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I need to take a break from all the feasting after this hectic 2 weeks of eating and drinking. It all started a couple of weeks before Chinese New Year where we spent my weekends making pineapple tarts, cashew nut cookies and kuih bangkit. And I made heart-shaped ones because the first day of Chinese New Year falls on Valentine’s Day as well. So more love around for everyone!
A small group of us decided to celebrate both eve and first day of Chinese New Year together. And our place were opened to them. On the eve, we opted to have steamboat. As usual, I volunteered to shop plus make 2 types of broth for the evening. The night before was the 30th birthday of 2 friends. Mister and I were shopping totally hungover. We were not a pretty sight. But the party must go on and so we dragged our sorry self to the markets.
I made 2 types of broth – Tom yum and clear chicken broth. And it was pretty easy to prepare the rest of the ingredients. They are all raw and only cooked once everyone is seated.
The weather was perfect for steamboat. I like steamboat because it’s so interactive. We all have our own little net for dipping the fresh ingredients into the boiling stock and cooking it the way we like it to be. For those that love heat, Mister made a super hot sambal and it was so popular! The best thing is the stock gets sweeter and sweeter with all the different flavours from the ingredients.
We survived the first night of feasting with friends despite our hangovers. I think we were OK after our first drink. We talked, laughed and a few of us ushered in the Year of Tiger together.
Vegetarian dishes are usually eaten during the day on the first day of Chinese New Year but we decided to have potluck instead. There is no tradition left in us after being away from home for a such a long time.
With everyone bringing a dish over, there was too much food again. We hardly made a dent as we were still feeling so full from the previous night.
Some of the dishes are home cooked but there are a couple of suspicious ones that seems to be store bought! Can you guess which ones?
Eating and drinking went on late into the night. After 8 hours of eating and drinking, we almost managed to finish everything.
The next feast that we had was a welcomed change. It was the seventh day of the Chinese New Year and the birthday of all human beings. Ms C invited a group of us over to her place where her mum made the infamous Hakka Luicha. I will be trying to replicate this dish in my kitchen.
Mister reckon that Year of the Tiger was not his year so it was better if we had more lohei this year. Yusheng or lo hei is only eaten during the Chinese New Year period. It is a shredded vegetables and raw fish. Yu or fish means abundance and sheng means increase or on the rise. So together it means increase/rise in abundance.
As a request from Mister, I ordered and bought a take-away from Plume Highpoint. I was a little skeptical. Their yumcha is pretty good but ala carte menu had always been a little underwhelming.
This was a typical Cantonese yusheng that I have grew to be accustomed to over the years living in Melbourne. There is definitely an abundance of raw fish that I am not complaining about but the sauce is a little too sweet. And they either left out or forgotten to give us the oil. And because it crunchy bits were in the box and not as a separate item, it was soggy by the time we ate it. And somehow I do not recall having red capsicums in my previous yusheng?
We headed for a mid week yusheng at Jade Kingdom. It was a Chinese/Malaysian restaurant in Heidelberg. If not for @stickifingers & @Rippingyan, I would have never known of this little gem. They serve a special menu for Chinese New Year. The yusheng is one of the better ones that I have tried in Melbourne. I love the green and red coloured crunchy bits. The balance of sweet and sour sauce was perfect. I appreciated that everything came separately and was then put together at the table. First, the five spice, followed by sprinkling of sesame seeds and then the oils and sauce and then end with a squeeze of lime.
The next dish was called 5 season or rather 5 treasures. In the middle sits the yam cake that is topped with cashew nuts and red onions. Surrounding it is a sweet and sour salad (something like acar), lobak, scallops & sweet peas and a crab/fish roll?
The stuffed pork hock was incredible. Meat was just falling off as our forks barely touched it. I was surprised to find chinese dried mussels. Not have those for ages! And of course, black moss is a must have during the lunar new year season. It was only the 3rd course and we all all so full. The portions here are quite huge and mind you, we are big eaters!
Mister and I are planning to come back here again to try the stew pork belly and bak tuk teh.
After so much eating during the last couple of weeks, I was prepared to eat greens for the next couple of weeks. Chap goh mei or Lantern Festival is the fifteenth and final day of the Chinese New Year. Back in Asia, there are celebrations to end the festive season but in Melbourne, we eat. Despite reading bad reviews of Red Wok lately, we still decided to try it out. I guess there isn’t many places that still served yusheng so we weren’t left with little options.
The yusheng here is pretty good. The sauce has a more sour undertone that we are familiar with. I just wished there was more fish and not used shredded green apples. I guess it is harder to find pomelo and ‘green’ carrots here and so this worked as a replacement. I would also have preferred it if the sauce was poured over at the start and not soaked below the pile of shredded vegetables and fish.
We are a roudy bunch and this is a short video of the mess we made during lo hei. We had nothing else to say except Gong Hei Fatt Choy. Must think of new ones to say for next year. And please forgive our lack of traditional ways. We promise to do better next year.
The rest of the dishes were a little disappointing. I hardly tasted any fish head in the curry dish. The Red Wok chicken was a little bland. Shredded chicken pieces resides under the pile of onions and peanuts. One of the star of the night is the sizzling tofu. It melts in the mouth and had such a delicate texture.
The golden prawn is actually deep fried prawns coated with egg yolk. Pretty yummy and it is hard to go wrong. The lotus leaf duck was a little dry and need more seasoning. The ribs seems to be coated with honey and had a slightly but weird smokey taste. I wish I had room for the red bean pancake. After so many nights of eating, I can only managed one.
So the celebrations ended and on the same day, we said our good byes to summer and hello to autumn which happens to be my favourite season. I think I shall take a break from all this over indulgence. Can I please have a salad for the rest of the week?
Just to add – Mister just read the post and could not believe how much we ate. No wonder we had kilos just after 2 weeks! Time to hit the gym…
What do you eat when you need to get away from the usual?