Happy New Year!
It's the first day of the Lunar New Year and 2012 is the Year of the Dragon. We celebrated with a dinner at The Eight at the top of Market City, buzzing with families and friends who had come together to eat.
Yee sang sashimi salad $42.80 (specials menu)
After a complimentary house soup - sweet with pork bones and filled with lotus roots and strands of lucky fat choy black moss - we were excited about the upcoming yee sang sashimi salad. Traditionally served at Lunar New Year celebrations, the yee sang is usually a large plate laden with a colourful rainbow of raw fish, julienned vegetables and fried crackers that is tossed together at the table. Often this is done by the guests who shout good luck chants as they toss the salad with as much height as possible.
The yee sang sashimi salad that arrives is much more modest in appearance that we anticipate and scant in portion size, especially given the $42.80 price tag. A waiter wanders over with a jug of dressing which he pours over the top of the salad before it is mixed with quiet efficiency and minimal fanfare.
Tossed yee sang sashimi salad
There are probably ten planks of salmon in the salad, doused in a sweet soy dressing. Deep-fried wonton wrappers and crushed peanuts give a pleasing crunch, but we wished there was more cucumber and carrot in the salad mix.
Red braised pork knuckle $33.80 (specials menu)
Red braised pork knuckle is from the specials menu, a hunk of pork cooked until tender. The skin is glossy and sweet around a generous layer of fat, and the nest of fat choy hair moss is a deliberate inclusion for extra luck. Fat choy sounds like the last two words in "Gung hei fat choy", the Cantonese New Year greeting that calls for prosperity.
Wok-tossed snake beans with oyster sauce $19.80
Both our vegetable dishes come with sprinklings of pork mince. The wok-tossed snake beans are squeaky fresh with a salty sauce and the braised eggplants are deliciously soft and sweet.
Braised eggplant with minced pork and chilli in clay pot $18.80
Deep fried salt and pepper bean curd $18.80
If there's one dish that tests the skill of a Chinese it's deep-fried salt and pepper bean curd. There's an admirable level of expertise required to create a light and crunchy batter around delicate and wobbly pillows of silken tofu. These pass the test with ease. The gentle flavour of tofu is boosted by crunchy shards of deep fried shallots and a dusting of salt and pepper.
Crispy skin chicken with ginger and shallots in soy sauce $16.80
We finish with crispy skin chicken, splashed with a vinegary soy sauce in the style of shandong chicken. The chicken is succulent beneath the thin and brittle glazed skin, and the heap of shredded shallots add some zing.
There's no need to order dessert either with a series of house sweets served with compliments to the table. A fruit platter of rockmelon and watermelon slices is sweet and refreshing, best eaten before the bowls of sweet red bean soup. And just to make sure you're literally waddling out the door, a plate of sponge cake squares and siu hao jo laughing sesame balls will put a smile on your face for the new year ahead.
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Related Grab Your Fork posts:
The Eight, Haymarket (Apr 11)
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1/23/2012 01:48:00 a.m.