Dinner @ (the new) Ming Mei Shi

Ming Mei Shi

Ming Mei Shi moved during the Chinese New Year and we haven’t been to the new location yet. It’s one of our family favorites. The restaurant consistently puts out good food and I go at least once every time I come back to Sibu. My sister and her family was back and we decided to come here to eat before she flew back. The new Ming Mei Shi is just located two blocks away from the old site.

Ming Mei Shi Restaurant

It’s now a standalone building (!!!) by itself. Ming Mei Shi has been very successful, there’s no doubt about it. Even my brother in law was impressed by their food. However, despite having over 3 times the capacity of their old lot, the restaurant was still packed. We managed to get a table on the second floor, beside a group of (loud) MLM/insurance dinners.

Dong Po Pork

Dong Po Pork
This is their signature dish and it comes with fluffy man tou (steamed buns).

Man Tou

The server will slice up the stewed pork for you and you stuff it inside the warm buns to eat. The kids loved this!

Foochow Tofu Soup

Foochow Tofu Soup
We don’t usually order soup but we were looking for something different to eat and the waitress suggested this classic. It’s tofu soup done in the classic Foochow way, with a tin of razor clams thrown in for flavor. I liked it very much, it was just like how my maternal grandma used to make it.

Lemon Chicken

Lemon Chicken
This proved to be a hit when my better half came with the kids last time. We ordered the exact same thing and they liked it. However, the bright yellow color of the lemon chicken doesn’t come from food coloring, it comes from turmeric. Unfortunately, my niece and nephew didn’t like the taste of turmeric (we got this for them) so I ended up eating most of it.

Butterscotch Prawns

Butterscotch Prawns
I have always ordered this in Ming Mei Shi and they have always come out with the dry version e.g. it’s deep fried with butter. I wanted the wet version like Ruby Restaurant, which comes with a butterscotch sauce so I made sure to repeat the order several times. It still came out slightly dry with barely a teaspoon of gravy. I still love the huge de-shelled prawns though. I just don’t think they do the wet version here. smirk

Four Beans

Four Beans
This is a dish called “Four Heavenly Kings” and it’s basically a mixture of 4 different types of “beans” – okra, eggplant, green bean and corn. They do a mean and delicious version here, it’s very nice and not oily unlike other places.

Rendang Lamb Shank

Rendang Lamb Shank
This RM 60 lamb shank is made with condensed milk and it imparts a very sweet and creamy aftertaste to the gravy. There are only a couple made every day – last time I was here, they were all sold out and we managed to get one this time. It’s a little expensive for a regular sized lamb shank but you won’t complain when you take your first bite. It’s delicious.

Ming Mei Shi Sibu

The meal cost around RM 200 for all of us. There are five adults since my sister’s maid always flies in with her to take care of the children (she was the one who took this photo) and two kids so it’s quite reasonable for 7 pax. The new location is a lot better – all the tables have tablecloths and a dedicated lazy Susan and the chairs are comfortable. Be prepared for a long wait though, it took over an hour for the first dish to come out for us.

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! :)

Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) 2016 Dinner in Sibu, Sarawak

PKR Dinner Sibu 2016

I was invited to come along for dinner last night at Good Happiness Restaurant in Sibu and listen to the PKR politicians speak. This is (as I understand it) a fundraising dinner of sorts – each table has paid a minimum of RM 400 for campaign contributions. Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) is one of the opposition parties in Malaysia.

PKR Dinner Sibu

I’ve always been very transparent in my political leanings – I voted for DAP (Democratic Action Party) in the last general election and make it a point to go for Bersih gatherings. I thought it would be interesting to hear the speakers and see the 2016 Sarawak State Election lineup.

PKR Dinner 2016

Good Happiness Restaurant was very packed, they had the entire second floor with over 100 tables. There were provisions for halal diners as well with outside catering.

Foochow Fried Noodles

Foochow Fried Noodles
This was the first dish that came out. Good Happiness Restaurant does decent Foochow style fried noodles, I quite like it. I think almost everyone was hungry at this point so it was smart of them to start with a carb heavy dish.

