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Prosperous dinner to welcome Year of the Rat
The Lunar New Year celebration is an important festival for many Asian countries and cultures. It signifies a new beginning, brings a new set of hope and resolutions as we celebrate it surrounded by loved ones, feasting together on auspicious dishes and festive wishes.
Chatswood is renowned as a world-class hub of Asian food in Sydney and it is not surprising to see Willoughby City Council is hosting an abundance of Lunar New Year festivities this year to celebrate the Year of the Rat.
This year, the City Council has appointed celebrity chef Adam Liaw to be Chatswood's Culinary Ambassador. He is most well-known as the winner of the Australian favourite cooking competition - MasterChef in the second season.
The Lunar New Year celebration started with a Prosperity Dinner at General Chao, a sleek modern Chinese restaurant located in the heart of Chatswood CBD, with an impressive fusion menu that spans across a few Asian countries.
It was exciting to be part of this celebration and meet many guests who have contributed to make Chatswood such a vibrant inclusive suburb. The venue was well-picked. The bar on one side is decorated with striking Asian artwork and the seating area is focused around an open kitchen and a 2-metre wide giant gold plate, filled with assorted fresh ingredients and lucky red packets.
Before the feast began, General Chao arranged a special lunar new year entertainment - a traditional "Yee Sang" Prosperity Salad Toss!
General Chao's Head Chef Son Sewoo took care of the fresh ingredients (there were 28 seasonal fruits and vegetables on the plate!) so all we needed to do was to form a big circle around the plate with Adam Liaw.
The idea is to toss it high and make as big a mess as we possibly can. The higher we toss, the higher our life and social standard will improve and the bigger a mess we make symbolises the bigger the grounds all these well wishes will cover in our life.
Once we've cleaned up, we all settled into our seat for our lucky 8-course dinner. A glass of sparkling from New Zealand's Petit Cordon Prestige (Marlborough) was served immediately. It has a delicate lemon-lime and vanilla aromas.
Going Beyond the Average Pacific Oyster - these ones bring luck and fortune. (Chilli & lemon granita, seaweed and chives)
The next dish was from our earlier fun activity - the Giant Yee Sang Salad. By tradition, the chef must add sashimi-grade fish to the salad as the final ritual touch to ensure we will grow and prosper this coming year.
This salad was amazingly delicious with pickled vegetables and crispy wonton skin for crunch. The time and care taken with its preparation was evident in the depth of flavours achieved. My guest was a big fan of this because she loves fresh flavours.
The prawn toast here is one of General Chao's signature dishes. They arrived on a wooden rack and accompanied by spicy XO mayonnaise. This was not your average prawn toast – the sourdough slice was halved with prawn paste in between. It was crispy and tasty by themselves but when we spread the addictive XO sauce on top, it got lifted to new taste sensation.
Bo Ssam (Honey glazed Char Siu pork, kimchi & pear salsa, lettuce and perilla leaf)
Next dish was honey glazed Char Siu. It was superbly tender without being too fatty, it was served with radish kimchi and pear salsa, wrapped by a perilla leaf. I quite enjoyed this dish, but the kimchi was slightly overpowering and took the shine away from the Char Siu pork.
Balmain Bugs (House made fish cake, prawn ravioli and Shanghai noodles in a creamy laksa)
Head Chef Son Sewoo aims to surprise and excite diners by giving well-known dish an innovative twist and he certainly does it well.
It was a laksa bowl filled with many surprises. A crispy thin papadum was used as a lid to hide the juicy balmain bug, house-made fish cake, a giant prawn ravioli and Shanghai noodles in an aromatic creamy laksa broth. It was a dish with strong flavours.
Bulgogi Wagyu Flank (Miso cabbage purée and baby king brown mushrooms)
The Bulgogi Wagyu Beef was the last main to arrive. The beef was thinly sliced it does not have an overpowering Bulgogi flavour. It was served with miso cabbage puree and baby king brown mushroom. It was a perfect combination of taste and tenderness.
They paired the dish with Church Road Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon from Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. A great glass of red from old wineries. It has delicate, yet full-bodied characters of purple fruits and dark cherries.
Lychee crème brûlée & Petit Fours (Macaron, fortune cookie, pate de fruit)
To finish off our prosperity meal with a sweet treat, we tried their Lychee Creme Brulee and Petit Fours. The creme brulee was lovely with strong lychee scent. However, everyone's attention was on the fortune cookies.
We all received our good fortunes and it was a brilliant dinner. We enjoyed the festive hospitality and we certainly received all the good wishes to be prosperous in the year of rat.
General Chao is also hosting another "Lucky Chatty" Lunar New Year Dinner session with Adam Liaw on Wednesday 5 February 2020. If you'd like to feast on a celebratory menu of auspicious and creative dishes specially designed by Adam and Son Sewoo, Executive Chef of General Chao, please place your booking here. Seats are limited.