Monday, 3 February 2014

My Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner


Terengganu....beautiful Terengganu! I was home for the Chinese New Year (CNY) and just got back today. To be honest with you, the CNY mood was rather subdued. I was more excited about spending time with my parents, my brothers, my sister-in-law, my nephew and niece. And of course the eating frenzy heh....heh...even though my waistline was already very prosperous ahead of CNY. Had to wear my "fiat piants" (fat pants), the one with rubberized waistband which comes in handy when you want to eat a lot. Automatic expansion. Hah! Hah! 

Good diet food.

Back in the old days we had our reunion dinner at my maternal grandparent's home. On the morning of the eve, my mum and I would go to my grandma's and help her. Well, it was my mum who did most of the helping of course. I was still quite useless in the kitchen then, more interested in how many eggs I could eat in the Kay Hong. The other standard dishes that would grace the dining table were Kay KutukKay Khong Eam, Chim KoayNonya Acar, Kiam Chye Ark, Bakwan Thng and a few more. Those were the days when CNY was a lot more exciting, when all of us got together under one roof and it was truly "lau juak" (full of merriment).  I am a lot older now and the family unit is getting smaller as some members are overseas and others unable to come home due to ill health or other circumstances.


I wonder how many of you still cook at home as it is now a trend (not really a trend but more for convenience) for families to organize their reunions dinners at hotels and restaurants. It is no different for my family as we have been eating out for the past few years. With the exception of the times when my parents came over to PJ to celebrate and yours truly was the cook. Ahem!

I could have eaten just this and be satisfied.
Since I have not been cooking for the last few days, I have nothing to show you hah..hah.... I didn't even have time to bake cookies. But you can take a look at my family reunion dinner at The Grand Continental Kuala Terengganu. 

I usually attack the yam. Not so interested in the filling.

My cousin and his family came back from Australia way before CNY and they were able to join us. But sadly they had to leave on the first day of new year as the kids had to go back to school. My mum was not present because she had to look after my grandma who is very frail and is in advanced stage of Alzheimer.

Let's look at the menu. 


I have not been back to KT for what, 4 or 5 years already. The last few times I was home, I remember the menu and modus operandi at the Grand Continental was the same. Same menu, same lounge singer and same songs. Apparently this year there was a revamp. The dishes are different and were very tasty save for two which I felt could have been better executed. Since it was a Thursday night, there was no singer and it was fine by me. You know me, I like rock and that's not what the guy would be singing :) Besides us, there was only one other table booked. I heard that business had gone to another competitor nearby.


The first dish was of course Yee Sang. There were generous slices of salmon but not enough to go around.


But I was not complaining as the Yee Sang was very tasty.


I would prefer more fresh vegetables but this is the version with those colorful crunchies which I do not really fancy.

My first helping. Not a piece of salmon in sight.

But still, I had three helpings because it was good.

Spilled prosperity.

Next was my favorite of night, the Golden Lotus Five Seasons Platter.


 Look at that, very generous portions. 


The star of the platter for me was the Chicken Feet Kerabu.


I overheard my uncle telling his friend (Uncle Yong was alone for the CNY and hence joined us) that in Thailand, the pretty Thai girls use their teeth to remove the bones from the chicken feet. Or something like that. I did see some photos circulating on the internet on how chicken feet bones are removed by mouth. Don't know how true that is but it didn't stop me from scooping seconds.


Next up was Steamed Chicken Herbal Soup. Initially I thought it would come in a big bowl with the waiter serving the soup in individual bowls. But no, the soup came in individual servings. The herbs were quite mild and I would have preferred more robust flavors.


The Steamed Garoupa in Soya Sauce was of a good size but it was slightly overcooked. I guess it is tricky and takes a lot of skill to steam a fish just right.

It was looking right at me.

The flesh was a bit hard and therefore not as tasty as it should have been. I am becoming quite the critic am I not? Just like Arthur hee...hee....


The Golden Prawns with Salted Egg came next and they were excellent.


 I am not a fan of prawns but I had three.


Next dish was one of my old favorites, Fried Yam Ring. But oh no, I exercised self-restraint and stayed away from the yam as it is high in carbohydrates. I only took a bit of the filling.


The Broccoli with Mushrooms and Sea Cucumber came after that. I sort of expected this dish. I love broccoli and this dish did not disappoint. By this time, I was already very full or else I would have taken extra helpings. 


The last dish was Steamed Rice in Lotus Leaf which came in individual parcels. And again, self-restraint. No carbo for me!


