in the late night, after peak dinner hours.
Most of the people I do know love their steamboat and they often default to it as a comfort food. A trip to Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao had to be pre-planned in advance though as the place is always fully booked weeks in advance. Personally, I’m not the best person to write about steamboat, having never once gone home without a stomachache during any hot pot visit. The post meal stench of sweat and steamed food does little to contribute to the experience. Sparing that, there’s not much to touch on when you’re boiling your own food so most of my comments here will be related to stuff I’m familiar with such as the service and spread.
Unlike some other steamboat places, items were ala carte. Many of the meats came frozen and such, which was arguably better than having them left in the open for hours. A common problem I’ve had in other Chinese buffet styled restaurants was that they often skimped on servings (as if they were being rationed) but there was none of that here. Servings were generous and the service was spot on. Though to counter that, you have to adhere to a strict time limit during visits.
The Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao outlet was of course named for their speciality Xiao Long Bao. Again, it’s pretty popular dish but just not quite my thing. The greatest praise I could give to them is that this was the first time I’ve eaten a Xiao Long Bao that was bearable.
Perhaps the only gripe with our visit to the Crystal Jade’s steamboat buffet was the rather disappointing desserts. Here I asked for the “herbal jelly”, expecting it was usual Gui Ling Gao (Turtle Jelly). Instead it was quite literally, herbs in jelly. It tasted like those Tortally brand jelly crystals with a horribly strong gelatin and artificial taste. The red bean jelly wasn’t any better either. What a way to end an otherwise pleasant meal.
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