Happy Lunar New Year and 恭喜发财 to everyone, especially my Chinese readers! Also, 财源广进 to those who are still trying their luck on BlackJack and Mahjong! Lady luck clearly isn’t on my side this year as I kept losing money to my formidable banker and only managed to recoup some losses from playing Mahjong. Fortunately all my bets were small so I didn’t lose much. Plus, everyone had fun! And I guess that’s what matters most 🙂
Ever since the passing of my Grandma, my maternal relatives had always have trouble finding a place to host family gatherings because no one likes cleaning up the mess at the end of each session (either that or cooking for a large group of people is tedious). So gatherings after 2009 were either held at my cousin-owned restaurant or the function room at my aunt’s condominium. But the labour crunch during the CNY period meant that it would be impossible to hold gatherings at these venues. So to save us from racking our brains, my uncle very kindly booked a few tables on 初二 at Gion Dining to accommodate everyone.
The Japanese restaurant, although conveniently located on the second level of Royal Plaza on Scotts (Orchard), didn’t quite draw the crowds because of Carousell Buffet on the ground floor, which serves as the main attraction for the hotel. So nobody else other than my family members walked into the restaurant the entire time, leaving the place entirely to ourselves! Shiok man!
My #ootd from Love, Bonito. Boyfriend didn’t have time to go home to change because we had an impromptu Mahjong session the night before, so he just grabbed whatever shirt he left at my place.
My adorable nephew and niece
Niece and cuzzie
One of my uncles, cuzzies and another little addition to the extended family!
My niece, also boyfriend’s new god-daughter (his all-time favourite person. Yes, he likes her more than me)
Sake. Not really a wine drinker (especially Japanese wine) so I didn’t really take much of it. But beer works for me.
It’s now time to eat! What’s a Chinese New Year dinner without first making a mess on the table with lo hei?
Look at the mountain of Salmon Sashimi..
Full view of our Yusheng. For non-Chinese, Yusheng “usually consists of strips of raw fish, mixed with shredded vegetables and a variety of sauces and condiments, among other ingredients” and it’s “often served as part of a multi-dish dinner, usually as the appetizer due to its symbolism of “good luck” for the new year.” (Wikipedia) Apparently, this CNY tradition is only applicable to the Chinese community in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Surprisingly not so in PRC, Taiwan and Hong Kong even though it originated from the Cantonese community!
Everyone at the table would “then stand up and on cue, proceed to toss the shredded ingredients into the air with chopsticks while saying various “auspicious wishes” out loud,” (Wikipedia)
That was my third Yusheng this year (you know, we Chinese really love doing things in abundance) and the one I had at Gion wasn’t the best out of all of them. Japanese-style Yusheng has always been my favourite because it usually comes with more fish (salmon) than those in Chinese restaurants and tze char. