I don’t usually blog about a restaurant twice, but the first time was dim sum and this was for a birthday banquet, so I feel like it is different enough to merit an entry.
Saturday was my best friend Wendy’s grandmother’s 90th birthday and she decided to rent the VIP room at Jin Asian Cuisine (don’t be too impressed, the VIP room is narrow and claustrophobic and only fits 3 large round tables.)
For those you who have never been to a traditional Chinese banquet, go out and befriend a Chinese person and hope that they will get married, or will invite you to a family event.
All the food is served family style and there is a lot of it, usually 8, 10 or 12 courses. There are some dishes that are always served; usually they bring luck, prosperity or fertility (not necessarily in the order). Here’s what we had:
1. Cold appetizer plate: jellyfish, Chinese BBQ pork, abalone, duck, sliced pigs feet and pickled radishes and carrots. I love jellyfish and I seldom get it, so it’s always a treat for me.
2. Seafood medley served in a crispy noodle nest. The nest was rock hard, but the scallops, shrimp and squid were tender and good.
3. Wintermelon, stuffed with dried scallops. It was okay, very Chinese.
4. Soup. I hate the soup course, it’s always a weirdly gelatinous texture. It’s supposed to emulate a shark’s fin soup (real shark’s fin is really really expensive). I don’t like shark’s fin, I like fake shark’s fin even less.
5. Cold poached chicken. This was the least popular dish, not because it was bad, but because its boring. The traditional presentation is to cut it up in to bite sized pieces and then reassemble the whole chicken on a plate (head and all) to make it look like it’s just lying down and taking a nap. I do love the ginger garlic sauce that is served with it.
6. Lobster, hacked in to manageable pieces and fried. The American way (steamed with butter) is just a superior way to eat lobster.
7. Lo mien with mushrooms. Noodles are symbolic of longevity. These were ok, a little overcooked.
8. Steak. This was weird. I’ve never seen a straight out steak at a banquet, but it was, two sirloins, served with broccoli rabe. I had fear, as Chinese food is always cooked through and through (ie, well done), but the piece I had was actually okay, maybe medium?
9. Fried rice. I love fried rice. It is my weakness. I could just eat fried rice and be happy.
10. Whole fish, fried. This interesting thing about this preparation is that they bone the fish and deep fat fry the skeleton. They cut the flesh in to bite sized chunks and sauté them and serve it over the fish skeleton. The bones become crispy and edible, almost like fish crackers and the flesh is easy to eat.
Dessert always includes a tradition red bean soup with tapioca. I’ve gone on and on about Chinese desserts being weird and a waste of calories. This is no exception; it’s beans, for Christ’s sakes! We had a huge cake from
All in all, it was a solid banquet, nothing extraordinary, but all pretty good. Go make that Chinese friend and try it.
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