New ‘Crystal Green’ menu review: A collaboration between Crystal Jade and Green Monday
Maybe it’s because I’m not working out as much these days but eating multiple indulgent meals a week doesn’t feel as good as it used to. After a January cleanse opened my eyes to delicious yet lighter eats across town, I’ve continued to keep my eyes peeled for healthier options when dining out. So I was really interested to try the new Crystal Monday collaboration between popular chain Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao and local green pioneer Green Monday (also founder of OmniPork). What would alternative meats be like traditional Chinese dishes?
There are six dishes as part of this collaboration. All of the alternative meats are comprised of plant-based ingredients such as pea, shiitake mushroom, rice and non-GMO soy.
We started with one of Crystal Jade’s best-sellers: the xiao long bao. This version used OmniPork and Celtuce ($52). What was good? The bundles were tasty and I enjoyed the crunchy texture from the celtuce. However these won’t remind you of traditional xiaolong bao as, at least during our visit, there was no soupiness at all. But if you just think of these as steamed pork dumplings, they’re definitely worth a try.
The OmniPork Wonton Soup ($68) would be a great light lunch. Again, these dumplings had a crunchier texture this time from carrots, shiitake mushrooms and bok choy. In my experience, it’s hard to find a good dumpling in town that doesn’t contain pork. This is a welcome (dare I say needed) addition to our city’s dumpling scene.
Next up were these OmniPork Balls with Shichimi and Cumin ($92). Since meatballs often seem to contain indisginguishable meat anyway, the OmniPork version doesn’t seem like a big transition. The texture seems like a normal meatball and the spice is nice. Would be a great group appetizer or party snack.
The last OmniPork dish were these OmniPork strips with sweet bean sauce served with steamed pancakes ($90). This one tastes much more like an alternative meat, as the texture of the strips is firmer than regular pork. While it won’t fool a meat eater, the dish is satisfying especially when eaten with Crystal Jade’s delicious pancakes.
Moving onto the ‘beef’! The Beyond Beef and Egg White Soup with Cilantro ($95) is based on West Lake Beef soup. I’ve never had that before but can say that this Crystal Green soup is delicious. Of all the dishes, this might be my favourite. Crystal Jade do Chinese soups well so no surprise perhaps that the texture is silky and comes with gorgeous ribbons of wispy egg whites… only there’s what tastes like hamburger meat mixed in.
The last dish was the Sweet and Sour Heura Chicken ($98). This really is the most chicken-like alternative chicken I’ve ever had. However the flavour of the sauce didn’t really work for me and I didn’t like it on the chicken breast-like texture. Might have been nicer if the Heura Chicken was battered and fried.
All in all, there’s a lot to love about the new Crystal Green menu. It’s great that alternative meats are now available in such an accessible way. Some of us may have decided to eat less meat for environmental reasons. Others may decide to once they discover they feel better when they do. This collaboration proves that it is now possible to have a non-weird alternative meats meal right in the comfort of your favourite restaurant. Looking forward to seeing what dishes this collaboration will produce in the future.
Crystal Green is available at all Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao locations, excluding the ones at airport and in Kennedy Town.