Review & Written by Choy Kwok Ming
Tonight marked the first Spring Reunion dinner I’ve had to usher in the year of the goat. It was a grand event sponsored by Imperial Garden PJ. Hosting the event was Tai Thong Group head of operations, Mr Ooi Sin Wei, who celebrated the event with a colorful Yee Sang. Presenting their decadent 2015 Chinese New Year and Spring Dinner, Group Executive Chef Lee Wee Hong had created a line up of delicious dishes that made my mouth drool.
To start off the dinner, and as per tradition, we were served their popular Golden Fortune Yee Sang. I loved this dish, primarily because it is a departure from the usual. Consisting of only vegetarian contents (jack fruit, pomegranate, dragon fruit, etc.), the Yee Sang combined various fruits and seeds into a wonderful light and crunchy dish. The sweetness of the fruits and the crunchy-ness of the various seeds easily had us licking the plate clean.
Having such a sweet dish necessitated the drinking of a lubricant. To accomplish this, the chef served us his Double-Boiled Chicken Soup with Chinese Cordyceps. The first thing that reached me was the wonderfully sweet aroma, that typically signifies a good chicken soup. The soup reminded me of my grandma’s soups, with its homely, not artificially rich, taste. Delicious, and I know the cordyceps will deliver some health benefits as well.
With the taste buds cleansed, we were feted to a rich poon choy. Also known as a Big Bowl Feast, poon choy is a Cantonese dish that combines salted vegetables and meats to create a wonder pot of flavor. Imperial Garden’s Golden treasure Poon Choy consisted of sour and spicy soup filled decadent ingredients such as dried oysters, fish maw, sea cucumber, and large tiger prawns. Eaten alone as a dish, the poon choy was delicious. However, if served with rice as is usually eaten in Malaysia, I felt that the poon choy was not sharply sour enough and may benefit with a bit more asam keping.
After such a rich dish, my taste buds begged for something light. In came the Sauteed Scallops and Prawns with Asparagus and Fresh Lily Bulbs. A wonderful and refreshing dish, the prawns and scallops were fresh and sweet. Nothing but pure natural tastes here. The asparagus added the much needed fresh, clean, vegetables to the dinner.
The traditional claypot rice is another must have at reunion dinners. Chock full of waxed meats and Chinese sausages, the Imperial Garden’s version originally didn’t jive well to my liking at first. The flavors of the meats and sauces did not permeate the rice as in normal claypot rice. Sensing our disappointment, Chef Lee Wee Hong walked over to have a look. Immediately he took our ladle and began stirring and pressing the rice vigorously against the claypot. He told us that our rice had not been stirred well, and had not attained the searing char from the hot claypot. He was right: I could immediately taste the difference attained from his skilled ministrations.
Desserts, as usual, brought out the child in me. Imperial Garden presented us with a dish of Sesame Balls with “Nian Gao” and a serving of mini Eight Treasures Rice. Presentation wise, the mini Eight Treasures were bright and colorful. The toppings however let me down. While sweet, they did not incorporate themselves to the plain tasting rice. The sesame balls were all together a different story. Presentation wise, they were simple sesame balls. Inside, however, they were full of sweet goodness, as should a proper dessert be.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this dinner, and hope to attend more of Imperial Garden’s offering.
IMPERIAL GARDEN PJ
7th Floor, Intan Square,
3 Lorong Utara C
46200, Petaling Jaya