Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Review: Crystal Jade Golden Palace

[Ed: Please welcome another fabulous contribution to this blog by our resident guest blogger, my father. This is technically an update of an earlier review, but I'm creating a separate post just to give it more prominence, as not only is it a review, it's also an insightful write-up about the F&B industry and how restaurants sometimes commit business suicide.]

It has been a long while since I last dined at Crystal Jade Paragon. To begin with, there is a new chain of restaurants under the Imperial Treasure group that is competing head-on with the Crystal Jade group and has taken a great deal of business from Crystal Jade.

Typical of Singaporeans, most people will want to try a new place and to be fair, the food is good, service can be excellent, depending on how regular a customer you are and prices are reportedly 10% cheaper at the Imperial Treasure outlets. This has obviously affected the business of the Crystal Jade group.

Most of the staff at the Imperial Tresure outlets are familair faces, having migrated from the Crystal Jade outlets. It appears that there has been a great amount of poaching but that is common here.

There are only so many regulars in these restaurants and they are pretty close-knit. If you capture the business of one group, you probably have got the business of the rest.

Some time back a friend was charged a very hefty sum for two tables and the word went around. Before long, most of the frequent diners were avoiding the place and worse still, this was the time Imperial Treasure was opening their outlets.

Like true Singaporeans, everyone wanted to sample the new restaurants and a great deal of business was lost to the new group. Owners should take note and learn from the experience of others.

In another case, a Western-style eatery billed another friend $200+ for water, and when the host called the next day, the owner's reply was, "I charged the next table even more for the water." That was the death-knell for the restaurant. It was only a matter of time before the demise of the place.

Restaurant owners who refuse to serve PUB water and only serve chargeable Pelegrino or Evian should take note.

Back to the revisit of Crystal Jade Paragon.

Teochew Goose

As there were only 3 of us, we decided to order some dishes to eat with rice. First was their signature dish of sliced Teochew Goose with bean curd with 3 bowls of rice. Nothing new here except the sharksfin soup that came out next.

Shark's Fin Soup

The somewhat gooey sharksfin soup has to be eaten before it gets cold and by the time it was consumed, the rice had gone cold.

Mustard Greens

A long wait followed before the next dish was served. An old favourite, green mustard with chestnuts and mushroom. Nothing to write home to mum about. The mushrooms were big and soft but the gravy was somewhat starchy. This came with 3 new bowls of hot rice as the first 3 bowls had gone cold.

Steamed Pomfret

As recommended, we ordered Teochew steamed pomfret. What emerged was something we had never seen before. There were 3 slices of pomfret swimming in sauce. No head or tail but just 3 slices of pomfret, almost like what you would find in Penang-style Assam curry fish. Incredible!

Fried welk

As the fish was not fresh, another order recommended was welk fried with celery. This was not bad and we rounded off the meal with one bowl of gingko nut soup as dessert.

Gingko nut soup

Since I have a sweet tooth it was fine by me but the 2 ladies decided it was too much work the next day at the Gym and left the calorie-laden soup alone.

There was also a complimentary plate of fruits consisting of papaya, watermelon and honeydew.

The bill for the 3 of us for the food served with PUB water was just over $400. Value for money? Your call.

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