Saturday, June 30, 2007

Peachy Keen Redux*

* Please excuse the title. It was the fault of HM the film buff who has a thing for reduxes.

By the time we had finished dinner at Peach Garden the week before (see previous entry), we already knew we would be back for another meal pronto. Peach Garden was having a promotion - a whole roast peking duck for only $38 - till the end of the month, and the ducks that were flying out out of the kitchen door that night looked wonderful. Sadly, we hadn't been able to squeeze a duck into that dinner, so of course we had to round up the usual suspects for an immediate return visit.

(N.B. Unfortunately I could only arrive half an hour later than the appointed time by which time HM, SGN and KKN had already done the ordering. While what was ordered was not an issue (good job, people!), the "orderers" could not remember what they had ordered. As a result, the names of some of these dishes, as given here, are what I, with a little help from the quick glance I had of the menu and MM's food notes, have essayed...)

roast peking duck

it's a wrap!

We started with the raison d'etre, so to speak, and we were all impressed. Crispy without being hard, not overly fatty, lovely flavour - the duck alone was worth the visit; it was that good. For the length of the dinner, we were sorely tempted to order a second duck...

double boiled seafood in golden melon (aka old cucumber)

double boiled shark's fin in pumpkin

double boiled shark's bone cartilage with fish maw and bamboo pith

Then came the soup. The advance team had ordered six individual portions of soup, two of each kind. The seafood soup in golden melon (sic) was for the bleeding heart liberal amongst us who has eschewed shark's fin, MM, and the usually picky eater, ES, whom the team weren't sure ate shark's fin either. (ES, as it turned out, loves shark's fin...) Anyway, all three soups were excellent. On our previous visit, we hadn't been that impressed with the standard shark's fin soup, but these variants on a theme were quite another story. I'm not sure if these are offered at other restaurants but these really hit the spot. Even our resident bleeding heart liberal gave the shark's fin soup a thumbs up. (Hah, don't get us started about hypocrisy - she who refused to order shark's fin and would later in the course of the dinner and this entry tut tut us for ordering something with foie gras in it insisted on sampling our soup!) Of course, not everyone appreciated the shark cartilage soup. The peppery flavour, slightly reminiscent of pig's stomach soup, is definitely an acquired taste.

steamed soon hock

Then came the fish. Done in the standard Hong Kong style, the fish was good. HM was in raptures over it; 'twas, for her, the highlight of the evening. She certainly took her time excavating all the morsels of flesh from the remaining carcass and savouring them. I think there were other more noteworthy dishes, such as this one:

wasabi prawns

Wasabi prawns are one of Peach Garden's signature dishes. Springy, prawny and coated with wasabi mayonnaise - what's not to like? Or so I thought. Who knew that ES wouldn't touch wasabi with a ten-foot pole? And this is a woman who supposedly eats Japanese food, aigh. The food "orderers" who had done a real good job of avoiding all the "taboo" food groups (have I mentioned that KKN does not eat tubular vegetables such as carrots?) hadn't anticipated that and were consequently mortified.

baby kai lan with foie gras and lily bulbs

spinach beancurd with scallop

The next two dishes were more standard fare. Both dishes were from the list of specials, I think. Of the two, I preferred the latter. The ingredients went together rather well whereas I wasn't sure if the kai lan, foie gras and lily bulbs did anything for each other (although they were certainly delicious on their own). And for those interested, the non-foie gras eater coped by retrieving the stalks of vegetables from the bottom of the pile, the ones unsullied by the stain of human cruelty.

duck meat in cabbage rolls

At this point, the rest of the duck made its reappearance. Usually incorporated into a noodle dish of some sort, the duck meat here was stirfried with some vegetables (I could have sworn some were tubular in origin but don't anyone tell KKN that...) and served on cabbage. It was a nice change, although not spectacular.

steamed baby lobster with mian xian in chinese wine and chicken stock

The meal ended with another Peach Garden specialty. I have to say the taste was exquisite. HM puts it down to the amount of chinese wine used, but I think it's the natural sweetness (the Cantonese call this "teem mei") of the ingredients - the lobster, the chinese wine and the chicken stock. The silky-smooth mian xian or mee sua was the perfect sop for all that sweet goodness.

In summary, this was one of the those meals that ended with everyone sitting back, relaxed and burping, feeling entirely satisfied, or as my Mum would put it, "hati puas". There was not a note wrong. Of course you get what you pay for. The bill came up to $465 or so, but after a Visa Platinum discount, it came down to exactly $400 in total. Divided six ways, it was $66.67 per head, and worth every cent.

P.S. The next time we will consider bringing a bottle of wine. Many a table was having some, and a quick search of local websites revealed that either Peach Garden does not charge corkage for BYOB or charges a relatively small fee.



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