Thursday, February 12, 2015

Chinese Celebration with 8-course set meal


The festive season is just around the corner; with the Lunar Chinese New Year exactly a week away.
Any festive celebration always brings food to mind, which is always the centerpiece to keep family reunions and friends gathering animated as conversations continue to flow while satisfying their appetites at the same time.

The Chinese are always lavish with their celebrations; a tradition which is traced back to the early days during the civilization era. A celebration feast is always associated with a table filled with carefully crafted and prepared dishes.
The preparation of the dishes are always with thought and delicate preparation, with extensive and meticulous efforts put into the cooking method, sourcing of raw materials, garnishing to the style of presentation. The whole process is to ensure that one can find fulfillment and happiness in the tastes of the food, and that will be a sense of achievement to the person preparing it.
The amount of dishes symbolizes the generosity and prosperity, to laud the joy which comes with the celebration and the types of food are well-balanced with a varied selection of staples like rice/noodles, fish, prawns, poultry, pork, soup and concluded with something sweet to soothe one's soul at the end of the meal.

While the West has their 4-5 course set meals, Chinese celebration meals always come in 8-9 courses designed to serve 10 pax. The Chinese loves crowds, and large numbers add to the merry environment and of course, shared happiness with rowdy banter and laughter going around.

These elaborate course set meals can be found in weddings, birthdays, besides the festive celebrations and those who attend Chinese weddings are definitely not unfamiliar with these courses.
However, the course set meals are grand and with the variety of food, they are definitely tempting, not to mention stimulating one's palates and memory to induce that craving for these dishes.

It was a birthday we celebrated at this restaurant, Green Bamboo Restaurant which I have previously blogged earlier last year.

Typical courses of Chinese course set meals, in a general orderly manner:-
(We have customize the number of dishes due to small number of diners in our group to avoid wastage of food)

Like Western dinners, appetizers always grace the start of the meal and names of the dishes are often associated with an auspicious term as the Chinese are great believers in good symbols for they believe it brings happiness, luck and all things good.

Four Seasons of Happiness typically comes in a variety of mini samplers presented on a round plate, and each could symbolize one element associated with good meaning charms.
(Sometimes, it could be FiveHappiness and Six Happiness - the usual number associated with good beginnings)

(Sauteed jelly fish with sweet and sour sauce)

(Fried yam basket filled with kung pow chicken cubes, assorted vegetables topped with cashew nuts)

(Braised fish rolls with light egg batter gravy)

(Mayonnaise pork ribs)

Appetizers platter

Steamed Garoupa in plain light soy sauce



Spicy Mango Prawns


Braised mushrooms and broccoli with pacific clams



A Birthday meal is never complete without the auspicious Longevity noodles.
The name says it all, and the braised noodles is simply my daddy's favorite.
Though I must say, the presentation is definitely not really what I was expecting, and I believe they could have done a much better job rather than making this look like a mess.


Desserts are popularly presented with a combo of sweet soup along with an assortment of pastries.

Fried and sweet flaky pastry filled with lotus paste and glutinous rice balls filled with peanuts.




Sweet chilled Longan soup to polish one's taste buds after the fulfilling meal.


This is only a customized version and an elaborate full course set meals are usually found in wedding dinners and also large birthday celebrations where a minimum of 10 pax fill an entire table.

This may be an idea for dishes to whip up for that upcoming Chinese New Year reunion dinner, though it is usually the favorite dishes of family members as everyone returns to gather around the round table.

The most important of Chinese meals are not about the number of the dishes, though significant, but rather, the union of all the loved ones and the sharing of laughter and stories which brings warmth to the soul, and that makes up the meaning of the celebration :-)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Chicken, Seafood and Pasta @ Tony Roma's, The Gardens

Ribs, Seafood and Steak sums up the the signature specialties of Tony Roma's, one of the popular casual dining American chain which has found their way into our shores for a few years and have since expanded to outlets around the nation.

Famous for their baby rack ribs in their home country, Tony Roma's here, with adherence and respect to the local culture, is a halal (or known as kosher in other parts of the world) and therefore, it is a pork-free restaurant and the commonly favored pork ribs are substituted with beef ribs instead.
Yet the restaurant remains popular among the food-loving local Malaysians, and they are ready to accept anything new with open arms and mind, though halal food is not uncommon in the country.
It is no doubt Tony Roma's has also gained their place in the hearts of Malaysians, who are after all, ardent fans of food, a fact evidently backed by the endless eateries found in almost corner of the country.

