January 23, 2012

Shanghainese Village New Year's Feast

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It's the first day of the Year of the (Water) Dragon, and there was a rare occasion for the two sides of my family to gather for a meal.  You don't get a whole lotta choices when it comes to restaurants that open today, so dad booked Shanghai Kitchen (上海鄉村) and got us a room.  Unfortunately our table wasn't that big enough, so the 15 of us had to squeeze a little...

Stir-fried shrimp with freshwater eel (蝦爆鱔背) - I was expecting the eel to be deep-fried, but oh well...

Stir-fried fish with mustard greens (雪菜魚片) - not bad, and I liked the slices of bamboo shoots.

Radish balls and conpoy (銀球元貝) - I felt they added a little too much starch into the soup, so I didn't drink it.

Simmered shiitake mushrooms and winter bamboo shoots (油燜雙冬) - the mushrooms were good, but the bamboo shoots were a little too old and fibrous.

Stir-fried prawns with lily bulbs (百合蝦片) - a crowd favorite tonight. The prawns were large and pretty fresh, and for the Shanghainese lily bulbs are a favorite.  Nicely done with a little green asparagus.

Steamed crab (清蒸肥蟹) - these were pretty good, but for some reason not very popular tonight as half of it was left on the plate.  Was there simply too much food, or were we just a bunch of lazy diners?

Braised pork belly and sea cucumber (烤方烏參) - the single most popular dish tonight... and why should anyone be surprised?  It's all fat and collagen, after all!  Steamed buns were provided so we could make Taiwanese pork sandwiches - gua bao (割包).  This was simply awesome, and happens to be one of the signature dishes here.

Steamed garoupa in oyster sauce (蠔油紅斑) - not sure which type of garoupa but it was red and had spots... This was a little weird for me, because the fish tasted like it had been marinated or somewhat air-dried, since the flesh wasn't as succulent as I had expected from a steamed fish.  It was made with marinated manjack berries (破布子), so the taste was somewhat Taiwanese...

Sliced squid with vegetables (花枝竹笙時蔬) - I thought this was supposed to be abalone on the menu?!  Ho hum.

Claypot chicken soup (砂鍋土雞) - a huge pot of soup with a pretty darn big free range chicken.  Very yummy.

Spring rolls (春卷) - kinda surprised that the stuffing was like a fish paste...

Sycee (元寶) - it's traditional to have food shaped like sycees during lunar new year, since they symbolize wealth.  These baked pastries were pretty decent, with red bean paste inside that tasted pretty good.

My Aussie uncle very kindly brought some wine, and in fact brought something vintaged that you can't find easily nowadays...

1996 Penfolds Bin 407 - a classic wine with no surprises.  I think the last time I drank this vintage was more than 10 years ago...

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