Pork Belly Soup

Sup Babi (Pork Belly Soup)
I have honestly never had anything like this before! It’s pork belly and leg that’s been boiled with pickled vegetables and served as a clear broth. It’s a nice soup but the sheer amount of adipose tissue is staggering…the abundance of unrendered pork fat makes you feel a bit jelak after a few bites.

Sup Babi

Interesting execution though. This is a very Iban style of cooking – simple and wholesome (in the sense that it’s filling and slightly oily).

Curry Fish Head

Curry Fish Head with Steamed Rice
This was the third dish that came out. The menu for the night seems quite starch intensive, which I guess is appropriate for massive events like these. It’s nowhere near as good as places like Sheraton but it’s done decently enough.

Abalone with Mushrooms

Abalone with Mushrooms
This is a classic Chinese banquet dish with abalone slices and enoki mushrooms stir fried and stewed, surrounded by heads of broccoli. It’s not very tasty but food is beside the point here – people come for the politics, the food just serves as a backdrop and a vehicle to raise funds. It’s purely secondary and I don’t think anyone minded.

PKR Candidates 2016

This is the Central lineup for 2016! These candidates would be the ones contesting in the upcoming Sarawak State Election 2016 to be held in four (4) months or so.

Anwar Ibrahim Badge

I got an Anwar Ibrahim (leader of PKR) button for contributing to the campaign. There were people going around with donation boxes – these will go towards campaign funds so I was happy to give to the opposition coalition.

PKR Dinner Me

It was an interesting dinner. I felt that some things could have been done differently to make things more conducive e.g. less ceramah (political speeches) would be nice since everyone in attendance is in agreement with you, it’s a little like preaching to the choir. I also think more mileage could be had from getting the upcoming political candidates to speak to and connect with people at each table – perhaps next time eh? Good luck! :)

Dinner with my cousin, her fiancé, his mom and 9 from our extended family

Hong Fu Sibu

I know, the title sounds a little unwieldy but it’s actually very accurate. smirk We had dinner at Hong Fu Seafood Restaurant last night. There were 12 of us and we took the largest table available and could barely fit everyone in.

Hong Fu Seafood

This dinner is supposed to be a “meet the parents” kind of thing for my cousin’s fiancé (and his mom) before their wedding at the end of the year. It morphed into a “meet the extended family” coz that’s just how we roll. Two of the uncles I’m closest with were there, as well as my dad, my grandma and several of my cousins and aunties to round things up.

Hong Fu Seafood Restaurant in Sibu is actually known for their crabs. It used to be RM 13 / kg which is an amazing price for Sibu (we’re a landlocked town). Here’s what we had:

Philippines Pork Leg (Crispy Pata)

Crispy Pata

I’ve always found it amusing that people from Sibu refer to this iconic Filipino dish as “Philippines pork leg” when so many other places have a similar implementation e.g. Germany. The proper term for this dish is crispy pata.

Philippines Pork Leg

It’s deep fried pork leg (with trotters) that’s been simmered in water along with spices beforehand. There’s usually a dipping sauce made with some combination of acidic, sweet and sour elements e.g. vinegar, sugar, soy sauce. Hong Fu makes one of the best implementations of this in Sibu. It came in two huge platters to accommodate our late party.

Midin (Local Fiddlehead Fern)

Sibu Fiddlehead Fern

This is a Sibu classic, fiddlehead ferns called midin that’s cooked with a bit of chilli. I quite like it, it’s one of my favorite dishes.

Signature House Tofu

Tofu Pork Mince

The large slabs (about the size of a CD case) of tofu is made in-house and lightly fried before a thick pork mince gravy is poured over it. I have been eating more tofu lately (get your mind out of the gutter) and I’m starting to enjoy it.

Stir Fried Vegetables

Hong Fu Vegetable

This the obligatory green dish. I’ve also been eating more vegetables lately and I’ve been developing a fondness for it too, thanks to my better half. I did not grow up eating veggies – in fact I hardly ever ate vegetables until I was in my late 20’s.

