Located in Chinatown, Crystal Jade is a popular eatery for Chinese cuisine. They offer Yum Cha (Dim Sum) for brunch/lunch and your typical Chinese cuisine for dinner and of course seafood amongst many of their dishes. Bookings are essential for weekend Yum Cha but luckily they have two sessions available.
We had Yum Cha at Crystal Jade based on reviews on Zomato, and pretty much picked all our usual dishes to compare it against other Yum Cha places we have frequented.
The Chee Cheong Fun (Rice Noodles with Prawns) at Crystal Jade was decent, it was lacking in a lot of flavour in the filling, and you kinda needed chilli sauce to add some punch to it.
Not being of Cantonese background, I don’t actually know the name of this one but it was like this prawn dim sum, that also needed some extra seasoning, even a bit of salt to enhance the flavours would be good.
The Century Egg Congee (Rice Porridge) on the other hand was great! I love the crispy things they added on top with the fresh spring onions. Great Century Egg flavour, and just how I like it.
The Har Gow (Shrimp Dumplings) was actually again a bit bland. Goes well with the chilli sauce though which is on the salty side of things, so I guess it balances out. The pastry was also a bit thicker then I’d like.
This particular dim sum was one of their specials at Crystal Jade, so you do pay a premium for it as it is topped with scallops. It had a nice seafood flavour to it but nothing spectacular.
Siu Mai is probably my second favourite dim sum item, seems like you can’t go wrong with making it. Or I just haven’t come across a bad one yet.
Lo Bak Go is my favourite dim sum item, I love this turnip cake and how I know it’s done right is the consistency. Shouldn’t be dense, and shouldn’t be too flour-ry, and with just enough salt, sugar and pepper seasoning and Chinese sausage pieces throughout it. Lastly, it should be crispy outside. At Crystal Jade, it pretty much checks all the boxes apart from the uneven frying which I can overlook because taste-wise it’s pretty good.
We also ordered the Tofu Fa, it’s one of these desserts that you can have warm or cold. The lady that served didn’t do the proportions correctly, as we found it just needed quite a lot more of that sugar syrup otherwise it can be quite bland. We had to request for a small bowl of the syrup to adjust it to our liking, but at least it wasn’t too sweet as you wouldn’t be able to rectify that!
Overall, dining at Crystal Jade doesn’t leave a lasting impression. A few dishes seem to be lacking in flavour, and the other dishes, while are good, aren’t any better than the other places I’ve been to.
154 Little Bourke Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Not to be confused with Wong’s Lucky Bar, Wong’s Kitchen on Station Street in Box Hill is a Chinese/Cantonese restaurant that most people seem to come for their seafood dishes. Wong’s Kitchen isn’t a very large restaurant, so more often than not, bookings are required.
Crab and egg noodles are probably one of my favourite Chinese dishes as a kid. The crab flavour combined with the wok stir fried noodles is delicious and I could honestly eat just the noodles all on its own. The crab at Wong’s Kitchen is quite nice too, I might add.
One of my favourite vegetables is Chinese broccoli (Kai Lan), there’s something about the crunchiness of the stem and you honestly don’t need much else apart from a bit of garlic.
According to the staff, their chicken served here is free range. I’m not certain how true that is, but it is a more lean as chicken. Not particularly memorable dish, it’s decent though.
I remember having Salted Egg Yolk Prawns at Kingsway Seafood Restaurant, which is now sadly closed. The prawns here are quite nice, crispy and have that lovely egg yolk batter that covers the tender prawns. I can’t have too many though because it’s very rich, but I needed to have a few to satisfy my craving.
A standard dish when we go out to a Chinese restaurant, is their fish. I love sauce that usually accompanies steamed fish, and here it’s just how I like it. The fish was also nicely cooked and fresh.
Wong’s Kitchen also provide complimentary fruits and Red Bean Sago dessert. Lovely end to a meal.
While Wong’s Kitchen won’t wow you with it’s ambience or service, it’s food is tasty and doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket.
596 Station Street
Box Hill VIC 3128
Before coming to Italy 1 on Bourke Road, Camberwell, I checked out the reviews for it on Urbanspoon and it was very mixed. Having that in mind, my overall experience with Italy 1 is good, it definitely is on the upper scale of your dining experience ($$$) but I found the food here to be mostly fantastic bar a few.
As an entree we ordered the Mussels it is cooked with a tomato sugo and seasoned with garlic and tomatoes (mainly). The staff mentioned the mussels here are of a higher quality and so that’s why the mussels are tinier than in most places. The mussels were indeed lovely and fresh and I really couldn’t get enough of the slightly salty, spicy tomato sauce that is flavoured with mussels.
