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It’s Chinese New Year (CNY) a couple of weeks ago, and us Chinese know how to celebrate — eat, feast, and repeat. Of course, there are many regional Chinese New Year traditions throughout China, and being from HK, the HK tradition is what I’m most familiar with. On New Year’s Eve I was invited to a feast with food expert Lee Man, and it just heightened my appreciation for my culture.

Calling it a feast, obviously it was a multi-course dinner with an abundance of food. We are all about good meanings 意頭 when it comes to choosing the dishes or even naming them for CNY. On Instagram I showed a glimpse of what that means with the CNY dinner made by Mama Lam this year. It’s being realized here once again at Golden Paramount in Richmond.

Food

“Togetherness” is one of the main reasons for CNY celebrations so families often take the opportunity to gather together and dine out during CNY. For that, the restaurant was hustling and bustling and it’s just full of energy! It was a late dinner for us (7:45pm start) and the room was still full and more were being seated as our dinner progressed. And here’s our menu, some background about them, and what they symbolize:
Pan Fried Oysters – Oysters are a homonym for “good”, indicating good luck for the upcoming year. Traditionally we eat dried oysters because it means “good business” 好市 but it does have a more distinctive fishy taste to it and not everyone likes it. This was a Chinese Restaurant Award winner.

Pan Fried Oysters
Pepah Tofu – Fried food is usually in a golden colour so it symbolizes gold and fortune. The tofu here is shaped into a Chinese lute, Pipa. Fun fact: I learned to play the Pipa when I was in middle school in HK. Not easy to master but it was fun to play. This was later extended to my involvement with the Vancouver Chinese Music Ensemble.

Pepah Tofu
Crab Meat and Fish Maw Soup – At a CNY feast you would want to serve some luxurious items.

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Imagine you arrived at a restaurant where the exterior was all wrapped up so you couldn’t see the inside, and all you could see was the LED marquee sign by the door. Then, as you were led into the restaurant the interior décor made you feel like you entered a night club, and you started thinking to yourself, what the heck did I get myself into?!

0755 Restaurant & Lounge0755 Restaurant & Lounge

That’s kind of how I felt when I went to 0755 Restaurant and Lounge in Richmond. As part of the Chopstick Fest preview, a few of us were invited to sample the menu of this restaurant. Frankly I didn’t know what to expect even by the time we were seated inside.

0755

According to the menu, 0755 is an area code in Shenzhen. It symbolizes that the restaurant menu is inspired by the food culture of this city in Southern China.

Food

And we were all pleasantly surprised. We tried a number of savoury items and there were many high points. Some of my favourites were:

Sour Jellyfish Head – Jellyfish head is actually the edge of a piece of jellyfish, so it has a crunchier texture that regular jellyfish. Because it didn’t have much flavour on its own, it really took up the black vinegar and chili pepper in the marinade. It’s quite refreshing and the sourness helped whet your appetite.

Sour Jellyfish Head

Garlic Steamed Scallop – This is one of my favourite ways to prepare fresh scallops. It reminds me of my visit back to Hong Kong where we had a big seafood feast in Tuen Mun. The fresh scallops would be steamed on the half shell with a garlic sauce. If you are a garlic fan, you would really enjoy the prominent garlic flavour. It’s light, but luxurious at the same time.

Garlic Steamed Scallop

Braised Spot Prawns – I usually prefer lighter sauces for spot prawns so I could taste their natural sweetness, but this dish really surprised me.

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If you follow me on Instagram, you would see in my IG Stories that yesterday I received a pretty neat surprise at lunch. Tourism Richmond delivered some freshly made dumplings from a number of Richmond restaurants. Why, you ask? There’s now a Dumpling Trail in Richmond!

Dumplings for Lunch

Dumplings for Lunch

The Dumpling Trail is a self-guided tour of 15 restaurants in Richmond that serve up a wide variety of dumplings.

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Being Chinese, make stir-fry is in our blood. Stir-fry dishes are always on our dinner table. For our family, we’re not traditionalists, so we often incorporate ingredients and flavours from other cuisines.

This time, we had a pack of Johnsonville Italiano Sausage Meat. It’s most expected to be a pizza topping, or being made into meatballs. Because we also got some fresh snow peas out of my mother-in-law’s garden, we decided to make a stir-fry.

Johnsonville Sausage Snow Peas Stirfry

The sausage meat is basically ground pork seasoned with Italian style herbs and spices. It’s like a hack for not having to season your meat. It also means that you have to watch how much additional seasoning you’re putting in this dish – it could get salty.

Ingredients

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It started with an express of interest in visiting a recently opened dessert place, then led to a scheduled visit to that place, but we needed a dinner first, so the ChineseBites crew ended up having dinner at Golden Eats on Kingsway near Victoria. For some reason I thought the restaurant has been around for ages and I just never went; turns out it’s only been open for about two years.

