Happy Monkey Year to all! This is the one time in a year where for a whole two weeks, we probably eat the same menu for at least four times, especially if you’re Chinese, come from big families and work in a local company.Looking back at my posts, the restaurant I blogged about last year was Hang Kang My family did go back again this year, but unfortunately I felt that experience was marred by the increasingly brusque service and the unavailability of raw white fish (due to the fish scare and the need for businesses intending to serve raw fish to obtain the requisite license).
However, I’ve had opportunities to eat at other places and this year, the girlfriends found a really good place for Chinese New Year celebrations – Asia Grand Restaurant at Odeon Towers. The first thing I noticed when I walked in was how the service was really seamless and fine tuned. The moment I mentioned the name that the table had been booked under, the manager rattled off the table number immediately without having to look at the book! The waitresses were all very very experienced. They seemed to know almost immediately what we wanted the moment we were seated – drink requests were quickly taken, quick checks on whether the table was ready etc.
Further, during the lo hei, she was very enthusiastic and did a very good job leading us in the lo hei, explaining what each ingredient was meant to symbolize and a quick english translation for the benefit of the non-chinese at the table. This seems very expected, but I had already been to 3 lo hei sessions before this dinner and pretty much my experience was that the servers were usually more interested in dumping the ingredients and getting it over with, rather than actually allowing the diners to enjoy the lo hei experience. After which, she even helped us take a few photos of us tossing the lo hei ingredients. A great and wonderful start to the dinner!
Next up was duck crispy skin rolled in cucumbers, spring onions and dipped into plum sauce. Asia Grand is quite the traditional restaurant, they actually had the restaurant manager carve the duck skin in front of you (how often do we still see this!) while the server rolls it up in the pancake skin at his side. The duck skin was really crispy and combined with the plum sauce was the best! This went away really fast.
Steamed chicken – M always used to say that steamed chicken was always better than roast chicken since steamed chicken required the meat to be fresh (not frozen). In this case, when the dish was first presented in front of us, the sight of the chicken head got the girls a little squeamish. However, once they had a bite of the chicken meat, everyone agreed that it was very succulent, tender and extremely well cooked.
Fish maw soup came after this chicken. Unfortunately, the photo turned out really blurry, hence the decision to not put it up. However, I thought it was a really winning dish, the restaurant was very generous with the ingredients, could really taste the sweetness of the prawns, the fish maw and the scallops. The soup was also of the right starchy texture that was elevated with the addition of vinegar and pepper.
Next up was the steamed fish which was steamed with black bean, spring onions and soya sauce. Some didn’t like the addition of the black bean as they found it a little too overpowering. However, I’m quite the fan of the peppery taste, hence I enjoyed it, though I would admit that the fish wasn’t the best dish out of the lot. It didn’t taste as fresh as it could have.
The last two main courses of the night were the noodles (ee-fu style with duck) and vegetables served with clams. Photos were a little blurry unfortunately, so I’m only posting the picture of the vegetable dish here.
Our two desserts to round off the meal were red bean tang yuan soup and sticky cake (nian gao). Very traditional Chinese desserts meant to symbolize wishes for children and promotion. We happily ate everything up.
Very fitting that the last Chinese New Year dinner I enjoyed in this two weeks would be the best out of all the dinners. Was really impressed with the service and the food, hope to be able to bring my family back here some time soon!
Photo credit goes to K. Thanks very much for them!
Add: 331 North Bridge Rd, #01-02 Odeon Towers