Thursday, March 26, 2015

With Lots of Love from Mutiara Palace

**Non-Halal Post**

Restaurants seem to be a less popular choice for wedding banquets for the modern generation, which has been outranked by hotels, convention halls or other forms of venue which seem to be moving up in the trend to woo young couples looking for their perfect spot to throw their wedding reception.

I used to remember back when I was a kid, most of the wedding reception banquets would be held in Chinese restaurants where we could also enjoy their set menus on any normal day.

There are probably many reasons for the varying choices in the location of the wedding banquet; perhaps the ambiance, the capacity to which the venue can accommodate, the strategic location to suit the convenience of outstation friends and relatives; maybe even the concept of the decoration by the couple themselves (or rather, the bride herself).

However, restaurants are still the top choices for many, and remains in the running game, outranking the rest due to the fact that they are considered to be food specialists and that is the very core of the banquet celebration itself; Food.
I myself had my own wedding in a hotel, because I had my own dreams of the concept I wanted for my wedding but the food for my wedding reception dinner was still served by the hotel's very own resident Chinese restaurant; and one of the very best in the region as well.
It was something that I wanted to make sure before choosing the venue; which was befitting of all my requirements, from the ambiance to the capacity and even the food.
It is indeed almost perfect, but that's for me, of course, and that leaves for another story altogether.

Food always plays that important role in any celebration and when it comes to a joyous occasion such as weddings where there are many joining in with their well wishes, one can only do their best to feed them well as a token of appreciation; the very least a host can do.
Chinese wedding banquets are even more so; especially when the Chinese pride in their cooking and that grandeur factor in their celebration, thus the notion of a banquet rather than just a dinner.

There is nothing more that fits the bill than a proper restaurant, because these are the specialists who are guaranteed to serve the right and good food required.
Of course, the reputation of the restaurant definitely matters too, that is a given.

Mutiara Palace, a member of the Imbi Palace Group of restaurants is strategically located opposite Tesco in one of the most prime spots in Klang Valley; Mutiara Damansara.
(There is another one in Pavilion, but I attended the wedding dinner in this one).
Being part of such a well-renowned restaurant, it definitely leaves one with immediate high expectations when it comes to their offerings.

I was definitely not disappointed, and I have to say, this is one of the memorably delicious dinners I have enjoyed in a long time.

It was interesting the way they chose to serve the Chinese tea in these glasses, but then they serve the wine later in cups.

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Palace Five Season Combination Platter
(Sorry for the slightly blurred quality as everyone was really hungry after the long wait, you know the typical duration it takes for a Chinese wedding dinner to commence).

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This was absolutely great to start the meal with, and almost everything tastes good (or was everyone too starved?)
I am not too sure of each individual dish, but it was really quite a scrumptious way to begin the banquet meal with.

Double Boiled Soup with Cordycep Flower and Fish Maw

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I am not really big on soups; especially when it comes to herbal ingredients, so I will pass on commenting because it's really not fair for me to review something which did not catch my fancy, but I am pretty sure, with the name and the positive responses from everyone at the table, this was definitely nourishing.

Spoiler Alert, *Non-Halal*

Roasted Whole Suckling Pig
I apologize if this seems offensive, I personally find it rather scary myself.

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However, this is one of the important elements in most Chinese weddings (with the exception of Hokkien and Teochew, where this is only incorporated in certain functions and wedding is not one of them).
It is crucial that the suckling pig is served whole, well, this is for the reception.
For the bride picking up ceremony in the morning, the groom is also required to send a whole roasted pig to the bride's family and they will usually take up most parts of the pig before returning the head, tail and the belly portion to the groom's family.
(This was adapted from the earlier practices whereby the pig represents the chastity of the bride in the older days, and the pig is often returned after the wedding night to the bride's family from the groom's side on the third day when the bride returns home to her family with her newly wed husband.
A flower would be stuck on the ear of the pig if the bride is certified to be a virgin as a token of acceptance and appreciation to the bride's family. In cases where the bride returns without the pig or there is no flower, it means the bride is sent home in disgrace and that the husband's family is not really pleased with her non-chaste status)
Yes, such was the origins of the roasted pig in the Chinese weddings and the significance of it.
It is a symbol of chastity and exchange without words between both families, and as a declaration (indirect) to the public or neighbors as well.
It is kind of sad, really.

Back to the pig, I find it really sad and cruel too, that a little suckling pig (a young pig) is sacrificed as a symbol to represent the bride though today it is more of a celebration purpose.
Still, it's cruel, in my opinion, but it is definitely a popular dish among everyone.

Steamed Grouper Fish

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Obviously my favorite combination; steamed fish with plain soy sauce (Chinese style) and one of my favorite fish; grouper!
I was also really pleased that the fish was just so fresh that the flesh was just so tender and sweet.
It was pleasing to the taste buds, and I was hooked.
It's hard to find fish that is really fresh especially when it comes to banquets because there are so many sets to prepare and to cook all at the same time. The quality will definitely suffer compared to a single dish preparation, of course.
Oh, and did I mention that it was just perfectly timed in the preparation of this steamed fish, for it was not overly cooked.
There is definitely no better combination than all the above, especially when it comes to wedding dinners.

Sautéed Prawn with Vegetables

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I loved the steamed fish, but I have to give the crown to this dish when it came.
The prawns were just alluring to the eyes and scrumptious to taste; I was quickly addicted to them.
Fresh, juicy and just so crunchy with each bite; that even the crunchy celeries took a back seat.
Vegetables? What vegetables?
All I could see were these succulent prawns; yums!

Braised Abalone with Chicken

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Yes, abalone first, chicken second.
Besides, who really cared about the fact that the chicken was braised with stuffed herbs when these mini abalones swimming around it are just catching our eyes?

Hong Kong Glutinous Rice with Eight Treasures

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The thing about banquets is there are just too much food, and frankly, by the time this arrived, almost everyone is stuffed with the earlier dishes.
(After all, they were all too good to begin with. Who says no to those tempting dishes above?)
This was equally fragrant; done the Hong Kong style which had that right hit in the sticky factor along with waxed meat, mushrooms to complete the dish.


Dessert came last, polishing the entire ravishing meal with two treats (they are always providing two at a go these days).

Sweetened Soya Bean with Gingko nuts and White Fungus

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I don't have much of a sweet tooth, and the sound of sweetened does not seem like a good idea to me.
The soya bean was indeed sweeter than the usual, and I usually enjoy the white fungus and gingko nuts.


Specialty Fancy Pastries

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This, on the other hand, was really good though, with one sesame adorned pastry filled with sweet red bean paste, and the other; cute little soft sponge cakes (Malai Gou) which were just so fluffy and good!
This have my vote for being special, and definitely thumbs up for their well-deserved name of specialty fancy pastries.
They definitely caught my fancy.


Restaurants still rule in terms of their food quality, and they are definitely the pioneers of the whole food industry.
It looks like they are here to stay, for a very long time and they are definitely back in trend.

Just make sure you pick a good one, which serves really good food, and keep your guests happy.

I was definitely a happy guest that night, and Mutiara Palace has definitely lived up to Imbi Palace's reputation.
I was truly impressed.


Now, who else is going for a meal there?


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