London Bridge fireworks

London Bridge Fireworks

I found this marvellous fountain on sale this year! It’s a new one called London Bridge and it comes in a large semi-circle format with the lyrics and sheet music of London Bridge printed on top. I’m not usually easily impressed by fountains coz they’re rather boring compared to the beautiful aerial breaks of a fireworks cake but this one is gorgeous!

The retail price for this is RM 50 which is quite high for a fountain. The latest 13” conic volcano shaped fountains are half that price. However, the format is relatively large and I got it for RM 30 so I figured it was worth checking out since it looked quite promising.

I wasn’t disappointed! I set it up on top of my ginormous 333 shot fireworks cake and lit the fuse:

The gerbs shoots outs vivid pink, orange and blue jets of flame across the arc. These are not very common colors and it’s wonderful to see such a brilliant color come out of a consumer firework. It turns to yellow, green and red and ends with plenty of sparkling rain.

Pro tip: Always elevate your fountains to get best effect. Don’t put them on the ground. It’s a lot more dramatic when a fountain is placed high up e.g. 3 feet off the ground so you can see the sparks fall longer before they hit the ground.

London Bridge Fountain

I thought this was quite a decent new arrival this year and I saw more than a few houses get it despite the price. It’s worth every cent with the rare colors. The sheer brightness of the arcs of flames overloaded the CCD on the camera but you can still see what a beautiful fountain it is from the video. :)

15 Chinese New Year visiting photos

CNY Visiting 2015

1. Food! I went to just a few open houses this year – close friends and relatives. The good thing is that more people are serving hot food, which makes for a more substantial meal than snacks and cakes and such – it’s a nice savoury change.

Prawn Fried Noodles

2. This is a thin fried yellow noodle with hints of Thai chilli sauce and prawns. It’s very good, so much so that I went back for second (and third) helpings.

Beef Satay Sauce

3. There’s also beef in satay sauce…

Ketupat

4. …with the accompanying ketupat.

Kacangma Chicken

5. Arthur also broke out the kacangma chicken. I was reminded of a joke another friend told about cannabis, he said he accidentally pulled out a packet of the good stuff to pay for a meal and only later realized it wasn’t a wad of cash. Luckily the auntie who was the (unintended) recipient said “What’s this? Kacangma herbs?” smirk You just had to be there.

Baked Chicken Wings

6. This is some great baked chicken wings to complete the feast. I had an awesome lunch here on the first day.

HB Arthur

7. Here’s a photo of me with Arthur!

Honeydew Cake

8. One of the more unusual cakes I had – the lowest right is a honeydew cake! It’s not sweet at all and just had a hint of the melon. Delicious! I had this at Alex’s house and was happily munching on some macadamia nuts he had on hand too (love them, they’re my favorite type of nuts).

Huge Nasi Briyani

9. Huge pot of nasi briyani at another friend’s house.

China Snow Beer

10. An unusual Chinese snow beer that weighs in at 4.7% alcohol. Very refreshing stuff, you can’t get it outside. Funny story, as we were visiting this house, there was another guy which I didn’t know there. The host suddenly brought up the topic of weed and how it relates to sleep. Thus, I joined in and said “Yeah, ganja is a lot better than alcohol, at least you won’t have to wake up at 3 am to pee” and saw my friend laughing. He later asked me “Do you know who the other guy is? He’s with the police and he’s in Narcotics.” -_-

HB Eddy Jona

11. With my bro Eddy and his wife. I hung out here most of the time, it’s nice to feel truly welcome instead of having someone be snarky and calculative behind your back. Eddy has always been solid, he’s always got my back regardless of what I did and I’ve learned a lot from him. You can tell the ultimate measure of a man by the friends he has in real life and this person probably has more than anyone can count.

Macallan Whisky Makers Edition

12. Drinking The Macallan Whisky Maker’s Edition.

Philippines Pork Belly

13. Pork belly cooked with a spice mix found in the Philippines that’s the most awesome thing I had – ate here three meals in a row.

