Yee Sang Dinner @ Celestial Court, Sheraton Imperial

Sheep Yee Sang

I just had my first yee sang dinner of the year last night. This salmon yee sang is made with shredded vegetables made to look like the Chinese character for “sheep” (羊) coz the Year of the Sheep is coming up.

Celestial Court Imperial Sheraton

It’s just less than a month till Chinese New Year so the annual “lou sang”/“sau kong” (traditional end-of-work before CNY company dinners) sessions are starting to kick in gear. This one was held by Tourism Australia at Celestial Court at Sheraton Imperial KL.

Prosperity Salmon Yee Sang

Prosperity Salmon Yee Sang

I love how they made the raw fish salad to look like the Chinese character for sheep – 羊. I didn’t actually notice it until someone pointed it out. The waitresses poured in all the ingredients and each one signifies something e.g. fish for 年年有余 (Abundance throughout the year), oil for 一本万利 and 财源广进 (May you have 10,000 returns with your capital/Numerous sources of wealth), carrots for 鸿运当头 (Good luck coming) and even the crushed peanuts for 金银满屋 (Household filled with gold and silver).

Tossing Yee Sang

It’s a highly ritualized service and a lot of places actually states the auspicious Chinese phrases out loud as they pour in the ingredients. We tossed the salad while wishing for various things, mine was for family and more vacations and travel for 2015. smirk

Double-boiled Baby Abalone Soup with Sea Cucumber and Fish Maw

Double boiled Baby Abalone Soup with Sea Cucumber and Fish Maw

I really liked this clear soup – the baby abalone is super tender compared to the wedding dinner I went to last weekend. The broth tastes amazing too, the seasoning is just right and the sea cucumber and fish maw just slides down my throat.

Roasted Crispy Chicken with Golden Garlic Sands

Roasted Crispy Chicken with Golden Garlic Sands

This is my least favorite dish in every Chinese banquet and I don’t usually partake much but the golden garlic “sand” that goes with the roasted chicken is very nice.

Homemade Stuffed Scallop with Dry Scallop and Spring Onion Sauce

Homemade Stuffed Scallop with Dry Scallop and Spring Onion Sauce

Delicious! I liked the thick, reduced spring onion sauce which was heavily seasoned with dry scallops – it coated the stuffed scallops and added a lot of flavor and a slippery texture prized in traditional Cantonese cuisine. The stuffed scallops were very flavorful and I couldn’t help popping more than a few of these babies into my mouth.

Pan Seared Red Garoupa with Flower Fungus, Bird Eye Chillies on Lotus Leaf

Pan Seared Red Garoupa with Flower Fungus, Bird Eye Chillies on Lotus Leaf

The fish dish is my favorite dish in banquets! I like how this one was presented on a lotus leaf and it’s pan-seared instead of steamed, giving it the Maillard reaction and caramelization that adds a note of sweetness to the fish.

Red Grouper

It was slightly overcooked though and I felt it should have come before the saltier stuffed scallops dish but it’s still great paired with my white wine.

Braised Beancurd with Fish Paste

Braised Beancurd with Fish Paste

I was quite surprised to find out that I actually rather enjoyed this dish. I eat everything but there are certain things that I don’t like (but will still try) – beancurd/tofu being one of the examples. This doesn’t taste like tofu at all, it’s stuffed with fish paste and the tender texture of the beancurd contrasted nicely with the slightly resistant fish paste made in-house.

Fragrant Wok-fried Flat Rice Noodles with Black Bean and Seafood

sss

The staff at Celestial Court at Sheraton Imperial offered to portion every dish (including the fish) which I thought was great. It’s a service that’s expected in higher end Chinese restaurants nowadays, although you can refuse, of course, it’s up to each table’s preference. I don’t know what that says about the evolution of community dining but even our family opts for that when we eat out in Singapore.

The kueh tiaw was actually pretty good, if slightly oily, and each bowl had a large prawn, slice of fish and scallop.

Screw Pine and Coconut Milk Crème Brulee, with Raspberry Jam, Grilled Jackfruit, Crispy Rambutan and Lotus Root Dessert presented by Chef Sherson Lian

Screw Pine and Coconut Milk Crème Brulee, with Raspberry Jam, Grilled Jackfruit, Crispy Rambutan and Lotus Root Dessert presented by Chef Sherson Lian

This dessert was conceptualized by Chef Sherson Lian (have seen him on AFC before) who coincidentally sat on the same table as I did. It’s supposed to be a local crème brulee made with local ingredients, which begs the question about the glaring foreign ingredient in the dish – raspberry. It turns out that the component was supposed to be roselle jam but the roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) came too late for it to be incorporated into the dish.

