After years of eating in, my reunion dinner this year was held outside. I do understand that it is tedious work to prepare a feast but the cleaning up is the nightmare which follows. This is why Chinese restaurants took the advantage to earn big profits from this tradition. Previously these restaurants went a bit too much by slotting 3 different dinner sessions (say... 530, 7.00, 8.30pm) and it left a sour note to most dinners. Fortunately, they were a bit more reasonable this year by having 2 slots only.
We took the 6pm slot in Kok Thai Restaurant in Tasek. Both the ground and first floor were filled to the brim. On my estimation, it can fill about 150 tables on both floors. Now, can you imagine how much in sales they make in just one night?
Stories and customs aside. Let's have a slight review on the food. This is the Rainbow Salmon Yee Sang. I can't comment much as this is the second Yee Sang I had this year (The first at my company's Sau Gung Jau). Furthermore, I did not get a taste on my personal favourite from Tai Seng. Nevertheless, it managed to bear the symbolic meaning unlike "fishless" version (replaced with meat floss) of Yee Sang served in Yum Yum Restaurant. Unable to obtain "halal fish" is not an excuse because according to Islamic Laws, all aquatic animals are halal except poisonous and intoxicating ones.
We did our part in preserving the ecosystem by drinking Fish Lip Soup with Assorted Treasures instead of Sharks Fin. Next it was
Beggars' Chicken Herbal Chicken. A lackluster version, I felt my mom's version prevailed without much judgment.
The steamed fish was served in less than a gap time of 10 minutes after the chicken. We were a bit annoyed by these gestures by the restaurant to "rush us away". Well, I guessed this is the downside of dining out. You can't really dine in peace. To make things worse, the food quality is not as good as it is on normal days. For example this fish. its supposed to be Garoupa (Sek Ban). But mom suspected that we were being served Siakap. Furthermore from the rough flesh texture, it was very obvious that this fish was poached before steaming to reduce the cooking time.
A "Fah Hoi Fu Kwai" (stir fried assorted vegetables with macadamia nuts) was served before giving way to panfried prawns in soya sauce. Prawns lacked the "ooomphhh".... perhaps it was cooked in a big batch. Or worst still, it was also cooked by poaching them because there were poached prawns in the other set menus.
The portions were not very big though. We only have 7 people feasting on a set menu enough to feed a table of 10. And yet, we polished up every single dish, except for the Glutinous Rice with Assorted Meat (waxed duck, pork sausages, liver sausages and stewed pork, which I suspect its the canned version ala "Gu Loong" brand). Dessert was Tang Yuan (filled with peanuts and sesame) in soya milk. Our dinner kick started around 6.15pm and ended slightly before 8pm. And before we left we saw many people already waiting impatiently for their seats for the 8pm session. I read from a friend's Facebook status update lamenting on the delay for the second session - seated at 8.45, 15 minutes without any tea/peanuts, and the first dish was only served at 9.20pm.
Personally, I felt the earlier session has more advantages. You can start your meal on time and service was quite good. The slight drawback is dishes were served on overdrive mode without much consistent time lapse between them. For the second session, you might think that you will get to enjoy a longer session because there are nobody else after you preying on your tables like vultures. That's if you go through a series of obstacles like finding parking (because the first session haven't finished their meal and leave yet), waiting for some not-so-punctual people from the session before you to finish up their meal, waiting for the waiters to clear up the tables, self service chinese tea and peanuts and last but not least, having to starve until 9pm+
But, the best is still home cooked dinner at home, at your own leisure and pace. So, back to the usual way next year. No more dining out for us! Happy Chinese New Year!