Of the cuisines of the world, Chinese is one that tops my list. As such, I am always on the lookout for a good Chinese restaurant. I recall having dined in Crystal Dragon many moons ago, and I recall it to be good. I recently gave the restaurant a visit and am glad that the food has remained consistently good.
Crystal Dragon on the upper ground floor of Nüwa Manila offers authentic premium Cantonese and regional Chinese cuisine with modern touches. The restaurant continues to be one of the signature dining destinations at the City of Dreams Manila.
I recently partook of some specialties during my visit, and I was pleased.
For dumpling lovers who wish to savor different tastes in one basket, the Cantonese Steamed Three Dim Sum Combination is recommended: Steamed Pork and Shrimp Sao Mai with 24 Head Chilean Abalone; Steamed Scallop Dumpling, Black Truffle Paste, Steamed Sea Cucumber Dumpling; and Sweet Corn and Water Chestnut.
The wok-fried tiger prawns with strands of salted egg are of the perfect size, plump and juicy!
The wok-fried tenderloin with special sauce is new on the menu. The beef was tender, and tossed in a delicate sweet sauce. Having cooked the meat on high heat left it firm on the outside yet soft on the inside. The intensity of the heat lent a light smokiness to the loin.
For those who like light-handed, pristine-tasting fried rice, then the wok-fried fragrant rice with seafood and crab meat is the perfect choice.
I also took delight in the dessert. I loved the sweet and tangy play of the chilled mango puree and pomelo on my buds. The experience was heightened and made rich by the addition of homemade vanilla ice cream.
My personal favorite was the Braised Hot and Sour Soup with Crab Meat and Scallops. I’ve never had hot and sour soup as well-made as the one at Crystal Dragon. It was perfect in every way—the right sourness, tartness and heat.
The consistency was likewise noteworthy. No other hot and sour soup comes close. It was worth the hourlong drive; if it was the only dish served, I wouldn’t have minded at all. It is that good.
It was intimated that the secret is in the pork stock, prepared days ahead, slow-cooked, and to which crab meat, scallop, black fungus, black mushroom, sautéed vegetables, black vinegar, hot chili sauce, seasoning and eggs are added. It is thickened with potato flour.
Then it’s up to Chan Choo Kean, Crystal Dragon’s chef de cuisine, to balance the flavors—tart, spice, savory with a hint of sweet.
Next to the hot and sour soup, I was thoroughly impressed by the sustainability initiatives of the City of Dreams Manila.Apart from elimination of single-use plastic, the resort has installed an on-site water filtration plant and a bottling system with Nordaq. This is projected to result in the elimination of 11,000 single-use plastic bottles from hotel rooms per day, equivalent to more than 4 million single-use plastic bottles per year.
The resort also practices sustainable sourcing, with 86 percent of its procurement consisting of local products and ingredients in support of social, ethical, and environmentally responsible local small and medium enterprises in the country.
As the resort continues to navigate its path, the City of Dreams Manila continues to align its green activities. By doing so, they are not just contributing to the tourism industry but to saving the planet as well.
I have to thank Mina Gervacio, chefs “Danny” Khoo Teng Jin and Yong Lin Chua, and manager Kok Wen Gio for making my Crystal Dragon dining experience out of the ordinary. (Tel. 88808080; email firstname.lastname@example.org; visit cityofdreamsmanila.com.)
Ice cream cake
Few fruits come close to the deliciousness of the Philippine mango. While it’s been raining, it has also been excruciatingly hot between downpours. As such, I’m sharing this fruity, very delicious recipe that I made in class.
Guimaras Mango Ice Cream Cake
1 gallon vanilla ice cream, leave in the fridge 30 minutes before using
4 ripe Guimaras mangoes
½ cup butter
1 c sugar
2 Tbsp flour
Zest of 1 orange
Juice of 4 oranges
1 c orange liquor
⅓ c brandy
Melt butter and add flour in a pan. Add orange zest and orange juice. Add orange liquor. Add brandy and flambé. Simmer. Strain mixture. Set sauce aside. Cool.
Leave ice cream to slightly soften.
Fold in strained mangoes and ice cream. Mold in a silicone pan and freeze overnight. Unmold.
Warm sauce and pour sauce over ice cream before serving. Garnish with fruits and mint.
Follow @iamreggieaspiras on Instagram and Facebook; reggieaspiras.com