"Er...what about the usual places in Hurstville or Beverly Hills?" I asked my parents.
"It's time to try something new!" Said my mother.
And that was that. Off we went to Gold Treasure Chinese Seafood Restaurant, located within the depths of the Granville RSL club.
The occasion we were celebrating was my grandfather's 74th birthday, and my mother had rung ahead to put in our orders for the very special Buddha Jumps Over the Wall (fo tiao qiang) soup. Described as "da bu" (highly nutritious) by the Chinese, the ingredients most typically found in the soup inclue shark fin, abalone, chicken, ham, sea cucumber, and ginseng. Not exactly your old chicken broth, eh? Apparently, the most expensive rendition can be found in some restaurant in London, at £108 per serve.
Ours wasn't quite that expensive, but it did look like it had quite a few expensive ingredients packed inside. I identified fish tripe (an all-time favourite offal of mine), abalone, shark fin, sea cucumber, and a lot of chicken pieces. The broth was rich and flavourful, and was an appropriate starter to a night of indulgent delicacies.
Digging through the bowl to find all the ingredients felt like treasure-hunting!
My sisters always insist on ordering the ru ge (baby pigeon) whenever we see it on the menu. A plate of two pigeons, the skins a burnished bronze and the plump flesh bursting with juices, soon followed the starter soup. They are accompanied by a dish of soy sauce, and another of salt and seasoning. Our visual appraisal proved to be accurate; the birds were indeed tender and succulent, and the thin layer of semi-melted fat beneath the crispy skin was absolutely addictive.
The delicacies continued with this next dish: braised sea cucumber and mushroom.
Sea cucumbers are an acquired taste, methinks. My dad detests the gelatinous, rubbery texture, while I absolutely adore it. The sauce was a bit gluggy (too heavy-handed on the corn starch, perhaps), but we all liked the shrimp meat-stuffed mushroom. And the presentation was...interesting ;P
The lobster sashimi turned out to be of the pink-fleshed variety, which is said to be of an inferior quality to the white, pearlescent one. And it tasted it too, with a rather wet and stringy mouthfeel compared to the firmer texture of the white-fleshed species.
You can see the pink flesh beneath the pile of ice on top.
The lobster was served two ways; our second lobster course came with noodles and was cooked in a garlic sauce. Tasty! Wish there'd been more noodles, though.
Time for some greens! The stir-fried abalone with snow peas came with a pungent shrimp paste, which again is an acquired taste. I happen to like smelly foods (durian!), so this was right up my alley. It was a pity that the abalone was over-cooked, as they became tough as nails.
The Japanese-style tofu (a curious designation) appeared to be deep-fried silken tofu doused in a sweet and sour chilli sauce, with tiny balls of shrimp meat. I really liked this one!
Our final savoury dish was the Zhe Jiang-style (Dongpo) pork. Except maybe I misheard, because our pork was deep-fried and had a sweet and sour flavour. And I think Dongpo pork is meant to be a thick, fatty piece of pork steamed and braised. Never mind, it was still delicious, and I couldn't help but go back for seconds and thirds.
As is always the case with dining at a Chinese restaurant, we were beyond stuffed somewhere in the middle of the savoury dishes. But since dessert is almost always complimentary, and usually very good, we never mind stretching our stomachs just that littlest bit more. A plate of fresh fruits and another of those delectable lardy cookies were brought over after our table was cleared. Along with bowls of sweet red bean soup.
And, of course, there was the birthday cake I made for my grandpa, which you can read all about in my previous post.
Golden Treasure Chinese Seafood Restaurant
Granville RSL Club, 5 Memorial Drive, Granville NSW.
Phone: (02) 9637 8899