July 30, 2014

Crystal Jade Korean Ginseng Chicken & BBQ Restaurant Moves To Takashimaya Basement ~ New Location! New Dishes!

With 22 concepts of over 130 outlets in 21 major cities in Asia Pacific Region, United States and just about everywhere in Singapore, most of us would perhaps have dine in at least one of Crystal Jade's popular chain of restaurants at some point or another. The spotlight recently fell on Crystal Jade Korean Ginseng Chicken & BBQ Restaurant, as it celebrates their 10th anniversary with the relocation from level 4 of Takashimaya Shopping Centre to a prime location next to the basement atrium area, and an expanded line-up of home-styled Korean food.

Taking inspiration from the Hanok (Korean traditional houses), the restaurant uses wooden panels and tables along with leather-covered seats for a cool, contemporary yet cosy dining experience. I like the intimate booth seats which are ideal for smaller groups of 2-4 persons, while long tables or semi-private room will suit groups of a larger size.

It seems that the trend now for some Korean restaurants is to offer the traditional side dishes as a chargeable option, rather than providing it on compliments to diners. I have a Korean friend who felt very strongly about what he thought to be a misinterpretation of Korean culture, but well, let's just keep calm and enjoy the Banchan Set ($10 for 6 varieties) which Crystal Jade has to offer. At least it's still refillable.

Well-loved favourites such as Pan-fried Seafood with Scallion Pancake ($15), Braised Pork Knuckle ($22), Fresh Beef Short Rib Soup ($18) are still on the menu, and one of the items which I always order is the signature dish, Authentic Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup ($28, soup top-up $6).

The pot of goodness certainly looked enticing, and we quickly dug into the whole chicken as soon as we're done with food-porning it. Its tender meat yielded so easily to the gentle prod of our chopsticks, revealing a hearty assortment of glutinous rice, red dates and gingko nuts within. The slow-cooking process of over 4 hours has certainly allowed the wholesome essence of ginseng to permeate the entire dish, resulting in an aromatic, herbal flavor which was well-balanced and none at all too overpowering. It was still as good as how I remembered it, comforting, nourishing, definitely worth an ordering.

Stewed Top Grade Beef Short Rib ($29) was another dish most deserving of our love and tummy space. The wonderful result of using only prime Australian beef ribs and braising it for several hours was evident, as each chew unleashed its rich beefy flavors and allowed those lovely juiciness to caress our tongues. The sauce was more than luscious, such an enjoyable savoriness which begged for a bowl of white rice for company. Undoubtedly delicious! This is a must-try!

Top-grade fresh meats such as Prime Wagyu Beef ($49), Ox Tongue ($25), Marinated Beef Short Rib ($28) and Pork Collar ($22) are also available for Korean barbeque aficionados. No worries about smelling like barbeque yourself when leaving the restaurant because all dining tables have specially fitted grilling stations with vacuum capability on the side of the grills, taking most of the fumes away from under the table. (I met a friend for coffee after the meal, he didn't complain about any smoky stench hehee).

Among the new dishes is the Korean Imperial Hotpot with Assorted Vegetables ($39) with meat choices of chicken, beef or pork. Portion is generous for two to four persons, and I find its light milky broth with the natural sweetness of vegetables and subtle hint of spiciness actually rather enjoyable in a non-conformist way (we were expecting a more spicy kimchi with pork soup based broth). This is nonetheless a very healthy hotpot and makes for easy sharing across differing palates.

We added in some Korean Handmade Noodles ($3) towards the end of finishing our hotpot. Freshly handmade at the restaurant using eggs and high-grade Korean flour, the noodles has a delectable smooth and springy texture which was not compromised even after being simmered in the hotpot for a while.

Having the Double-boiled Snow Pear ($5) with "chuan bei" (fritillaria extracts) and dried longans for dessert was a brilliant choice. We choose to have it served chilled which was soothing and refreshing, particularly after our rather heavy meal.

The flavors for some dishes were not as robust when compared to some other Korean eateries, but overall, I still enjoyed my meal at Crystal Jade Korean Ginseng Chicken & BBQ Restaurant. Certainly suitable for friends gatherings and family dinners in the convenience of town.

Crystal Jade Korean Ginseng Chicken & BBQ Restaurant
Address: 391 Orchard Road, Takashimaya Shopping Centre #B2-36A, Singapore 238872
Contact: +65 6733 3229
Website: http://www.crystaljade.com/
Opening Hours: Daily 11am - 10pm

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