Chinese New Year at Dainty Dowager (Invited)
I have half Chinese blood in my body but for as long as I can remember, my family didn't really celebrate any Chinese New Year (CNY). I used to be jealous of the other kids who received angpao / red pocket during the CNY celebrations. However, one of the best things about CNY celebration is in the plentiful amounts of food and gathering of loved ones (not in order of importance ;)).
A few days ago we were invited to celebrate the Year of the Monkey through a CNY banquet prepared by Dainty Dowager. It was a festive night filled with people who appreciate good food and good company (aka. foodies).
Before the food and drink came into play, there was a small introductory talk from Owen Chua about the background behind Dainty Dowager. I was amazed that he went all the way to China to source most of the decorations for Dainty Dowager in order to bring the authenticity. Owen explained that during the conception of Low Key Chow House, him and his Executive Chef created too many food items to put in one restaurant, so they put the rest of the menu at Dainty.
Owen also introduced us to the mixologist in the house, Dwight Alexander. Later on Dwight elaborated on the special Valentine cocktail that he created as well as unique cocktails that we later on tried and loved.
As a tradition, the CNY dining experience begins with tossing of a dish of colourful Yee Sang. We were really festive when we did this prosperity toss and I ended up dropping one of my chopsticks. The prosperity toss is a symbol of wishing for good fortunes to rise in the new year. The yee sang that we had that night consists of raw salmon, sesame salad, topped with peanut sauce.
CHIU CHOW FUN GOR
The glutinous Teo Chew dumplings were presented really nicely and I tasted spicy chili oil sauce when I took a small bite. The chili oil was drizzled on the dumplings and mixed really well with the minced pork filling.
SAN CHOW BAO PARCEL
Instead of presenting the minced beef on top of the iceberg lettuce cup, Dainty served this on top of the wonton skin. Hubby joked that it made it looked like giant nachos. I really like the taste of the well cooked minced beef and the combination of the crispy wonton skin. This dish was a no-brainer to eat since it was really delicious.
CRISPY SILKEN TOFU
I'm a huge fan of tofu and I was so ecstatic to see this dish. The white crab meat and egg white created a beautiful presentation for the crispy tofu but not only it was beautiful, the soup was really tasty when mixed together with the tofu. I drenched my rice with the soup because it was really delicious.
LONG LIFE HOKKIEN NOODLE
This was the vegetarian dish of the evening with hokkien noodles blended with capsicum and Asian vegetables. The dish was the weakest among what was offered in my opinion but that’s not to say it was bad. I enjoyed the hokkien noodle however it didn’t present much uniqueness in its flavour compared to what you’d get at other restaurants.
TRIO OF: ROAST DUCK, CRISPY ROAST PORK BELLY, CHARSIU PORK and RICE
Hubby enjoyed the combination of roast duck and pork belly. The roast pork belly was not overly fatty and the skin was very crispy, a delight to bite into. The duck was cooked well and had the right amount of chewiness and fat to make it the perfect complement to the sauce.
I love the glutinous dumplings with peanuts and dark chocolate filling, which married well with the ginger Schuluck as the soup. I had a similar dish when I went back to my home town but never had any with chocolate fillings in it!
The 1976 cocktail was quite unique especially since it came with the dried shrimps that Jess loved so much! Dwight explained that the idea was to have a sip and take a small amount of dried shrimp to balance the flavour on our tastebuds. This strong cocktail consists of Monkey Shoulder, blood orange liqueur, sweet Vermouth, ginger apricot Brandy, black rice and sesame seed smoked Hakushu.
Battle of Macau
My choice of medicine was the Battle of Macau mainly because it contained chartreuse in it and I haven't had chartreuse in such a long time! I remember that I used to take one or two shots of chartreuse back in the day when I went out with some friends (hahaha). This cocktail was very strong and Dwight explained that Jess and I actually picked two strongest cocktail in the list. Battle of Macau consists of Mezcal, Green Chartreuse, Aperol, lemon sorbet, Angostura bitters, fresh coriander and lychee juice.
Valentine's Day Cocktail
The Valentine's Day cocktail was a mixture of rosewater, lychee, lemon grass, Choya Umeshu and sprinkled with black sesame. My cocktail was quite sour while Hubby's one was a bit sweeter. It seemed that the darker the colour, the sweeter it would be. As you can see from the above photo, 3 of the same cocktails actually had different gradation of colour!
The whole night was very enjoyable and Dainty provided us with a lot of good hearty food to be shared between us. Fran even received some tips from Owen about a temple that she needs to visit on her 2 weeks trip to Japan.
At the end of the night we laughed, shared stories and went home with a full tummy and a heart filled with joy.