(Caution: Non-halal post)
Last Saturday was my paternal grand-aunt’s birthday and her four sons gathered the entire extended family to celebrate with her at the Grand Imperial Restaurant at the Bangsar Shopping Centre. There were enough relatives to fill four tables with an average of 10 / 11 persons per table.
Darn that annoying shadow at the left bottom corner. Here’s what we had on that day –
1. ‘Grand Imperial Four Hot & Cold Combination’ – (I’m taking an educated guess at what’s being served here) comprising of fried prawn dumplings (similar to the dim sum variety) mounted on carved cucumber, some wolfberry and fish paste, wasabi fish paste (centre), cold chicken slices with jellyfish. Overall, not bad as an appetizer. As dinner started at almost 9 p.m., most of us were famished and everything was gone fairly quickly.
2. ‘Double Boiled Chicken Soup with Haruan Fish and Green Apple’. The soup was only served to us but the waitress also placed two platters of the boiled ingredients (some pieces of boiled chicken and haruan fish) for us to add to our soup if desired.
(Pardon the annoying shadow again) I took this picture after adding some slices of chicken (which was already very dry and pretty tasteless at this time) but the flavour of the broth complimented the meat very well. I also added chunks of haruan fish which was not exactly a good idea as the fish had notorious amount of bones. The addition of green apple also went well with the overall taste – not overbearing but rather pleasant.
3. Roasted Whole Suckling Pig
What would Chinese feasts be without these kind of delicacies? Some at the table declined to partake on this suckling pig, though, citing their disgust at cruelty to young animals. This item came earlier than the ‘Soon Hock’ fish as it bucked the order of precedence in the menu above presumably because we just had haruan fish with the soup before this. The skin was crispy and the fat present was minimal; I’ve seen approximate specimens literally dripping with lard before so this is rather kind on the arteries…and the waistline.
4. Steamed ‘Soon Hock’ with Superior Soy Sauce
It’s fish. Normal, steamed fish in soy sauce (nothing really superior about it). Don’t strain your brain cells imagining how it might taste like. The texture is slightly rubbery but otherwise palatable.
5. ‘Braised Spinach Beancurd with Meat Balls and Fresh Mushrooms’
The beancurd was buried deep in the sauce, broccoli, sliced mushrooms, and yummy meatballs (made of shrimp and fish paste). The spinach is actually mashed inside the beancurd. Not bad.
6. ‘Fried Assorted Vegetables’
Celery, lotus root, almonds, beans in all its oily glory. Not my kind of dish but the nuts were the undisputable star. The lotus roots are commonly eaten during Chinese New Year for its auspicious connotations (‘lin ngau’ ≈ ‘lin yau’ or yearly abundance).
7. ‘Braised Longevity Noodle with Seafood’
Birthdays for the Chinese usually include this longevity noodle dish. It tasted just alright. By this time, most people are not in their respective seats and would be mingling with other relatives so some noodles obviously went unnoticed.
8. ‘Chilled Longan with Jelly & Plum’
This dessert had lemon wedges to infuse it with more zesty goodness. The addition of plum to the mix was questionable, though, as it rendered it much too sour for my sensibilities.
Another novelty was present during dessert –
Instead of the usual fried Shanghai pancake with red bean soup or some similar combo, we had these delicacies. The larger bun in the centre was hollowed out to contain at least three more smaller buns. The filling inside was ‘kaya’ (coconut jam).
Overall, it was a great dinner – a chance to be reunited with all the other family members (and not just during the Chinese New Year festivities) and the food was pretty good actually. I’m not sure how much the bill came up to – the dinner didn’t come free, though, as our family gathered to contribute towards a red packet for my grand-aunt.