Philippines Food

14. It went very well with the daging masak hitam (beef cooked in black sauce) too. Tons of flavor!

My Niece

15. Me with my niece, who’s getting bigger now! :)

My Chinese New Year Eve Diary

0800

I usually let my fireworks stash dry out a bit to wring out any excessive moisture during sea transport or storage. I’m quite proud of my piece de resistance this year – it’s a 27 kg (60 pound) fireworks cake with 333 shots. This is a 1.3G display grade item and it was amazing! Here’s a video of my fireworks cache this year. I have some interesting items here.

1300

Sanbanto Pork

Sending out the last of my Sanbanto pork jerky. These are gifts meant for friends and family – I don’t have much space so I could only bring back 14 packs. One of my friends in particular has been very kind to me – Cydney from Melbourne so I made sure to bring her one. She also brought back heaps of Adriano Zumbo Tim Tams for me.

1800

Reunion Dinner

The reunion dinner commences with a bottle of wine! Here’s a photo of me with my dad and grandma. I had packed ang pows for them and got some from my uncles. My cousins came and we played a bit of Blackjack – changed the rules to casino style Blackjack rules so being the dealer, I didn’t lose as much this year. smirk

2200

Cousins Waiting

My cousins came back to my house with several of my aunties to watch me let off my monster 27 kg fireworks cake. The neighbors were watching as well – one of them came up to me and asked me how much it was since it’s so ginormous. I also had another neighbor come and compliment me for turning my back from my wayward past (how she knew is a mystery to me).

2300

Here’s where I let off my huge 27 kg fireworks cake – it took two people to haul it out since it’s more than a 0.62 x 0.59 meters in size. It’s beautiful, I wasn’t disappointed in the money I spent for this, check out the video above – this is a vertical take, I have a proper horizontal take (2 of them in fact – got one of my cousins to help me film) uploading.

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This is what Sibu looks like at the stroke of midnight. I still haven’t let off all my fireworks so I’ll do the full roundup in a couple of days. I was quite happy with a fountain I got too, the colors were intense and I’m not usually impressed easily by fountains (prefer aerial repeaters) so it’s quite an interesting new item that I’m glad I bought on a whim. The video isn’t up yet due to slow broadband but you can see the item in the first video in this post.

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Happy CNY 2015

Happy Chinese New Year everyone! :)

2015 Chinese New Year Fireworks Roundup in Kuala Lumpur

2015 Fireworks Collection

Yup, I’m going to do two fireworks roundups this year – one in KL where I work and one in Sibu where I come back for the Chinese New Year holidays. Truth be told, there isn’t a lot of fireworks in Kuala Lumpur compared to Sibu, the stock is pretty meagre and the large firework cakes are twice the price of what we pay here.

Fireworks Stall

However, I did want to put on a nice little show for the kids and my better half so here’s what I got:

25 Shot “Your Wish in Flowers” Fireworks Cake

25 Shot Fireworks Cake

This is a 25 shot compact fireworks cake called Lu Yi Zhi Hua which translates to “Your Wish in Flowers” – very apt considering Valentine’s Day is around the corner and Chinese New Year is coming up.

It’s a pretty decent multi effect cake, heavy with a nice mixture of crackling willow, whistles and beautiful pearl breaks. I thought it was worth the RM 40 I paid.

100 Meteor Shots Shots Crossfire

100 Meteor Shots

This is a Saturn missile battery with 100 shots. I got it for RM 20 coz I combined this purchase with another fireworks cake. I wanted to show the kids what a classic firework from my youth looks like – this can actually be fired during daylight or at night since it doesn’t make much difference.

100 Shot Saturn

It really has 100 shot but it’s just a whistling effect with a comet tail streaking up into the skies – you can see the array here.

Here’s the video of the 100 Meteor Shots Shots Crossfire Cake.

5 Minute Horseshoe Fountain

Fontana Ferro di Cavallo

I actually reviewed this in another separate post which I put up last week. I had to do a bit of research to find out what this new firework was and why it was called this so check out my writeup on the new Italian horseshoe fountain fireworks this year.

Single Shot Mine

Single Shot Mine

This is sold in a package of six (6) and has six different effects. It’s a non-reloadable pre-packaged single use mine and as you can see, the diameter is quite large (around 1.25”) which can be larger than most high-shot-count firework cakes. What this translates to is a bigger and better aerial break.

