Chinese New Year Banquet at Saigon Harbor
Saturday February 5th a group of over 40 Chohounds met for a special Chinese New Year Banquet. It was a great opportunity to reconnect with some of our old friends and make some new ones!! People from all over the bay area attended proving once more that there are few endeavors more conducive to happiness and friendship than...good food!!!
I have to apologize for having to leave early because of personal reasons, but I truly enjoyed the early dishes and wonderful company. Here is a list of the dishes as I rercorded, but there may be some missing...so please chime in! Look aslso at the article in the Chron about chinese new year food...we pretty much covered all the main dishes mentioned.
BBQ Combination platter
Honey glazed walnut prawns
dry oyster with chinese seaweed
Black chicken ginseng soup (I did not want to serve sharkfin soup)
House special steamed chichen
pork with mushrroms and greens
dry scallops and black mushrooms
stir-fry crabs with ginger and scallions
steamed live fish
Thanks to all who attended and to Urmi for helping with the organizing...! Gung Chi Fat Choi!
Thank you Marlon for organizing. We had four tables with about 10 happy diners at each. Definitely New Year cheeriness all over the huge and crowded and noisy Saigon Restaurant. I was glad not to see shark's fin soup; thanks to Marlon for replacing it with the ginseng soup which was one of my favorites of the evening. The one dish not mentioned in Marlon's list above was my favorite: the egg custard with clams and sea urchin; talk about comfort food and at a perfect place in the meal, after the fish and before the noodles.
I am a flickr novice, so did not know to label images before sending to Flickr nor means for adding them to this email one at a time. But anyway: here is link to pix of the dishes...http://www.flickr.com/photos/47966408...
Just click on the title where it says "IMG_2448" and change the title. You can also change the title at upload time or anytime after that. If you rename your pictures before uploading them, they will have the title you want. I'm new to this as well, but feel free to email me if you need any Flickr advice.
Anyway, nice panoramic shot of all the dishes on the table.
Big thanks for Marlon and Urmi for organizing!
The dishes were very traditional (Marlon's list of the dishes doesn't reflect that the "chinese seaweed" was "fat choi" -- one of those food homonyms that cause certain foods to be symbolic necessities), and therefore not revelatory, but I thought the execution was exceptional (especially considering how slammed the kitchen was -- there was no apparently slacking for CNY!).
I enjoyed the substitution of the black chicken ginseng soup -- I thought the bitterness from the ginseng was a nice counterpoint and palate cleanser for the richer dishes.
The steamed chicken was the best version I've ever had, and likewise with the honey-glazed walnut prawns, a dish I have a somewhat guilty liking for. The pork with mushrooms was also stellar. The roast duck on the BBQ combo platter was soft and tender. Dessert turned out to be mango pudding surrounded by triangles of coconut-flavored jelly AND a plate of sesame cookies that tasted like sesame balls without the filling.
Portions were generous -- at least three of the tables had significant amounts of crab leftover (my caretaker thanks you very much!).
Service was very good -- they brought us water and kept it refilled. And when the waitress brought the e-fu noodles and there was no room on the table for them, on her own initiative she took them back to the kitchen and had them put in individual bowls for us. Even though we were shouting across the table, Melanie and I agreed that the acoustics are slightly better than they were before the fire -- at least our ears weren't ringing! We were sitting by the seafood tanks and the glassed in BBQ station and enjoyed watching both of them (especially the snow crab who was making a valiant effort all evening to climb out of his tank, which someone remarked indicated a failure to think through what would happen if he succeeded).
Based on this meal I would recommend Saigon Harbor for high-end Cantonese/Hong Kong style dishes.
I need to add one more dish to the menu. It was a gift from the owner for us. A very high item not always available.
Steamed Egg Custard using live clams and live uni from the North Coast of California. This item is not on the menu but it can be asked for ahead of time so that they could order it for you.
This dishes was one of the best one I have had. Worth asking for.
Since Marlon had a few extra dollars he asked me to order one additional dish for each table. So I was able to have the Mushroom Pork Stir Fry dish added to the dinner. The pork (as Melaine was able to see was the meat around the neck one of the best cuts for stir frying I think the correct English name is cushion meat). The mushroom was King Oyster mushroom.
I too thank Marlon for doing this. The sad part was he had to leave before having the whole dinner.
By the way the service was excellent for a full house, Ruth since Marlon the the staff the I was left in charge since he was leaving the Lady asked me if she could service the noodles in small bowls. I just want to let the group know that they were sharp in service and knowing when to ask before taking in action with asking.
I will let the thirty plus add their input before add my two cents.
re: Melanie Wong
@DCfoodblog - I'd like to see those photos too.
Overall I left with a good impression of the restaurant. For me, the standouts were the clam in steamed custard, the pea shoots w/ oyster and moss, and the steamed chicken, . A couple of dishes that weren't perfectly executed, but it was a very busy night for the restaurant and the service was good.
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