Happy mid-Autumn festival everyone! We celebrated the Chinese festival by going out for a nice family meal at Lei Garden, one of our favourite, super reliable, fail-safe restaurants for authentic, exquisite Cantonese food. I have yet to bring a guest here and not get a rave review.
While we're on the topic of Chinese festivals, it's nice that a lot of my friends still take the opportunity during notable Chinese festivals to gather with families/friends to celebrate each festival. Whoever said that tradition is lost on today's generation?! We may have bastardized the various festivals in a way, but shouldn't we still get some credit for celebrating our culture? I suppose that our method of modernizing the various Chinese festivals is a personalized way of commemorating each festival.
The Braised "Lo Han" Vegetables ($28) was a wonderful medley of textures and nuanced flavour. The vegetarian dish has the capacity of being incredibly boring and ho-hum but Lei Garden does this so well. Wood fungus is crunchy and delectable chewy, mushrooms are juicy and flavoursome, beancurd and smooth and soft, while ginko nuts lend a soft touch of class. The varied textures help keep this from descending into the depths of mediocrity. A liberal slathering of luscious oyster sauce imparts just enough flavour to enhance the sweetness of the greens.
I've never really had pigeon before but was persuaded by the manager to sample the seasonal delicacy. We've since discovered that we do NOT like the taste of pigeon. It's definitely an acquired taste. A bit gamey and tough, it tastes like a cross between day-old chicken and day-old duck. I think we'll just stick to roast chicken and duck. That said, the Roasted Pigeon ($38) had a really nice crisp skin that crackled.
As per SOP, we got a pot of the soup-of-the-day, a Double-Boiled Spareribs Soup with Lotus and Dried Octopus ($28 per pot). Delicate but still oxymoronically packed with flavour. The commonplace lotus peanut spareribs soup was given a lift with the umami dried octopus. I have to say though, dried octopus tastes like dried cuttlefish.
The Chicken and Mushroom Dumpling ($4.80), a seasonal dim sum item, was delicious. The crisp exterior gave way to a semi-chewy glutinous skin.
with chunky diced mushroom and marinated chicken bits, and enlivened with soft stewed root vegetables. We promptly re-ordered another 2 portions of this.
This is a much-loved dish of my family's. Lei Garden's Golden Salted Egg Yolk Prawns ($38) are a little smaller than what we're used to, but they seem fresher and sweeter, without that super-crunch found at at other restaurants. A delicate coating of grainy salted egg yolk rounds off the flaky crisp of the prawns.
At the manager's recommendation, we also ordered a duo of seafood dishes at $48, which turned out a much more favourable response compared to the pigeon. The Sauteed Live Tiger Grouper Fillet with assorted peppers and celery was simplicity at its finest. Thick fleshy smooth slices of grouper fillet were seasoned simply with salt to bring out its sweetness and natural jus. A light charring lends a caramelised, smoky accent.
The Poached Handmade Noodle with loofah and shimeiji mushroom was done perfectly. Smooth, thick, slippery threads of lightly chewy noodles were dunked in a light meat-based broth and matched with refreshingly crunchy beansprouts and juicy shimeiji for a varied texture.
Chijmes Lei Garden Restaurant
30 Victoria Street
Tel: 6339 3822
Open daily from 11.30am to 2.30pm for lunch and from 6pm to 10.30pm for dinner