That's what in my head an hour after finishing dinner at Lai Ching - Four Seasons about two weeks ago. Imagine ten people who are very passionate about food sharing the same table for three hours. Expect a lot of drooling information passing around, an uncountable jokes and laughter toss around, and the cherry on top a series of belly satisfying main courses.
That night, we celebrate the coming of the Dragon Year with Yee Sang, a special meal prepared specifically for the Chinese New Year and only at a select few Chinese restaurant. What's interesting about Yee Sang is that it consist of an array of ingredients, each with their specific meaning. Also, the procedure of serving. Thankfully, that night we had among us, Theresia Widiyastuti, Lai Ching Manager, who having spent few years in China, was able to lead us with the correct procedure.
- First, we said gong xi fat chai to each other while placing yee sang.
- Second, she mention da ji da li (lots of luck) as she put orange at the same time.
- Third, as she place the pepper, soy sauce, peanut, and sesame, the following mantra was shuang xi lin men which means the arrival of double happiness
- Fourth, while putting oil and plum sauce, she mention tian tian mi mi (a sweet and easy life full of sweet memory)
- Fifth procedure requires saying nien nien you yee while placing salmon which means abundance in each year
- Sixth procedure is to pronounce the sentence man di wang ching (a year full of gold and glory) and then put the cracker on top of the fish
- Seventh and the final mantra was to say ta chia i chi law te fung sen swei chi lo hei lo hei which means let's eat together and the business will continue even rapidly in the future
Added to the fun later that night was the stream of good food that follows. As if a movie, we were taken slowly from one scene to another towards climax. Here's what we had.
A glassful of tea that blossoms in time as the heat compounds. The tea was not made to please the tongue more than it pleases the eye. Indeed, it was a form of relaxation and recreation.
A very well balanced meal. Soft on the tongue with a varying texture of gooey soup and crunchlike bamboo pith. It was more on the salty savory end for my tongue though.
Braised Sliced Abalone in Oyster Sauce
Everything you ever expected in an abalone. Cooked into perfection. The only thing missing was another slice of it. One is definitely not enough. =p
Steamed Soon Hock in Soya Sauce
Freshly steamed. Clean and straightforward menu.
It was my first time having pigeon. It wasn't weird. I've tasted crocs and bats meat before but this is nothing like other. A quite intense battle happen while I was trying to rip the meat of the bone. But after a few bites I started to get used to it. It was a tasty treat while not that much meat included. =p
Wagyu Fried Rice
As a house special, I somehow didn't find it extraordinary. Maybe fried is just not the way to go with wagyu, cause in palate it kind of lost the tenderness I look for in a wagyu. But as a dish in a whole it was quite satisfactory.
Assorted Mushroom with Garlic
A plateful of shiitake and shimeji shrooms, fried with garlic. Simple yet satisfying to the tongue.
Desserts - Chilled Bean Curd, Mango Pudding, and Gui Ling Gao
Among the three I must say the Gui Ling Gao is my favorite. Not only the health factor behind it, but also the authentic taste that present a good battle between the bitterness of the jelly and sweetness of the honey.
It was a great dinner indeed. One that could only happen with the initiative of Erza S.T and the generosity of the host Mrs. Marlene Danusutedjo. Thanks to you both for preparing such a beautiful night. I'm looking forward for more in my next visit to Lai Ching. The very first one on the list is to try out your Dim Sum. Until then, toast for a year of awesomeness!
I'm feeling lucky already!
Smile on, Shine on
Food Conversationalist & Photographer
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Four Seasons Hotel
Jl. H.R. Rasuna Said
Ph. +62(21) 252 3456