Jan 23, 2012

Chinese New Year At SSG Manor.

Gong Xi Fa Cai!  Happy Chinese New Year, everyone.

I hope you've had a wonderful, food and family filled time of it.  It's the year of the dragon and I hope this year brings us all good fortune, happiness and nothing but happiness.

The good last minute Reunion Dinner hostess always remembers to put her can of lychees  (bought on the way home tonight) in the freezer so that they are nicely chilled for dessert.

I'm hosting the Reunion Dinner for the members of our family in Sydney at the moment and it's all completely under control.  Dessert is in the freezer and our mains for tonight are all ready and waiting to be reheated when everyone gets home.

Mr SSG and I received red packets in the post and a telephone call at the weekend from our parents interstate.  So I've nothing to do really, while I sip my glass of CNY bubbly except tell you what else we've been up to this Spring Festival (as CNY is referred to in China).  Starting with dessert, of course.

Mr SSG and I visited Chinta Ria Mood For Love at Westfield Sydney last week.  I'm a big fan of the original Chinta Ria at Circular Quay (which reminds me, I need to go back gain soon) and I was curious to see what Simon Goh had come up with on the 6th floor designer food floor.

Mood For Love is a romantic vision of Malaysia in its colonial days.

Red shuttered windows and distressed brickwork greet you at the restaurant's entrance and it is visually quite a departure from the sleek silver and black marble of the rest of the retail complex.

The red melamine bowls and black lacquered chop sticks took me back to the hawker's stalls of KL.  The glowing lights of JB HiFi being the only reminder that I was in fact in the Sydney CBD.

It's pure romance with a touch of the clandestine eating at Mood For Love.  A copy of the menu appears at the front of the restaurant, stapled to a wall and slightly distressed.  The full menu in the restaurant comes sealed in a large brown paper envelope.

Mr SSG and I were here only for the desserts but I suspect we will return for a full meal very soon.  One of my favourite memories of trips home to Malaysia with my mum are the glorious coconut, pandan and palm sugar flavoured desserts.  The desserts of other South East Asian cultures are a challenge for me but the desserts of Malaysia are my downfall.

We  ordered two desserts to share from the menu entitled, 'Are You In... Sweetheart?'.  See what I mean about Mood For Love being more than just a place to eat?

Pandan sago $8.80
Mr SSG ordered the Pandan sago and it was amazing.  Just enough palm sugar under the coconut milk and soft pandan flavoured sago.  It was light and refreshing and healthy, I'm telling you.

My favourite Malaysian dessert are kueh dar dar, brown sugar flavoured coconut inside pandan flavoured crepes.  An aunty of mine was legendary to a whole generation of hungry primary school aged expats back in Perth.  She was a big fan of visual impact and she liked her crepes to be a green closer to jade than Laduree.  She also liked extra palm sugar (which she magicked into Perth from Malaysia) so her coconut filling was a glossy, deep brown.  The only concession she made to the tamer tastes of Perth was to use desiccated coconut from Coles.

Kueh Rolled Me Green is Mood For Love's sedate almost Bergdorf Blonde version.  Subtle flavours, delicate textures and very moreish.

Kueh dar dar $8.80
The crepes are a delicate Limoges tea cup green and the coconut filling more amber than brown.  They are also served only in pairs and with a light dusting of sifted icing sugar.  My aunty always erred on the side of over feeding and she always served no less than 10 rolls at a time in doily lined takeaway containers, covered with double glad wrap just to make sure.

We made short work of dessert as you can see.

No after dinner stroll in South East Asia is complete without window shopping so Mr SSG gamely accompanied me to the Nespresso store to have a look see at the Shanghai Tang Nespresso machine.  It costs and auspicious $588 and the answer is still N-O from Mr SSG as to whether one could come home with us for the newly decluttered kitchen bench.

Chinta Ria... Mood for Love on Urbanspoon

Back in real time now and it's just about time to serve dinner.

There are a number of traditional foods that people like to have for their reunion dinner at Chinese New Year.  Spring rolls, steam boat, yee sang (the lucky chopstick toss salad with anything luxe you can get your hands on like grape fruit segments or raw salmon) or in my case, Malaysian chicken curry.  I'm not 100% sure if curry is traditional but I cooked mine in a red Le Creuset to up the auspiciousness factor and added extra flavour with tomato paste and a can of crushed tomatoes.  Which now makes it a Franco Italian Malaysian Chinese chicken curry.

