After spending the past few days trying to finish off the huge amount of left-over food from last weekend's Chinese New Year party, my family and I all agree that, 'enough is enough' and decided to eat out tonight!
We selected 'Crown Jewel' as our dinner venue since it was highly touted by a number of foodie relatives and friends for their high quality food and service.
Located in the same space once occupied by the iconic stalwart, but now defunct, ' Sam Woo Seafood', 'Crown Jewel' was frequently mentioned as a worthy replacement.
Our small party of four arrived early at around 6.20 pm to a stark front of house with only one occupied table. However, by the time we settled down and ordered our food, the place was quickly filled up to at least 3/4 full! A great sign for a normally quiet Wednesday evening!
We ordered the following based on recommendations from our friends and a most friendly, helpful and non-pushy manager ' Ming ' of the restaurant:
1) Sweet and Sour Pork with fresh pineapple - Whilst a large number of restaurants nowadays are churning out pretty decent rendition of this popular dish. The Crown Jewel version, IMHO, should be ranked among the top 3 in town. Really super crispy and crunchy, the piping hot pork nugget was covered with the right amount of perfectly sweet but not overly tangy glaze. The fresh, instead of canned, Pineapple was a nice touch. A master piece.
2) Stirred fry Beef with King Mushrooms and Scallions - This dish arrived at our table sizzling hot, exuding gorgeous aromatic, wok-hay smokiness. Both the meat and the mushrooms were nicely seared and caramelized. One of the better stirred fry beef dish in my book
3) Rose essence, premium top soy poached Free Range Chicken - My sister-in-law mentioned this 'Crown Jewel' version as one of the best in town. After experiencing an awesome and tasty version at Grandeur Palace only a couple of weeks ago. I made it an effort to order this dish so that a comparison can be made. The verdict?! 'Grandeur Palace' version, with more complexity and depth is still hands down the winner. However, Crown Jewel's version was no slouch either, easily surpassing offerings from their near competitors like Skyview, Dragon Boat, Yang's or The Emperor in taste profile. Fantasy Eatery's version was still the best. Pity the chef has moved on and disappeared.
4) Stirred fry filet of yellow fin Garoupa with yellowing chives and ' Choi Sum ' - Though the wok skill was clearly reflected by the finished product, however, IMO, the seasoning was a bit off. Rather than using ginger as focal point to bring out the flavor, the un-suitable and heavy-handed use of fried minced garlic by the chef and the absence of Chinese Rice Wine, sadly overwhelmed the delicate and sweet flesh of the fish. A pity!
5) Gone Chau Ngau Ho ( aka Fried Beef with Rice Noodles ) with premium top soy and yellowing chives - Seeing this rare rendition of this popular dish ( usually found in better restaurants in Hong Kong ), I cannot resist in ordering it. Similar to the Dim Sum, 'Har Gow', this is one product that is easy to prepare but super difficult to perfect. As such, out of curiosity I just have to check out the stirred fry wok-hay skill of the chef in executing this exercise! Though, in general, the result was a positive one, with minimum amount of residual grease, nicely caramelized and tender beef, crispy onions, bean sprouts and chives. However, for some unknown reason, the quintessential smoky wok-hay aroma was only barely noticeable?!
Lastly, based on the caring, professional and friendly service received, a special honorary mention has to be given to the wait staff whose attentiveness really made our dinner a most enjoyable one!....a rarity in most Chinese restaurants these days!