[Golden Peony] Year of the Dog Prosperity Menu: You got me at Suckling Pig with Shanghainese Sticky Rice

The time of the year for unapologetic feasting of Pineapple Tarts, Bak Kwa, Prawn Rolls and all the other traditional Nonya biscuits is almost here. But before that – the annual reunion dinner. The entire family crowding over a table of scrumptious dishes, catching up on the lives on one another. Traditionally, the females in the family would spend the entire day cooking up the annual feast. But if that is too much work to fanthom, the Golden Peony at Conrad Centennial offers a reunion dinner set menu for those who prefer ushering in the Lunar New Year without all the cooking and washing - minimal fuss.

Symbolizing prosperity and abundance, a reunion dinner can only be considered one with the mandatory Lo-Hei. The creative chefs at Golden Peony have designed the Yu Sheng in the shape of various breeds of dogs,  successfully aligning the appearance of their Yu Sheng with the Lunar calendar. The most interesting part of the Yu Sheng has got to be the addition of Bedford Scallop and Fish Skin. Growing up, fighting over the little “golden pillows” in the Yu Sheng with my cousins was my favourite thing to do during the Lunar New Year. With the addition of the fish skin now, the enjoyment of that crisp goodness is now doubled. 

Start your meal with the Double-boiled Cordyceps Flower Soup. Served in a young whole coconut, the soup was very sweet, light and refreshing. Despite using a black chicken as a base, the soup was not oily. The black chicken used for the soup was then made into a small chicken ball. Unlike anything I’ve seen or tasted before, I could not quite grasp the flavour that the chef intended to showcase to diners. The chicken ball did not have a strong chicken flavour or texture and I did not enjoy the combination of the gelatin with the chicken meat used. The soup comes with a serve of Obsiblue Prawn (one which has a blue shell instead of the usual grey ones). While I enjoyed how the prawn was firmer than the usual suspects, I would have appreciated it better if the prawns were deveined before they were served. 

The Stir-fried Half Lobster was presented beautifully, the Lobster head was deep fried to golden brown, the Lobster meat was deshelled, stir-fried and then carefully plated within its shell. The Lobster was cooked perfectly and had a slight bite to it without being too chewy or mushy. Despite being topped with XO Chili, the natural sweetness and fragrance of the Lobster managed to shine through and was not overpowering.

The 8-treasures duck was a real party starter (literally, lighting up the entire place). Initially enclosed in a pastry, the entire pastry was doused in alcohol and then set ablaze. Cracking open the pastry revealed an entire duck which was seemingly soaked in the goodness of the 8 treasures used inside. While the 8 secret ingredients were not revealed, the sweetness of the wolfberry was apparent. Unfortunately, the essence from the ingredients only coated the surface of the duck. The meat on the inside, bland and insipid. 

The Braised Australian Abalone in Japanese Beancurd was the most anticipated dish of the night and it should be, in all its rights. Fresh prawns wrapped in Japanese Beancurd, topped with Abalone and Black Moss, drizzled over with a rich, flavourful sauce and presented with a beautifully crafted vegetable flower – there is nothing more to ask for. The Abalone was fresh and thoroughly cleansed and the Japanese Beancurd soaked in the goodness of the sauce. The combination of all the ingredients was a melody and while it felt sinful savouring all these expensive ingredients at once, it evoked immensely satisfying feelings.

Golden Peony has a tradition of spicing up the Suckling Pig with their own unique filling. Having experimented with Hainanese Chicken Rice and Sushi in the previous years, they’ve moved onto the Shanghainese Sticky Rice this year. Truthfully, the Shanghainese Sticky Rice tastes extremely similar to the usual Glutinous Rice, except with a much lighter dried shrimp flavour. While dough fritters intended to bring crunch to the dish, they were frightfully soggy from the moisture of the Sticky Rice. Nonetheless, Sticky Rice and Suckling Pig, great combination; the execution though was lacklustre.

A reunion dinner is never complete without dessert, and I have to applaud Golden Peony on their rendition. Japanese Sweet Potato Puree is served in a glass bowl, surrounded by a bed of pink sugar, topped with a crispy Jujube Pastry shaped in a  beautiful lotus shape and flanked by the ubiquitous fried Nian Gao with Sweet Potato and Taro. It was almost too beautiful to be eaten. Easily mistaken as Bubur Cha Cha, the chef took special care to remind us that the purplish liquid in front of us was a Sweet Potato Puree. Indeed, unlike the heaviness of the Bubur Cha Cha, this one was very light and refreshing. However, there was little essence of the sweet potato used. The fried Nian Gao was suitably sweet and not too oily. As a fan of the Japanese mochi, I really enjoyed how the Nian Gao was especially chewy, which faintly reminded of me the mochi. Unfortunately, the Jujube Pastry was oily and reeked of grease. I barely had enough bites to appreciate the filling in it. What a pity.

Overall, while there are some hits and misses, I enjoyed the Double-boiled Soup and Braised Abalone the most. Coupled with the ambiance and service, Golden Peony is a worthy choice for consideration for reunion dinners and its likes.

Golden Peony
2 Temasek Blvd
Conrad Centennial Hotel Level 3

Operating Hours:
Mon - Sat: 11 30am - 2 30pm; 6 30 - 10 30pm
Sun: 10 30am - 2 30pm; 6 30 - 10 30pm

Words and photos by Belinda Yong who wishes that every time of the day is food o' clock. She loves trying new cuisines and creations,  and prays hard for a higher metabolism.

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