I loved the crispy battered rambutans, pieces of jackfruit and lotus root and I can see the direction it’s going – excellent stuff.

It was a great finish to the first yee sang dinner of the year and I polished off my (rather large) portion. :)

Chee Keong & Mei Sze’s wedding @ Summer Palace

Chee Keong Mei Sze Wedding Banquet

This is the first wedding we attended this year! I had missed a friend (and co-worker) wedding in December 2014 due to prior commitments, so this is the first wedding of 2015. It’s a bit unusual as the traditional Chinese wedding banquet dinner was held on a Sunday night and the restaurant was quite far in Putrajaya Marriott Hotel so we got home quite late yesterday.

Summer Palace Putrajaya Marriott

The bride and groom had a ceremony earlier in the day which culminated in this wedding dinner. I knew the couple from a previous trip to Bangkok and the 9-course banquet was held at Summer Palace – the Chinese restaurant at Marriott in Putrajaya.

HB Ling Wedding

It’s a very nice place for a wedding – I’ve eaten here before at a company dinner and the food wasn’t too bad but the scenery and service is the main selling points. The servers are very conscientious about changing your plates after every course and I had a glass of The Macallan 12 year old for my drink.

Deluxe Five Happiness Combination Platter

Deluxe Five Happiness Combination Platter

This is the first course and instead of the traditional “Four Seasons” plate with four food items this has five different hot and cold elements. There’s also the increasingly common theatre that goes with the first course, with the servers getting in line and doing a performance before grandly putting the first plate on your table.

Deep Fried Salted Egg

I first saw this at my sister’s wedding in Sibu but it wasn’t present at her wedding in KL. We thought the cold pork belly/duck breast slices were the best part of the dish – it was lying on a bed of pickled jellyfish which provided a wonderful acidic element. We also loved the boiled and deep fried salted egg.

Double-boiled Chicken Soup with Baby Abalone, Top Shell & Chinese Herbs

Double boiled Chicken Soup with Baby Abalone

Shark’s Fin Soup has gone out of vogue since the environmentalist types and the wannabes/sheep started a crusade against it. I’m personally ambivalent about the issue, as most people who really understand the issue, with the entire hypocrisy (and racism) of Sea Shepard and other militant environmental organizations on one side and the heritage of Icelandic culture (hákarl – fermented Greenland shark), Canadian legal seal meat and Japanese/French proudly unapologetic cuisine on the other.

However, I think the substitution of shark’s fin soup with a clear soup with premium ingredients like abalone, fish maw, top shell (magpie shell) and such is a good thing too and it tastes better and there was been a spate of fake shark’s fin going around in the few years before it became the “S-word”.

This is a good example of a nice clear soup which highlights the abalone, top shell, chicken and fish maw and it’s individually portioned beforehand.

Roasted Sesame Chicken & Roasted Chicken

Roasted Sesame Chicken

The chicken done two ways is a nice twist on the traditional roasted chicken. However, I’m not a huge fan of chicken done this way – there’s no sea salt or plum sauce for the slightly overcooked and dry roasted chicken and the roasted sesame chicken wasn’t much better.

Steamed Mandarin Fish “Unicorn” Style

Steamed Unicorn Fish

This seems to be the latest trend in serving fish at Chinese banquets! The fish is totally de-boned and filleted. The fillets of fish is then wrapped around a long, tubular “fish ball” and presented on the carcass of the fish so it looks like rolled up fish flesh.

Unicorn Fish

I’m a purist so I still prefer steamed fish served whole but I have to admit, this “unicorn style” platters of fish is very easy to eat, and the fish ball inside makes it taste artificially good with lots of MSG!

Chilled ‘Ming’ Prawns with Mayo & Stir-fried Prawn Balls with Butter Cream

Chilled Ming Prawns with Butter Cream

This is the best dish that we had the entire night! There’s huge prawns done two ways, and they’re all de-shelled and de-veined. One is cooked in a sweet and wet butter/mayo sauce and the other is deep fried in butter. It’s very creamy and I love the huge, juicy prawns – I had three and my better half had two.

