While World Expo (thats for another post!) was an eye-opener, it was the meeting of my relatives that we were truly looking forward to. And so we had a long and pleasing dinner at YangZhou Restaurant!
The reason that I have relatives here is simply because my mom is a Shanghainese, so we have plenty of uncles, cousins, grand aunts and so on over here. YangZhou Restaurant is one of the older government-owned restaurants that serve up traditional YangZhou dishes. We had a cosy room to ourselves and over 20 dishes for the whole family (14 of us!), so this will be more of a pictorial than elaborated write-up!
First up, the cold dishes!
鸡爪, 醉鸡, 淆肉, 螺片
Shanghainese like to begin a meal with many little plates of cold dishes before settling in proper. These can be poultry/seafood dishes like Cold Chicken Feet, Drunken Chicken (a flavourful one!) , Crystalized Pork (My favourite!) and Conch Slices.
小黄瓜, 南瓜糕, 烤麸, 豆腐丝
Or simple vegetables/beancurd dishes like Cold Cucumber, Pumpkin Cake, 烤麸 (a type of harden beancurd with pothole-like texture), and Shredded Beancurd. Yes it might seem strange to have sweet stuffs for starter, but thats the way it is!
On to the hot dishes!
清炒虾仁, 油焖茄子, 臭豆腐, 海参鹌鹑蛋
There's a joke saying that when a Singaporean is served the Stir Fried River Prawns, he complained to the manager because he didn't pay so much to eat such tiny shrimps! But man, I will take this over tiger prawns anytime!
Brinjal added to our vegetable selection, Smelly Tofu was crispy and yes, smelly, while Sea Cucumber with Quail Eggs is an interesting combination.
炒鳝糊, 狮子头, 糟溜鱼片, 焖蹄膀
Eating Eel is a staple among Shanghainese, and stir-frying with soy sauce is one of the most common way to prepare it. Meatballs were as large as a child's fist, Fish Slices had hints of alcoholic sweetness while the Pork Knuckle was gleamingly chunky yet without the grease.
去骨鱼头, 炒蕹菜, 八宝鸭, 炖鸡汤
The Fish Head was amazing as it was completly deboned, Fried Kangkong was without the sambal chilli, Eight Treasure Duck was stuffed full of sticky glutinous rice and a good ol pot of hearty Chicken Soup to warm you up!
Room for more? Desserts!
Don't worry, its not that much! The Sticky Cake with Pine Nut was very chewy, while the Red Bean Paste Pastry was hot and suitably sweetned.
Bill was about RMB1600 inclusive of a dozen large bottled beer, which is reasonable by China's standard (and by Singapore's standard, outrageously cheap I would say) considering the variety and quantity of food we had! I'm also pleased to say that we wiped clean all the dishes except for half of the eight treasure duck, taking it back home and not wasting any food at all!
And of course, all of these would be nothing if not in the company of my wonderful extended family! Words are simply not enough to express the feelings I have in seeing them again since 10 years ago! Cheers to a better life for all!