Unlike the David Fincher film, this was a good se7en. The past week in KL (too long or too short, I still can't decide) was all about the reunions and the familiar food that came with it. Prior to the new year, I had mentally prepared a list of new restaurants and menus to explore. Instead, we revisited, among others - Reunion, steamed free-range chicken, Din Tai Fung, waxed meat, Lemon Garden Cafe and Oriental Pavilion. Dad insisted on Porto Romano (Mont Kiara branch) too, but we couldn't fit it into any of the 7 days.
Milo Dinosaur at PappaRich, Bangsar.
The discovery of PappaRich at Bangsar with The Girl From Abu Dhabi and Lyrical Lemongrass on reunion day was perhaps one of the best surprises this festive season, for me. I returned the next two consecutive days. It was mostly about the convenience of the location, the fixed prices (an important factor in the first 15 days of the new lunar calendar) and the extensive selection of drinks. In less than 3 hours, it was time for the official reunion dinner at Sin Kar Hee. After that night, it was clear to us that the next reunion dinner should be held here as well. I remember saying that I don't succumb to the exorbitant prices of Chinese restaurants and here at Sin Kar Hee, not only were the prices reasonable, the portions were huge. For about RM450 per table of 10 pax, we were served 10 dishes including a steamed chicken, fresh patin, tom yam prawns in 2 whole coconuts, greens, a roast duck, braised pork knuckle and what I assumed to be honeyed ribs. And if reservation is made earlier, one can secure a table in the air-conditioned room. It was fuss-free, high-speed (they had to manage 2 seatings that night) dining that required only the simple distinction of tasty or not. Nothing too analytical here, please. In the case of Sin Kar Hee, it was tasty. A reunion dinner should be like this - substantial, cheerful and slightly chaotic.
Going vegetarian on the first day of the lunar new year.
At home, the first day of the lunar new year is usually greeted with the smell of a pot of well-simmered soup of dried oysters and daikon. This year was no exception. The fibrous, stir-fried dish of assorted vegetables, black moss, beancurd skin and fu yu (fermented beancurd) and braised arrowroot slices are for breakfast - reheated later for lunch, tea, dinner and supper. No complaints because anything with fu yu is appetizing and goes well with rice. Following a purging of what's left of the reunion dinner (thanks to the vegetarian first day), the second day started again with a reunion filled with meats. Another new discovery this year was the usage of fresh lotus seeds in salads, which became part of our yue sang. Absolutely crunchy, sweet and slightly bitter, it was refreshing and went interestingly well with toasted sesame seeds and poached yellow garlic chives.
Steamed waxed meat on the second day of the lunar new year.
Char yuk with crunchy wood ear fungus - perfect for all celebrations.
Nutritious homemade yue sang sans a good name.
Back on the outside, it was suggested that Reunion at Bangsar Village II is a good place to bring tourists and friends/relatives returning from abroad to sample better KL-style Hokkien Mee, simply because it's similar to the real thing, more hygienic and has good ambiance. I'm rather neutral on this because at the moment, I really don't see any potential authentic Hokkien Mee in town that I can proudly introduce to my foreign friends. For me, Hokkien Mee at Reunion is about the slices of liver (it was almost compulsory in the old days), the amazing lard, the good stock but lacking in wok hei. It still delivered when we visited last Thursday but sadly, they ran out of belacan chilli paste. Eating it with Hong Kong style chilli oil is just sacrilegious, if I must say. We found 2 gems at Reunion that day - the char siew polo bun that came soft and sweetly glazed (I'm thinking of honey) and the captivating smoky aroma of good quality waxed meat cooked in a claypot of rice.
Reunion at Reunion.
New year celebrations are about drinking as well. Accidental or not, a gathering of some of my dear blogging friends at The Smokehouse at Bangsar turned out to be a drinking session (at 3 pm) that was really fun. And at another gathering of a larger scale, drinking was upgraded from beers to whiskeys and wines. Thanks FatBoyBakes for the great time! In another session, drinking was almost detox-like as we downed pints of fruit juices at OM, Jalan Genting Kelang. I had celery juice...with syrup. This is a Thai restaurant that offers quite an interesting menu. I'll be back to try.
It's also interesting that we tend to think of fast food come the lunar new year. Understandably, these are the few places that are open for business in the first few days of the new year. But that was the 80s. Now, many restaurants (Chinese or not) are open throughout the year and yet, we still find ourselves thinking of KFC and McD. I guess it has become part of the new year celebration - like how we find ourselves watching movies (usually Hong Kong productions) in cinemas on the first day, even if it's the first row from the screen and the fact that we have cable channels at home. Oh, I watched that 72 Tenants movie this year and it was hilarious. Within the first 4 days, we've already had doses of burgers, fries, fried chicken and pizzas.
Hours before leaving KL, we had lunch at Lemon Garden Cafe, Shangri-La. The buffet spread was similar to what I had a few years back except that now, they'd extended the salad section to include yue sang. After a quick browse of the spread, I decided that I should mostly focus on the Malay and Italian sections. The last dish I had there, and for this new year trip, was a bowl of wanton mee topped with slices of abalone that I stole from the yue sang section.
Lemon Garden Cafe, Shangri-La.
Abundance of food is good omen for the coming year. What's more important is that all good things should be shared and that nothing should go wasted. I hope everyone had a wonderful, yummy new year and are fully recharged for work. Yes, that's today!