I find it a bit funny that I’m actually acknowledging Chinese New Year this year given that my family ain’t really all that “Chinese.” In actual fact, they think of themselves Indonesian first, Chinese second and they never really celebrate Chinese New Year for as long as I could remember. Heck, they never used to give me lucky money until they realised that their other friends were giving their children red pockets – and from then on, we got given money each year (not a lot but still money nevertheless). And even though my grandparents in Indonesia do hold dinners on Chinese New Year, they’re never as big as the dinners held on December 31st of each year. Because that’s when the Gregorian aka REAL year starts. For me, the new year always begins on January 1st. Not on random days. Yep, I like my order and stability thankyouverymuch.
Having said all that though, my parents felt like they had to do something for Chinese New Year this year and I also felt like I had to at least mention it on this blog or people will laugh at me for not being “Asian enough.”
Last night, my family celebrated the start of the lunar new year by a casual dinner at a local Malaysian restaurant down the road from my house. I didn’t take any photos mainly because I had left my camera at home but also because I’m so used to eating at this restaurant that it doesn’t feel as new and exciting anymore. If you are keen for a review (albeit a half-arsed one), click on the “Rasa Malaya” link on the right hand side of my blog. It was a simple dinner that only left us $85 lighter, which suited us fine seeing as we didn’t want to go to those Chinese places that were charging us up to $500 a table for sub-par “special Chinese New Year banquets.”
We also did the whole dinner thing again with Adam’s parents (+ grandmother) this evening at Hong Kong BBQ & Seafood restaurant in Footscray (Hopkins Street). Now Adam’s been there more than a few times and he reckons they do alright food which made me excited in the lead-up to the dinner. We arrived at 5pm for an early dinner because Adam’s grandma wanted an early one (which was fine with me anyway because I was feeling quite tired by this stage). The place looked somewhat like a cross between Hills BBQ (Box Hill) and Nam Loong (CBD), and the food offerings were quite similar too.
We ordered a banquet ($138 for the entire table) plus venison cooked in XO sauce to keep Adam happy. Naturally I took photos of each dish but because I was rather disappointed with the dinner and because I’m so tired, I can’t be bothered with uploading and resizing the photos. Not that there was anything to ooh and ahh over anyway. The venison (which, by the way, tastes and feels like tender beef) was just okay. As was the Cantonese steamed barramundi and ginger chicken. The prawn dish, on the other hand, was just wacko like Jacko. Cooked in the same style as them ginger and spring onion crab/lobster dishes with noodles, you got about eight pieces of deep-fried battered king prawns sitting on top of a mountain of noodles. And trust me, it tastes worse than it sounds. For one thing, the huge arse prawns are very awkward to sit with chopsticks or even a fork, so the only way one can eat it is by using his/her hands. Which would’ve been fine HAD THEY PROVIDED US WITH A BOWL OF WATER/WATER AND TOWELS TO CLEAN OUR HANDS WITH. Secondly, the whole thing just tasted awful. Like they couldn’t afford lobster and just stuck prawns in place of the lobster without even bothering to alter the ingredients around so that everything in the dish would all “gell” together, if you get me. And this was supposed to be a “seafood restaurant.”
The food wasn’t the worse bit of the dinner though. No siree, of course some Vietnamese grocery store next door HAD to pay some Chinese group to do a dragon dance in the shop ($180 for a 15 minute dance, apparently) which meant that we had to sit through 15 minutes of loud drumming and shouting. That would’ve been JUST tolerable… had it not been for the fact that the stupid group also decided to set off 10 billion firecrackers at the same time. Before long, Hopkins St was filled with smoke and all sorts of red confetti from the firecrackers which was bad enough to send the restaurant smoky and the fire alarm off. Naturally, all the ruckus ensured that a police car came rushing to Hopkins Street not long after to check out what on earth was going on . Yep, we had to not only sit through loud noise but also smoke which, of course, made the food even more horrible than it already was. How’s that for a Chinese New Year meal huh?
But hey, at least we didn’t have to pay ridiculously inflated prices for a crappy meal like we’ve had to in previous years!