From fine dining to casual dining, Crystal Jade has no lack of restaurants under its culinary belt to cater to different taste buds. To celebrate its 10th anniversary, Crystal Jade Korean Ginseng Chicken and BBQ Restaurant shifted to their new home, taking over the spot vacated by their sister restaurant Crystal Jade Kitchen. Korean foodies are in for a treat with the expanded menu offering healthy wholesome home-styled Korean food within a traditional “hanok” inspired dining environment.

The Korean appetizers in a set of 6 ($10) is a great tummy filler before the mains arrive. The variety changes daily to keep things refreshing. After tantalizing my taste bud with the spicy appetizers, the Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup provides a totally different experience. Fresh whole young chicken is stuffed with glutinous rice, red dates and gingko nuts and steamed for 1.5 hours with ginseng and ginseng water before simmering for another 3 hours with chicken stock. The whole laborious affair resulted in a ginseng infused chicken meat that tears apart at the prick of a fork. This traditional summer time dish with rejuvenating and detoxing effects is chicken soup for the soul indeed.

When the stewed top grade beef short rib arrived simmering in a claypot, I knew it will be a show stopper. Prime Australian chunky beef ribs are massaged with an assortment of pepper, sesame, ginger and garlic before braising with rock sugar, apple, pear, carrot and radish. The vegetables and meat are totally infused with the thick stewed sauce packed full of umami flavour. Throw in some of the fresh Korean handmade noodle for a delicious carbo intake.

The Korean Imperial Hotpot ($39/serving) came beautifully arranged with assorted vegetables topped with fresh pork belly in a kimchi broth. I’m not a fan of kimchi and prefer my hotpot to be purely chicken or pork broth to fully appreciate the natural flavour without the enhancement of something spicy.

What’s a Korean meal without BBQ? To complete our Korean dining experience, the beef short rib ($28/serving) comes into play again, glistening over the hot grill, after being marinated with a secret recipe. The ox tongue ($25/serving) and gorgeous marbled pork collar ($22/serving) are both juicy and succulent with just a few short flip over the grill.

Ironically, the dessert is the most memorable dish for the night. Double boiled Snow Pear with Chuan Bei and Dried Longan ($5/serving) Affectionately known to many Koreans as “baesuk”, this simple home-styled dessert is a remedy for colds and coughs. Served icy cold, it is a refreshing end to our delightful BBQ meal.

391 Orchard Road
#B2-36A Ngee Ann City
Tel: 6733 3229

Opening Hours:
Mon to Fri: 11am to 3pm (Lunch) 5.30pm to 11pm (Dinner)
Sat to Sun: 11am to 11pm

This was an invited tasting.

Thank you Samantha and Lucas from Crystal Jade and Joh Ju from Pinstripes Communications for the kind hospitality.


FINALLY! The long weekend is here. Some time alone to regain a little bit of my sanity back.


Hot on the heels of the nostalgic trend to convert old shops into hipster cafes, Sin Lee Foods revived an weather-beaten kopitiam in Jalan Bukit Ho Swee famed for its lor mee and prawn noodle since 1963. Apart from the aged signboard and original wire grille painted black to match the distressed industrial interior space, traces of the past were barely noticeable.

I came with high expectation for the fried chicken and waffles. The generous slab of chicken thigh is juicy and evenly seasoned, but was let down by the stodgy waffle. The cold slaw and diluted maple butter on the side were both too insignificant to make much of a difference. While the croissant royale (Smoked salmon and poached eggs with hollandaise sauce) fared better, it is common café fare that one can easily get elsewhere. Perhaps some fusion spin to leverage on its predecessor food offering like Lor Mee pasta could inject more creativity for the menu. Food prices are also on the high side for a neighbourhood café, even without GST and service charge.

Although it’s heartening to see aspiring F&B owners trying to preserve heritage by taking over aged shops within matured estates , it takes much more for a café to survive the heat, after the initial retro hype wears thin, especially at the rate new cafes are sprouting up like wild shrooms all over the island.

Blk 4 Jalan Bukit Ho Swee #01-164 Singapore 162004
Tel: 6377 3170

Opening Hours:
Tues to Sun – 10am to 9pm (Closed on Mondays)



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Nowadays, it is almost mandatory for aspiring café owners to set up shop below a HDB block. Novelty aside, the more affordable rental and the old world charm that tags along with it is non-existent in a shopping mall. Think, Maple & Market at Cassia Crescent and the more recent Tian Kee & Co at Dakota Crescent. The Tastemaker Store while retaining its original nostalgic vibe, also manages to inject a modern Muji-like style with its clean uncluttered interior that is a welcoming change from the industrial retro style look bastardized by way too many mediocre cafes.

Lovers of soft boiled eggs and Kaya toast would be delighted to find a creative spin on this traditional classic. The all too familiar fragrant kaya is replaced with lemon curd and clotted cream. The tangy and creamy combination worked perfectly together albeit being let down by the stale muffin bun. The caffeine department also needs more work as my weak and insipid latte didn’t do much to perk me up. Apart from the usual suspects of sandwiches, pizzas and cakes, I am more intrigued by the Asian savouries of Glutinous Rice and Yam cake. The inclusion of these 2 popular Teochew snacks could largely be due to the no of Teochew in the neighbourhood well known for Teochew porridge and Bak Kut Teh stores, both of which I find mediocre and over priced.

The Tastemaker Store is a refreshing alternative from the popular Tiong Bahru enclave, saturated with cafes should you need a quiet respite from the maddening crowd. Hurry down before the hipsters catch wind of it.

Blk 22 Havelock Road #01-705 Singapore 160022
Opening Hours: 9am to 9pm daily