Our RM 890 8-Head Abalone Poon Choy Dinner

Poon Choy

This is a Chinese New Year tradition that I do with my better half and the kids. Her parents usually come along as well so it’s 6 pax for our poon choy dinner. I make it a point to do a lot of research before ordering the year’s poon choy (which is a big bowl feast with lots of stuff inside) and decided on Unique Seafood, Kota Damansara for our 2016 table.

Prosperity Poon Choy

I had to order and pay for the poon choy in advance – it costs RM 411.65 for a 5 pax poon choy with with 8-Head Abalone. It says RM 374.20 nett on the poon choy reservation slip, but that’s for take-out only. You get a 16% surcharge for service and GST if you dine-in, which is what we opted for this year.

Table Reservation

I made reservations for a table of 6 for 6:15 pm.

Seafood Fish Tanks

My dear’s father is a huge fan of fish so that was one of the reasons I had chosen this place for our Chinese New Year dinner. They have a wide range of seafood on offer – everything from lobsters to fish. It’s also super fresh (since they’re still alive and in aquariums) and you simply walk over to choose the specimen that you want and the chef will cook it for you.

King Grouper

He went for the King Grouper (RM 173/kg) and one of the waitresses fished out the 1.3 kg creature and it eventually ended up on our dinner table.

Abalone Salmon Yee Sang

I also wanted to have yee sang with everyone so I asked for their most premium version, which was the Abalone and Salmon with Fuji Apple Yee Sang (RM 160.90 for half portion). It’s good for them to offer 1/2 portions since a full portion would be too much for our table of 4 adults and 2 kids.

Lou Sang

The abalone was very good and sliced well, but the salmon was a little sad looking. We later found out that Japanese restaurants around Klang Valley has started offering fresh salmon and other seafood for yee sang at extremely competitive prices. Nevertheless, it was the symbolic tradition of the lou sang toss that means more than the food itself.

2016 Poon Choy

The 8-Head Abalone Poon Choy (RM 411.65) came next and it was enclosed in a claypot, complete with lid, and a heating source at the bottom. I dare say that this was the best poon choy we’ve had over the years and the hot nature of the ingredients contributed to that. Of course, the awesome selection of goodies was cooked to perfection too.

8-Head Abalone

This year had 8-head abalone, fresh prawns, fresh scallops, black moss, sea cucumber, huge sheets of fish maw, oysters, dried scallops, roasted duck, steamed chicken drumsticks, mussels, mushrooms, abalone slices and plenty of vegetables at the bottom. There was a lot to eat! Unlike last year’s poon choy, our 2016 poon choy was cooked together and all the flavors combined really well.

Grouper

The fish came after the server saw we were done with the poon choy. The King Grouper was cooked two ways – the first as slices of grouper in superior stock. This proved to be a hit as well, the entire grouper cost RM 224.90 (not inclusive of RM 12 cooking charge) and the flesh was soft and tender. I like how the freshness was accentuated by the cooking style too. The slices of grouper rested on soft and silky tofu, a very nice way of presenting it.

King Grouper Soup

The second course for the King Grouper came as a soup. Unique Seafood fried the head and bones and cooked it with some vegetables to produce a flavorful soup. It’s usually taboo to not serve a whole fish for Chinese New Year but since we have kids, it’s a lot easier (and more practical) to have the restaurant slice up the fish so there’s no bones and cook the head separately.

Waxed Meat with Glutinous Rice

I also ordered the Waxed Meat with Glutinous Rice (RM 44.35) which is a Chinese New Year staple. We barely made a dent in this since we were all full by then. I tapao it and we enjoyed it the next day though and it was delicious!

Seasonal Mixed Fruits

The kids wanted to have dessert so I ordered a platter of Seasonal Mixed Fruits (RM 20). They first had this when they came over to Sibu a few month’s ago. It’s nothing spectacular but maybe that was coz we were almost bursting with food at this point. Haha.

RM890 Bill

The bill came up to RM 890.50 for everything. I had already paid RM 414.50 when I reserved the poon choy earlier in the week (you have to pay up-front nowadays since it costs a lot to prepare the top shelf ingredients) so I just needed to pay RM 476 more after dinner. It’s slightly more than if you had booked a banquet but this way we got to choose what we wanted to eat and we had it centered around poon choy, which you can’t do with the banquet option.