Italy 1’s Baked Scallops were a bit of a downer, the scallops were tiny comparatively to the shell it comes in with the cheesy crust on top being mostly too crusty to gel well with the soft scallop. The scallop was very tasty I must admit but for the price, I don’t believe it’s worth it.
Onto the mains, the Roast Duck with greens was fantastic. The duck was perfectly cooked, and melts in your mouth with all the juices. The sauce that accompanies it, is interesting. I couldn’t quite put my finger on the ingredients sued but it went well with the duck and salad.
The “Rotolo” (hand rolled egg pasta) filled with Spinach and Ricotta, baked and served with burnt sage butter was absolutely divine. You certainly can’t have too much of this because it’s so damn rich with cheese, but the flavours of the ricotta and spinach are bursting out, and the cheesiness of it mixes so well. The baked pasta is crispy and almost pastry like, like a quiche but slightly delicate inside. Yummy
The Duck Ragu with Sage and Pancetta Risotto wasn’t too great to be honest. Overly salty, either from the cheese or duck and slightly under seasoned. It lacked any real distinct flavours but the duck was very tender which is a plus along with the risotto itself cooked al dente.
The Linguine Marinara with mussels, clams, prawns, scallops, fish and seasoned with chilli, parsley and garlic was another winner at Italy 1. The linguine was cooked perfectly (there wasn’t enough!) but I guess the centre pieces of the dish are the seafood so that’s understandable. Seafood overall were fresh and tasty and seasoned well. Really lovely.
For dessert we ordered Tiramisu. Very light but creamy and chocolatey, and with just enough liqueur to keep it moist. Distinct and defined layers. I do prefer Tiramisu to be slightly chilled and although it was served room temperature, it was delicious.
I believe the desserts change slightly on their specials board, but when we dined there the gelato selection was Raspberry, Goat’s Milk and Cassata with crunchy caramel shards. For a sweet treat, the Raspberry gelato was bursting full of raspberry flavour (and slightly sour). I’m finding it that I actually prefer cream based ice cream as opposed to water based simply because the water based varieties are simply much too sweet but on this occasion it wasn’t too bad (it was the sweetest of the three)
The Cassata flavour I believe is based on the cassata cake dessert which is a sponge cake moistened with fruit juices or liqueur, ricotta cheese, cream and candied peel. This was definitely an interesting flavour, and mixed with it were I believe some candied fruit pieces. I’ve never tried this before but would definitely order it again. Tasty
The goat’s milk on first taste was slightly odd because I’ve never tried an ice cream that was just milk but after my initial shock I really enjoyed it. It was milky (of course) and creamy and not too sweet. Probably the best of the three actually.
As mentioned in my opening paragraph, some of the dishes weren’t as good as others but overall I found it to be a very satisfying experience and the staff here are lovely too. Great food, nice ambience on a Saturday night. Price might be an issue for some but it’s good for a night out once in a while.
823 Burke Rd
Camberwell VIC 3124
PappaRich fever has hit Australia.
It seems like it’s the sister franchise to PappaRoti (Update: I’ve been informed they are completely separate entities). With its first franchise opening up in QV where Old Town Kopitiam Mamak was, earlier this year. They have quickly opened up two more stores, one in Doncaster and the latest one in Chadstone Shopping Centre (Outside but close to Aldi) with probably more to come. If you haven’t guessed already, they serve Malaysian food and quite a good variety of food at that.
We ordered Nasi Briyani with Eggplant, Curry Prawns and Fried Chicken and Pappadam. I don’t think very many places serve Nasi Briyani, so it was a pleasant surprise to see it on the menu. The Briyani was fantastic, it had a very strong but not overpowering flavour, nicely cooked with all the spices. I’m not a big fan of sultanas in Briyani though, but it is a staple for most.
The Curry Prawns aren’t overly spicy, it’s mostly sweet actually and these prawns are the bite sized kind. I prefer the King Prawns but these little prawns suffice. The eggplant adds a nice spicy flavour to it to. Overall, it’s definitely a good meal, with a wide variety of flavours that all work well together. A must for Briyani lovers.
Their Curry Laksa is very different to the popular Laksa’s around. It tastes very home-made and it also lacks that huge punch of coconut milk/cream. Which is a good thing in my book! Sometimes I prefer a milder, less rich Laksa and this hits the sweet spot. There are a couple of Laksa varieties of the menu, Chicken, Vegetarian, and Seafood. I chose the Chicken version and it is served with chicken (of course), fried bean curd, bean curd, eggplant and a hint of mint. It also only has Hokkien Mee (no Bee Hoon as some Laksa’s have) so it really depends on your preferences. There is a lot to like with PappaRich’s Laksa as mentioned above, the curry soup is delicious as it retains a nice curry flavour but also adds a kick of spice. Overall, I’m pretty happy with this dish it is a definite change of pace.