But after seeing what it looked like inside, I don't think I missed out much. The rice was overcooked and very mushy. 


The White Fungus and Sea Coconut dessert came right after and I was pleased that it was not too sweet. Very refreshing and cooling.


Can one really abstain from carbo during all the festivities? I caved in when the pancakes arrived. How could anyone resist Chinese pancakes with crispy skin and soft sweet filling? I had one small piece. That's right, just one and I thought I was doing well.

Chinese pancakes. Love the crispy skin.

But no. Guess what came after that? Banana Pancakes with Vanilla Ice Cream. I was seriously twitching in my seat. How to say no? Aiyah, just eat lah! After my first bite, I have to say that the banana pancake could be improved in terms of texture (it was too thick and tough) and taste (very bland except for the bananas). I was so excited I forgot to snap photos. But luckily I spotted Amelia's (my cousin's cute daughter) uneaten ice-cream and managed a shot.

Too late. The ice-cream melted and was not so presentable.

That was not the end of our eating session. Back home, we still had enough space in our tanks for beer and tidbits. After that it was bedtime.

I spotted some nice breads. Wish I can eat.
Oops! Not real bread.

And just a quick one before I sign off. The first day of new year after visiting my uncle, we had lunch. Banana leaf curry lunch, a family favorite. We are a fan of Indian curry and we had to have our curry fix even if it was CNY. But we were disappointed as the cooking was not up to par. Though the dishes looked good, they lacked punch and the spicy flavors that we have come to expect of good Indian fare.

Fried chicken. So so only.

Dry chicken curry. Not as tasty as it looks.

Mutton curry. Very bland and will bring tears to your eyes out of sheer disappointment.
Fish curry. No kick.

In spite of all the "sumpah seranah" (swearing) of "cross my heart and I won't eat carbo" at the airport, I broke my vow. What is curry without rice?

So, I hope you had a great celebration and I am hoping to read about what you ate. I'll be back with my home cooking once I get my kitchen warmed up.

42 comments:

  1. GONG XI FA CHAI TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY!
    Lupakan diet for now... Chinese New Year, only once a year... hehehe

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    1. MamaFami, badan I dah naik, seluar semua ketat sampai tak leh nak bernafas!

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  2. Eating out is so senang, don't need to clean up, I have been granting approval from my hubby to eating out during CNY eve dinner, but never got approved, hahaha! Gong Xi Fa Cai PH!

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    1. Gong Xi Fa Cai, Sonia! Hah! Hah! Next year you try to apply for leave lah....but I think your hubby and family prefer your cooking leh!

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  3. Hi Phong Hong, happy new year. You are lucky to 'eat out' during CNY. I'm the total opposite of you. Everything home-cooked at my MIL's place from CNY eve for ancestral worship to 2nd day for 6-7 families [lunch/dinner]. Prepared some dishes for 3rd day but nobody turned up [communication breakdown between my MIL and her children]. In the end, there are so much left over food ingredients in the fridge. I said goodbye to my MIL this morning and now back to my own 'nest'. That's my CNY routine since I got married decades ago.

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    1. Hi Kimmy! Wow, that must be a lot of work for you! Anybody help you? Cooking two meals for 6-7 families is no joke. How tiring that must be! Goodness, must be so frustrating that nobody turned up after all the hard work. Hope you are having a good rest now.

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    2. Nope, they only cleaned up the kitchen after the meals. Moreover, not properly done, I still have to do the stacking in the appropriate places.

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  4. I like how the fish looked pity that it was not good!

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    1. That's right, Ola. It could have been a very tasty fish. There was quite a bit leftover.

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  5. Your reunion dinner looks delicious! Happy CNY to you and Gong Xi Fa Cai!!

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    1. Gong Xi Fa Cai! Overall, I was happy with the dinner. Went home with a very full stomach!

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  6. I say!! jealous lah you got so much nice food to eat compare to me over here so shy to tell you what l had.If l had known that l will quickly book my ticket and fly home and yum-yum with you all.The fish's mouth look so cute but the ice cream dish looks so ordinary not up to standard I think you can do better than that.Envy you with so much nice food to eat

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    1. EE, I miss the good old days at Mah-Mah's house and the kay kutuk and kay hong!

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  7. Chinese restaurants here close on the eve! You can order and collect by noon...and eat it cold, come evening, or reheat yourself. Not so nice. We would rather cook our own. Wahhhhhhh!!!!! So much to eat! Took me a while to scroll down to the comment box! LOL!!!

