Walking in the lobby of JW Marriott Hanoi Crystal Jade Palace was like walking into someone’s Pinterest. That was how I felt when I stepped into Crystal Jade Palace: The light peers through the glass wall, dances with the jade curtains, and brightens the wooden furniture adorned with shades of royal blue. The submergence of natural light made even the small flower vases and the white plates on the table look more high-end and photogenic. I find a sense of tranquility while sitting in this space, an ideal state of mind for indulgence
In many Chinese restaurant in Hanoi, Crystal Jade does not stop at an expansive dimsum menu , what made this place famous is a array of Cantonese dishes. The offers range from extremely intricate dishes at become iconic in China such as Buddha Jumps Over The Wall, bird’s nest, or abalone, etc. But those weren’t the only choices available. There are more common dishes that seem to be much better choices such as Peking duck or Singaporean Chilli Crab. Or even more casual dishes such as stir-fried shimp with broccoli, bokchoy with pork fat, sweet and sour pork – can be a great addition to your meal.
BBQ dishes are great choices to munch on while waiting for the main dishes to arrive. Roasted piglet, chicken in soy sauce and roast duck are the three choices that I chose for the BBQ platter. Unfortunately, Peking Duck was not amongst the choices available for the platter but has to be ordered separately, I will keep this in mind for the next visit. All these choices have a few high points in common: tender in texture, while extremely flavorful, adorned with fragrances of warm cinnamon and star anise in the juice. What truly stood out for me was the roasted piglet. The dark crimson skin, cut into perfect squares, super thin and shatteringly crispy. It tasted more like an umami-drenched cracker than a piece of pig skin. Only one slight inconvenience: all three dishes were presented on the same plate, so the sauces of the dishes get mixed together and therefore confusing to the taste buds.
The Singaporean Chilli Crab dish is one that I rate very highly. It was able to please all of my senses: the sexy red of the sauce, the fragrant smell of garlic and chilly fried in oil, and the numbing spiciness at the tip of my tongue. Sauce was made just right, the chef did not overuse tapioca starch as a thickening agent, the small pieces of garlic, chilli, and egg strains add a fun mix of texture to the dish. There is a balance of taste – sour, salty, sweet, and above all, a pleasant noteworthy spicy taste to go with the meaty and sweet crab. Another highlight of the dish doesn’t lie in the dish itself but in the way it was served – along with small metal bowls containing fragrant tea and a slice of kumquat for hand soaking. That was the most elegant hand-soaking bowl I have ever seen. It reminded me of a Chinese tale about a princess using kumquat and precious tea to wash the hands of her guests. One small detail that carry so much thought and care.
The dishes to accompany rice at Crystal Jade Palace are also noteworthy. I didn’t quite enjoy the sweet and sour pork because the flour crust was a tad too thick, so it overpowered the texture of the meat, but everything else was delicious. Bokchoy with rendered pork fat has the typical comforting pork fat flavor. Beef rib braised with eggplant was made in a sizzling hot stone pot right in front of diners, the flavorful sauce smelling irresistible. But the most memorable, and unexpected, dish of all: stir-fried lotus roots with mushroom. The best thing about this dish is that each type of mushroom has its own distinctive flavor that was not to be meshed with any other type: bunapi mushroom with its delicate flavor, porcini with its meaty texture, shitake mushroom with its woody notes, along with woody-ear mushroom and lotus roots to add a crunchy texture amongst silky smooth oyster sauce.
Dessert isn’t Crystal Jade’s strong suit. Despite their big menu, the dessert section lacks substance. I didn’t particularly enjoy the pomelo tapioca pearls dessert dish made from mango smoothie, pomelo, and jelly. The jelly and pomelo were too delicate to go well with the thick mango smoothie.
A restaurant cannot go wrong if they do both food and service right – which are the two strong points of Crystal Jade Palace. The price is quite steep but you get what you pay for with their impeccable service. The restaurant also offer outdoor and private seating.
- Food: 9/10
- Service: 9/10
- Ambience: 9/10