Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Tai Thong Imperial City (2014 CNY Set Menu) @ Cheras

With the Year of the Wooden Horse fast approaching, it's inevitable that all of us will be feasting on the many set menus specially prepared by the restaurants and hotels alike.
I, and my friends, did the same.  We ushered in the 2014 Chinese New Year (CNY) early (before we return to our hometowns) with a set menu prepared by Tai Thong Imperial City Cheras @ Cheras last Saturday [sorry, forgot to take pic of restaurant, so a pic of their 'ang pow' (red packet) instead].  The 9-course meal is priced at RM488++ (for 6 pax)...but with some minor changes to the menu.
As usual, no CNY menu is complete without the customary tossing of the "yee sang" (raw fish salad).  So, we started off with what was supposed to be Prosperity Salmon & Snow Pear Yee Sang which we changed to the Eight Jewels Fruit Yee Sang and this was how it looked when it arrived at our table...very pretty indeed! 

And this was how it looked on their website....very similar ya...thumbs up!

This was how it looked with the crispy crackers and sauce added.....and it tasted as good as it looked!  We opted for this change since we have eaten the normal type of yee sang (with salmon) many times now and thought this would be a refreshing change....and we were right!  This yee sang dish was a combination of 8 types of fruit of evenly cut strips of pears, green apples, water apples, dragon fruit and jackfruit, mandarin orange wedges, grapes and pomegranate. 

And....the only way to consume this dish is to toss all the ingredients, as high as you can, and make wishes (silent or otherwise) for the year to be filled with happiness, good health and prosperity, of course. 

It had a pretty, fresh and fruity taste.....and the plum sauce accompanying it was not overly sweet (like some traditional yee sang).  The crispy crackers and finely julienned vegetables added the necessary crunch to the dish.  It was immensely refreshing and an excellent start to the meal (and ended up as my favourite dish of the entire menu)!
Next up was the familiar and fulfilling Braised Shark's Fin Soup with "Conpoy" & Crab Meat.  The dish came in a golden brown thick broth although I wished there was more of the rich and umami "conpoy" (dried scallops) taste in it.  I also preferred my shark's fin soup to be more eggy and crabby.....but that's just me!
The first thing that hit us when the Roast Chicken with Prawn Crackers Hong Kong Style made it appearance was the whiff of fragrant aroma the roast chicken emitted.  When it smells good, you know it will taste good.  The chicken skin was roasted to crispy perfection while the meat remained moist and tender.  I suggest you dive in straight away while it's piping hot, otherwise the meat tend to dry out (especially the breast meat).

Another symbolic dish during CNY is a fish dish ("yu") for abundance and so we have the Steamed Patin with "Wan Yee" Fungus & Enoki Mushrooms.  The fish, together with the fungus and mushrooms, was fresh and light and the accompanying special soy sauce was not too salty.  For me, any steamed fish is my kind of dish!
Also another must-have dish, that is always included in a CNY menu, is prawns ("har") because the word sounds like 'laughter' and it symbolises happiness and liveliness and so our next dish was the Pan-seared Tiger Prawns with Fragrant Spice.  The prawns were coated and deep fried and then tossed in some chilli, garlic, spring onions and spice mix.  The spice mix brought a fragrant taste to the firm and slightly sweet texture of the prawns while the prawn heads were crunchy to the bite (and you can eat the whole head like the Chinese do...hehe!)

The ever popular 'good luck' dish is the Braised "Ho See" with "Fatt Choy", Mushrooms, Wheat Gluten & Vegetables which came next.  As with all dishes during the auspicious festival, the ingredients are associated with positive Chinese connotations and this dish was no different.  The braised "ho see" (dried oysters), "fatt choy" (black moss) and mushrooms symbolises good fortune, wealth, longevity and all things good.  The wheat gluten is quite similar in texture to abalone (maybe you can call it "a poor man's abalone" or imitation abalone) and all this is cooked in a golden brown oyster/soy sauce which was ok tasting and not too salty.  With abalone being considered a luxury item and getting more costlier by the year, not many can afford to include abalone in their set menu (unless you are willing to fork out in the region of RM1,000+ for a table of 10).

As always, the meal will end with a rice dish and this time it was the Fried Glutinous Rice with Assorted Waxed Meat.  This was ok as I am not a fan of fried glutinous rice unless it is a glutinous rice dumpling in bamboo leaves ("chung" or "bak chang") or steamed glutinous rice with chicken ("lor mai kai").

Serving something sweet at the end of the meal brings a connotation of a sweet life in the new year.  And so, our sweet ending was supposed to be Chilled Honey Dew Lemon with Sago Pearls and Steamed "Nian Gao" with Shredded Coconut & Lotus Paste Pancake but we rounded up our meal with the delicate dessert of Rainbow Tong Yuen instead because it looked so pretty.  These coloured glutinous rice flour balls were infused with different flavours like red bean, lotus paste, pumpkin paste, sweet potato, custard, yam and corn in a sweet ginger soup (though some flavours were more distinct than others).

The "tong yuen" balls, a welcome departure from the normal desserts we get, were a bit small and 'uneven' (see pic above) and surely did not look like the ones I saw in their website...thumbs down and, hence, the term 'looks can be deceiving' rings true!! 

This was how it was supposed to look!  You judge for yourself....see the difference in their promotional pic (which I captured from their website)!

Taste wise, it was alright though some flavours were more distinct than others and some you can't quite make out (perhaps if it was a wee bit bigger, the flavour would come through more readily).

My Personal Opinion

Overall, the set menu was decent enough and, at just slightly under RM100 per pax, it's probably one of the most affordable CNY sets around.

What I liked:  Definitely the 8 Jewels Fruit Yee Sang, it was so light and refreshing.  It's a dish that you can eat over and over again without feeling "full"...and I did eat quite a lot!

What I disliked:  Nothing bad comes to all the dishes were on par in terms of taste, portion and value.

With this post, I wish all readers of my blog a Healthy & Prosperous Chinese New Year!
Eat Healthily, Cook Sparingly, Spend Wisely & Live Happily!!!

Tai Thong Imperial City
Ground Floor Cheras Plaza
Jalan Manis 1 Taman Segar
56100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-9132 0118

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