A dependable lunchtime yum cha outing in the CBD.
What we ate:
Chicken piesPrawn and ginger dumplingsPrawn and chive dumplingsVegetarian dumplingsShanghai pork dumplingsBarbecue pork buns
Whenever TFG lunches in the city (read: often), there’s a reasonable chance that yum cha will be on the menu. TFG had been to Crystal Jade previously, and had come away very happy, dumplinged up campers, and others agree – Crystal Jade gets a guernsey in The Age Good Food Guide (2011). Tucked away up a fairly unassuming set of stairs, the décor at Crystal Jade is rather uninspiring which leaves you thinking ‘wow, the good must be damn good if they can get away with all this faded red carpet and 80's style fake gilding’
And the food is damn good. TFG often arrives at yum cha with rumbling bellies (sometimes having not eaten all day to ‘save up more room for yum cha’). As a result, the first trolley that rolls by is normally attacked with ferocity by TFG. The first unassuming dish to roll off the trolley were the chicken pies. In TFG’s eyes, chicken pies are rarely, if ever a star dish (normally a time filler before the coveted dumpling trolley arrives), but these were well executed. Pastry was suitably sweet and crumbly, and the filling was very, well, chicken-y.
The dumplings were next to arrive. There’s little to no restraint when these guys appear. TFG feels sometimes feels sorry for the wait staff laboured with the task of bring the dumpling trolley out, as they are normally greeted with an incomprehensible ‘OMGGIMMEGIMME DUMPLINGS’ and waves of saliva around the table. And these ones, thankfully, didn’t disappoint.
The ginger and prawn had just the right hit of ginger (though the tops of the dumplings were a tad dry), and the prawns had a lovely plump texture.
Similarly satisfying were the prawn and chive dumplings, which delivered plenty of flavour. The vegetarian dumplings were less successful – the filling was delicious but the dumpling skin had an unpleasant texture – slightly too chewy and sticky.
The pork dumplings were a decided winner, as were the barbecue pork buns. These little morsels were perfectly fluffy and light. The filling (though not hugely ample) was flavoursome and, happily, not fluoro pink (which many nastier offerings often are).
Crystal Jade does what it does well – efficient lunchtime trolley service with frequent delivery, decent value (we spent $20 per head) and damn good yum cha.
Food – 6.5/10
Value – 3.5/5
Service – 3/5
Total – 13/20
03 9639 2633
154 Little Bourke Street Melbourne