During a relaxing staycation at Nobu Hotel in City of Dreams Manila a few weeks ago, I had the chance to discover its neighboring restaurants—one of which is Crystal Dragon at Crown Towers.
The place had a couple of appealing features: tall wooden doors, high ceiling, two private dining rooms, each with its own restroom.
It was pleasing to see how Crystal Dragon was made to look so quaint and intimate considering that it seats close to a hundred.
The restaurant tables served as a fitting canvass for the dishes carefully prepared by Chinese executive chef Bong Jun Choi and chef de cuisine Chan Choo Kean.
My son Diego and his friend Joshua Dy delighted themselves with the Stewed Pork Ribs with Chinese Wine and Vinegar. The boys devoured it so quickly, leaving me with just a piece to try.
I liked the Wok Fried Chicken with Walnut and Hoisin Sauce— the tender, juicy, glazed chicken pieces with the nuts tasty and easy to eat.
Particularly enjoyable was the Oven-Baked Marinated Cod Fish, with pleasant hints of Five Spice powder giving the delicately tasty fish a new perfumed twist.
Meanwhile, the silky Oven-Baked Egg Tart Filled with Bird’s Nest was a culinary treat. The heaping addition of bird’s nest gave this egg tart a whole new slant with a delicate yet textural mouthful.
The Crispy Pan Cake Filled with Lotus Paste and Hennessy XO Ice Cream tasted like a dream.
The warm, flaky pan cake that encased the rich, sweet lotus paste was perfectly complimented by the heavenly XO ice cream.
The chefs also shared with us one of their recipes.
Steamed Chinese Herbal Grouper (Lapu-Lapu)
450 g/1 lb grouper
1 tsp coarse sea salt or plain salt
1½ tbsp finely shredded ginger
3 tbsp finely shredded spring onions
2 pieces sliced radish
3 g Chinese ginseng (Chinese herbs available in Oriental stores)
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp peanut oil
2 tsp sesame oil
Fresh coriander sprigs, for garnish
1) Pat the fish dry with paper towel and rub with salt evenly. If using a whole fish, rub the cavity as well.
2) Put the fish on a heatproof plate and sprinkle the ginger, radish and Chinese ginseng over the top.
3) Set up a steamer or put a rack into a wok or deep pan. Fill it with
5 cm/2 in of water and bring it to a boil over a high heat.
4) Put the plate of fish on the rack, cover and steam the fish until it is just cooked. The fish should turn opaque and flake slightly but still remain moist.
5) Remove the plate of cooked fish and pour off any liquid that may have accumulated. Top the fish with spring onions then drizzle with light and dark soy sauces.
6) Heat the two oils together in a small saucepan until smoking, then immediately pour them over the fish. Garnish with coriander.
I look forward to savoring Crystal Dragon’s Hunanese Feast to be prepared by master chef Luo Yong Hui, who has over 31 years of culinary experience specializing in the cuisine of China’s southern province of Hunan.
Among the dishes on his repertoire: Chilled Autumn Pork Ear Marinated in Hunan Vinegar; Double Boiled Pigeon with Morel Mushroom Soup; and Braised Pork Belly with Leeks and Chili in Hunan Province Style.
For dessert, he is set to prepare Chilled Two Flavored (Green and Red Bean) Pastry and Sweetened Soft Snow Skin Pumpkin Dumpling—not common pickings but an interesting selection of specialties.
Chef Luo Yong Hui will be in town only from Aug. 24-Sept. 2.
Red Ginger is a café that specializes in Southeast Asian cuisine.
While Diego was having a blast at DreamPlay, I had a cup of coffee and a taste of the Red Ginger’s much talked about “Peanut.”
It’s actually a huge ball of vanilla ice cream with lime meringue and a salted caramel filling, wrapped in caramelized peanuts—crunchy, nutty, creamy, airy, crumbly with lime tinged meringue that is cold, sweet and salty.
Call Crystal Dragon and Red Ginger at 8008080; visit cityofdreams.com.ph