It is definitely not my first visit to this chain restaurant, though I fail to recall the last time I was in any of their outlets for a meal which is definitely a sign of the long gap in time since my last visit.
They may be known for their ribs, but that is not the only specialty they have here as they proudly boast of an extensive selection under the seafood section, a fact which is just right for the seafood loving me.

I must say it is a good place for friends to gather, families to spend quality time together and of course, for celebrations too.

Tropical Smoothie is an eclectic yet enticing mix of orange juice, banana and kiwi blended with ice cream to give it that creamy froth of a taste, leaving behind a light hint of citrusy scent and aftertaste.
The fresh fruits and whipped cream topping polished this drink off nicely, enhancing the zesty taste of the drink.


Like most American casual dining, there is always a range of appetizers to select from for one to brush up the palates to be ready for the mains, and Tony Roma's very own trio combination of Red Hot Buffalo Wings, Potato Skins and their signature Onion Loaf (Half) form the Roma's Sampler.
It is probably one of the more popular choices too, where one need not sweat on which appetizer to have as there is a variety of three to save you that time in making the choice.


The accompanying dressing works perfectly well to complement the trio combination respectively; from the Bleu cheese dressing for the buffalo wings, sour cream for the potato skins and the TR's original BBQ sauce which TRfor the Onion Loaf.

(Potato Skins)

(Hot Red Buffalo Wings)

(TR Signature Onion Loaf)

The signature Onion Loaf is indeed a delightful and unique specialty, though slightly oily, but the compensating taste of the thickly sliced onion wrapped with the well-battered flour forming the outer skin, and spiraling like the twist of a bun is more than enough to capture one's interest.
Peel away at the layers, dip it into the bbq sauce and be ready for an interesting taste journey!

A fan of greens will never settle without any form of salad, and while there is a list of salads to choose from, Caesar Salad is definitely a conventional yet comforting one to have to nibble at while waiting for the mains to arrive.


Crunchy Romaine lettuce leaves tossed in with the classic dressing topped with croutons and Asiago cheese. To make it even more appetizing, throw in the addition of salmon.
Well, technically, I was expecting smoked salmon slices but it was grilled salmon steak fillet which appeared to accompany salad, making this salad worth every cent.


Chicken Alfredo Florentine
Grilled chicken breast, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh spinach tossed in a lemon alfredo sauce and served over linguine. Topped with shaved Asiago cheese and fresh chopped parsley.


Shrimp and Salmon Piccata is a lovely combination, mixing both of my favorites; a well grilled portion of salmon steak with juicy shrimps sitting on top of the fillet drizzled with lemon caper sauce, along with sides of rice and fresh broccoli.
It makes it easier for me to have the best of both worlds, for those who simply cannot decide (like yours truly) and be satisfied by the appetizing combo to fulfill that seafood craving.

One definitely cannot go wrong with both salmon or fish, with shrimps, I say, that's for sure.

We are definitely obsessed with salmon, as another plateful of salmon appeared on the table.
For an interesting and flavorful twist to the grilled taste of salmon fillet, the Avocado and Mandarin Orange Salmon is the answer to living it up a little.


The colorful sight and mash of the exciting tastes of mandarin oranges and cut avocados, enhanced with the extra zest of grape juice to dress up the avocados just please the taste buds, besides the visual attraction of the blend. Throw in the freshly cut tomatoes, red onions and cilantro, and I'm sold!

Oh yes, not just salmon, we are also big on shrimps, obvious with this Shrimp Scampi Pasta which tosses fresh juicy shrimps, lightly sauteed with garlic, fresh basil and tomato pesto beforehand.
If you sensed something else in the mix, that is probably that light bit of chipotle in there to add to the  satisfying mass of linguine.
Shaved Asiago cheese (TR is big on this cheese eh?) completes this for the pasta lovers.



A Birthday treat for the celebrant accompanied by the lovely singing of the servers, makes this lava molten cake topped with ice cream a memorable one for my daddy!


The food, service and ambiance in this Tony Roma's outlet in The Gardens makes this a winning combination to court more patrons to their outlet, besides the obvious strategic location along the connecting passageway between Mid Valley mall and The Gardens.

Besides who need more reason to enjoy a good meal to treat oneself, or even to go for the special occasion with family and friends?
Or do we even need the reason of a special occasion to enjoy Tony Roma's?