Braised Assorted Dried Seafood with Broccoli

Braised Assorted Dried Seafood with Broccoli

I love the texture of sea cucumber! I’ll actually order this if I see it around. There was a RM 60 PNG (Papua New Guinea) sea cucumber promotion at Glory Cafe in Sarikei when we went but I was too full to order it. The sea cucumber here is done well, thickly sliced and full of slippery and chewy collagen. I also liked the mushrooms – very flavorful, especially with the bits of dried and rehydrated scallops in the reduced sauce.

Special Three Layered Fried Rice

Special Three Layered Fried Rice

There’s nothing special about this dish – it’s just rice done three ways. There’s plain fried rice on top, rice fried with light soy sauce in the middle and cooking caramel (dark soy sauce) fried rice at the bottom. That’s what causes the layered coloration and it was very oily – this is a dish for people who’re still hungry to fill up before dessert is served.

I know people who eat this way – main dishes only (fish, chicken, pork etc) with no accompanying rice in a multiple course banquet where they fill up on fried noodles or rice as the last course, it’s a different style of eating but we were too full at this point to eat more than a spoonful of the rice to taste it.

Special Dessert Combination

Special Dessert Combination

This is actually pretty decent! They made the crushed peanut covered mochi to be flavorless (except for the smoky and nutty accents from the peanuts) so the sweet component comes from the mung bean shaped and moulded into a cartoonish ear of corn.

It’s meant to be eaten together and it’s a good pairing.

The Chinese characters makes a lot more sense than the English translation though. Haha.

Chilled Mixed Fruits with Avocado Cream

Chilled Mixed Fruits with Avocado Cream

This is the highlight of the dish and it was what we had saved up space for. We both thought an avocado based dessert sounded delicious and we’re glad we waited for this even though a lot of people were leaving at this point to beat the traffic and try to get home before a work day. It has a wonderfully rich mouthfeel and a nutty flavor that’s very morish. Delectable!

Chee Keong Mei Sze Wedding Photo

Congrats and all the best to the newly-weds! :)

Ruby Restaurant revisited

big prawn rice

I haven’t been to Ruby Restaurant in quite a long time. My dad and I wanted to go on Wednesday but that was their off day so we had to go somewhere else instead. However, I was quite determined to head over since I’ve enjoyed their food a lot and so I went with my dad again and found them open.

ruby restaurant christmas

The place is much as I remembered, with a warm inviting interior and their small neon sign outside (the large signboard seems to have been taken down). The Christmas decorations are up though! :)

ambarella juice

We both ordered kedondong juice. Kedondong is a tropical fruit also known as ambarella (Spondias dulcis) and it’s makes for a tart and acidic drink.

butter prawns

I wanted to have their creamy butter prawns and the owner told me they have the large prawns that I like so I jumped at the chance to have that. This seems to be big white prawns instead of big head prawns but delicious regardless – the prawns are so crunchy you can eat them, shells and all but still soft and moist inside. I love their butter sauce – it’s so rich and appetizing.

puo chai chinese wine

My dad also ordered a vegetable dish – puo chai cooked in Chinese white wine. I was quite surprised at how good it tasted. Ruby Restaurant used to be a favorite of mine before I switched to Ming Mei Shi – which serves a more KL-style dai chow. I like the localized Ruby Restaurant better now. This is delicious, not overcooked, with a hint of raw Chinese white wine.

sour mayonnaise lamb

The other dish we had was recommended by the owner when I asked for something new. She suggested sour mayonnaise lamb. I asked her what the acidic component is and she *pretended* not to hear me twice before smiling and said it’s a trade secret. That definitely sounded promising and even my dad loved this – the addition of citrus or vinegar brightens up this otherwise cloying dish and the lamb isn’t overtly gamey too.

ruby restaurant sibu

The bill was quite reasonable – the prawn dish *alone* came up to RM 40 due to the two large prawns but the lamb and vegetables are surprisingly affordable. The two of us polished off everything in sight!

ruby dad me

My dad mentioned that everything they served tasted delicious and I have to agree. We had just come from a terrible dinner the night before and it’s nice to revisit an old favorite like Ruby Restaurant again.

