Dining packaged to perfection

City talk | Siu Sai-wo 29 Jul 2021

I went to the private kitchen of new property project marketer Salenda Lau for lunch.

As she excels in packaging and presentation, everything about the place was charming - food, furniture, decor and even the staff. All came with a captivating story behind them.

Lunch comprised eight dainty courses, each with a special name. Some revealed the ingredients more readily, while the true nature of others were veiled behind clever word plays or elegant metaphors.

Starting with hao dong xi (good stuff), we moved on to zui bao yu (abalone in wine), chun xin dong (amorous feelings stirring), mi niu song (honey minced beef), cha xun ji (chicken smoked with tea leaves), bai he lan (lily orchid) and jin fan wan (gold rice bowl) before rounding off with the dessert chen man li (aged slow pear).

So what good stuff is hao dong xi?

It is, in fact, an appetizer made with winter melon pulp and fresh prawns, served in British Wedgwood floral bone china and Canton circular-patterned porcelain cups.

Chen man li is aromatic pear slow-cooked in wine (10-year aged chen pi kuei hua chen chiew wine) and served in Japanese handmade hammered-finish gold-rim glass bowls - a description to suit a museum exhibit.

Indeed, the plates, bowls and cups used were exquisite, making the meal practically a parade of fine crockery and utensils from all over the world.

After the meal, we moved over to the bar. One of four bar stools from Britain had an old cigarette burn hole in the upholstery, which was enlarged over the years by probing fingers. In the end the host enlisted an embroidery expert to "close the wound."

While storytelling is delightful, the soul of a meal remains the food, so came the time to introduce us to the chef, who was addressed by Lau as Er Goh - second elder brother.

It turned out that Er Goh, who has 38 years' experience in Chinese cuisine, is Lau's real brother. He likes to go the market early in the morning to scour for the best ingredients of the day.

The chicken we had that day was smoked with Ying Hong Jiu Hao tea leaves, which imbued the tender chicken meat with a hint of the dai pai dong flavor, and earned thumbs-ups from everyone.

Sous-chef Da Zhu, meanwhile, was a newspaper's food section head who subsequently went to train in France and obtained a culinary art diploma - an extraordinary cross-disciplinary background.

Siu Sai-wo is publisher of Sing Tao Daily

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