The Mid-Autumn Festival is probably one of the most anticipated Chinese traditions the world over. Why, you ask? Well aside from the abundance of mooncake, it’s also the season of dice games. And where there’s a dice game, there’s bound to be tons of prizes! It’s a really great opportunity for family and friends to get together and have fun just playing and seeing who wins all the awesome prizes. My Dad likes to organize dice games with some family friends and when we all play together, there is never one dull moment!
The Mid-Autumn Festival is a harvest festival that celebrates the moon at its roundest and brightest. Families gather to appreciate the moon, pray to the Lunar Deity Chang’E for longevity and good fortune; and of course, to play the dice game or pua tiong chiu.
I truly can’t think of any better combination to fun than good food, which is why it only makes sense that Crystal Jade Dining In would usher in this year’s Mooncake Festival with their special menu that will surely be the perfect accompaniment to an evening of boisterous dice-playing!
For those who don’t know, Crystal Jade was originally founded in Singapore in 1991 and has expanded to over 21 major cities in Asia Pacific and the US. Their main focus has always been offering delicious and high-quality dishes that will showcase Asian culture and heritage. Yes, I admit, as a fine-dining restaurant the prices are definitely up there, but I can honestly say that you will get what you pay for.
I remember the first time this restaurant came to Manila. Their first branch was opened in Greenhills, and there would always be a super long line of people waiting to get a taste of their famous xiao long bao. But Crystal Jade is about so much more than delicious dimsum. I was invited to Crystal Jade Dining In at BGC recently to sample some dishes from their Mid-Autumn Festival special menu, and now I’m giving you all a sneak peak of what to expect!
The dishes served to us is actually part of the “Set C” in their 4-set Mid-Autumn Special Menu. Lots of great stuff on there as you can see, but the highlight of the Mid-Autumn menu is the Fresh Garoupa Fish, which is indeed one of my favourite dishes of the afternoon!
Let’s start with the first dish laid on our table, which is in my opinion A MUST in any Chinese feast– Pecking Duck! So rich in flavour and absolutely juicy, there’s simply something so utterly satisfying about Pecking Duck. You can eat it sliced with just some hoisin sauce at the side; or as filling for wraps alongside some spring onions, cucumber, and more hoisin sauce!
Our waiter kindly prepared the Pecking Duck for us and turned the sliced meat into wraps.
YUM! This is definitely one of my favourite indulgences, with or without the wraps.
Up next is the Braised Fresh Scallop with Shrimp Soup. I like soup a lot but I tend to be a little bit picky with it. I’m not a fan of the cream-based ones, but this type of soup is right up my alley. I thought this was absolutely delicious!
The soup is perfectly flvaoured; no longer requiring that touch of black vinegar that seems like the norm when it comes to seafood soups like this one. There’s the crunchy juicy shrimp popping in every bite, offset by the soft blocks of tofu. And then there’s the super umami scallop.
This was definitely one of my favourites of the day; a warm and hearty soup packed with so much texture. And I love fresh seafood so that doesn’t hurt too!
The next dish that came out was the Baked Assorted Mushroom with Black Truffle. They’re wrapped like dumplings in the style of treasure pouches, which I think is quite fitting.
Breaking open the dumplings, the scent of the truffles waft into the air immediately. The truffle flavour coats all the mushrooms nicely, and because it’s such a strong flavour you can barely sense the natural sweetness of the mushrooms anymore. The asparagus I think is nice for restarting the tastebuds when the truffle flavour becomes a little too intense. This is definitely a dish that truffle-lovers will enjoy.
I found out that you can order this out of the menu (a la carte) though it’s going to be charged by piece. Didn’t get the chance to ask how much per piece but it’s definitely not going to be cheap! However it’s a fair portion as part of a multi-course meal since the dumplings are quite hefty and filled to the brim with mushrooms.
Now we get to my other favourite of the day: The Fresh Garoupa Line Poached in Superior Soup. This is “cooked” in a rather interesting way because the aim is to maintain the freshness of the fish as much as possible.
