Happy Chinese New Year (CNY) 2010! Last Sunday marked the start of a 15 days feasting period and the beginning of the new year in the Chinese calendar. This year, the CNY coincided with Valentine’s Day so it’s double celebration and extra festivities. Happy Valentine’s Day too! =)
Traditionally, the night before the start of the CNY, families from near and far will gather together for a meal, termed the ‘Reunion Dinner’ signifying the unity in the family. It’s no different with our family except this year it’s a small event (minus the family friends). My mum chose to have the dinner at the Aquarium Seafood Chinese Restaurant located on Great Eastern Highway in Ascot. I’d been to this restaurant a few times before over the years and thought the food was quite average and more on the pricier end so it was not a top choice for me personally. However, I took my parents there for Christmas Eve dinner last year, purely for its elegant and classy setting which is on par with a fine dining restaurant. I also wanted to let them try the famous beancurd roll entree that I had before which I thought was great. We had a good dinner so it left an impression in her mind.
So on this occasion, I was really looking forward to dinner especially at the thought of having the Rainbow Salmon Platter (for a definiton of this dish, refer to my previous blog on the Ambassador Chinese Restaurant) BUT how disappointed I was!
On arrival, we immediately looked at the menu as we were trying to order early to beat the big dinner crowd. As the waitstaff came to take our order, she informed us that if we were to order from the normal menu, there would be a 2 hours wait for the dishes and the only way to avoid this wait is to order from the 10-course CNY banquet they had, a very limited menu but charged at a premium. “What the?!?” <- my first reaction; “They should have told us when we book the table” <- my second reaction. We were mortified and would have walked out except there were no other good chinese restaurants around the area we can go to. Wished we were in Northbridge! <- my third reaction.
So our hands were forced and we ended up ordering the following:
- Rainbow Salmon Platter “Yue Sang” (from the CNY banquet)
- 3 course Peking Duck which consisted of the Skin with Pancake, Soup and Duck Meat San Choy Bow (for some reason, there was no wait for this dish as it was already prepared?!?)
- Vegetarian E-Fu Noodle (from the CNY banquet)
- Kai Lan with Oyster sauce
The “Yue Sang” came and was lined with pieces of cucumber – OK we thought, it might taste good, don’t judge a dish by its appearance, but digging into it, we found a bed of lettuce underneath! Is this a plate of salad we ordered? :( The worse was yet to come, we looked at the sauce and it was a bowl of sweet chilli sauce!! It was so wrong, I am definitely not having this dish with sweet chilli sauce..no way! Having a taste though, it was actually a mixture of the plum sauce with sweet chilli sauce so it was not as bad as I expected. This dish costed $63 – definitely not worth the price even taking into account the raw salmon and jellyfish!
The next course was the Peking Duck…cost $73…
- First course: Duck Skin with Pancake - The pancakes felt like they had been microwaved as there was uneven heat along the pancakes as you roll them up with the duck skin. There were also not enough condiments for the wrap.
- Second course: Duck Soup - The only dish I enjoyed. The duck soup was cooked with soft tofu and salted vegetables, quite appetising.
- Third course: Duck Meat San Choy Bow - Very average and did not have much special flavour.
Next came the Special E-Fu Noodles…
Another disappointing dish – soupy E-Fu Noodles with a few stalks of choy sum and slices of mushroom. The shock came when we paid the bill and found out this dish costed $32!!! What a rip off! As for the Kai Lan with oyster sauce, we waited for ages and there was still no sight of it so we asked to either cancel the dish or to pack it away when it was cooked. The take-away container came.
Although I have much angst with the food, the service however was impeccable – the lady that served us was immaculately dressed, was very attentive, friendly and on the ball. However I was too let down with the food to care - it totally ruined the dinner and I did not like how we were forced to order from the CNY banquet at such high prices. I will not go back again to eat there.
Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars
Rating by: N.L.
Aquarium Seafood Chinese Restaurant
Telephone: 08 9478 1868
Address: 202 Great Eastern Highway, Ascot
Some pictures of what we ate last year which fared much better, so much better than the CNY meal. This meal costs just over $100. If you must go, the Beancurd Entree Dish is a must try.
- Beancurd Roll - crispy beancurd skin wrapped with all sorts of diced up vegetables, dipped in a sweet and sour sauce – awesome dish, loved it!
- Crocodile with lotus root - the crocodile meat was slightly tough and chewy, dish was oily
- Yam Duck - yummy, good balance of crispy skin, yam layer and duck meat! plenty of sauce to go with the meat!
- Chinese Vegetable - special vegetable that tasted bitter cooked in a broth. different and tasty!