Can you believe it? In just 10 days, it will mark the beginning of the new year, the year of the Dragon. It feels just like yesterday when I was tossing yee sang in the shape of a Rabbit! To welcome the new year of the Dragon, also the most popular year in the Chinese zodiac, Toh Yuen Restaurant has brilliantly come up with an amazing yee sang presentation in the shape of a Dragon, no less! The dragon head and legs were painstakingly carved from pumpkin, while its body was carefully arranged using pieces of vegetables and fruits, making it almost to pretty to be eaten. What’s more, just like the legend, the ensemble was completed with a dragon ball too! Impressive was an understatement.
The brilliant Dragon Yee Sang
The Dragon and its ball
If you look closely, the dragon ball was in fact made from slices of abalone, salmon, cucumber and pear, topped with bits of pomelo. It’s not just pleasing to the eye, it’s pretty refreshing to the palate too! Soon, all the rest of the yee sang ingredients including the crackers and plum sauce were poured onto the platter, and we began to toss our way to happiness and to a new and better year.
Topped with crackers and plum sauce
Tossing for a bigger and better year
The messier it is, the better
The Dragon yee sang is a special pre-order dish that needs 3 days to prepare. Costing a whopping RM888, the yee sang with the dragon head definitely doesn’t come cheap. But judging from the amount of work and creativity poured into this beautiful ensemble, together with the high quality ingredients, I’d say it’s probably worth it. After all, the year of the Dragon comes but once every 12 years, and most Chinese believe in the symbolic meaning of it more than anything else. So I can foresee this yee sang to be a popular hit! Best of all, it’s delicious! The combination of the fresh salmon and abalone together with the sweet and sour plum sauce and the various fruits made this one of the juiciest yee sang tasted.
Juicy and crunchy yee sang
Once the yee sang was out of the way, we began our dinner from the Longevity Menu. The 8-course menu comes with a bottle of wine.
#1: Braised “Hu Die” Shark’s Fin with Crab Meat Soup
The first course was the shark’s fin and crab meat soup, an extremely flavourful and thick broth that was generously filled with crab meat. If there’s one thing about crab that I don’t like, it’s the amount of effort required to extract the meat out! Thankfully, the skilful chef made it all easier for us with the meat extracted, plus the delicate shark’s fin on top.
Braised “Hu Die” Shark’s Fin with Crab Meat Soup
Whole shark’s fin
If you don’t feel comfortable eating shark’s fin (just like me), you can opt for the Braised Chicken Soup with Chinese Herb “Chong Chao Hua” and Sea Cucumber, a lighter version of soup but far from being light in taste. In fact, the chicken soup was rich with chicken herbs and refreshing from the wolfberries, that I wished there was more of it to sip.
Braised Chicken Soup with Chinese Herb “Chong Chao Hua” and Sea Cucumber
#2: Braised Chinese Herb Chicken with Black Fungus
The second dish of braised chicken with black fungus was prepared with a 6-hour marination before being cooked for 3 whole hours! It was a glorious pot of treasure filled with pacific clams, sea cucumber and wolf berries, making the gravy very sweet and tasty. My only minor gripe was that I was given the chicken breast meat, which was generally drier and blander in comparison to the other parts of chicken. Otherwise, I loved this dish, gravy and all.
Braised Chinese Herb Chicken with Black Fungus
#3: Steamed Fish Sea Garoupa with Spicy Garlic Sauce
As with typical Chinese dinners, there is most certainly a dish of fish in the menu. That night, we had the steamed garoupa with spicy garlic sauce, presented on a bed of glass noodles or ‘tong fun’. The fish was flaky, smooth and firm, while the flavour of garlic and ginger did well in bringing out the freshness of the fish. But what I enjoyed most really, was the glass noodles. Buried under the steamed fish, they seem to have absorbed the essence of the fish on top, and the savoury soy sauce at the bottom, making them simply the best of both worlds. I had double helpings of these noodles, so good!
Steamed Fish Sea Garoupa with Spicy Garlic Sauce
#4: Braised Sea Cucumber with Mixed Mushrooms
Moving on, we were served braised sea cucumber with mixed mushrooms and broccoli. The sea cucumber was bouncy and spongy, absorbing the gravy beautifully. I also loved the juicy mushrooms that were bursting with flavour. Lovely dish to fill the gap before the next seafood was presented.
Braised Sea Cucumber with Mixed Mushrooms
#5: Sautéed Fresh Prawns with Black Pepper Sauce
In Chinese customs, the presence of prawns or ‘har’ in Cantonese, denotes the meaning of laughter or ‘haha’, a must for the new year. We all want to be happy and filled with laughter all the time, so this dish of prawns is usually well-received among the Chinese. The relatively large prawns were nicely sauteed with black pepper gravy and were absolutely succulent. My favourite part of eating prawns was sucking the delicious gravy from the shells, it’s the most tasty part of eating prawns, really.
Sautéed Fresh Prawns with Black Pepper Sauce
#6: Sautéed Toh Yuen Fried Rice with Seafood
While most restaurants are serving waxed meat rice (lap mei fan) for the new year, Toh Yuen is sticking to the safe choice of seafood fried rice, fried impeccably with fresh squid, prawns and fish fillet to a redolent finish. Each grain of rice was perfectly coated with the golden egg, and each mouthful was flavourful and fluffy. Lovely!
Sautéed Toh Yuen Fried Rice with Seafood
#7: Deep Fried Crispy Chinese New Year Cake
For dessert, we had deep fried ‘nian gao’, a sticky and sweet cake that is usually served during the Chinese New Year. Fried correctly, the ‘nian gao’ became crispy on the outside but gooey and soft on the inside. Simply gorgeous.
Deep Fried Crispy Chinese New Year Cake
#8: Double Boiled Red Dates with Papaya and White Fungus
Last but not least, the double boiled red dates with papaya and white fungus was not only sweet but a healthy dessert to end the very satisfying meal. The sweetness of red dates was apparent in the soup, blending very well with the papaya cubes. Honestly, I enjoyed this dessert more than I expected myself to.
Double Boiled Red Dates with Papaya and White Fungus
Without a doubt, this was one of the most creative Chinese New Year menu that I’ve ever tasted, especially with the unique dragon yee sang. If you would like to experience the tossing of the dragon too, remember to make your reservation 3 days in advance!
Welcoming the year of the Dragon with style
The Chinese New Year menus by Toh Yuen Chinese Restaurant are available only from 9th January to 6th February 2012, and range from RM988++ onwards for a table of 10. The Longevity Menu above costs RM1,388++ per table of 10.
Toh Yuen Chinese Restaurant @ Hilton Petaling Jaya
No. 2, Jalan Barat,
46200 Petaling Jaya,
Tel no.: +603-7955 9122 (ext 4073/4)
Fax no.: +603-7955 3909