Updated: 15th March 2011: This restaurant is closed and it has been replaced by Xu’s Wonton House.
I sometimes go to the food court in the Crystal Mall for lunch during the week days — particularly on days that I really don’t know what to eat. With quite a few restaurants and a well represented food court, it is no wonder that this Asian mall is always packed at all hours of the day.
Tell me, what is the one commonality of a successful Asian mall? It is always the food. Any self respecting Asian mall must have great food outlets. All other businesses are just the supporting cast.
The food court in Crystal Mall serves almost exclusively Asian fare, mostly Chinese.
I believe the biggest draw factor to this food court is the price. It is here that you could get a good and filling lunch for just $5. I can’t think of another place which offers so much variety at these low ball prices.
The food court is located on the second floor. Underneath it is an open market where you could get fresh fruits at really cheap prices. See the stall on the right? That is a popular Chinese BBQ stall which I sometimes get roast pork to go.
There must be almost 30 stalls here in the food court. It is often chaotic. Despite the masses of humanity here, it is surprisingly not too difficult to get a table. It is because the tables gets opened up quite fast. It could get testy if you are not used to the crowds here.
The stall that I headed to was the one located at the furthest end of the food court. It is called Wang’s Shanghai Cuisine.
I was there for their Xiao Long Bao which had just won Silver in the Food Court Category of the 2010 Chinese Restaurant Award.
This stall has got to be the one which has the most number of staff in the entire food court. I counted at least eight people working non-stop.
This is because making xiao long bao is a manual, time-consuming affair. It has to be made fresh because it has a very short shelf life.
You can see them pleating the xiao long baos with such consistency and speed. Despite all the labour involved in making this, it is interesting that it is still so cheap.
There is a 15 minutes wait time in this stall. You actually see your xiao long bao being made in front and then passed to the kitchen for steaming.
Here it is — the Xiao Long Bao from Wang’s.
You know, I was kind of surprised that the XLB from Wang’s are mentioned in the CRA 2010 because I had better ones before. I think it is because … Wang’s won a prize in the food court category and not the northern dim sum category.
Here is what I, an amateur, have to say about this XLB.
Firstly, Wang’s XLB does not look good. While the skin is sufficiently thin, I had seen thinner ones … ones that are bordering on being translucent. The skin has to be so thin that when picked up it will forms a small bag of soup like this one which is so thin that it had to be served on saucers.
The shape of the XLB is not impressive. I had seen better looking ones (like these ones from Shanghai Village). I just can’t get over why Shanghai Village’s XLB has a hole in the middle. I also saw that same hole-on-the-top characteristic in the XLB from the Top Shanghai Restaurant and Suhang Restaurant in Richmond.
I read somewhere (can’t remember where now) that XLBs has to have a standard 13 pleats. LOL! I don’t think there is any truth in it but one thing for sure … the top of the XLB has to be thin and not a lumpy dough.
Wang’s XLB costs $3.75 (I think) for five pieces. I noticed that they don’t use paper to line the bamboo basket. Instead it is some reed tied up used as lining. It does look more traditional.
The problem is that the XLB gets stuck on the reeds quite easily that it tore one of our XLBs.
One thing I got to hand to them … it is made fresh and steaming hot. This is important because it is the rich tasting broth that makes and breaks the XLB.
For those who are not familiar with XLBs, the soup in the dumpling came from the gelatin melted in the steaming process.
Although XLBs is Wang’s Shanghai Cuisine specialty, they also have other Shanghainese choices on their menu.
I like their beef roll ($3.75) which has sweetish hoisin sauce and green onion slices. The beef has a firm texture, almost like dried beef (yoke korn).
If you never been to Crystal Mall before, I gotta warn you about their underground parking though. It is difficult to navigate and narrow.