Every year without fail we have our Chinese New Year gathering cum reunion dinner. Our reunion dinner is normally scheduled ahead before the actual CNY celebration. Similar to previous years, Loon Sing is where we meet and indulge in eating for the joyous occasion. On top of that, we can get loud and noisy due to the free flow of booze. Some of our friends get off track with alcohol whereas the rest stay put like obedient citizens and watch the fun.
Whatever it may be, the highlight is the food because every dish has a symbolic meaning, either eaten for health, wealth, prosperity or happiness. Over the years, I have grasped the meaning of each of dishes but please don't ask me the details. Reach out to your Chinese friends for the meaningful depths.
The first and must have as the opening for any reunion dinner will be the Yee Sang. Our variety of Salmon Yee Sang came in a large serving plate with colorful assorted vegetables, fruits, crackers, varieties of condiments and sauces.
We stood up and toasted all the ingredients together with our chopsticks. We sure tried to toast as high as possible for greater luck and fortune, never mine to the spills on top of the table.
Shark fin soup has disappeared from the menu and as a replacement; we each had a bowl of Ginseng Chicken soup.
I gathered that the soup must have been simmered for hours because the flavors were uplifting and smooth. It would have been an insult to the taste if I did not finish everything that came as a package in the soup.
My other half who does not eat chicken had a bowl of thick fish soup which quite resembled shark fin soup. He enjoyed every bit because of the lovely punch on his taste buds.
I liked that dishes were not rushed over to be served. That gave us the time to enjoy each one of the dishes while trying to figure out which guests had the talent for Karaoke singing. My lips were sealed on who were the good singers and who were "trying" to become one.
The plates were cleared for the next dish of roasted pork with Mantou buns.
The fatty pork pieces coated in a thick layer of dark sweet sauce were meant to be placed in between the buns yet I chose to try out a piece by itself. One piece was good enough for me, however my friends did a good job of tucking in.
By now the booze was in full swing and guests were dancing away around their table. I was contented with the first glass of red wine. I wanted to stay sober for the vegetable platter, a combination of mushrooms, broccoli and flat tofu pieces. Nothing spectacular yet I loved the accompanied thick light brown sauce. This dish was a sell out for the fact that we did not leave anything behind. Even before I took the picture, all gone with the wind.
Next up was the Pan Fried Prawns. The fresh prawns were lightly coated with chilies and herbs for a subtle taste, without being too heavy. Prawns are not my favorite but I eat a piece, worried that I may be deprived of happiness and well being in the year of snake.
Likewise my friends also stopped after eating one piece. I requested the waiter to pack the balance and suggested to my friends to take it back home. We knew that fish will make an entrance and true enough it did.
The steamed fish with a mild salty sweet taste was awesome. The fresh and succulent fish was the talk of the table. We lapped every bit of it until the bones.
One more to arrive was the glutinous steamed rice with thin Lap Cheong (pork sausages) stripes patched on top.
We struggled to finish and another friend was willing to take back the balance packed rice. No meal would be complete without desserts. The pumpkin tapioca sago was a perfect closing.
The stream of coconut milk mixed into the warm dessert was recklessly my favorite. Surprisingly for a person who is not a big fan of sweet notes, I had two bowls of the sweet porridge. I think the people behind the scene are aware that customers these days prefer desserts with reduced amount of sugar.
It’s too early to look forward to the next year’s reunion dinner yet I am willing to wait patiently for another round of good food with great friends.