sour mayo lamb

It’s even better when you find that the standards have increased and not dropped – Ruby Restaurant is truly a gem! smirk

Sabah Kampung Beef Noodles (Kah Hiong Ngiu Chap)

beef brisket noodles

I remember eating the absolutely fabulous and rightfully famous Inanam ngiu chap in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah when I was based there a few years back. Ngiu chap is the local Hakka dialect for beef noodles, prepared in a distinctive way. The traditional Inanam style consists of a semi-clear broth but there’s another preparation which has a darker soy sauce tinged soup. This is the latter.

sabah kampung beef noodles

I was pleased to see an outlet for Kah Hiong Ngiu Chap open up near my place in Kota Damansara. It’s just been open for a couple of months and we wondered what shop will pop up there. I’ve been to Kota Kinabalu several times – sampling the local delights, climbing Mount Kinabalu and even stayed there for 1 ½ years so I’m quite familiar with their food.

sabah beef noodles

Their signature Ngiu Chap Soup Noodles (RM 13.90) is a hearty bowl of beef tripe, beef stew, beef slice, and beef balls in a rich broth. There’s HUGE chunks of brisket inside and the meat portions are *very* generous. There’s three types of noodles to choose from – yellow oily noodles, rice vermicelli and ho fun and I personally think the first choice is the best way to enjoy it.

ngiu chap kota damansara

You can also add on a portion of the following to your bowl of noodles starting from RM 2 onwards:

  • Beef tendon
  • Beef intestine
  • Beef heart
  • Beef liver
  • Beef tongue
  • Beef omasun
  • Beef tripe
  • Beef stew
  • Beef slices
  • Beef ball
  • Beef spleen

ngiu chap kolo mee

The Ngiu Chap Kolo Mee (RM 14.90) is similar to the above but separates the noodles from the soup. The waiter got our orders wrong and thought this is what my better half ordered so it took a while for me to realize that and send it back (she doesn’t like beef).

chicken kolo noodles

My dear ordered the Chicken Kolo Noodle (RM 9.90) which comes with pieces of chicken cooked with soy sauce. It’s an afterthought in a beef joint and it tastes just like that – dismal. The chicken offerings are for people who don’t like or eat beef and they’re not good at it. It tasted pretty awful.

ngiu chap soup

However, I loved my order of their flagship Ngiu Chap Soup Noodles. Sabah Kampung Beef Noodles are good at what they do best – which is beef. I strongly suggest you eat beef noodles when you go or not go at all. This is strictly a place for people who love our bovine friends…in their stomach! smirk

ngiu chap us

Kah Hiong Ngiu Chap is actually a true Sabah chain that came over to Peninsula Malaysia. It takes up a large corner shoplot and you won’t miss the bright signage. It’s always pretty empty though, it seems like it didn’t really take off here but their beef noodles are really good. I’ll recommend it if you like bowls of hearty beef noodles with lots and lots of beef!

kah hiong ngiu chap

Sabah Kampung Beef Noodles (Kah Hiong Ngiu Chap)
No 2-1, Jalan PJU 5/7
Dataran Sunway
Kota Damansara

Poon Choi @ Restaurant Lee Hong Kee

poon choi top layer

I’ve always wanted to eat poon choi. It’s a a traditional Chinese New Year feast in a bowl that requires at least 8-10 people to finish. There’s an interesting article in Wikipedia that has the origins of poon choi – it’s apparently prepared in layers and meant to be eaten layer-by-layer instead of stirring everything up.

poon choi tapau

I decided to book a table at Restaurant Lee Hong Kee (previously known as Restorant LYJ) since their flagship dish is poon choi. However, the restaurant is fully booked for all the dates even *remotely* close to CNY. Thus, I decided to take away and have it at home instead.

full house

Restaurant Lee Hong Kee really is packed to the brim – there’s a sign saying “Full House” and all the tables are reserved. We sat down and waited about 20 minutes for our take-away poon choi to come. It’s served in a big, deep bowl and wrapped with aluminium foil and wrap to retain the heat.

restaurant lee hong kee

The people there will also help you to move the poon choi to your car!

