|Culinary performance: Chef Wong Chi Ming from Hong Kong (right) shows off his talent in front of the guests.
The stylish Cantonese restaurant which recently opened in the JW Marriott offers a luxurious dim sum experience that can't easily be found elsewhere in the Vietnamese capital. Thuy Hang reports.
With Singaporean restaurant chain Crystal Jade opening its flagship Crystal Jade Palace in Ha Noi, food connoisseurs now have another option to indulge in exquisite Cantonese cuisine.
I was lucky to be among the few dozen guests who arrived for lunch on the day the restaurant was opened within the five-star JW Marriott Hanoi.It is the first truly fine-dining Chinese restaurant in the city.
Unlike most other Chinese restaurants in the city which are usually decorated with a lot of red lanterns and kylin statues, the Crystal Jade Palace reflects modern and refined decor, matching the world-class contemporary setting of the hotel.
With a boundless view of the lake and the green garden, the restaurant offers its clients a chance to enjoy nature.
Chairman and chief executive officer of the Crystal Jade Culinary Concepts Holding, who joined us for the inaugural lunch, revealed that only the top-quality ingredients, imported from all over the world, would satisfy the tough requirements of Crystal Jade kitchens.
The brand has established a strong presence across the Asia Pacific region and in the US with more than 130 outlets in 21 cities.
Our lavish lunch started with a dim sum plate, filled with steamed minced pork with mushroom (or siew mai), baked honey BBQ pork pastry and deep-fried radish pastry.
While the siew mai is a typical and popular dim sum, filled with a mixture of minced pork, diced shrimp and mushroom, the pork pastry is filled with BBQ pork and baked till it's crispy. Right after the first bite, the pastry was flaky, giving off a sweet and savoury taste at the same time.
These are the top picks of the 22-item dim sum menu, which also features the usual ones such as steamed shrimp dumpling, steamed rice roll with assorted mushrooms and baked egg tart.
|Top pick: Chef Wong's sauteed beef short rib.
The next treat was Roasted Deluxe Trio Combination consisting of honey BBQ pork, soya sauce chicken and roasted pork belly.
Despite going through a complicated cooking process, the soya sauce chicken didn't get my vote, but the classic pork belly dish was nicely crisp and crackling.
Young waitresses in brocade cheongsam (the typical Chinese dress) served us the double-boiled Soup of the Day. It had sweet corn, carrot, potato and pork ribs, which had been slowly cooked for hours to release the nutrients of the ingredients into the soup, thus making it easy to be absorbed by the human body.
For me, this hot soup functioned like a cool sorbet served between the courses of a French meal. It helped to press down all the food I had earlier and "wash" my taste buds, readying them to experience and enjoy the next course thoroughly.
Responding to our "state of readiness", chef of the Crystal Jade Palace Wong Chi Ming from Hong Kong came to show off his talent in front of the guests with sauteed beef short rib served in hot pot.
The rib was sauteed with a lot of dried red chillies and shallots, black vinegar, rice wine and a "mysterious" sauce that had a "melt-in-your-mouth" tenderness.
After reaching half-way through the eight-course lunch, I was almost full. However, like other guests, I was quite excited when a waitress placed the next dish on the table. A small caramel statue with blinking lights adorned the plate, which had deep-fried prawn heads with salted egg yolk and sauteed prawns with mushroom.
|Triple threat: An appertiser plate features three kinds of dim sum: steamed minced pork with mushrooms, baked honey BBQ pork pastry and deep-fried radish pastry. — VNS Photos Truong Vi
I picked up a crisp prawn head to sample it. As usual, the dish conquered my taste buds with the special flavour of the salted egg yolk. However, my enjoyment was distracted by the prawn shell which was a bit too hard for my teeth.
As I could not eat any more, I was completely unconcerned with the two next dishes which were braised homemade bean curd with dried scallops and vegetable, and fried rice with assorted grains.
However, the excitement returned when we were served a dessert plate loaded with fresh mango cream with sago and pomelo, and glutinous dumplings with grated nuts and sesame – a traditional Cantonese dessert.
The fresh aroma of the mango paired with the citrusy sweet pomelo really makes this dessert an irresistible after-meal treat.
Crystal Jade Palace Restaurant
Add: Lobby Level, JW Marriott Hanoi, No 8 Do Duc Duc Rd, Me Tri, Tu Liem, Ha Noi
Tel: (04) 38335588
Opening time: Daily from 11am to 2.30pm for lunch, and from 5.30 to 10.30pm for dinner. Sunday open for lunch only from 10.30am to 2.30pm.
Price: Start from VND42,000++.
The bite-size glutinous dumpling filled with sweet black sesame paste is another nice treat. For me, it was similar to the Japanese mochi, except that the Cantonese dumpling is coated with grated nuts.
Alongside all these treats, the restaurant's menu also offers several other speciality dishes such as the most succulent Peking Duck, Crispy Suckling Pig, feisty live Australian lobsters, and delicately prepared Braised Bird's Nest with Crab Roe and Crab Meat.
Those who are not keen on the 70-seat main dining hall can opt for one of the six private rooms, of which three have outdoor terraces overlooking the lake.
General Director of JW Marriott Hanoi Bob Fabiano proudly said that the Crystal Jade is the only Chinese restaurant in town offering outdoor seating, which is "definitely a bold dining experience for connoisseurs".
The restaurant also offers catering and banquet services to meet the needs of Ha Noi's discerning diners. — VNS