This one is a triple effect with report – there’s a comet tail, sparks and a double bloom with crackling willow which is really quite nice for the price. A mine is the same thing as a single/multi shot aerial shell but the effects packed into it are released all at once instead of in sequence. Mines are not that popular nowadays coz it finishes in 3-5 seconds max. I remember having one in 2006 in a mine cake format.

This is just RM 10 each or RM 50 for a six-pack and I thought it’s the best firework you can purchase this year. It’s not chained together like a fireworks cake so there’s no “display-in-a-box” but for the price, the shell is beautiful and the aerial break is quite remarkable. I would get this again if I see it! :)

New fountain fireworks from Italy that lasts 5 minutes!

Illegal Fireworks Stall Malaysia

I was shopping at the local wet market during the weekend when I saw a fireworks stall that has something very unusual – it’s a boxy fountain “cake” format firework that has all Italian writing. Best of all, it’s *new* – the manufacture date listed is 2014! This was the only shop that carries it and the person didn’t know the price, that’s how current the stock was.

Fontana Ferro di Cavallo

There’s actually two groups/gangs selling fireworks there – one has a yellow tablecloth and the other blue, but their stock is essentially the same. I was given a brochure listing all their products and everything was similar. However, this stall had one interesting stand-out that no other stall had – a strange Italian fountain. I knew it was a fountain coz it doesn’t have the holes/tubes that aerial fireworks shells has, but it’s in the format of a cake.

New Italian Fountain Fireworks

I was quite intrigued by the firework seller’s cell phone notes which goes “Lasts for 5 minutes! Price = ???” and since he couldn’t reach his boss for the actual price and no one else was selling it, I compelled him to let it go for RM 25. smirk I thought that was a great bargain for a new firework that I’ve never heard of.

Fountain Fireworks Mechanics

I let it off for my better half and the kids to see since Chinese New Year is coming up soon – it didn’t last 5 minutes, but it was close, it was over 4 minutes! It’s basically an array of 3 rows of 5 firework fountains chained together into a cake, as you can see when I tear off the top. You can see the Sunsong Fireworks logo at the other (bottom) side of the top cover, it might have been an OEM for Jupiter Fireworks. Here’s a video of the new Italian firework:

It’s an interesting mix of traditional fountains and some shooting effects and the color mixture is nice, but it’s the duration that’s the USP – I’ve never seen a fountain last this long for commercial fireworks (not counting professional ones). It might have really lasted a *full 5 minutes* as the packaging Italian text suggests since the original format seems to be in a horseshoe shape and apparently radiates outwards in an arc before coming back, easily adding another minute to the display.

Horseshoe Fountain

This Jupiter made Fontana Ferro di Cavallo (Horseshoe Fountain) is an awesome buy (and a hell of a deal) for RM 25 but I suspect it won’t be that price when they finalize the price list – it doesn’t make sense to sell 15 fountains for RM 1.60 each (it’s 5 fountains x 3 for a 15 firework array). Even the 12” cone fountains already retail for RM 35 and doesn’t last nearly as long.

Horseshoe Fireworks

I suspect this is a Chinese divert though, the original is really in the shape of a horseshoe and has about 3 of these connected together, as can be seen in the Jupiter 2014/2015 Italian catalogue (Page 17). It’s common for Chinese manufacturers to divert and resell partly assembled fireworks to other countries – a horseshoe shaped firework cake would be really hard to package economically, especially when it’s illegal here so it’s cheaper and more effective to smuggle in and sell one flat section.

Burned Fountain

It has a bit of a flaw though, maybe due to the departure from the original horseshoe shaped design – the firework fountain got REALLY HOT at the end (unusually so) and it ended up *burning up* after it was finished. This could also be due to the strong wind though, but I suspect it was meant to go a lot further down the arc before coming back which led to the overheating issue.

Fountain Fireworks Italy

Still, the diverse colors and crackling effects makes this a pretty awesome sequential fireworks fountain cake…and you can’t beat the price! :)

Race Against the Machines: The first drone vs human marathon!