poon choi to go

I also ordered some of their popular dishes like their signature roast chicken a.k.a. “Dong Tok” chicken. It’s literally a chicken that’s made to *stand up* with head and throat served intact. Since we had it to go, I couldn’t make it stand up without assistance, despite all my best efforts. smirk

standing chicken

There were 11 of us that day – some are kids, but all of them are my dear’s brothers and parents. The poon choi is priced at an auspicious RM 338 and contains a lot of goodies – the top layer (dry) has ½ Hainanese steamed chicken, ½ roasted duck, abalone slices, fishball cake, a dozen large prawns (unpeeled) and a token amount of vegetables.

poon choi

I found out that poon choi doesn’t have a lot of vegetables coz of the history behind the dish. There are a lot of premium ingredients though!

poon choi bottom layer

The bottom layer contains the “wet stuff” and other goodies which can absorb the sauces which drips down from the top layer – fish maw, roasted chestnuts, pig skin, bean curd, Shittake mushrooms, braised chicken feet and stewed pork, just to name a few.

big bowl feast

It really was a wonderful experience eating the poon choi! I had it with my dear’s family and the 11 of us couldn’t even finish the bowl! It’s not called the Big Bowl Feast for nothing. The sauce is really delicious and we all ate till we’re about to burst! I highly recommend their poon choi, it really is something special due to the chef’s familiarity with preparing the dish.

classic pun choi

The bill came up to RM 421 and it’s definitely worth it. I’ll happily eat the poon choi from Restaurant Lee Hong Kee again – according to my dear, it’s the best she has eaten to date.

Happy Chap Goh Meh everyone! :)

My grandma’s cousin’s 79th birthday 8-course banquet

Interesting taboo: Females celebrate their birthdays by the decade e.g. 70th, 80th while males do it one year beforehand since the numbers “sounds” better. 9 in Chinese has various positive associations, since it also sounds like “long”.

79 birthday

He’s probably older than that – they didn’t have documentation like birth certificates back then and birthdays are largely chosen and might be off by years. The birthday banquet was held at Sheraton. This was a very popular place back in the days – there were only a few “opulent” restaurants at the time, and Sheraton was one of them.

steamed peanuts

Deep Fried Boiled Eggs with Longevity Noodles

deep fried egg

This is a classic birthday dish in my hometown. It’s of Foochow origin, I believe. The boiled eggs are slightly coated with batter and then deep fried before being served with fried longevity noodles. It’s supposed to bring good luck, but this dish that’s becoming a little old-fashioned and I only see it during banquets thrown by the older generation now.

It’s good when done well and I ate 4 eggs myself since a lot of people at the table passed up on it.

4 Seasons Hot Platter

four seasons platter

This is supposed to be the first dish in every banquet but since it’s a birthday, the longevity noodles come out first. There’s fish maw, shrimp, mushrooms, chicken, sliced abalone and other goodies piled into sectors on the platter.

fish maw shrimp

There’s something for everybody and that’s why it’s a very popular dish in restaurants. It’s a little like poon choy in some ways, except this is the appetizer portion. smirk

Shark’s Fin Soup

You have to see this from the perspective of someone born in the old country (that’s China) and went through WWII with Japan and the resulting famine, uprooting and all that comes with war. They had little and food was important to them. “Luxury items” like shark’s fin isn’t something immoral (only first world countries and the newer generation of people now have that mentality – you can only afford to think about environmental issues when you are living in relative comfort).

sharks fin

It’s just another must-have (to them) on the menu coz old habits die hard and they don’t see the plight of the sharks and probably won’t care even if they did. This is the generation that was born into war, and any food is good food and “status items” like shark’s fin is just another dish to them.

I just wanted to stave off the debate about this coz it seems that everyone needs to have a disclaimer and a stance nowadays. Honestly, as a traveler, I am of course for conversation but then again I don’t believe it’s an issue about education, at least not with the older generation so naturally consumption will die off as the new environmentally conscious generation comes of age.

Deep Fried Breaded Cod

breaded cod

Sheraton is well known for it’s fish – you can get your empurau fish steamed here and they do a mean curry fish head as well. I thought this would be mediocre since I prefer my fish any other way except fried (which ruins most of the taste, IMHO).

fried cod

However, my cousin politely served me some so I had to politely eat some and I was amazed and went back for second helpings…except there was none left! This is easily the best dish I had in the banquet – the fish is battered and dropped into the deep fryer for only a few seconds, leaving a crisp exterior but and extremely moist interior with the cod flaking off with the natural juices still inside.

