Crystal Jade Pristine
#03-06 Scotts Square
6 Scotts Road
Open daily: 11.30 am to 3.30pm; 6pm to 10.30pm
IT'S that time of year when the clarion call to eat healthily after a period of excessive feasting gets extra loud simply because deep down, we really don't want to listen. The sound of teeth chomping into crackling crisp roast pork belly or the clink of a spoon scraping the last bit of bread and butter pudding will always be sweeter than the crunch of fresh lettuce or a scoop of fat-free yoghurt - such is the Tao of the foodie, health issues be damned.
In Singapore, restaurants serving healthy food are still largely the domain of a grain and green-loving demographic who believe dehydrated kale chips flavoured with nutritional yeast actually taste good. Convincing the French fries set remains a challenge, which is why this is one food trend that has yet to penetrate the mainstream.
With a slew of eateries under its belt, the Crystal Jade Group has thrown its hat into the healthy eating ring with its Pristine concept in Scotts Square shopping centre, but one has a nasty feeling its efforts may well come to naught.
Pristine is a change of concept for what used to be a Crystal Jade Kitchen in the cold-and-quiet mall, whose upmarket retail positioning hasn't exactly made it a people-magnet. Somehow, a restaurant that serves scrambled egg whites with aloe vera and rice with a bit of black truffle and conpoy is hardly likely to attract a crushing queue.
It's a pity because it would have been a welcome new entrant if the food just measured up. The menu sure looks good - featuring well thought out categories like an organic section, a nourishing selection and one just for women. To cover all bases, it's also got a large list of chef's specialities and the ubiquitous premium seafood to please health anarchists. You could call it a cop-out, but a restaurant's got to make some money.
Sadly, diners may well turn to the latter sections because the health-oriented dishes are the weakest on the menu. Perhaps we made all the wrong choices, but to be consistently ordering mediocre dishes throughout is a little disconcerting.
Scrambled organic egg whites with aloe vera ($16) is colourless in presentation and flavour, while a panfried cod fillet tasted just of salt ($16) and little else. The delicious sounding braised rice with black truffle and conpoy ($8 per person) needed much imagination to detect any whiff of fungi, not to mention lashings of the soy sauce mixture to convince oneself that there was more to this than plain boiled rice. Even the ingredients in the braised tofu with kurobuta pork mince ($18) seemed to be competing to see which could out-bland the tofu.
The braised pork rib with hawthorn, preserved plum and dried tangerine ($12 a piece) fares a little better with its pleasant citrusy overtones, but is nothing special. And like the cod, eggs and rice, it's over-priced.
The only minor pleasure is the double-boiled soup of the day ($8 per head), a comforting meaty brew that hits the spot, as do the salted egg custard buns (neither healthy nor a diet option for ladies).
There are other interesting sounding dishes we didn't try, such as steamed chicken beancurd and braised beef with Chinese yam and red dates, not to mention the chef's specials which would at least have a minimum Crystal Jade standard. Healthy food is a laudable idea - but given its half-hearted approach, Pristine doesn't make a clear-cut case for it.
WHAT OUR RATINGS MEAN
10: The ultimate dining experience
7-7.5: Good to very good