Race Against the Machines 2015

I drove down to Putrajaya over the weekend to witness the first human versus drone 6 km run! This is particularly intriguing to me since the concept resonates with the post-apocalyptic genre of movies and books (which I love). The basis of Race Against the Machines is that flying drones chase all the runners and people can control and view the drones on their smartphones to try and kill hunt the runners.

Putrajaya Flesh vs Steel

The 100PLUS Outrunner 2015 runs also feature traditional 12 km and 9 km runs in addition to the 6 km Race Against the Machines fun run.

100PLUS Outrunner Putrajaya

I could feel the energy of the crowd of people gathering around the square beside Putrajaya Palace of Justice – everyone was excited to begin the run and I was kindly furnished with a t-shirt for the run. I also got the new 100PLUS bottles with the contours and bumps at the end to form a better grip for runners.

100PLUS Putrajaya Run

100PLUS is the organizer behind this event and there was a really cool place where you can get a sticker on your face (or any other part of your body) – the transfer was really vivid!

I watched the 12 km race being flagged off to fireworks…

100PLUS Outrunner 2015

…as well as the 9 km race.

Race Against the Machines

I heard the PA announce that the first finisher for the 12 km run came in less than 45 minutes after the race started. The three races all have staggered starts and my interest was towards the 6 km Flesh vs Steel Race Against the Machines.

I got it on good authority that the flying drones were controlled by a 100PLUS truck that acts as a sort of pacer vehicle in front of the pack of runners. People at home who couldn’t make it could also view the runners from the cameras mounted on the drones. I imagine this is what Predator/Reaper pilots (and Wikileaks aficionados) must feel like.

100PLUS

There were obstacles in addition to the flying drones and I saw families having lot of fun – there are participants from fit marathon types to families pushing a stroller and even a gentleman in a wheelchair. The atmosphere was amazing!

Shelter Zone

The runners in Race Against the Machines can also “hide” at designated Shelter Zones. This is when the cameras from the flying drones go “dark” and the runners are effectively hidden from the people who’re trying to hunt them. This sanctuary is very important as the drones fly at a speed of 57 km/h – much faster than a human can possibly run!

100PLUS Drones

The drones are “armed” with powerful searchlights and high definition video cameras that allow the Drone Masters (people at home) to search and hunt the runners. Drone Masters have 25 shots to fire from the flying machines – that means if they manage to take a clear photo of your barcode, you’re “captured” and 1 Life is deducted.

Flying Drones

The barcodes on the front and back of the participants in Race Against the Machines act as an identifier/target – it keeps track of who got tagged by the lasers and who survived till the end and I thought it’s an amazing idea. Each runner had 3 Lifes (a bonus Life is given for those who’re carrying the 100PLUS New Grip Bottle) and they must cross the finish line with at least 1 Life remaining.

100PLUS New Grip Bottle

100PLUS Outrunner 2015 is a great concept that manages to satisfy hardcore runners with the 12 km and 9 km runs and also the highly innovative 6 km Race Against the Machines. It brings casual runners or people interested in the concept of running from a post-apocalyptic army of drones (think Skynet) to push their limits and live a healthy lifestyle which includes exercise.

100PLUS Outrunner

…and that’s always a good thing! :)

Our annual poon choy dinner with whole baby abalone @ Hakka Siu Poon Choy

Poon Choy

I always look forward to our poon choy dinner as the proper start of the pre Chinese New Year celebrations. We got our poon choy from the famous Restaurant Lee Hong Kee (used to be known as Restaurant LYJ) last year and I decided to try a new place this year. I had passed by this small and unassuming shop and called them to ask about their Hakka Pun Choi.

Poon Choy is actually a Hakka tradition that has been adopted and popularized over the years here. It basically involves a pot filled with all manner of premium ingredients by layer – stacked from the bottom to the top so each layer seeps down to the next, providing a new ingredient as you eat “down” and having the gravy/juice absorbing stuff underneath so it gets all the wonderful flavors from the smorgasbord of meat and seafood.

