Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Chinese Banquet

If there is one thing I am smug about, it's my multicultural experiences. The more of these experiences I have under my belt, the more I can boast that I know exactly what to do should the occasion to experience these ... experiences ... arise again.

("Allow myself to introduce ... myself." -- Mike Myers as Austin Powers.)

So when I had the opportunity to experience a Chinese banquet on Saturday, I assured everyone at my table that this wasn't my first rodeo. The banquet followed a wedding between a Chinese woman and an Indian man. The couple had two ceremonies -- one Hindu and one Western, with an Indian luncheon between the two. They were wrapping everything up with a traditional extravagant Chinese banquet in the evening, where they hosted more than 200 people. No small cost, I am sure.

At one point about halfway through the banquet, the bride's father asked me if there was enough food and I looked at him like he was insane. There was enough food to feed five times as many people as were actually in the room, and I was already full.

I'd learned at another Chinese banquet we attended just over a year ago, following the funeral of a dear friend's father, that there will be plenty of food, so one mustn't gorge oneself early on in the meal.

There were something like 12 courses and I took pictures of most of them. Some were a bit exotic for my taste, but I tried everything except for the sea cucumber, which I assure you is not a vegetable but more like a sea slug. My husband tells me he really did not enjoy the taste of it, and he usually enjoys pretty much all seafood.

Here you go, photos accompanied by explanations of what each dish is...

The explanation on the menu card said "BBQ pork and meat." We think there was some duck and tofu in there, and what appears to be noodles are actually jellyfish.

A delicious scallop dish with pickled something-or-the-other and pine nuts. 

Forgot to take a photo of the conch and prawn dish, which you can see here, it's the dish with all the broccoli on it. Conch isn't bad, but probably not my favorite, dawg. 

A blurry photo of the abalone and sea cucumber dish. Those are abalone slices on top and sea cucumber is underneath, with spinach.

 A bite of sea cucumber. Don't do it!!

 Blurry photo of crispy chicken. That's the chicken head. 

 My favorite dish - lobster and pasta.

 What was left of the smoked sea bass. 

 Seafood fried rice. 

That brownish bowl of soup on the top left is shark fin soup, or as we called it, shark snot soup, since it had the approximate consistency of snot. As soon as we said this, one fellow at our table who was suffering from a wicked hangover immediately pushed the snot soup aside. The darker brown soup is a sweet red bean soup, a desserty dish that wasn't my favorite.

Cake. Yumm.


  1. Just an FYI: At Chinese banquets, you pay by the table as opposed to per person. Each table usually seats 12. So depending on the location of the restaurant and the menu chosen -- yours was pretty expensive with all the seafood (especially the conch!) -- I'm guessing $300-$400 per table.

    That being said, its just CRUEL that they left the skin on the sea cucumber. The sea slug itself is bad enough -- chewy, slimy, slippery, and slightly bitter -- but the skin makes it even worse. Its hard, rubbery and knobby. Blech.

    And did your crispy chicken have a small side dish of seasoned salt? If not, you missed out. The salty, crispy chicken is the BEST. (And the jellyfish is surprisingly good, yes? No? It's just me?)

    Sorry, I grew up going to these things, so my cousins and I like to dissect the meals. And you're lucky you got red beans soup for dessert. Although its only good when hot. The only one that's better is the tapioca soup.

    Dangit. Now I want salty crispy chicken and chow fun.

  2. Shell - Maybe that's why the sea cucumber tasted nasty. We didn't get any seasoned salt with the chicken. And actually I didn't taste the jellyfish either but Hubs was not a huge fan.

  3. I love trying new foods, but not sure about the sea cucumber.

  4. Erin, in my opinion, there's NOTHING you can do to make sea cucumber taste good.

    And the jellyfish might be an acquired taste. My uncles used to tell us it was just cold noodles with sesame seeds ...

  5. I like to think of myself as an adventurous eater, but I would have only eaten the lobster dish -- sans lobster.

  6. I almost gagged at the sea cucumber photo, but then when I read monkey momma's comment I dang near yakked!

  7. Gulp. Fishy. I am not brave enough for this meal.