I’m getting hungry just thinking of this surprisingly well executed deep fried cod with the spicy dip. The plating is not much to look at, but trust me, it tastes spot on!

Paper Wrapped Chicken with Deep Fried Buns

paper wrapped chicken

This is one of my favorite dishes in Sheraton coz they do it so well. Paper wrapped chicken is a cooking technique that has the chicken and herbs wrapped in foil (and sometimes another layer of paper) so the entire bird’s juices is sealed inside, making it extremely tender and tasty.

fried bread

However, the coup de grace is the deep fried bun. It’s a large, round piece of bread that’s the size of an Arab bread but this is baked in-house with chicken flavors infused into the loaf, which is then deep fried and served warm. It’s the contrasting textures that makes this work so well – the crunchy exterior with the soft, warm flavored bread that goes well with the herbal chicken.

Sea Cucumber with Sliced Abalone on top of Enoki Mushrooms

abalone sea cucumber

This is another classic Chinese dish – the sliced abalone comes out of a can, and the sea cucumbers are re-hydrated so the starchy sauce has to carry everything. It’s often said that Chinese cuisine is more about contrasting textures vs the balanced flavors (base and acidity pairing) and plating of “classic cuisine” e.g. French cuisine and I have to agree.

The soft and juicy Enoki mushrooms contrasts well with the chewy abalone slices and the slightly crunchy sea cucumber.

Asian Surf and Turf

asian surf turf

I just made that up. Haha! There’s no seafood here, the two ingredients are pork and chicken done two ways. This is a very Taoist concept symbolizing yin and yang – the pork is good but the chicken is bad.

Geddit? ;)

ang pow wet tissue

The banquet finished up with the classic fruit platter and I even got an RM 10 ang pow since I wasn’t married and it’s still Chinese New Year (and will be until the 14th of February). I think it’s a great idea that people do their birthdays on CNY since everyone is back in town and it was good to sit down with my uncles and cousins and for a relatives birthday banquet.

birthday banquet

P/S – No, it’s not his actual birthday, I don’t think he even remembers the exact date – this wasn’t uncommon, my mom doesn’t either since my grandma didn’t register her birth until she was a few years old so we celebrate it on a fixed date every year that’s easy to remember.

The infamous RM 35 bowl of noodles in Sibu!

big prawn noodles

Yup, it’s the most expensive noodles in town! RM 35 for a bowl of big prawn noodles and RM 30 for a plate of fish noodles. It’s ludicrous!

(but quite a satisfying indulgence)

peeled big prawns
They even peel the prawns for you – including the “claw” of the freshwater Tiger shrimp

The last time I ate here was in 2008 and at the time the big prawn noodles are priced at RM 20. There’s been a RM 15 increase in just five (5) years for the same dish! In comparison, the big prawn noodles were just RM 15 in 2005. We just came back to Sibu to visit my mom and decided to have lunch here. I told my better half about their ridiculously priced noodles just earlier in the day before we flew over.

most expensive noodles

Min Kong is famous for their Foochow style fried and cooked noodles (char chu mee) and it usually comes in a huge bowl (but the portion is just enough for one person). My girlfriend went for the plate of tapah fish noodles (RM 30) while I went for the big prawn noodles (RM 35).

min kong couple

I must admit, we received absolutely *fantastic* service the moment we stepped into the door and asked for the high flying dishes. They also have normal versions (sans fish or prawns) at much more reasonable prices.

We both enjoyed the RM 67.30 lunch though – it does taste good, albeit overrated and overpriced. The extra RM 2.30 is for a glass of iced Milo – yeah, Sibu prices are much more expensive than the going rates in KL for brewed drinks.

sibu foochow noodles
Portion is for one, despite the high price

My dad tells me no one (locals or visitors) actually orders this nowadays due to the absurd cost. I guess we were the first in quite a while – we certainly did got top notch service. ;)

New Capitol Restaurant, Sibu

gold tablecloth

I just came back from dinner with my parents! I brought my better half along, we just flew in this morning – it’s been a while since I’ve visited my mom.

new capitol restaurant

She just went through another killer bout of radiotherapy from tumors spreading to her scalp and it’s been impeding her movement and cognitive systems a little so I thought I’ll drop by and say hello.

