Everything happens in threes, right? It was a hattrick of back-to-back dinners for Chinese New Year feasting recently, culiminating in a ten-course banquet for media at Kam Fook in Bondi Junction. It sits on the top floor at Westfield, above the food court, with large windows letting in plenty of natural light.
Suckling pig and jellyfish cold meats platter
The cold meat platter is a traditional start to any celebration, especially wedding banquets. Our waiter uses a small serving table to dish out individual portions for guests.
Suckling pig and jellyfish cold meats platter
No, you can never have too much suckling pig. This one is commendably good, the crackling an even golden colour with small and uniform bubbling. It splinters with a loud crack in the mouth, giving way to juicy young pork ribboned with fat. The jellyfish is cool and toothsome, and provides some relief against the richness of the pork.
Serving the snow crab
Snow crab with ginger and shallot Menu price $88/kg
There is no way to eat crab elegantly, but rolling up your sleeves and wielding a nutcracker with a gleam in your eye has its own charm as well. The snow crab has a finer texture than mud crab, with a softer and more delicate flavour. It's stir fried with ginger and shallots, and the orange crab roe in the main shell is worth extricating.
Mixed seafood soup supreme
We're assured that the mixed seafood soup supreme contains vegetarian shark's fin, and indeed the clear threads do seem a little too uniform and firm to be the genuine article. It tastes more like a crunchy green bean noodle, in a heady broth filled with slivers of mushroom, dried scallop and sea cucumber.
It is interesting to note that although there are four types of shark's fin soup listed on the menu, a vegetarian option is not offered.
The entire restaurant is treated to a lion dance performance, always an impressive display of acrobatics, showmanship and rhythmic drumming.
Lion dance musicians
The lion 'plucking the greens' or 'cai ching', a lettuce holding a lucky red envelope
Central to the performance is cai ching, or plucking the greens, where the lion must reach a lettuce holding a lucky red envelope of money. The lion always 'eats' the lettuce and then sprays out small pieces of it all over the crowd.
The lion takes its time to visit most tables, much to the delight of everyone. At our table, the lion even stops to help pour a glass of red wine!
Beef cube stir fry with goose liver Menu price $28.80
The beef cube stir fry is tender, mixed through with small cubes of rich goose liver. Lengths of asparagus and sugar snap peas provide crunch.
Roast goose Menu price $88 whole goose (must be ordered in advance)
The glazed crispy skin, the juicy flesh and the tantalising flavour of star anise combine to make this a glazed-eye spine-tingling food lovers' moment. It tastes much like a duck crossed with quail, but it's the succulent meat and the toffee crisp skin that has our eyes rolling to the back of our head.
Alan Yeung, the General Manager, tells us that goose supplies have improved significantly in the past three years. Unlike Hong Kong, where goose is commonly eaten, Australians are only just discovering the joys of goose, in part because goose used to be old, tough and chewy. A raw goose costs $42 (raw duck costs $17) so the $88 diners' price tag seems more than reasonable.
Pan fried minced pork and pumpkin cakes Menu price $20.80
Pan fried minced pork and pumpkin cakes are on the specials menu, but these remind me of a home-cooked dish, more like pork rissoles with the sweetness of pumpkin and shallots.
Kam Fook special roast chicken Menu price $22.80
The Kam Fook special roast chicken can't compete with the roast goose, but the skin is still delightfully crisp, smothered in a layer of deep-fried garlic chips.
Fried rice in lotus leaf
We're struggling by the time we reach the fried rice in lotus leaf, a touch soggy in consistency from the steaming in lotus leaf, and confusing my mind because I kept expecting sticky rice, not long grain rice with every mouthful.
Stewed egg noodles in abalone sauce
The simple appearance of stewed egg noodles in abalone sauce belies the expertise of cooking the perfect al dente noodle, subtly flavoured with abalone. We also relish the fresh stalks of gai lan Chinese broccoli, bright green and crunchy.
Head chef Liew Boon Dee
"Would you like a tour of kitchen?" We can barely get out of our chairs fast enough!
The kitchen is bigger than you'd expect, although much of the space is devoted to prep areas. A gleaming commercial stove runs the length of one wall, and as we're coming to the end of the service, the mood is relatively calm.
Prep station and bamboo steamers for yum cha
Hanging roast ducks and suckling pig
My attention is immediately drawn to the back of the room, where roast ducks and a whole suckling pig are hanging from the ceiling.
Roast chickens and the 'spaceship' roasting oven
This back corner is the barbecue section, including a special roasting oven affectionately known as the 'spaceship'. It's in here that the chickens, ducks and geese are roasted.
The barbecue chopping station
Complimentary peanut biscuits, laughing sesame balls and fruit platter
Dessert? You bet we did. Fresh fruit, biscuits and bowls of sweet red bean soup filled with chewy glutinous rice dumplings.
Complimentary red bean soup with glutinous rice dumplings
Grab Your Fork dined as a guest of Kam Fook Bondi Junction.
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Kam Fook Bondi Junction
Shop 6010, Level 6 Westfield Shopping Centre
100 Oxford Street, Bondi Junction, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9386 9889
Yum cha 7 days 10am-3pm
Dinner 7 days 6pm-10.30pm
Kam Fook Chatswood
Shop 600, Level 6 Westfield Shoppingtown
28 Victor Street, Chatswood, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9413 9388
Kam Fook Doncaster (VIC)
Shop 2003, Level 2
619 Doncaster Road, Doncaster, Melbourne
Tel: +61 (03) 9005 1888
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Bondi Junction - Kelly's Bar and Grill
Bondi - Hurricane's Grill
Bondi - North Bondi Italian Food
Chinese - Golden Century, Haymarket
Chinese - The Eight, Haymarket
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1/27/2012 02:43:00 am