Stuffed Scallops

I particularly enjoyed the fresh scallops stuffed into gourds and the fatt choy (black moss – a type of bacteria). I was quite surprised to see the little one eating a whole 8-head abalone by herself too. It was really yummy and we nearly managed to finish the poon choy despite just having 4 adults.

Unique Seafood

It was a great poon choy dinner and I’ll be looking to try a different restaurant’s poon choy around this time next year. Chinese New Year is coming up in less than a week’s time! Happy Chinese New Year everyone! :)

Australian Yee Sang Dinner @ Celestial Court, Sheraton Imperial KL

Australian Yee Sang Dinner

I just came back from my second yee sang dinner of the year. It was a Tourism Australia event for partners and media and this is a dinner I try to attend every single year. It’s always a blast to meet up with the tourism reps and the food at Celestial Court is good. This year had an ingredient for every dish (usually seafood) brought over all the way from Australia.

Abalone Yee Sang

I thought that was a brilliant idea!

Prosperity Yee Sang with Tasmania Ocean Trout with Truffle Sydney Green Lips Abalone

Prosperity Yee Sang with Tasmania Ocean Trout with Truffle Sydney Green Lips Abalone
The highlight of the yee sang is the Sydney green lips abalone (something I’ve been seeing a lot in yee sang this year) and the Tasmanian ocean trout. The plum sauce and acidity of this raw salad is spot on. I’ve never really enjoyed yee sang for the sake of it, it’s more like a tradition for me, but Celestial Court’s yee sang is quite yummy.

Double Boiled South Australia Mini Abalone Soup with Fresh Ginseng

Double Boiled South Australia Mini Abalone Soup with Fresh Ginseng and Wolfberries
I love abalone, especially in poon choy, and this year we’ll have another abalone filled poon choy too. The double boiled soup was done really well, with lots of ginseng goodness and a nice baby abalone in the clear broth.

Jasmine Tea Marinated Northern Territory Barramundi with Melbourne Vegemite

Jasmine Tea Marinated Northern Territory Barramundi with Melbourne Vegemite Soya Sauce topped with Fruity Dressing
This is my favorite dish of the night. I’ve had barramundi in Australia before and it’s always with crispy skin. However, barramundi cooked Chinese style with soggy skin is even more fabulous! I like the umami sauce, it’s made with Vegemite and goes very well with the flaky tender barramundi. I saw an extra piece on the table and didn’t hesitate to help myself to seconds. The hint of smokiness from the Jasmine tea marinate is just irresistible. smirk

Wok Fried Queensland Scallops with Celery and Flower Fungus in Premium Scallop Sauce

Wok Fried Queensland Scallops with Celery and Flower Fungus in Premium Scallop Sauce
The fresh scallops were really awesome too. There were two Malay guys sitting beside me (this is a pork free restaurant) and one of them told me this is his favorite dish due to the spiciness. The scallop sauce is actually a hot sambal and it goes surprisingly well with the soft and moist scallops. Very nice.

Stewed Bean Curd and Bean Puff with Dried Oyster Sea Moss and Darwin Broccoli

Stewed Bean Curd and Bean Puff with Dried Oyster Sea Moss and Darwin Broccoli
I am usually not a huge fan of soy bean and tofu byproducts but I was quite hungry tonight since I skipped lunch (was too busy and had to rush to make dinner in time). It turned out that this was quite pleasing to my palate, but no one could finish it, unlike the other dishes.

Five Grain Rice with South Australia Kinkawooka Blue Mussels and Barbeque Meat Topped with Bonito Flakes

Five Grain Rice with South Australia Kinkawooka Blue Mussels and Barbeque Meat Topped with Bonito Flakes
I ate every single mouthful of this individually portioned dish as well. It was the standard filler but I enjoyed the mussels from South Australia. I generally enjoy all types of seafood and would prefer it to any other protein.

Victoria Frost Berries with Chinese Nian Gao

Victoria Frost Berries with Chinese Nian Gao
The nian gao (sticky glutinous rice cake) is usually eaten around Chinese New Year. This was sliced and pan-fried and it tasted good with the tartness of the Victorian frost berries.