Hakka Siu Poon Choy

Hakka Siu Poon Choy is helmed by Cheong Sifu (Master, can also mean Chef) and I called the proprietor to ask about their prices. Poon Choy is now streamlined into two (2) sizes – 5 pax and 10 pax. I wanted the Premium Abalone Poon Choy, their best offering, for 5 pax and it cost RM 280 for the basic set. You can also add whole baby abalone for RM 20 each and I had six pieces coz there are six of us eating and I wanted everyone to have one.

I wanted to try this small restaurant instead of the huge commercial multi-restaurant F&B enterprises e.g. Dragon-i, Unique Seafood etc even though they’re cheaper (probably coz they buy in bulk) coz a smaller operation would have a more homely feel. I had it to go since me and my better half had her parents over so it’s easier to eat at home, especially with the two kids.

Poon Choy 2015

I also got two craft beers from Oregon for my dear’s dad and myself from Betty’s Midwest Kitchen. I’ve always liked Rogue’s brews and I thought their Mocha Porter and Dry Hopped St Rogue Red Ale would be perfect for the meal. The first is a stout like beverage, dark and high in alcohol content, with a nice coffee aftertaste. The St Rogue Red Ale is a sweet affair that’s light and refreshing and tasty from the dry hop process.

Rogue Red Ale Mocha Porter

The poon choy from Hakka Siu Poon Choy did not disappoint – it was even better than last year! I called over the phone and told them to prepare a good one for me with premium ingredients and they did just that. The optional 6 pieces of whole abalone for RM 20 each was well worth it too! The good stuff is in the middle – there’s whole baby abalone, sliced abalone (the lighter colored stuff), sliced conch (the darker colored pieces), Pacific clams, sea asparagus (razor clams), top shell, dried mussels, dried scallops, fresh scallops, dried oyster and black moss (fatt choy).

Hakka Poon Choy

I’m quite impressed by that selection, although most of it probably came out of cans like New Moon, they’re not cheap either. The whole baby abalone and one type of scallop is fresh though. The dried scallops are large and flavorful too.

There’s also ½ chicken and ½ duck flanking the poon choy pot with huge prawns, spare ribs and fu chuk (whole beancurd sheets/tofu skin) interspaced between. I particularly liked how they had ½ fish maw with ½ dried and rehydrated pig skin at the second layer. There’s also a wonderful array of sliced pork belly and sea cucumber hidden below. The Shiitake mushrooms, straw mushrooms, broccoli and turnips at the bottom soaks up the wonderful juices from everything slowly soaking down very well.

I’m sure I have missed some ingredients coz there’s supposed to be 28 in total!

Whole Baby Abalone

My favorite has gotta be the prawns cooked in sweet and sour sauce though – the juices from that flavored everything beneath really well and I’m glad I paid extra RM 20 / whole baby abalone for a more festive treat! Everyone loved it and even the kids had extra rice! My dear even had to cook an extra pot of rice for a second helping for everyone.

It was a great poon choy dinner that has become an annual treat, much like our Christmas turkey dinners! I can really feel the Chinese New Year “mood” now. :)

Blog giveaway: Get a weBoost Drive 3G-S (worth RM 389) just by commenting!

Check out the animation video above!

sand animation

I took this video during the weBoost launch at Connexion@Nexus Bangsar South on 29th October 2014. It’s a very apt visual description on what weBoost is all about and how it works. weBoost is made by Wilson Electronics, the Utah based global leader in cellular signal boosters and they’re bringing two of their award-winning lines to Malaysia.

weBoost launch

The weBoost line of products works by boosting both voice and data signals for 2G and 3G and best of all, it works with *all* cellular carriers. It’s carrier-independent so it doesn’t matter which telco you signed up with. It also works seamlessly when you’re moving from outside to inside the enhanced area so there’s no need to end your call and reconnect when you’re walking outside into your office or your car.

weBoost me

The signal is automatically boosted when you’re within the weBoost coverage area.

weBoost Connect3G

The Connect 3G is meant for homes and offices for those who depend on reliable connectivity indoors. It captures the outside, usable signal and amplifies it before redistributing the boosted and usable signal throughout the entire home/office and will be launched soon, so stay tuned!