You can’t go to a Malaysian restaurant and not see Nasi Lemak, here we ordered the Nasi Lemak with Curry Chicken and Sambal. I’ve got to say that Sambal is superb. It’s sweet, and my golly does it have a huge hit of heat. I’m in love, best Sambal I’ve had in a while. The Curry Chicken is slightly sweet, but it’s nice. I’d order this dish just for the Sambal to be honest.
Their Drinks menu is quite large too, here we ordered the Soya Bean with Grass Jelly. I liked this because it has a strong soya flavour but also it isn’t too sweet so for those that would like a nice refreshing drink but not overly sweet. Here it is!
PappaRich’s Teh Tarik is pretty good too, has a nice tea flavour but not overwhelming. Same with the sweetness, although I still prefer Chilli Padi Mamak‘s Teh Tarik. It’s also a tad smaller then what you’d get elsewhere, so there is a bit of a trade off.
PappaRich has definitely made an impression on me. It’s menu is full of things to try, from their Roti’s and snacks, to Noodles and Rice dishes and a great selection of desserts and drinks. Although their ABC Ice Kacang is definitely the most expensively priced item I’ve seen, priced at roughly $7 I didn’t even try it. I’m a bit wary of the portion size but also if it leads to disappointment as I think it would.
I do have to warn you for first timers that you order by writing down your selection on the pads found on the side and once you’re down you wave down one of the staff to take your paper. They then give you your receipt which you pay at the end of your meal at the receipt counter. I don’t think some of the staff do tell you that so best be warned before sitting there for minutes waiting for service.
Other than that, the service was surprisingly good. We had to wait roughly 10 minutes to get seats as PappaRich still is affected by the “new/curious” diners (like me) but once we ordered, food came within another 5/10 minutes. Pretty good actually for a full house.
Overall, I would dine again just to try their other items and it means there is actually some good Malaysian food in Chadstone, apart from Chadstone Shopping Centre’s Chilli Mama (Located in the Food Court) and Nudle (Near Nandos/Cinemas). It actually makes me want to go to Chadstone more often!
Chadstone Shopping Centre
Chadstone VIC 3148
I came across the Lynbrook Hotel after browsing Urbanspoon’s top Melbourne Buffet Restaurants. Having already tried China Bar, Consevatory and Kitchenworkshop (3 of the top 5), I was surprised to see Lynbrook Hotel so far up the top. Lynbrook? Lynbrook has a hotel?
After my initial shock, I checked out the official website, it said it had a International Buffet Bistro, offering European, Asian and Australian cuisines. This piqued my interest and afterall their prices were quite reasonable too.
We went to try it out for my father’s birthday, and booked the earlier session to avoid the large cohords of people (I expected anyway). Their eating area is quite spacious and clean. It makes for a welcoming dining experience.
The food is grouped into several categories, from Asian (Chinese), European (Italian), Australian, and Indian with a bit of Thai, and of course Desserts.
While I didn’t take photographs of the food itself (I was too busy eating), the food was decent and there was a great variety of dishes.
In the Asian corner, they have Fried Rice, and a few stir frys which were surprisingly decent for a restaurant primarily served by Indian chefs.
There was a good selection of seafood, from fresh prawns, to steamed fish and a few of your standard ‘Fish and Chip shop’ items, and also roast items like roast beef and potatoes, vegetables in another area.
In their European flavoured area they served mostly Italian food, i.e pastas, lasagne and pizza.
Their Indian area took me by surprise, as it smelt great. A few different styled curries, and bite sized snack food. As I mentioned before they served Thai fish cake, which was spicy! However when my parents when again for a friend’s birthday celebration, they didn’t have these on offer. So it seems their selection of food varies slightly per week.
Their dessert menu consisted of a lot of cakes and sugary treats. My favourite was the warm almond cake, and the chocolate mousse. Of course, they served ice-cream for the kids, which was running empty by the hours end. I’ll admit their selection of desserts was great, but nothing can top soft serve ice-cream at Kitchen Workshop.
There were a couple of downsides, their pizzas weren’t cooked long enough so the bread was still doughly. Perhaps their second run of pizzas were better, I didn’t attempt to try it again.
As mentioned earlier, their 3 tubs of ice-cream were probably sitting there for a while so it wasn’t replaced as quickly (or at all) during our session. Some of their dishes were slightly overcooked but I can overlook that as it wasn’t terribly bad.
The Lynbrook Hotel serves a great selection of food, for what you pay for, you do get your monies worth. Compared to Kitchen Workshop which is roughly the same price, I’d prefer Kitchen Workshop but if you’re looking for some tasty Asian dishes Lynbrook is your best bet.