*Click on a pic to enlarge it.
Elizabeth Chong, the doyen of the Chinese culinary community in Melbourne,
organized this gala Cantonese banquet at GDP for her Gourmet Club . This is a big restaurant seating about 200 patrons and offering a la carte and yum cha meals seven days a week under the guidance of John Chan, recently from Quanjude.
They have quite a few 10 seat round tables
as well as many smaller ones. There is a well stocked bar at the far end of the restaurant.
It's spacious . Decor is pleasant with bas relief wooden panels high on the walls,
large frosted glass walls between rooms
and lots of large Chinese decorative vases.
The appetisers, according to Elizabeth, was a great selection of Cantonese Exotics to placate the ferocity of any hungry Dragon.
It included Spicy cucumber
Only lightly spiced, Jelly fish, with just a touch of chilli,
sliced pork knuckle, a bit bland.
Sauteed black fungus, a textural dish,
Star anise beef, something you might get on a charcuterie
and fabulous roast suckling pig.
These were followed by entrees and soup. Two large steamed oysters in shell, one with a delicate black bean sauce and a second with ginger and shallots.
Shredded fish maw and dried scallop soup, a dish which takes a very long time to prepare and is reserved for the most important people.
Eat it and you will know why. It is packed with flavour. Slightly thick, full of umami, it's an experience. Maw is the swim bladder of a large fish that allow it to submerge or rise in the water.
There were two sets of main courses. The first was another dish for the aristocracy.
Whole baby abalone with 'plump and juicy' Shitake mushrooms. It lived up to its reputation.
It takes about two days to prepare this dish which is so full of flavour and tender abalone to create one of the best dishes we have eaten for years.
South Australian prawns with black truffles were excellent but could not match the abalone
The Pei Pa duck was also as good as it gets.
We then had an intermission to recover with an Elvis impersonator.
He was a lot of fun.
Here are a couple of the sauces they use.
The next few dishes were to be accompanied by steam rice which would have been nice earlier to help enjoy the sauces but then we might have gotten so full we might not have enjoyed the latter dishes at all.
The Feisty Dragon Flame Fired Chicken with Spices and Garlic was a fun dish too and thoroughly enjoyable
Dry fried fillet with mandarinsauce even better with crisp texture and very slightly sweet taste
Tender snow pea sprouts with fresh crab meat now seemed too bland.
Finally the dessert.
Two delish agar jellies, one with ed beans init, the othe with Goji berris.
How many ways can you say delicious!
We have an extremely good kitchen with almost everything anyone could want and have trouble cooking a decent meal for eight.
These guys manage for 100's day after day
Elizabeth is on the right next to John Chan.
A good Chinese banquet can be likened to a piece of classical music. It has a form in which variety is crucial.
It should be distinguished by considerable variation of colour, texture, temperature, spiciness, presentation and timing but not particularly by the number of courses which can be in the 100's for some royal occasions. Of course no one is expected to eat them all. This sort of meal might reduce the chance of the emperor being poisoned as he might only taste a dozen of the dishes presented!!
You don't need to be royalty to enjoy this banquet. John Chan assured me for about $70 / person he could reproduce this meal as long as there were 10 customers.
We have no time this year but, for sure, we will be back for the most pleasing Cantonese meal in Melbourne, probably in Australia..