SAU Gong dinners are a way for companies to thank their customers and staff for a good year and to wish them well for the new year, writes TAN BEE HONG.
Chinese New Year is near and already the celebrating has started. Many business establishments have feted their customers and staff with the annual Sau Gong (appreciation) dinner, a slap-up meal to reward the past year´s hard work and profits made.
At One World Hotel´s Zuan Yuan Chinese restaurant, the preview of its New Year menu was constantly punctuated by shouts of yam seng and lo hei!
That´s right. Yee sang is being served with great aplomb.
For a change, chef Michael Chew offered us a vegetarian yee sang (from RM55). And what an interesting combination of the usual condiments with julienned honeydew and mango as well as burgundy red Japanese seaweed. What gave it the big kick though, was Chew´s special sauce. Instead of plum sauce, we had a gorgeous sesame-based sauce with tangy undertones. I had second and third helpings.
Raw fish varieties also include yee sang with salmon-turnip, scallops-jellyfish and abalone-snow pear.
If I had thought the yee sang sauce gorgeous, I´m still looking for a word to describe Chew´s spicy sauce for roast duck. The duck was very well done, with a crispy skin that crackles between the teeth. But the sauce, with its mildly pedas (hot) taste, was brilliant. The fragrance of garlic, shallots and dried prawns in it, was strong enough to stand up to the duck, giving the dish a beautifully balanced palate.
Chew tossed wok-fried tiger prawns with a combination of dried prawns, chilli and garlic. Sadly, the big prawns were still in the shells but having a fork and knife provided proved most useful in teasing out the sweet, crunchy meat.
Like prawns, dried oysters and sea cucumbers are also must-have ingredients for the Chinese New Year as these have auspicious-sounding names of laughter, good things and joy respectively.
But instead of offering dried oysters and sea cucumbers braised in oyster sauce a la traditional style, Chew had indulged in a little creativity. His Braised Diced Sea Treasure In Golden Bag (made of deep fried tofu) opened to reveal gems of chopped dried oyster, sea cucumber, fish maw, carrot and hair moss (fatt choy). The golden bag was served with jade-coloured florets of broccoli.
Zuan Yuan is one of the few places where you can get pork-free waxed meat. "Our sausages are specially made with chicken," says Chew.
The sausages and waxed duck, combined with rice, yam, mushrooms and dried prawns, were wrapped in lotus leaves and steamed. Just eat with freshly chopped chilli for an added zing.
All the season´s festive menus at Zuan Yuan end with a twin dessert offering. We sipped a sweet Double-boiled Sea Coconut with organic birds´ nest, red dates and white fungus in between nibbles of crunchy, deep fried nian gao. Chew had stuffed the glutinous rice cake with avocado custard and wrapped this with kataifi filo pastry (shredded dough that resembled vermicelli). This was deep fried and served hot.
All these dishes are available for the festive season. The Sau Gong set menus are available until Jan 31 for lunch and dinner, from RM888 per table of 10. Diners can add two bottles of organic red or white wine for RM120.
The auspicious nine-course Chinese New Year set menus are priced at RM988, RM1,188 and RM1,388 per table of 10 persons. Available for lunch and dinner from Feb 1-20.
Zuan Yuan is open on the eve of New Year and throughout the 15 days of the festival.
ZUAN YUAN CHINESE RESTAURANT (pork-free)
One World Hotel
Bandar Utama, Petaling Jaya
Tel: 03-7681 1159