Though I skipped last year (because I started a new job and then headed off to San Francisco a few days before the Lunar New Year), for a few years now, I celebrate Lunar New Year with friends (and family, separately). Choose a Cantonese restaurant (because my family is Cantonese), and have a big feast.
This year, with BFF running a little late and Hungry absent due to illness, I ran the show and did all the ordering. Which is interesting when you consider my inability to read Chinese… let’s just say, while we were picking dishes, I wrote them down so I could remember all of them, and this is what my list looked like:
Unfortunately, due to a mishap with my camera (I took 2-3 pictures before realizing there was no SD card in there… derrr), I don’t have a photo of the first dish – a seafood soup that has bits of tofu, shrimp, crab in it.
Then, to be healthy and because no Chinese meal is complete without veggies! – pea shoots. Tender, young, and we had these plainly done because I thought there was too much garlic in everything else (and the other method they offered… which I forget… is one I don’t like).
Garlic paper fried chicken, which was mostly good…
After looking through the entire menu, Nommables chose a crispy fish dish for our fish. Everyone seemed to go nuts over this dish, so good choice! – though I was iffy on it. The flavor was great – lots of garlic and onion in there – and it was fried with a light exterior, flaky fish, and quite tasty. My only “complaint” was that it had a slight kick of heat to it – red pepper flakes – which were quite nice, but unexpected (and I expect nearly all of Cantonese cuisine to be very mild, very sweet). I ate two pieces and then concentrated on other things.
Honey walnut shrimp – a standard for any banquet these days. WAY overbattered, though the flavor was good and I enjoyed eating the broccoli and walnuts very much. So don’t be fooled by how big they look – a lot of it is batter.
Golden needle fried rice – omfg I love this dish so much, I am always tempted to place another order to go. While it has golden raisins in it (sorry, BFF! I totally forgot, and forgot to warn you), it’s also fried with dried scallop shreds that impart the loveliest flavor to it. OMFG, I love this dish. I was sad to only be able to eat one bowl this time… that’s what happens when you’re in a large group of big eaters and you’re one of two girls… (I eat slowly, okay?)
Chinese style steak, which was served with a very sweet ketchup-y sauce… I keep forgetting that this place doesn’t do a good version. We would have been happier with another beef dish – but ah well, you live and learn. And eat again.
Our 8th and final dish – one of the two major reasons I chose Canton Gourmet (the other being the golden needle fried rice) – garlic steamed Dungeness crab over broad white noodles (ho fun). YES. The garlic/oil (butter?), the crab essence dripping down into the noodles… infuses the noodles with such a holy ungodly delicious flavor, I was scooping these slippery noodles into my mouth as fast as I could. I don’t even care to eat the crab all that much – honestly, it’s messy and there are so many other things on the table to eat – but those noodles! oh, those noodles. I love this dish, just for the noodles. Dungeness crab is hard enough to get in our fair city, so this place holds a special place in my heart. Oh… those noodles.
Overall – a tasty meal, with a few misses and some incredible hits. I won’t hesitate to return – hopefully sooner than it’s been since the last time I went – but maybe order a few other dishes from the ones above. Aside from the rice dish – I’m always going to order that one, so freakin’ good. Mmm.
Thanks for celebrating Lunar New Year with me (a few days early), everyone! What are your favorite dishes to order for the Lunar New Year?