Fast Food, Shanghainese Style
In anticipation of the massive round of eating we have planned for our upcoming trip to London, Mr UnProfessional Chef and I resolved to eat ‘more healthily’ this week, particularly after the excesses of the weekend. This basically meant avoiding three course meals(!) and having huge sinful desserts at the end of every meal(!!), which we’d been doing most of last week(!!!).
But that didn’t mean we had to sacrifice good food. Tired out after a long day of work and hunting for food after 8pm in the middle of the work week meant that we wanted something quick, cheap, comforting, yet not unduly calorific. Happily, we found the perfect solution in one of our fallback favourite restaurants – Crystal Jade Xiao Long Bao.
The Crystal Jade chain is ubiquitous in Singapore. In Ngee Ann City alone, there are at least four or more related restaurants serving up different styles of Chinese food ranging from dim sum to high end Cantonese cuisine. The outlet we chose serves mostly different types of handmade noodles (lamian) and snacks (assorted dian xin) aimed at providing cheap and fast nutrition to as many customers as possible at a cheerful, brisk speed, and most importantly, at a consistently satisfying standard. This explains the constant stream of hungry customers coming in one door and happily satiated ones leaving through the other. It is a testimony to the quality of the food that a queue to be seated was still in existence when we traipsed in well after 8pm smack in the middle of the week.
Tonight, it lived up to that promise once again. I had lamian with Sichuan vegetables and shredded pork in a clear soup topped with lots of coriander and spring onions. The noodles were springy and perfectly cooked and the soup, tasty enough but clearly not laden with huge quantities of MSG. The Sichuan vegetables provided a nice sour crunch in contrast to the meaty shreds of pork. This is comfort food of the highest level and was the noodle dish with which I commenced my love affair with Shanghainese food. On the side, we had xiao long bao - Shanghainese dumplings stuffed with minced meat and a superbly tasty broth topped with vinegar and thinly sliced ginger. The test of a good xiao long bao is that its skin must be fine and thin, yet thick enough to retain the copious amount of broth within its interior walls. This will result in the quick surrender of the skin to the teeth and produce a juicy gush of broth, meat and vinegar that should result in a tasty melody of meaty sharpness. The version here is not the most refined nor exquisite I have sampled, but it hits close enough to the spot with great regularity.
Despite being a simple, quick dinner, the healing abilities of hot soup and juicy dumplings managed to melt away the tiredness of our day and reminded me once again why this reliable friend continues to remain one of my favourite fast food outlets.
Crystal Jade Xiao Long Bao
391 Orchard Rd #04-27 Ngee Ann City
Tel : 6333 6436
A girl's commentary on food, cooking and all things delicious!
- Name: The UnProfessional Chef
- Location: Singapore
A closet food critic and wannabe chef who loves the art of cooking and enjoying great cuisine in the company of great friends!
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Fast Food, Shanghainese Style