In Aug 2017, Sunshine and myself, together with our families, went to Dragon Phoenix Restaurant, located in Novotel Clarke Quay for our food tasting. We had earlier informed our banquet coordinator about our choice of dishes for our banquet and this had been communicated to the restaurant. Banquet food served would be prepared by the restaurant and hence, the food tasting was done at their premises.
We arrived at about 7.30pm on a weekday night to a relatively occupied restaurant and were shown to a private room. The restaurant manager on duty that night informed us that the main purpose of the food tasting was to review three things: i) Presentation of the food, ii) Taste of the food and iii) Portion of the food. Service staff would be provided by the hotel on the day of the banquet itself and hence, need not be evaluated that night. After giving us the form for us to indicate our comments and rate the individual dishes, we proceeded with the food tasting. Here’s our review based on the three criteria indicated above (presentation and portion of the food would not be mentioned if there is nothing to highlight):
First dish – Appetiser/Cold dish
(a) Drunken chicken: Almost everyone thought that the drunken chicken was good (I found it ok since cold dishes do not really appeal to me)
(b) Mini Octopus: Most also liked the mini octopus (I do not like this and hence, I did not eat it). The comment given was that the chewiness of the mini octopus was just right: not too chewy and not too hard.
(c) Prawn Salad: Normal dish; no comments
(d) Spring roll: Spring roll was cripsy and I liked it. However, the underside of the spring roll was wet and soggy. We indicated this in our comments but the same thing happened on our actual banquet day itself.
(e) Beancurd roll slices (in lieu of suckling pig slices): Ok. I do not remember anything in particular about it, except that the slices were sliced too thin.
Second dish – Assorted Seafood with Fish Maw Soup
I did not want to serve shark’s fin at my banquet so we eliminated all the soups with shark’s fins and I selected this fish maw soup as I hope it would be good and the elders would like it.
Taste: Thankfully, the soup was good! It was flavourful and it was not too starchy (something which would put off my mum). We all enjoyed it! Yay!
Third dish – Roast Crispy Chicken flavoured with Deep-fried Garlic
Presentation: It was quite refreshing to see the deep-fried garlic covering the whole chicken. My father likened it to 满地黄金 and we thought the dish looked good due to the spread of the golden pieces of garlic.
Taste: The flavour of the chicken was enhanced by the addition of garlic. The crispy deep-fried garlic also added another dimension to chicken and we were scooping just the garlic to eat after we had finished the chicken.
Fourth dish – Steamed Rock Garoupa in Hong Kong Style with Light Soy Sauce
We had indicated that we wanted Soon Hock fish when we selected the dishes for food tasting. We even confidently told our families when they asked us about the dishes before food tasting started. Hence, when we saw that Rock Garoupa would be served that night, we checked with the restaurant manager who, after checking internally, informed us that it was because Soon Hock was not fresh that night. I was a bit skeptical as if the fish was indeed not fresh and there was a decision made to replace it, shouldn’t the restaurant manager had already been informed and then for the manager to take the initiative to inform the guests about the change? I felt that somehow there was a miscommunication somewhere which resulted in the wrong fish being indicated and cooked. Giving them the benefit of doubt, while I was very appreciative that they took the initiative to change the dish based on the freshness of their ingredients, I then questioned if a similar incident would also happen on the actual day of our banquet as well: an ingredient was deemed not as good and they would change the dish without informing us. I had feedback on this to our banquet coordinator the next day as well, but I am not sure if she understood what I was trying to say =.=
Presentation: I read somewhere before that a bride to be complained that the fish presented to them during their food tasting was “not standing” but was lying on its side. Err… while I was not sure of the significance, I noted that our fish was presented “standing”. Lol.
Taste: I have always loved fish steamed in Hong Kong style (with light soy sauce). Hence, this was the only method of cooking which I had considered and it did not disappoint. As for the fish, despite the blunder, everyone commented that the Rock Garoupa was fresh and its meat, tender. The table agreed that it would be better to choose Rock Garoupa as Soon Hock would sometimes be hard. We chose this fish instead for our banquet dinner eventually.
Portion: My father commented that the size of the fish was just right; not too big yet not too small.
Fifth dish – Poached Live Prawns in Bamboo Basket
Taste: Prawn was big and succulent. However, some of us, myself included, ate prawns with sand in it.
Sixth dish – Braised Shitake Mushroom with Broccoli in Oyster Sauce
Taste: While half of the table found the dish ok (Sunshine’s family), the other half (my side) tasted something funny in the mushrooms, myself included. There was just a weird taste but the reason/cause was just something we could not pinpoint too. At this point, I felt a bit paiseh that maybe my family was too picky (?) as the negative comments given earlier came mostly from my side. However, my father insisted that we should just feedback this to the restaurant manager since this was a food tasting. The restaurant manager took back the dish and came back to inform us that their chefs had checked the batch of mushrooms which they served to us and agreed that there was something wrong with their mushrooms. He then explained to us that though they would love to prepare another of the vegetable dish for us, the problem would likely still persist as the whole batch of mushrooms were off. Hence, he offered us the option to try another vegetable dish instead and suggested “Braised Abalone Mushrooms and Broccoli with Conpoy (or shredded dry scallop)”. All of us preferred the replacement dish and I was quite thankful and delighted that something good came out of the not-so-good original dish which we chose!
Presentation: The original braised shitake mushroom dish looked normal. However, when the replacement dish (braised abalone mushrooms with conpoy) was served, there was a pleasant surprise at the table. This was because unlike the former dish which looked dull due to its dark colour (shitake mushrooms), the latter dish looked so much more 喜庆 or fitting for a joyous occasion due to the lighter colour abalone mushrooms and dried scallops! We chose this Braised Abalone Mushrooms and Broccoli with Conpoy for our banquet eventually.
Portion: Perhaps we were quite full at that point in time already, we did not manage to finish the vegetables.
Seventh dish – Fried Hong Kong Noodle
Taste: Noodles were ok, not too salty nor too bland. Both side of relatives were saying that it was good that we chose noodles instead of rice which people might not eat as they would be quite full by then.
Portion: We did not finish this dish as well.
Final dish – Yam Paste with Gingko Nuts
Taste: The fact that the whole table finished this despite not being able to finish the previous two dishes must show something. We all enjoyed this as it was not too sweet and not too cloying. The coconut was mixed in well such that this dessert was not too dry nor too wet/liquid. (Sadly, this was not the case on our actual day and we raised this as one of the issues we faced on that day. Reviews of actual to be shared at a later date).
Though the service of the staff at the restaurant was not one of the things we had to review during food tasting, we were very satisfied with the service we received that night. We felt that the restaurant manager went out of his way to ensure that we were satisfied with the food and provided sufficient explanation when we requested for one. The waitress who attended to us made sure we were happy with the food tasting overall as well. Hence, I am glad to share that we had a very good experience with our food tasting! 😀