weBoost Drive3G

The Drive 3G-S is an all-in-one phone cradle and signal booster and the best thing about this in-car device is that it can extend your phone battery life by as much as 3 hours of talktime (average 20% better battery life) when you’re using it. It also boosts both voice and data.

weBoost

I got a unit of the Drive 3G-S to test out and I must say that I’m very impressed. I can already think of the variety of uses for this unit – as someone who uses Google Maps/Waze a lot, I need a cradle for my car anyway. This does away with 3rd party car cradles and also extends the range where a call can be made, virtually eliminating areas of poor coverage.

weBoost 3GS install

It’s very easy to install too!

weBoost 3GS review

Step 1: Clean the area you want to install the cradle with the provided alcohol wipe

weBoost 3GS mount

Step 2: Peel back the adhesive from the backing of the mount (allow 24 hours to cure before attaching Drive 3G-S)

weBoost 3GS unboxing

Step 3: Hook up the antenna into the Drive 3G-S

weBoost antenna

Step 4: Put the magnetic antenna on top of your car

weBoost test

Step 5: Plug in the power source and hook up the mini-USB to the port on the Drive 3G-S

weBoost LED

That’s all there is to it! You can see the Drive 3G-S light up via a small LED light to the side to show that it’s powered up.

weBoost 3GS adhesive

You’ll also realize that there’s no need for DIY skills on your part – the cable that leads to the antenna can be just strung directly out and your door closed over it. It won’t damage the cable – it’s very strong – as you can see there’s a soft polymer at the car door seam which allows the cable to securely go outside and to the antenna at the roof of your car.

weBoost antenna placement

I experimented with antenna placement and found that it works best when it’s directly upright and at the center of the vehicle roof at least 16 cm away from windows. It’s a very strong magnet – you won’t have to worry about it flying off even if you’re quite the speed demon.

weBoost 3GS arms

The cradle can fit any sized phone too – there are attachments called “arms” provided that can be secured to existing latches on the cradle. You can just slip them in and out until you find a snug fit for your phone.

weBoost 3GS cradle

My smartphone has a very unusual on/off button – it’s to the side instead of to the top but that doesn’t present a problem. There are different shapes and sized arms which allows you to fit the slimmest basic phone to the largest smartphone.

weBoost signal

My experience driving around with the Drive 3G-S was very positive. I know certain areas are prone to weak (but not non-existent) signals e.g. tunnels and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I can now make calls from previously blocked areas.

weBoost 3G data

There is also a notorious stretch of poor coverage area when you drive to Ipoh where the signal is weak from the surrounding hills and I’m here to report that you can use the Drive 3G-S to even watch YouTube videos at the usually denied area. Not that I recommend you do that, this was just a test, you see. *cough*

weBoost 3G data test

The Drive 3G-S also provided me with strong signal strength even at my in-laws place, which is notorious for having a weak signal. Did you know that your phone actually uses up battery life when you’re in a weak reception area coz it’s constantly jumping between cell towers and trying to get a better signal?

weBoost 3G voice

The weBoost Drive 3G-S resolves that problem by providing you with longer battery life and better voice and data signal with the all-in-one cradle so it’s really useful to people like me. If you drive around a lot in the city where there are weak coverage areas or want to have constant connectivity during road trips, the Drive 3G-S will be a useful investment indeed.

weBoost data test

I have had my car break down once on the KL-Ipoh route and it was at a weak coverage zone and I actually had to walk to find a usable signal and that’s an emergency where I wish I had the Drive 3G-S. I drove through that area again and managed to get both voice and data signal from the weak coverage area due to the hilly terrain.

weBoost 3G

This product will soon hit the shelves in Malaysia and if you want to be one of the first few Malaysians to own it, good news:

I have one (1) brand new weBoost Drive 3G-S Cellular Signal Booster (worth RM 389) to giveaway on sixthseal.com! You just need to answer the following two questions in the comments section:

1. Name the two weBoost products that were recently launched in Malaysia
2. Why do you need a mobile booster in your daily life?

Participants must be based in Malaysia and the contest will end on 30th January 2015. Just comment with the answers and your email address and I’ll choose one lucky winner from the comments.

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! :)

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