Chrysanthemum Ice Cream topped with Western Australia Macadamia Nut Crush

Chrysanthemum Ice Cream topped with Western Australia Macadamia Nut Crush
Wonderful stuff! We were all wondering what the ice cream flavor was since it was very mild when contrasted with the toasted macadamia nuts. I finally got a hint of chrysanthemum and thought it was ingenious to make a chrysanthemum flower flavored ice cream. It’s a very adult dessert, not too sweet with plenty of texture.

Tourism Australia Koala

There was a picture under the ramekins when they served up the ice cream. It’s either a hot air balloon or a tower and the latter was limited to 68 pieces. You can redeem it for a Tourism Australia koala soft toy while the default door gift was a gold wire mesh kangaroo with two Mandarin oranges. I got the first one but they were kind enough to give me one of each. The kids would love it!

HB Shamila

Thanks for the wonderful dinner Shamila! I really enjoyed all the seafood from Australia.

PUTIEN Fujian Heng Hua Restaurant

PUTIEN Prawn

I’ve been meaning to check out this Singaporean restaurant ever since they opened up an outlet in Sunway Pyramid. It serves food from the Fujian Province, specifically Heng Hwa cuisine, and I am a proud member of said clan. I’ve even been to China, although not to that part.

PUTIEN Sunway Pyramid

I thought it’ll be something like what my grandma would serve up when I was a kid.

Pickled Papaya

I was slightly mistaken in that regard. PUTIEN is a higher end restaurant that serves up quite artistic plates. Obviously, emphasis has been placed on presentation, something which is lacking in a lot of Chinese restaurants. Even better, the food is actually really good!

Iced Whole Abalone

Iced Abalone (RM 37 per pax)
Whole abalone for RM 30 per piece? Count me in! I haven’t seen that kind of prices since I went to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah (which has a lot of cheap seafood). This is one of the appetizers we ordered, it’s an entire piece of abalone served on top of ice. You have to slice it yourself and it looks a little like a certain bit of female anatomy but it’s delicious!

The latter, I mean. smirk

Iced Abalone

It’s surprisingly flavorful, with notes of chilli and other spices with the tender abalone.

Bamboo Herbal Prawn

Bamboo Herbal Prawn (RM 12.50)
This is the other appetizer we ordered. This is a hot dish with a large prawn sticking out of a bamboo tube. The broth is awesome – deliciously prawn-y, with lots of Chinese wine.

PUTIEN Loh Mee

PUTIEN Loh Mee (RM 21.50)
This is their flagship dish and my better half ordered it. I can’t say I was very happy with the results. It didn’t taste really good, it was a bit of a disappointment to be honest. The noodles were rather bland and I just felt the entire dish was very blah, especially when compared to the other house specialty.

Heng Hua Bee Hoon

Fried Heng Hwa Bee Hoon (RM 21.50)
This is one of the dishes which they are famous for. The signature dish of PUTIEN is made with the only sundried vermicelli milled by hand in Putien. This artisanal product is cooked in a broth of pork bones and old hens. You can really taste the difference in the rice vermicelli, the texture is so different from others – it plays tricks on your palate with its curly, twisty and firm springiness and it absorbs the pork bones and old hens broth so well that I don’t have any other superlative to describe it except maybe legendary!

Hot Yam Gingko Paste

Hot Yam Paste with Gingko Nuts (RM 6.50)
We first ordered Pumpkin Cream with Ice Cream (RM 11.50) but the waitress told us that they couldn’t serve it coz their pumpkins were not up to standard. I thought that was really good quality control so we switched to another dessert which didn’t have pumpkin as one of the ingredients which turned out to be this. It was smaller than I expected and probably not as good as a cold dessert but it was all they had.

PUTIEN Us

We both had quite an enjoyable meal at PUTIEN. There are actually set meals with their flagship dishes for RM 104.50 for 2 pax but we could only choose one main. I ordered a la carte coz I wanted to try more than one main and I’m glad I did that coz the Fried Heng Hwa Bee Hoon was so spectacular while the PUTIEN Loh Mee was so disappointing. The bill for the two of us came up to RM 144.84 inclusive of drinks and the wonderful pickled papaya they serve as an amuse-bouche.

PUTIEN

PUTIEN
LG1.45 Sunway Pyramid Shopping Mall
No. 3, Jalan PJS 11/15, Bandar Sunway
46150 Petaling Jaya

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. :)

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