Jiang Nan lives up to its name
Although Crystal Jade Jiang Nan is Jiang Nan in name since 2012, the menu was more in line with Crystal Jade Kitchen.
I had no issues with that because I like my comfort food, and a name is just a name.
But now, it is more than just that. The menu has been changed to reflect the cuisine of China's Jiangnan region, thanks to newly appointed executive chef Martin Foo, who runs the kitchen for the group and is also the resident chef at Crystal Jade Palace.
Chef Foo was named Chef of the Year at the inaugural Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao Best Asian Restaurants Awards last year.
He was previously with culinary giants such as the Tung Lok Group and Lei Garden Group.
His impressive credentials make this update exciting.
Chef Foo has made stir-fry a big part of the revamp, with small plates for sharing, paired with teas or wines.
One good example is the Crystal Jade Yangzhou Fried "Rice Shaped Pasta" ($16.80).
The twist to this classic is that instead of rice, he uses orzo, a type of pasta shaped like a large grain of rice.
This gives a lightness to the dish and makes it irresistible with that coat of spring onion blend.
The topping of asparagus, shrimp, egg and sakura ebi adds an appreciated flourish.
Another simple stir-fry dish is the Sauteed Dried Shrimp and Vermicelli with Cabbage served in Claypot ($13.80).
It does not look promising, but it works. The crunch of the cabbage really helps and the dried shrimp adds umami. And who does not like vermicelli? It is the perfect combination.
For something fancy, get the Double-boiled Conpoy and Chrysanthemum Soup with Pearl Abalone ($18.80 a person).
Presenting soup in a teapot is not new. But the soup that comes out of the pot - fortified with wolfberries, pork and red dates - is warm and comforting and is instantly satisfying.
The warmth of the soup and the small tea cup ensures that you take your time to enjoy the soup.
When you get chef Foo in the kitchen, fowl is always a good choice.
When he was at the now-defunct VLV, duck was the standout dish. Here, it could be the Mala Crispy Roasted Chicken (from $15.80).
It is aromatic, with crispy skin and juicy meat, and just a hint of spice. It is everything you expect a celebrated chef would do.
Rice wine is typical of Jiangnan cooking, so the Steamed Yellow Croaker in Rice Wine Broth (from $28.80) is a logical addition.
While the fish is sweet and fresh, rice wine is a hit or miss for many, and if you are not into it, do not bother with this because the sauce is not subtle.