Food

We ordered a total of 12 dishes, and here are some highlights:

Served in Hong Kong style, the Peking Duck (片皮鴨) is served over two courses. First, the roasted duck was skinned, and served with crepes and scallion and hoi sin sauce. The skin was crispy, flavourful, but the crepe was a bit too thick for my liking. The highlight of the plate was the bed of lobster crackers. Typically restaurants use shrimp crackers because they come in different colours and more common, but they don’t have much flavour and can get soggy after absorbing the grease from the roasted duck. The lobster crackers here seemed to hold up quite well. They were firmer and thicker, yet still crispy and crunchy, and had some “seafood” flavour.

Peking Duck 片皮鴨

Meat from the duck carcass was then used for the second course, Lettuce Wrap (生菜包). The meat filling had a decent amount of meat. By the time we could dig in, though, the crisp at the bottom had become a bit soggy, relying on the iceberg lettuce to offer the crunchy texture.

Lettuce Wrap with Duck Meat 生菜包

Dark Vinegar Spareribs 銀山鎮江骨 Pan Fried Black Cod with Soy Sauce 豉油皇煎黑魚
Dark Vinegar Spareribs
銀山鎮江骨
Pan Fried Black Cod with Soy Sauce
豉油皇煎黑魚

The Lobster with Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf (荷香龍蝦飯) is one of their signature dishes. (more…)

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Our friends at ChineseBites invited me to a Chinese fine dining experience at Chang’An Restaurant. It’s located right under the Granville Bridge, where Nu and Stonegrill used to be, with the gorgeous view of the False Creek.

Chang'An Restaurant

It turned out to be an elaborate 17-course dinner. Hold the drool! This is going to be a long and delicious post!

Food

As each table of guests is seated, they would be greeted with Guo Kui Pita 鍋盔. This was like complimentary bread served at western restaurants. The pita bread was served warm, crispy on the outside, and soft inside. I really liked the fermented bean sauce that came with it; it’s nutty and spicy, kinda like XO sauce too.

Guo Kui Pita 鍋盔

But we were all distracted by what’s happening on the table-side. It’s the Chang’an Roasted Duck 長安炙鴨! This was what we came here for. It’s the restaurant’s signature dish, and you must pre-order ahead of time. Why? Because it takes 72 hours to prepare the duck, then it’s roasted in-house for over an hour. According to the restaurant, they actually schedule the cooking time based on your dinner reservation, so it would be served roughly 15 minutes after you are seated, ensuring the optimal tenderness of the meat and crispiness of the skin.

Chang’an Roasted Duck 長安炙鴨

Usually for Peking Ducks, restaurants would just skin the duck and serve it with crepes, etc. Here they actually serve the skin two ways: first of all, they serve the crispiest part of the skin, and skin only with just a thin layer of fat, and you dip it in brown sugar. (more…)

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Smoking cigars, off-roading, shooting, and bear wrestling are just some of the incredibly manly things I do. However, scotch drinker I’m not.

When I was invited to a scotch tasting dinner by the good folks from The Macallan, I couldn’t pass on the opportunity. How could I say no to James Bond’s scotch of choice?

They brought down four of their whiskys from their 1824 Series, and paired them with 9 courses at Kirin Downtown, a Chinese New Year themed dinner with fairly traditional banquet style dishes.

The Macallan 1824 Series Scotch Whisky

The Macallan 1824 Series is what’s called a “no age statement” whisky. Instead of differentiating based on age, such as 8, 10, or 12 year-old whiskys, they are selected and differentiated by their taste profile.

Out of the four, Gold is the most affordable choice. Dan Volway, The Macallan’s brand ambassador, called it his 3PM whiskey. I too like a job where I’m having a scotch at 3PM. Perhaps I should rethink my career choices.

Dan Volway, Brand Ambassador

The first pairing was actually a cocktail made with the Macallan Gold, the Firecracker. It was made with 1.5oz of the Gold, 3 tangerine wedges (or 0.25oz of tangerine juice), 2 dash of rhubarb bitters, and 2oz of ginger beer. It had a great citrus flavour, along with a bit of spice from the ginger. This was paired with a classic Chinese cold meat platter with excellent crispy roasted pork (though I’d imagine it’s better when hot). Despite being quite strong, this was a very easy drinking cocktail with a nice balance of citrus, sweet, spice, and bitterness, which was also why it paired well with the meat.

Kirin Special Platter with Roasted Pork

The Macallan Gold itself was paired with another classic Chinese New Year dish, braised dried scallop, dried oysters, with mushrooms, black moss and garlic. (more…)

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