Every dish in Chinese cuisine has meaning.
Today is the day, it’s Chinese New Years Eve. Tens of thousands around the Lower Mainland will be dining out with friends and family celebrating the upcoming Year of The Ram (Sheep or Goat). If you are planning on eating Chinese Food tonight I think you might have to cook it for yourself if you don’t have a reservation. Lucky for me I attended an early New Years feast this past weekend at one of Richmond’s premier Cantonese restaurants, Chef Tony Seafood Restaurant. Open for just over a year, Chef Tony Seafood has taken the city by storm. Its bright white walls, glittering chandeliers and omnipresent staff has seen to make this restaurant the place to entertain and wow guests so it is only appropriate that with my fellow gang of visiting Foodies we celebrate the Lunar New Year in style, Chef Tony Seafood Style.
Finding Chef Tony Seafood Restaurant couldn’t be any easier. It’s located at 4600 No.3 Road, Richmond. Easy to get to by car but even easier by Canada Line. Get off at Aberdeen Station then all you have to do is walk a block and you are there. No traffic and definitely no parking to worry about.
Into one of the four private dining rooms we go. We are in for a feast, literally as it’s a 12 course menu, I hope my pants will stretch as I want to try everything.
The meal begins with a platter filled with specialty Cold Cuts and Black Truffle Chicken. The platter even included some jellyfish slices which were actually very tender if just a bit chewy. This was also served with the second dish which was Deep Fried Tender Squab (pigeon). Sadly I was too slow to grab a photo of the dish before it was plated for us so all I could capture was a quarter of the Squab. I’ve never had Squab before but wow was it delicious. So rich it reminded of calves liver in its taste and texture. If you love liver, and I do, you’ll love this Squab. The only thing I’m not a huge fan is eating around all the tiny bones but I’ll have to get over that so I can enjoy the Squab.
The next dish was not my favourite, Braised Dried Oysters and Pigs Tongue in Oyster Sauce. In fact this was my least favourite of the entire meal. I love Oysters but apparently only raw. It might be because the Oysters were previously dried that their flavour was so pronounced but it was a bit much for me. Luckily I had a glass of the Haywire Lunar New Year Red to wash the taste down with. It may come as a surprise to you but we all drank wine during this feast, a new trend that seems to be gaining popularity as China itself embraces wine from around the world.
With the next two courses I was back on loving the feast. Dried Scallop and Crab Meat with Pea Leaves and Double Boiled Chicken Soup with Matsutake Mushrooms and Conch. Do you see what the Chef did with the Scallop & Crab dish? It’s in the shape of the Yin and Yang symbol. In fact the entire meal means something. Every dish and every presentation in some way shape or form means wealth, prosperity, good fortune and luck. The Soup was probably the best Chicken stock I’ve ever had. Absolutely clear and packed with flavour, if you are wondering where the chicken, mushrooms and conch are they are served in a separate bowl to showcase their quality and added by each guest as they wish.
We are not even at the halfway point yet! Next up is a very decadent and opulent dish, Pan Fried Lobster with House Stock and Deep Fried Crispy Free Range Chicken. If you love Lobster then you’ll definitely appreciate abundance of this dish. There is plenty of Lobster for everyone and the only challenge is to eat the meat without getting messy. The Fried Chicken is as crispy as I’ve ever had with a slight smokey hint to it. Apparently this Chicken is a cross between Asian Chickens and the North American Chickens we are used to. A little less breast meat but packed with flavour. I’d advise avoiding the “fruit salad” on the Chicken dish unless you love mayonnaise with your fruit.
The next couple of dishes were a bit hit and a miss for me, the Pan-fried Beef Shoulder Tender with Matsutake and King Oyster Mushroom is a huge hit with me and the rest of the table, can you say mushrooms! The Steamed Rock Cod in Soy Sauce was a miss for me, in fact I didn’t even try it as I was at my limit for seafood. The staff did an amazing job preparing it for the table though and in front of our eyes the waiter deboned the fish showing us how perfectly it was cooked. According to the rest of the table it was amazing. Maybe I should have stepped out of my comfort zone and tried it, next time.
We have two more dishes before dessert and they are both starch-heavy. First up is Fried Rice with Assorted Meat and Seafood in Brown Sauce followed by Egg Noodle with Enoki Mushroom in Abalone Sauce. OMG I am getting so full but I soldier on and I am happy I did. Fantastic rice with delicate flavours and still a little crunch in the rice, fantastic. The Noodles are a bit less of a hit with me. Tasty but a bit over-sauced for me by this point in the meal.
Dessert we are at Dessert time! It’s not what I’m used to for dessert but they are the perfect end to this feast. One is a Steamed Egg Sponge Cake while the other is I don’t know what. I think I was told what it was but I was too lost in my food coma. Not too sweet but with a hint of sweetness both of these were very light and thankfully did not add to “fullness”.
What a way to ring in the Chinese New Year! They’ve only been open for a year but this is not their first restaurant. Chef Tony Seafood Restaurant is part of a group that is taking Cantonese cuisine by storm. I’d highly recommend a reservation and if you think you’ll get to meet the Chef think again. Unlike Western Chefs, Chinese Masters, as they are referred to, rarely come out to meet their guests. You’ve met the Master through their food.
Gung Hey Fat Choy – Best Wishes and Congratulations. Have a prosperous and good year.
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