It was a solid way to kick off a week. Monday night was my first ever Chinese New Year celebration as I headed along to the Dragon Palace in Northbridge to partake in a Lunar New Year Banquet. It was also my debut visit to Dragon Palace and what a massive venue it is! It was full to the brim on my visit with a full contingent of invitees ready to celebrate the Year of the Horse. Bring it on!
Festivities began with a traditional dragon dance, which was a lively and rowdy affair with the accompanying drums but everyone was enjoying it as the pair stomped their way dramatically through the large room.
The vino flowed as the banquet commenced. First up was a Sliced Raw Salmon with Oriental Salad. And with this salad we were to undertake a Yusheng or a Prosperity Toss, which is considered a symbol of abundance, prosperity and vigour.
It was action packed as we dug a chopstick onto the plate and gave it a stir to bring on the prosperity. It looked like a rainbow when it was combined and I loved the fresh flavours. The delicate slices of raw salmon just melted in your mouth. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
Following close behind was a Seafood with Fish Maw Soup. I had to re-google what maw was and I was reminded it is an internal gas-filled organ found in most fish. Now that doesn’t sound appetizing to me at all, but thankfully it doesn’t have a strong flavor. It was ok soup, but was fairly light on in the flavor stakes and I was a little put off with the inclusion of maw.
The next course was Braised Lobster with Supreme Sauce. I’m not entirely sure what was in the supreme sauce but it was delicious and a wonderful accompaniment to the lobster. We were each served up a generous piece and I did my best to chopstick the lobster out of the shell. Clearly I was not giving off the illusion of a chopstick aficionado and a waiter asked if I would like a fork. Granted, it did make life a lot easier so I happily armed myself with silverware for the next course (and to pluck out some more lobster).
I thought the next course was a real winner, Steamed Fresh Coral Trout with Ginger and Spring Onion. A whole steamed fish was dramatically presented to the table and our friendly waitress dished out a portion to each of us. I loved the punchy kick of fresh ginger and the trout was perfectly cooked! Just a lovely fish.
Now I saw the next course arrive, Stir fried Abalone with Vegetables and it did look impressive and was quite an artistic arrangement of the abalone slices, but I didn’t end up trying any. I know I have tried abalone once before but I couldn’t recall where, but I wasn’t overly disappointed not to re-live the experience. It didn’t stick in my memory as something I loved, though I know it is something of a delicacy and around the table others did seem to be enjoying it.
I thought all of the dishes had really great presentation and this was highlighted by the Stir Fried Glutinous Rice in Lotus Leaf. The waitress carefully unpackaged the loftus leaf and served each of us a small dish of the fragrant and well seasoned stir fried rice. I was grateful I had a fork because I’ve never been overly successful trying to eat rice with chopsticks.
The only non seafood course of the night was the Stewed Pork with Special Sauce. Again I’m not sure what was in the special sauce but whatever it was I enjoyed it and it was magic with the pork. It had been lovingly slow cooked and had rich, incredible flavours. Likely because this was the only dish without inspiration from the sea that it stood out for me. Probably equal favourite with the ginger steamed fish.
Well I had thought the pork was the only non seafood course, but there was actually another dish we received that was not on the menu. It was chunky pieces of chicken served with two different marinades. One was a spicy chilli with slightly more kick than I would normally partake in. And the other a more mild ginger flavour. I preferred this of the two.
The final course was something sweet with Mango and Grapefruit with Sago. I’m not big fan of sago so I declined, but reports around the tables were that the fruity dessert was quite tasty.It had been a lovely evening. Impressive lineup of food, with a definite seafood slant, but I’d given the majority a whirl and had really enjoyed it and don’t think anyone would have left hungry. There was a great festive atmosphere, the company at my table had been stellar and I am very appreciative of the invitation to celebrate my first lunar new year 🙂
Gong Xi Fa Cai!