Along with having one of the longest restaurant names in Bangkok, Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao must also serve some of the city's best Chinese food. The restaurant is one of a Singapore-based franchise that has branches all over Asia. Bangkok's branch opened about a year ago, and always seems to be packed during lunch time. It was my turn to impress Aong with my restaurant choice prowess, and I thought this place, with its excellent and authentic Chinese noodles, would do the trick.
We began with Shredded celery with dried beancurd and sesame oil:
The dish was served chilled, and was flavoured with little more than sesame oil and perhaps a drop or two of soy sauce. The celery and carrot carried this subtle flavour, and also provided the dish with a deliciously crunchy element.
But this was just a starter, and the real reason people come here is for la mian, fresh, hand-pulled noodles:
We split a huge bowl of Hot and spicy 'La Mian' with Sichuan preserved vegetable and minced pork. The noodles come to the table coated with a layer of oily broth redolent of Szechuan pepper and cumin:
Immediately after receiving your bowl, you'll be approached by an employee wielding a pair of kitchen shears who will ask if you want your noodles cut. I would recommend this, as the noodles are very long, and otherwise you'll end up getting most of the oily broth on your shirt. The noodles, no doubt made minutes earlier (you can see the noodle pullers at work behind the counter) taste fresh and soft, and are surprisingly light. The broth is spicy, sour (from the pickled veggies) and salty.
These were followed by the restaurant's other namesake, Xiao long bao, steamed, broth-filled pork dumplings:
which Aong and I agreed were average at best. The wrappers were thin and tore easily, making it a messy and difficult dish to eat, and the pork filling seemed disproportionately large.
The only possible complaint I have would be that much of this is cold weather food, and this being Bangkok, it wouldn't hurt the restaurant to turn up the air conditioning a few notches just for atmosphere!
Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao
Urban Kitchen (located in the basement of the Erawan Bangkok)
494 Thanon Phloen Chit (Phloen Chit BTS station)
02 250 7990