Mongolian Chicken

Mongolian Chicken

This is really yummy. I like sweet & sour pork and this tastes a little like that, but better! Everyone does this slightly differently, and it’s been bastardized in so many Chinese restaurants abroad. The chicken is fried so there’s a bit of crunch and the sauce is sweet, sour and spicy. Lovely stuff – I can just eat this dish alone with rice.

Braised Sea Cucumber

Sea Cucumber

I don’t know why restaurants in Sibu always pair sea cucumber with broccoli but I ain’t complaining about Hong Fu’s implementation. The sea cucumber is wonderfully tender and flavorful from the sauce. There’s just something very visceral about slurping the slippery things into your gob.

Steamed Red Snapper

Red Snapper

My uncle brought this fish to the restaurant. You can actually do that here if you have a better or fresher specimen that you want to eat. You’ll be charged for the cooking but not the fish – it’s a similar concept to a corkage charge for wine in BYOB restaurants.

Yih Wen

I actually came back to Sibu for several reasons – I needed to meet with my first client for Pulse Consulting, open up my company bank account, discuss a new project that’s in the pipeline (potential new client, yay), celebrate Father’s Day with my dad, and hang out with my bro Eddy whose mom just passed last week and I’m glad I managed to catch my cousin Yih Wen and her fiancé too.

It’s very rare that we all get together like this in one big family. :)

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

Last Supper @ Golden Happiness Restaurant

Golden Happiness Tofu Soup

Tofu Soup

This is not your usual tofu soup. I love the addition of tomatoes for umami. There are also lots of aromatics and for body, the house-made fishballs and meatballs go well with the black fungus. The plating is very nice too, they don’t slop everything into a deep bowl but rather dish it out on a wide plate so all the ingredients are visible, submersing with the broth.

Local fiddlehead fern (midin) with Foochow red wine

Midin Foochow Wine

This is our beloved midin (fiddlehead fern) cooked in Foochow red wine. It’s cooked just right so the ferns are still slightly crispy, and not soggy. The pairing with local red wine and crunchy bits of anchovies to top off this dish makes it simply perfect!

Foochow fried noodles

Foochow Noodles

These noodles are actually called “chao chu mien” e.g. they’ve been fried before being poached in liquid. It’s a distinctively Foochow way of cooking and the noodles tastes heavily of lard. It’s lovely! Golden Happiness Restaurant will actually serve the dishes in order of intensity of taste e.g. from least nuanced to the most flavorful but this was an exception as we were hungry and wanted it out.

Stuffed Fish Maw

Stuffed Fish Maw

This is fish maw stuffed with fu chuk (beancurd skin) and some other items. It’s quite lovely and the texture is different. I like how the gravy goes very well with rice.

Abundance of Seafood (in a Pot)

Seafood Soup

That’s actually the translated Chinese name for this flagship dish. Haha! It’s quite flowery but essentially it’s prawns, fish slices, sea cucumber, squid, cuttlefish, fish maw and other interesting and delicious bits of seafood thrown into a pot.

Seafood Claypot

This is one of my favorite dishes here. They’ll heat up the pot and when you’re done…

Pig Tail and Duck Claypot

Pig Tail Duck

…replace this claypot on the heat source. This is a unique combination of pig tail, pork belly and duck! I’ve only seen it served here at Golden Happiness – it’s one of their signature dishes. I was a bit hesitant when I heard of the combination at first, but duck goes very well with pork and the pig tail adds a wonderful chewiness (and a ton of collagen and gelatine) into the mix.

Golden Happiness Restaurant

Golden Happiness Restaurant is one of the higher end Chinese banquet places in town. I like how the front of house floor manager wears a suit and all her waitresses don traditional matching Chinese uniforms. It conveys a sense of professionalism that is lacking in a lot of Sibu restaurants. I had one of my last suppers here with my bro Eddy, Jona and a bunch of other close friends.

The food here is top-notch, and they have several house specialities that sets them apart. Thanks for the awesome dinner, homeboys!

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. :)

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

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

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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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