The best thing about Malaysian curry is that even the serving instructions tell you that it is best served with either rice or bread.  Buttered white toast has got to be my favourite accompaniment to chicken curry but tonight we're going for jasmine rice.

For all the sceptics, the coconut flavoured evaporated milk worked a treat,  You can't tell from looking that I didn't use coconut milk.
As I'm in charge of the SSG Reunion Dinner (so in charge I named it after myself), I also got to pick the entree which was....

I'll be honest and say that my package of duck pancakes came from Costco but Coles and Woolies stock them too.

Peking Duck!!!!  We're just cutting to the chase actually.  It's all about the duck pancakes for me.  The fiddly san choy bow and noodle dishes that are also traditionally part of Peking Duck service will not be making an appearance at our place tonight due to time and stomach restraints.  I've got my eye on the prize and that prize tonight is canned lychees and vanilla ice cream.

The beauty of this kit is that everything is microwaved.  There are 2 duck drumsticks in the package, not just the pieces of crispy duck skin that are traditionally served at restaurants.  The way ducks are prepared for Peking Duck is a story on its own.  Air has to be pumped between the skin and the meat before cooking in order to get that crispy goodness in the skin.  Standards are somewhat relaxed at SSG Manor.  Two and a half minutes on high in the microwave is as complicated as it gets for the duck I'm serving tonight.

A large sachet of Hoisin sauce came with the duck pancakes which suits me down to the ground.  One of my favourite things on Peking Duck nights is to just have the sauce with a stick of spring onion or cucumber.  So I made extra crudités for tonight.

So, how does off the supermarket shelf stack up to Chinese barbecue restaurant?

Maximum effect for minimal Monday night effort.

Pretty darn well is my verdict.  The duck actually cooked rather nicely in its microwave safe plastic packaging.  The meat was very tender and though the sauce was richly flavoured, it wasn't overly salty.  The Hoisin was authentic and there was plenty of it for my extra cucumber and spring onion sticks.  There was more than enough duck for the 10 pancakes.

And we're done for another year.  Too much food and lots of family love.  It's what Chinese New Year is all about.  I'd best be off, mum's on the phone for a New Year's chat with all the current residents of SSG Manor.


  1. Gong Xi Fa Cai! I hope the panda flavoured pancakes is a typo. I can't imagine what they would taste like otherwise. Furry?

    I love peking duck. Mr K isn't so much of a fan of duck so we rarely have it. I'm craving it now.... The rest of your dinner looks very auspicious.

    It's the year of the Dragon. I too am a dragon. I am hoping for a year of good fortune and I wish for you the same.

    K xx

  2. Hi SSG and Happy Chinese New Year!  We've been feasting on duck pancakes as well tonight - totally yum!  

  3. GONG XI FA CAI! Xin nian kuai le :)

    The food all looks absolutely delicious! Simon Goh is an old family friend of ours.

    I completely over-indulged on CNY, as you can see on my blog. I love this time of year! xx

  4. Happy new year SSG.  I do hope it brings you a wealth of happiness.

    OMG that Shanghai Tang Netspresso machine is so gorgeous, it almost makes me wish I drank coffee.  That could also be something to do with my serious addiction to Shanghai Tang though.

    Thanks for the review on the duck pancakes.  I must admit I've been eying them off wondering what they are like.  We usually just buy half a duck and pancakes when we go to the market, but popping into Coles is much more convenient.

  5. Happy new year! Your Malaysian talk is bringing back memories of my recent trip to lovely KL.
    I can't believe Shanghai Tang do a coffee machine but not entirely surprised. I have a small obsession with buying a different Shanghai Tang polo each time I'm
    In Asia. I can't help myself! Xx

  6. Coconut evap. milk is It and A Bit. Love that stuff!

  7. Fiorella TrapuzzanoJanuary 25, 2012 at 2:41 AM

    Gong xi fa cai! Yum, I love anything pandan. That sago looks delicious! So does that kueh. I've made those peking duck pancakes before and I was surprised how good they were. Plus they're Halal ;)

  8. Gong Xi Fa Cai!  My favourite Peking Duck is at Lees Fortuna at Crows Nest but I don't get there often enough, so thanks for the review on the ready to go ones, I'll definitely have to pick some up from Costo this week.

  9. Overcharged me of every food items for no reason! The bill I received showed every food items was overcharged by 1-4 dollars. Very disappointed - felt slightly conned. You should check your receipt against the menu before you pay in Chinta Ria! 


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