In many Asian communities around the world, one of the most important event celebrated would have to be Chinese New Year (or Lunar New Year). Food is one of the important aspects when celebrating Chinese New Year and this year I had the opportunity to try the Chinese New Year menu at XO with a bunch of foodie friends.
The Chinese New Year share menu consists of 8 courses and costs $88 per person.
The dinner begins with a Yee Sang salad which consisted of mixed vegetables, scallop, ruby grapefruit, caramelised cashew nuts, plum sauce and a packet of lucky seasoning powder on the side. The plum sauce and seasoning powder is added at the table and everyone would get their chopsticks and toss the salad as high as you can manage. Tradition says the higher you toss the more prosperous you will become in the new year.
The next dish served was the Steamed Dumplings. These dumplings have a pork and prawn filling and is dressed with a spicy soy vinaigrette.
I was highly anticipated for the next dish because I had seen several photos of it on Instagram days before dining at XO. The dish is called Quick Fried Milk and is a very retro Cantonese style dish. In Canberra I think this is the first time I had actually seen it on a menu. This dish is usually hard to execute because of the high liquid content of the milk and egg whites. The moment it leaves the wok and reaches the table, the dish can become very watery and unappealing. However at XO, they executed the dish well and the end result was very delicious. Besides the egg white and milk, there was also blue swimmer crab meat, lumpfish caviar, finger lime and crispy scallop floss.
I was intrigued when I saw Strange Flavour Eggplant on the menu as this dishes usually made with chicken. The eggplant dish was served prawn crackers which we used as a vessel to hold the eggplant like an asian version of melba toast. The eggplant borrowed many flavour profiles such as the pickled mustard and szechuan peppercorn. Some of my foodie friends didn’t like this dish. New however loved it because of the szechuan elements. Yes I love the numbing sensation from the szechuan peppercorns.
Before we commenced the Chinese New Year feast, we all agreed to insert one more dish into their 8 course meal. This dish being a favourite among my foodie friends was the Vanilla Stracciatella. The main component of the dish was the vanella stracciatella which is the fresh cheese curds found inside burrata. This fresh cheese dressed with a tomato nam jim sauce, Granny Smith apples, peanuts and crispy dried shrimps. In every bite there is an explosion of flavours which work very well together. The creaminess of the cheese, the crunch of the Granny Smith and the spicy/ sourness of the nam jim dressing.
The next dish was described as the Phoenix of the feast. In the form of White Cut Chicken. This is served with a ginger and scallion pesto. The chicken was poached to perfection, very tender and juicy as well. This dish was served with steamed rice which reminded me of th home cooked meal from mum. The ginger and scallion pesto was very addictive and I can probably eat bowls of rice with just the pesto alone.
After the Phoenix, comes the dragon of the feast. We were told by the waiter that the dragon is represented in the form of a fish because they both had scales on the body. The dish was called S & S Fish. This was a nice take on the traditional sweet and sour pork dish which can be found in nearly every chinese restaurant. The pieces of silver dory was cooked to perfection and together with the sweet and sour tomato sauce was very nice. The addition of the fried dill made the dish less sweet, which I found was nice.
The final savoury dish was the Longevity Noodles, this was a cold ramen with jellyfish and picketed seaweed served in a shiitake dashi with bonito flakes. This was a very refreshing dish to end all the savoury dishes we had eaten. The noodles felt very Japanese because of the use of shiitake dashi and bonito flakes.
The dessert that is included in the feast was Black Sesame Pudding, which is served with a yuzu curd and milk and candied ginger ice cream. The flavour of sesame was intense, but the tartness of the yuzu curd and creaminess of the ice cream heals mellow the intense flavour.
I also ordered a Redbean Softserve because it was the first time they permanently changed flavours from crysanthemum. Besides Halloween when they released a pumpkin flavour, which I couldn’t try because of work commitments. The softserve had a very subtle redbean flavour and when compared with the crysanthemum one, I would prefer the crysanthemum one more.
If you wanted to give the Chinese New Year feast a try you’ve got until the 11th February.
Address: 16 Iluka Street, Narrabundah, ACT 2604
Lunch: Tuesday to Saturday 12pm – 3pm, Closed Sundays
Dinner: Monday to Saturday 6pm – 11pm, Closed Sundays
Phone: (02) 62959696