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    1. I would prefer home cooked food but there are too many of us! Overall, I was quite happy with the dishes.

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  8. Hi PH, gong xi fa cai to you! That looks like a really nice meal for reunion dinner. My grandmother + aunts still cook for reunion dinner, so we get to enjoy some nice homecooked food :)

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    1. Gong Xi Fa Cai! Yen, lucky you! It's just me and my mum and we don't have the energy to cook for so many people. Come to think of it, grandma and my mum were superwomen in those days!

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  9. Hi Phong Hong,

    Gong Xi Fa Cai!!! You know what... Call me a loser but feasting all these delicious food with my eyes are calories and fat free!!! ... LOL!

    Enjoy your CNY!

    Zoe

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    1. Gong Xi Fa Cai! You are a smart one, Zoe! I should feast with my eyes too but I can't tame my growling stomach hee..hee...

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  10. Hi Phong Hong, everything look so yummy there. Great you have a wonderful time with your family. Last 2 years I also celebrate my CNY at Terengganu, I miss Terengganu Keropak and Nasi dagang.
    Happy Lunar New year to you and your family :)

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    1. Hi Esther! Gong Xi Fa Cai! I had keropok lekor and nasi dagang too. Very nice!

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  11. Phong Hong, so nice of you to share with us your CNY festivity foods. I love your honesty about some of the foods that were dry, bland...rice overcooked...LOL

    It cannot compare to what you have made and posted it, you cook with such passion and love...can't expect that in a restaurant food, although everything did look pretty awesome in the photos. Glad you had a nice family reunion with family...Gong Xi Fa Cai! Hugs,

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    1. Hi Elisabeth! Thank you for your warm wishes! Oh....you are too kind, my friend! My cooking repertoire is quite limited though I try to be adventurous and try new things. Sometimes they don't turn out and end up in the bin! I was very happy to spend CNY with my family and it was a lot of fun!

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  12. Gong xi fatt chai!

    What did we had for CNY eve dinner? Eerr...cham forgot. ..but now am hvg lekor and someone in NZ is drooling

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    1. Keong Hee Huat Chye! Ahahahha....you had so many nice food you can't remember! I also had lekor but not enough :) Next time orang NZ should buy the frozen lekor but dunno whether can bring in at airport.

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  13. Hi Phong Hong, Gong Xi Fa Chai to you!!! We still cook our reunion dinner on the eve of the CNY and steamboat on the 1st day of CNY.

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    1. Hi Ivy! Gong Xi Fa Cai! It is great that you have home cooking. Steamboat is very practical!

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  14. What a feast! That sounds like a fantastic reunion dinner! I just ate, and I'm getting hungry all over again!

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    1. Hah! Hah! Cathleen, go and eat something!

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  15. Hi Phong Hong, Gong Hei Fatt Choy !
    I am back (to work) today, yeee-haawww ! Been hibernating for the past 1 week (from the blog world)..
    Wow, good food, did you gain any weight? (You would be lying if you said no), haha..
    My favorite from the menu? That "fatt poot" (yam ring).. I have always loved "fatt poot" from young..

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    1. Gong Xi Fa Cai, Louiz! Of course I put on weight...haiyah....I love the fatt poot too but I thought I was so terror can tahan the temptation. But in the end give in also and that included the next few days. Now I am on diet liao :)

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  16. keong hee huat chai....sedap makan....but i think your mummy cooks better than grand Cond??

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    1. Keong Hee Huat Chye! Definitely I prefer my mummy's cooking! But too much work, I also can't cope. Come back to KT means want to goyang kaki and not slave in the kitchen hee..hee....

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  17. Wow your reunion dinner looks great!

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    1. Thanks, Mich! I enjoyed the atmosphere a lot!

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  18. Phong Hong the fish's mouth open so big it would be nice to put an ang pow in his mouth then rotate the table when it stop the person sitting right in front of the fish will get the ang pow exciting isn't it.The steam rice look so yak by looking at it you wouldn't want to eat .Well phong hong you can cook much better then that.

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    1. You know, the table couldn't rotate properly! We had to apply some pressure to "pusing" before can get the food to come near hah...hah....

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  19. What a feast, Phong Hong! I enjoy lotus leaf rice, but salted egg-yolk is a must! Dropping by to wish you & family a wonderful CNY!

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    1. Thank you, Shirley! Gong Xi Fa Cai!

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