blended ice lemon tea

My mom is usually in Singapore but my dad convinced her to come back for a 1 week sojourn to eat the chicken over here. Apparently, it’s more nutritious. ;)

raw vegetables

I was thinking about where to bring them to dinner tonight when New Capitol Restaurant came up. This is a very old establishment in Sibu – look at the display case with cognac bottles and the old school gold tablecloth!

sliced century egg

We wanted to have the signature Claypot Mutton but unfortunately it was sold out, so we ordered:

fried kampua
Fried Kampua
This is for my dear, who has eaten a lot of different incarnations of Sibu’s most popular noodles – except fried. New Capitol Restaurant does a pretty good rendition.

sweet sauce chicken
Sweet Sauce Chicken
This is quite good actually – it has cashew nuts and other goodies inside. I ate the most of this dish.

fu kui
Fu Kui Vegetable
I have no idea what this is. The New Capitol Restaurant waitresses came up with a platter of raw vegetables (see above) for us to choose from. My dad went with this one.

Tofu Soup with Oysters
It’s tofu, I ate half of my bowl just for the sake of eating it but I don’t like tofu as a general rule. It’s so funny, I just realized that I didn’t even take a photo of this dish coz I don’t like tofu! Haha!

foochow wine duck
Red Wine Sediment Duck
This is the famous Sibu Foochow cuisine condiment known as “hong zhou” – literally the remains of home made red wine. It’s slathered over a duck and deep fried. I’m not a huge fan but it tasted alright.

huai yee

The bill came up to RM 66.70 – it was cheaper than our extravagant lunch! It’s good to talk to my parents and spend time together with all my loved ones over dinner though.

red wine duck

That was worth the price of the flights back home! :)

I’m back in Sibu to vote! (and Foochow chicken rice)

ling hb sibu

I’m in Sibu! I flew back with Ling early this morning and arrived at the airport so I can spend some time with my family (mom is flying back later tonight) before we all go to vote tomorrow. I think we might be voting for different parties but that’s the beauty of democracy ain’t it? :)

chopsticks sibu

Anyway, I noticed that Chopsticks Chicken & Rice now has a new signboard. This is a place that has been around since my childhood! I remember eating the mixed rice there as a kid and chu cha (dai chow in Cantonese) when they moved over to Pedada.

chopsticks pedada

However, what they’re really famous for is their chicken rice. My dad is a huge fan of it. There are scores of Sibu people who loves the chicken rice here. Lunch time will be *packed* with people ordering chicken rice and it’s sold out real soon.

chopsticks chicken rice

They’re doing so well that they dedicated an entire shoplot just for it. That place was previously Peppino’s Pizza (also by the same owner).

roasted chicken

There’s a bunch of things you’ll expect from a chicken rice place – char siew, roasted chicken, duck, innards, siew yoke, braised egg and also some that you won’t.

foochow curry chicken

…like this Foochow style curry chicken.

braised egg

It’s the same thing I’ve eaten as a kid – there used to be three compartments (not including your rice) and I’ll have curry chicken for all of them). Arthur ordered this one for us – he was kind enough to pick us up from the airport. It’s milder (in spiciness rating) than regular curry yet more intense (they put a lot of the curry powder). A peculiarity of Foochow cuisine.

char siew

The signboards are new and there’s a lot of people eating there but what I really crave is kampua mee. Unfortunately, everyone was sold out then (must be the people coming back for elections!!!) so we had lunch here.

chicken rice

It’s not too bad though, I think most people come here for the rice – it’s fragrant and what makes Chopsticks Chicken Rice special! The char siew is also good – glazed with honey and with no color additives that makes it radioactive red.

ling in room

We’ll be staying a night here – she’s already met my grandma and we’ll have dinner together and vote tomorrow! :D

Chinese New Year 2013 yee sang dinner @ Tai Zi Heen

yee sang

I was invited by Suanie to come along for my first yee sang dinner at Tai Zi Heen. It’s the resident Chinese restaurant of Prince Hotel & Residence and I was quite impressed by the view looking out of one of the private lounges:

It’s glass so you can see the entire lobby without the noise intruding. You also can’t jump out of it, so if you’re scared of heights, don’t worry, it’ll take quite a concerted effort to do so. Haha.

Vegetarian Snow Pear Yee Sang

yee sang dinner

This is the traditional first dish – yee sang (which actually means “raw fish”) is an imported tradition where you toss a salad (of sorts) while wishing for something. The very polished waitresses says a couplet of prosperity, health and general good wishes when she adds each ingredient – a rather nice touch!

