Yee Sang @ Xia Mian Guan, Sunway Pyramid

Toss Yee Sang

Xia Mian Guan is a Chinese restaurant located outside Sunway Pyramid. I went with my better half for lunch (and our first yee sang together). The food here is surprisingly good, and we’ve never even heard of Xia Mian Guan before – this is our first time eating here! :)

Prosperity Salmon Yee Sang
Made with 7 colorful prosperity ingredients and fresh salmon, topped with special plum sauce

Salmon Yee Sang

I’ve had my first yee sang of the year last month but this is my first with my dear. I like how they’re very generous with the salmon – there’s none of that “thin slivers of salmon” thing going on here. You have thick slabs of salmon with the yee sang and that’s always a good thing.

However, I felt the yee sang at Celestial Court is much better, but these are two very different places – one is a high-end hotel restaurant and the other is a more affordable mall dining experience. It’s still decent but the best dishes are yet to come!

Tea Leaf Smoked Village Farmed Chicken
Healthy fresh village farmed chicken smoked with Pu Er tea leaves

Pu Er Tea Smoked Duck

I thought someone had lit a cigarette or at least popped out for a quick smoke before coming back into the room. That’s how strong and intense the smoke was! Of course, on second whiff, it doesn’t smell like tobacco at all, but your mind just automatically makes that connection. I have to stress that the plate was very far from me when it was brought it, which makes it all the more amazing!

My better half really liked this. The smoky flavor of Pu Er tea leaves can be smelled on the whole organic free range chicken and it’s really something different.

Pork Ribs infused with Red Wine
Succulent pork ribs cooked with Xia Mian Guan’s signature red wine sauce

Signature Red Braised Pork

Mmm…there are lean pieces, fatty bits and pork ribs mixed into this dish. I quite liked the house signature red wine sauce. This is Chinese style red wine meant for cooking, not the red wine you see in French cuisine. The common name for this dish is “Red Braised Pork” or 红烧肉.

Prawns in Curry Sauce
Made with chilli sauce, milk and fresh prawns. Best served with fried Man Tou for dipping.

Prawn Curry

My favorite dish! I was raving about this for days! This is easily the best thing that has come out of the Xia Mian Guan kitchen by a long shot. The prawn curry is so intensely infused with prawn flavor (perhaps they blended up the prawn heads) that it’s pleasantly shocking! The prawns are big and juicy and the fried bread is crispy on the outside and warm on the inside.

Man Tou

I can dip the fried bread into the delightful sweet and spicy curry sauce all day long!

Hong Kong Kai Lan
Specially selected Hong Kong Kai Lan, made with a pinch of salt to enhance its flavor

Hong Kong Kai Lan

The interesting thing about this dish is the contrasting texture – the stalks of the kai lan is steamed while the leaves are shredded and deep fried! There’s not a lot of oil so I suspect it might have been done in an air fryer. We’ve had a different twist on this dish before in banquets and dinners before – it’s also part of the “4 Heavenly Kings” way of preparing vegetables – this makes for crunchy, crispy vegetables combined with the soft juicy stalks.

Red Bean Kuih
Freshly prepared daily, the red bean kuih is soft, tasty and complements the sweetness of red bean

Red Bean Kuih

My dear was waiting for the final course to come out coz it sounded quite promising. The dish is portioned individually, with each person having one Chinese soup spoon. The red bean kueh is very nice – it’s not sweet at all, in fact there’s barely a hint of sweetness, all there is comes from the red beans so it’s a nice finish for people who don’t like overtly sweet desserts. I love the mochi-like texture of the chewy kueh too!

Xia Mien Guan

Xia Mian Guan (no English name) is a gem of a restaurant that we’ll be sure to go back too. Conventional wisdom suggests that hotels and malls don’t have really good restaurants but there are of course exceptions to this (there’s a couple of Michelin-starred establishments attached to hotels). This is one of them – a very nice restaurant that’s located at a very popular mall – Sunway Pyramid!

Xia Mian Guan
Outside Oasis Boulevard
Sunway Pyramid Shopping Mall
Jalan PJS 11/15 Sunway
Tel: 03 5611 7949

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.

Joystar Garden

joystar garden

Joystar Garden is managed by Faye’s sister and she’s been insisting that I head over to review the place on the blog. I found the perfect opportunity this month – I have just been transferred into a new division with a great boss. I didn’t enjoy working in the previous division for personal reasons and I’m now doing what I like doing so I booked a table for six (6) for a Chinese banquet to celebrate. :)

joystar interior

Joystar Garden is located on the second floor and is fully air-conditioned. The ground floor of Joystar Garden is a coffee shop under the same proprietor. There are private rooms and a stage for speeches and karaoke sessions in the restaurant. The service is attentive and the waitress to diner ratio is kept very high so you’ll be hard pressed to be unable to summon a waitress’s attention.

joystar peanuts

The obligatory peanuts were served while we waited for everyone to arrive. Peanuts deep fried with batter is a traditional snack to munch on before the actual food arrives in Chinese restaurant banquets.

joystar guinness

I had a small bottle of Guinness Stout to celebrate my new transfer into the division. I figured it was kinda sponsored by Guinness anyway from the earnings off the Nuffnang Guinness 9 Ball Tournament ads. ;)

joystar starter

This is the first dish that came out – Chinese banquets usually start with a dish containing several different items. It’s called Four Seasons or Hot & Cold Platter in generic terms and it’s a starter dish that serves as an appetizer. Joystar Garden’s version has wrapped rice vermicelli, shrimp, crab sticks, lemon chicken, and slices of pork intestines.

sharks fin soup

The second dish of a traditional Chinese banquet is usually the soup. This is Shark’s Fin soup and true to Chinese etiquette, it’s divided up on a separate table before the individual soup bowls are served to the diners. The remainder of the soup is placed at the center of the table for refills.

sharks fin bowl

I could only discern one piece of shark’s fin in the soup but for the price, I didn’t really expect for it to be loaded with the stuff. ;)

joystar pork yam

The next dish that came out is sweet and sour pork ribs in a ring of yam (taro). It’s served with prawn crackers on the side.

joystar pork yam dish

I thought this dish tasted pretty good, with the sweet and sour pork ribs combining well with the sweet yam and the texture of the crackers.

joystar thai fish

The next dish is Thai style fish pieces. The portions were HUGE and (more than) a little too much for six people. I started feeling full around this time…and so did everyone else.

joystar mayo chicken

Next came the deep fried mayonnaise chicken. This dish was barely touched coz we were all so full at this point. I was told later that you should deduct two (2) people from the amount of food to tell the chef preparing Chinese banquets coz the portions are usually meant for the amount of people plus two so that everyone would have enough to eat.

joystar veggies

The last dish that came out was the mixed vegetable dish. I couldn’t eat anymore – I was absolutely STUFFED at this point.

joystar fruits

There is also the obligatory fruits platter at the end of the Chinese banquet. Joystar Garden served oranges and watermelons for the dessert with toothpicks.

joystar us

The Joystar Garden Chinese banquet set cost RM 128 for six people not inclusive of drinks. You can get different customized sets on request. It cost me RM 161.80 for everything and it’s a special price from Faye’s sister. Thanks!

Caution: Joystar Garden has a karaoke setup that is very loud and this makes it a very non-conducive environment for conversation. Potential diners should be warned that less than sober mature ladies belting out Chinese golden oldies might appear on stage. I’ll let the video above speak for itself.

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