Chinese New Year came early this year! It landed on the 23rd of January and in China many workplaces are off for one to two weeks. It’s a huge holiday and even for us who are of Chinese descendants in Western countries celebrate it with family and friends.
Generally with any Chinese holiday there is always a huge meal. Since Ben and I are the just two peas in a pod, we figured we’d order out. It saves me time and money to go out and grocery shop for all the ingredients and making a mess at home. We noticed many restaurant ads in the local Chinese papers were offering New Year specials. Many of them involving set menus requiring at least a minimum of 6 people or more, which we couldn’t even find another 4 people to join us for. BUT! Long and behold we see an ad for something special- it’s pronounced “Poon Choi”, I personally translate it to vegetable basin if someone has a better way of translating it just let me know!
It’s mainly a large bowl shaped like a facial basin (but not an actual facial basin*) like the bucket that you use when you’re a kid to hold water and wash your face in; the chef would put a variety of cooked or stewed vegetables, shellfish, meatballs, pork, chicken, duck, and just layer it until this basin is full. Culturally, this dish is eaten by many people like around 10 or so. We didn’t really care though, for a $138.00 how much can you really get?
Overall, they claim to have at least 18 different items in this dish. We called about a day ahead to pre-order this dish, which was recommended in the ad we saw. We reserved it for 3 o’clock, which we kinda regretted doing because we thought it might be too early. It was going to be our dinner and who eat’s dinner at like 4:00 pm? As it turns out, we’re fortunate enough to have gotten there at 3 since it took a good 40 minutes or so of waiting. On one hand I wished they were punctual, but on the other I’m glad that it was going to be fresh as it could be instead of being pre-made super early and had it sit in a fridge. They also asked for an additional $20.00 deposit for the bowl that this dish is in, just in case we didn’t bring it back (totally understandable).
They also had bags of cookies for sale too, which looked really good (and tasted amazing) especially their walnut cookies.
As you can see above there lies the Poon Choi, and beside it is a container of sauce. Yup, extra sauce to spread over this dish – how very considerate of them. :)
It was so nice of them to wrap it up nicely with nice sayings on the dish.
Here it is unwrapped! It was surprisingly bigger than I thought it would be, and it was placed in a metallic bowl which was great because I put this baby on a gas burner to heat it up.
This was the best decision we ever made for Chinese New Years! This dish is a must try for anyone or family who doesn’t want to cook for Chinese New Years. It has everything that you would want such as stewed Abalone, Sea Cucumber, stewed Dried Scallops, Roasted Duck, Chicken, stewed Pork Belly, dried Oysters, stuffed Fish Balls, Taro, Daikon, Lotus Root, Shitake Mushrooms, Hairy Seaweed, Prawns, Tofu, and I know I’m missing some other things, but those are the ones that really remember. What’s really fun about this, is that it’s like hunting for treasure while you eat. Trying to see if we can discover something new after eating layers.
This dish was $138.00 + $20.00 deposit. It was absolutely worth it! I’ve had the ones from T&T Supermarket a couple of years ago and this does not compare. The ones at T&T are like $100.00 and they give you the pot that it comes in but the types of meats and vegetables are not nearly as much as what Forbidden City gives you, nor does it taste as good. I think Ben and I spent 2 hours eating this, and it lasted us for another 2 extra nights. What I love about this dish was that each meat or vegetable was cooked individually and then added to this bowl, they all had their distinct flavours and you can tell that Forbidden City did not cheap out and just put everything in a pot and let it cook together. This took a lot of time and effort and I appreciate it. It was like eating at a banquet dinner with all these individual dishes, but instead it’s condensed into one big bowl.
This is not a dish that’s always available, they only offer it for a few days for Chinese New Years. If you ever have a chance next year to order this dish, just do it! I know I will!