You can see her doing just that. The video also shows the yee sang tossing session. If you strain your ears hard enough you can hear me say “Win 4D”. I’ve never won before and that very day (after an impromptu decision to get a couple of lottery numbers) I managed to win slightly less than RM 1,000 (about USD 300).

tossing yee sang

That’s some mighty wish fulfilling yee sang going on there. smirk

yee sang culture

I do like the addition of snow pear instead of salmon or jellyfish (which they both offer) – it makes the entire yee sang more crunchy and sweet.

Stewed Dried Oysters with Fatt Choy and Lettuce

I liked this dish as well although it’s not customary to serve it with lettuce (there’s more unique dishes coming up). Fatt choy is a type of bacteria that produces a very hearty and distinctive flavor – it basically absorbs whatever sauces are around.

dried oysters

Excellent stuff, and a Chinese New Year staple.

Braised Shark’s Fin Soup with Diced Prawns, Scallops and Grouper

sharks fin soup

Oops! Did I use the S-word? Well, you can ask for it without shark’s fin as well. It tastes just as good – the combination of prawns, scallops and grouper makes it a very sweet broth.

sharks fin

I really liked this one as well.

Roasted Chicken dusted with Crispy Garlic and Five Spice Salt

I was expecting regular sea salt but they used five spice salt, which vastly improves the taste of the roasted chicken. There’s plum sauce on offer too, but I’m probably not the best person to ask about roasted chicken. I didn’t like it, but all the other diners were in agreement that it’s delicious.

roasted chicken

There’s nothing wrong with it, I just don’t like roasted chicken.

Chef’s Special Baked Cod Fish

This is the flagship of the Chinese New Year banquet. Well, to me anyway. It’s a fusion dish made with mushroom, onions, cheese and turkey bacon. Yup, this is a halal outlet.

baked cod fish

Check out the plating – there’s a Chinese character written on it with sauce.

cheese baked cod

The ingredients goes really well together and the result is this magnificent piece of cod that’s baked and dripping with cheese and bursting with flavor. I highly recommend this one, it’s not in the regular Chinese New Year menu but you can ask for it – it’s the Chef’s Specialty.

Stir-Fried Glutinous Rice with Chinese-style Preserved Duck

preserved duck

Waxed meat is another traditional Chinese New Year meal. This one is done Hong Kong style and I have to say, it’s one delectable dish. The saltiness of the duck is offset by the rice and the best thing about the dish is that there’s some stir-frying action going on.

Warm Almond Purée with Glutinous Rice Dumplings

This is basically tong yuen swimming in a concoction of milky almond. It sounds simple but it’s heart-warming food. The glutinous rice balls are filled with black sesame too.

rice dumplings almond puree

It’s a righteously hot dessert that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Deep-Fried Chinese New Year Cake with Thousand Layer Puff Pastry

chinese new year cake

This is actually two desserts.

deep fried nian gao

The first is nian gao (the above-mentioned Chinese New Year cake) dipped in batter before being deep fried. It’s a wonderful execution – much better than what I’m used to eating at home. The nian gao is made in-house and that makes all the difference – it’s not saccharine sweet and more suitable for adult palates.

thousand puff pastry

The second dessert is the Thousand Layer Puff Pastry – a silkworm like cocoon surrounding a sweet corn and salted egg based interior. The crumbly texture of the pastry gives way to the warm salted egg filling. It’s still sweet, but has that tang of saltiness from the salted egg. I loved this so much I ate 4-5 pieces!

hb eve

You’ve gotta eat it while it’s still hot though.

tai zi heen

Tai Zi Heen @ Prince Hotel has 3 different Chinese New Year menus, starting from RM 1,188 for a table of up to 10 people. It was a cozy dinner, with just the six of us sharing a banquet meant for 10. It’s also a halal outlet, which I was quite surprised to find out (asked about the usage of turkey bacon instead of real bacon).

yee sang cny

The restaurant does a great Chinese New Year banquet and the Chinese New Year menu is on offer from now till 24 January 2013 – Chap Goh Meh. I particularly liked the baked cod fish so ask for it if you’re there – it’s really something else. :)

tai zi heen group

Thanks for having us over Elisa! Happy CNY everyone! :D

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