So you get the fish already thinly sliced for you, and then the soup is brought forward in a claypot atop a portable stove. Once the soup is brought to a boil, you dip the fish into the hot soup and this will cook the fish a little while still maintaining its natural sweet taste.
But the chef showed us another way to eat this. He brought the soup to a boil first along with the tofu skins, and he instead placed pieces of mung bean sprouts and the fresh fish meat in the soup bowl, scooping a bit of that hot soup in there to give the fish an initial shock of heat to start the cooking process. Then he poured the soup back out for a moment and scoops it back in before serving.
Oh my gosh this was just SO GOOD. I love fish above anything else and these were just wonderful for me. Soft and almost melt-in-the-mouth, the fish retained its natural flavours and sweetness because it was cooked so gently. The soup itself is actually quite tasty as well, and though there’s the option to add some spring onions and chilli into the soup, it was perfectly fine on its own.
Look at how lovely that fish looks. This dish is common across all the four multi-course meal sets on the Mid-Autumn Menu of Crystal Jade Dining In. The particular set we’re eating is as I mentioned, Set C. It’s good for 8 persons and costs around Php 14,800. The other three sets range from Php 5,900 to Php 22,000 but of course the more expensive set caters to about 10 persons. This menu I do believe will last only for the month of September.
Anyway, continuing with our meal, the next dish that came out is a rather classic one but really yummy nonetheless. Sauteed Beef with Basil Leaf and Spicy Sauce Served in Hotplate. Lightly spicy with sweet and tangy flavours playing underneath. The beef was also cooked into perfection.
And by the way, the Asian flavours are quite nicely complemented by the basil leaves!
The last two dishes are more typical Chinese restaurant fare: Sauteed Vegetables with Crab Meat Sauce and Fried Rice with Scallop, Crab Meat & Crab Roe. Now the fried rice is good, with an abundance of seafood, but the veggies in crab meat sauce was too salty for me. I guess that’s why these two dishes are served together, so that the rice can balance out the saltiness?
Regardless of my complaints, I can’t deny the freshness and quality of every dish we were served here. That’s often my experience when dining at Crystal Jade anyway. It’s a bit expensive but you can really see the commitment they have with their dishes, which in the end really gives customers good value for their money.
For dessert, we were served with Crystal Jade’s Mooncakes, which you can actually buy as gift boxes for the very special people in your life. (Not gonna lie, it’s pretty dang pricey!)
Elegantly packaged in a beautiful purple and black box with a jade lock, each box contains 2 pieces of White Lotus Mooncake with Double Egg Yolk, and 2 pieces of White Lotus Plain Mooncake (without egg). Plus, each box comes with its own Special Dice Game set. One box costs Php 1,688, but for bulk orders of 6 or more, a special prize of Php 1,488 will be given. It’s a very classy gift during the Mid-Autumn season, don’t you think?
I’m not particularly fond of mooncake, but I do enjoy a bite or two around this time of year. I don’t have a specific preference over the egg. Some days I like it with egg, some days I don’t. What about you?
While we were enjoying our mooncake, our friends from Crystal Jade actually opened one of the dice sets to allow my fellow bloggers and I a little dice-game fun! I was kind of surprised to have won a prize in every toss I made, but I’ve been playing since I was a kid so I had lots of practice haha! I was more surprised to have thrown a dice combination of 1-2-3-4-5-6 to punctuate all the prize hogging I made, but that’s actually not the highest combination you can get. (Let’s talk about that another time, because this dice game can get pretty complex!) I may not have won the grand prize but at least I’m taking home 5 of these gift cheques. Thank you Crystal Jade and Lady Luck! 😛
I had such a great afternoon of fun and good food, and now with my gift cheques in tow I will definitely be back here soon! If you’re planning a dice-game party and are still unsure where to go, then having your Mooncake Festival Feast at Crystal Jade Dining In is the answer!
Full disclosure: Meal was provided by Crystal Jade Dining In in exchange for a feature, but all opinions expressed above are solely my own.