We arrived back in Singapore from Hong Kong in the mid afternoon, and given our last meal was at 8am and that it was late for lunch time we were ravenous. Having missed out on dim sum in Disneyland and Tim Ho Wan for breakfast, we headed up the stairs in Terminal 2 for a meal at Crystal Jade. Crystal Jade is a well regarded dim sum chain founded in Singapore, which has now opened branches throughout Asia, including Hong Kong. I'd had an enjoyable meal at one of their other restaurants in Singapore, so this meal would be a safe bet. We filled out our order form and waited for our dim sum to arrive.
I'll do the usual blow by blow but in writing this post I've realised most what I want to say can be summed up fairly succinctly; for the most part if there was a direct comparison with Tim Ho Wan, Crystal Jade's dim sum was simply outclassed.
Har Gao? Crystal Jade's is larger from my recollection, but it was about the same standard as Tim Ho Wan's in terms of flavour. Both were excellent.
By now we've had Teo Chew Dumplings a few times so I feel a bit more able to comment. Crystal Jade's is good, seeming to hit every required flavour (the pork, the shrimp, the peanut etc) but the version at Tim Ho Wan did it better.
Fried Yam – I've had better in Australia. Seemed a bit too oily... maybe it had sat for far too long but its flavour was overpowered by the oiliness. This could well be our fault considering we came so late in the afternoon.
Fried Wantons – these were very good, about what I would expect from a juicy fried wanton with a generous prawn filling.
Barbecue Pork Chee Cheong Fun – lighter than the pig liver option at Tim Ho Wan. Not necessarily better or worse – an excellent chee cheong fun in its ow right.
Char Siu Bao – chalk and cheese of course, but after Tim Ho Wan pork buns I can never go back to the usual bao without feeling like I'm missing out. So yes; Tim Ho Wan did it better. In a like for like comparison to the usual char siu bao, though this was a very good example of tried and true classic.
Steamed Custard and Pine Nut Bun in Piggy Shape – Alissa liked it, mostly amused about eating a tasty pig. She can't remember the flavour as much, but it definitely was a successful dish visually.
Siu Mei – sure, this had generous slivers of shiitake mushrooms as well, but the pork and prawns didn't seem to be melded together in flavour compared to the variety at Tim Ho Wan, even seeming to separate a bit as we picked them up with chopsticks. So again, Tim Ho Wan's trumped the Crystal Jade version.
I was surprised by this chicken feet. It had an overpoweringly strong flavour of cinnamon, and while I like cinnamon this should not be the most forward flavour in chicken feet – I would argue the black bean and chilli should be closer to the fore. As with the other dishes, this was better at Tim Ho Wan.
The Verdict: Very Good
Look, I don't mean to be disparaging of Crystal Jade. The service was beyond reproach, much better than the utilitarian 'eat and leave' attitude of Hong Kong dim sum joints, including Tim Ho Wan. Crystal Jade is very good quality dim sum, no doubt about it, and getting a feed this good at an airport is something you'll find in only a few places in the world. So I'm really appreciative. However, considering the price of Crystal Jade was close to twice what we paid at the Michelin Starred Tim Ho Wan just a few days ago it simply is not at the same level, nor can it be said to be good value for money.