Chinese Banquets in Cebu
Dr. Nestor Alonso II (The Freeman) - June 7, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — I’ve spent a month to view two new videos on Chinese food. “Destination Flavour: China” is one, with Adam Liaw exploring China’s history through its food. The video cites eight culinary traditions in China: Hunan, Sichuan, Fujian, Zhejiang, Anhui, Jiangsu and Shandong and Liaw visited the provinces where these cuisines originate. Guangdong and Hong Kong are each home to Cantonese culture and their food has dominated the Western idea of China.

The other video is Netflix’s “Flavorful Origins of the Food” in Chaoshan region, home of the Teochew (Chiuchow) people of eastern Guangdong. It’s a series of 20 episodes of instructional videos on ingredients and dishes including olives, galangal and the Yusheng ceremony (Chinese New Year). These videos have confirmed my knowledge that Cantonese cuisine is still the best of China’s eight regional cuisines.

According to a cliché: “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” Local mainline and online journalists were recently invited by Marco Polo Plaza Cebu’s Hai Shine Lou Seafood King Authentic Cantonese Restaurant. The restaurant has three Hong Kong chefs – Executive Chef King Kwong Chan (roasting chef), Chef Raymond Hui (wok chef) and Chef Wong Hon Chau (dim sum chef). The chefs cook those Cantonese specialties of China and these are now available in Cebu in a fine dining restaurant with seats for 200 persons.

The Cold Cuts Combination: Century Eggs, White Chicken and Pig Knuckles were served, followed by Sweet Corn with Crab Meat Soup. These are classic Cantonese dishes and are all available at a Dim Sum Lunch Party and where guests can eat all the dim sum dishes from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Three dishes then followed: Roasted Duck, Oil Simmered Silver Pomfret and Peking Prawn. Silver Pomfret (Trachinotus baillonii) is also known as pompano, talakitok (Tagalog) or Uruk (Cebuano) is now the more popular fish served in the better restaurants in Cebu. It is often steamed with salted black beans but the Hai Shin Lou chefs decided on oil-simmering the fish. The fish was live just moments earlier and the taste was wonderful with its crisp texture.

The Roasted Duck is a classic and it is my favorite.

All these dishes are found in Chinese Banquets 2019 Menu Spring Sonata, Summer Embrace and Winter Waltz, served Lauriat or Family Style. The advantage of grouping of these dishes in Sets A or B is that there is ease in selecting dishes for the celebration of weddings, family bonding or corporate events.

There are set rules, excuse me, in the selection of the main dishes, ingredients or the cooking techniques for a Chinese banquet. You cannot have steamed chicken as appetizer, a chicken soup then fried chicken as main dish. Neither can you have fried fish followed by fried pork then fried chicken as the main dishes. You cannot order a seven-course vegetarian meal, and a sweet soup served first unless it is a meal after a funeral.

Fried Rice with Dried Olive Leaf, Beef with Taiwan Pechay and Abalone Mushroom and Vegetables were then served. You could also order these dishes in Hai Shin Lou’s Lunch Break Specials with their curated set menu, good for two to six persons.

Dessert was the Iced Mango Sago.

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