Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Crystal Jade Dining IN's New Chef's Recommendations and Yu Sheng

What is it about Cantonese cuisine that sets it apart from China's other regional cooking styles?  I've never truly answered that till I had my first visit here at Crstal Jade Dining IN.  Thoughit is a known fact that Cantonese cuisine is distinguished as China's "haute cuisine."

Located at Bonifacio High Street, Crystal Jade is a regular purveyor for foodies after good quality Chinese food.  Like many Chinese restaurants, they are now getting ready for this year's Chinese New Year.  Aside from the introduction of new menu dishes, they have launched the Prosperity Toss meal known as Yu Sheng or Lo Hei. 

Yusheng, yee sang or yuu sahng (Chinese: 鱼生; pinyin: yúshēng; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: hî-seⁿ or hû-siⁿ), or Prosperity Toss, also known as lo hei (Cantonese for 撈起 or 捞起) is a Teochew-style raw fish salad. It usually consists of strips of raw fish (most commonly salmon), mixed with shredded vegetables and a variety of sauces and condiments, among other ingredients. Yusheng literally means "raw fish" but since "fish (鱼)" is commonly conflated with its homophone "abundance (余)", Yúshēng (鱼生) is interpreted as a homophone for Yúshēng (余升) meaning an increase in abundance. Therefore, yusheng is considered a symbol of abundance, prosperity and vigor.

Here. you can see that one of the restaurant staff had led by preparing the salad for us.  All diners at the table then stand up and on cue, proceed to toss the shredded ingredients into the air with chopsticks while saying various "auspicious wishes" out loud, or simply "撈起, 撈起". It is believed that the height of the toss reflects the height of the diner's growth in fortunes, thus diners are expected to toss enthusiastically.

Traditionally, every ingredient meant something thus the ingredients essentially have to be complete.

The fish symbolizes abundance and excess through the year, which is something we all want right! 
年年有余 (Nian Nian You Yu) meaning “Abundance through the year”, as the word "fish" in Mandarin also sounds like "Abundance".

The pomelo or lime is added to the fish, adding luck and auspicious value. 大吉大利 Da Ji Da Li meaning “Good luck and smooth sailing”

Pepper is then dashed over in the hope of attracting more money and valuables. 招财进宝 Zhao Cai Jin Bao meaning “Attract wealth and treasures”

Then oil is poured out, circling the ingredients and encouraging money to flow in from all directions. 一本万利 Yi Ben Wan Li meaning “Make 10,000 times of profit with your capital” 财源广进 Cai Yuan Guang Jin meaning “Numerous sources of wealth”

Carrots are added indicating blessings of good luck. 鸿运当头 Hong Yun Dang Tou meaning “Good luck is approaching”. Carrot (红萝卜) is used as the first character 鸿 also sound like the Chinese character for red.

Then the shredded green radish is for eternal youth. 青春常驻 Qing Chun Chang Zhu meaning “Forever young”. Green radish is used as the first character 青 also sound like the Chinese character for green.

The shredded white radish is added - prosperity in business and promotion at work. 风生水起 Feng Sheng Shui Qi meaning “Progress at a fast pace” 步步高升 Bu Bu Gao Sheng meaning “Reaching higher level with each step”

The condiments are finally added.

First, peanut crumbs are dusted on the dish, symbolizing a household filled with gold and silver. 金银满屋 Jin Yin Man Wu meaning “Household filled with gold and silver”

Sesame seeds quickly follow symbolising a flourishing business. 生意兴隆 Sheng Yi Xing Long meaning “Prosperity for the business”

Yu Sheng sauce, usually plum sauce, is generously drizzled over everything. 甜甜蜜蜜 Tian Tian Mi Mi Meaning “May life always be sweet”.

Deep-fried flour crisps in the shape of golden pillows is then added with wishes that literally the whole floor would be filled with gold. 满地黄金 Man Di Huang Jin meaning “Floor full of gold”

For starters, make way for Xia Long Bao.

I had Four Season Shake, btw.

One of their best-seller, Peking Duck was served to us in two ways.  So when you order, the can give you the freedom to either eat it as it is or try the Chef's recommendation with it as a main ingredient.

One way to have it is with a wrap.  Dabbed with of Hoisin sauce, Spring Onion and Cucumber on the side of some slices of the duck meat, it is rolled with a soft wanton wrapper.  What you get is a savory, salty and sweet mix all in one bite.

The Double Boiled Fish with White Fungus and Papaya, one one hand, didn't really give much please.  It's like sipping Tinola Fish only with that unusual aroma and rancid taste, probably from the white fungus or the fish.

Next on their new dishes to try is the buchi!  Say what?  Ooops that's  joke!  These savor balls did really look like buchi.  These are Golden Sesame Balls Stuffed with Fresh Mushrooms. The sueteed mushroom filling is encased in a gelatinous shell and ending the bite with a crunch from the sesame seeds with a hint of salted egg seasoning. 

If you are read to be surprised then be it with this glorious helping of Crispy Prawns with sliced Apple and Sweet & Sour Sauce.  Oh yes,you read it right, it has apples, julienned most like.   As much as I like prawns in any was cooked, by far they've outdone all that I've tasted.  A mix of tartness, sweetness and freshness from all the ingredients burst in my palate.

Steamed Live Garoupa with Olive is another spectacle of a dish.  My foodie buddies with me on the table were debating the different taste that comes from the olives.  I was accustomed to Italian way of preserving olives so the way Chinese had it is a whole different take.  There is that licorice taste that fuses with the light sauce.

Sauteed Vegetables with Preserved Vegetables will be a delight to veggie lovers like me.

If your mind is still with the Peking duck, well another way it was served to us was with this, Braised Noodles with Shredded Duck and Mushrooms.  It's not that pleasing to the eye as the other dishes served to us, but as soon as you bite into, then you will know!     

An emphasis on preserving the natural flavor of the food is the hallmark of Cantonese cuisine. A Cantonese chef would consider it a culinary sin of the highest order to produce a dish that was overcooked or too heavily seasoned. I was reminded of this here at Crystal Jade.

Along with freshness and quality, artistic presentation of the food and garnishing are also very important in Cantonese cuisine.  More evident in the dessert below.                                                                                     

Japanese Glutinous Rice Dumpling with Mango Cream

Chilled Coffee Jelly

Taro Balls

Don't you think that was a great way to celebrate the turning of  new leaf, the Chinese way?  Well, at least with my experience here, it was.

Address:  Bonifacio High Street Central,
                30th Avenue cor. 7th Avenue,
                Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City

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