Tuesday, June 17, 2008

San Choi

Elizabeth Chong organized a dinner for her Gourmet Club at San Choi Chinese seafood restaurant at 300 High St. Kew. The meal incorporated dishes which are all available for regular diners though some have to be ordered a day ahead because of their long preparation times. Hanging Rock winery supplied a range of their wines matched to the food. After a pre dinner NV Brut Rose the meal began with appetizers: Two tasty but stodgy king size dim sims, the cup is included to give some perspective,rather salty and filled with meat, a rather undistinguished scallop roll, and a deep fried oyster in a copious heavy batter, a bit like a bun with an oyster in the middle.
This was accompanied by an acidic Tazali Riesling. A san choi bao filled with seafood and crispy noodles followed
leaving me wondering how I would cope with the six main courses to come before the fruit platter.
The meal was served ‘Chinese style’ with large dishes set on a ‘lazy Susan’ for guests to take from as they wished.
The first three main courses were served with Poppet Head chardonnay a lightly wooded clean finishing wine that went well with Chinese food.
King prawns and vermicelli glass noodles were drenched in garlic and the prawns, cut in half but still in their shells, were impossible to eat with chop sticks.
It would have been better if we did not have to pick them up to eat them
The diced chicken with honey was overwhelmed by the pickled ginger but tasty and had a pleasing texture
The lamb brisket hot pot had been cooked for four hours before it reached the table. It contained a plethora of goodies apparently to disguise the taste of the lamb which is not generally a popular in the south of China because of its smell! They included tofu skins, bamboo shoots, large shitake mushrooms, sugar cane and a variety of herbs. After most of the lamb was eaten spinach leaves were added to the claypot and cooked for a couple of minutes before being served. The broth with this dish was excessively salty, reminiscent of a miso soup. Steamed rice was offered with the next three dishes.
Seafood stir fry with Japanese bean curd was very bland with the usual prawns, bok choy and calamari. It was, however, distinguished by the wonderfully silky the bean curd. Tender pea sprouts and King Mushroom was a textural dish similarly lacking in taste. The last main course, braised oxtail claypot was very much to my taste but by now I could only indulge myself with a very small serve. I preferred the Cambrian Rise Heathcote Shiraz to the Yin Barun cabernet merlot franc offered with these dishes.
This marathon meal ended with a fruit platter.
The service was fast and impersonal.
They offer take away and BYO
Although there were some very appealing parts to this meal in all it was of a patchy standard with considerable unrealized potential
Elizabeth entertained us with stories from her childhood and provided a commentary about the food. She related how her father had started the rage for dim sims outside of Chinese restaurants and not only started the first dim sim factory but also, with the help of an engineer, made the first machine to produce dim sims.
In my opinion Elizabeth Chong is a National Treasure and I love to eat in her company

Score: 13.25/20

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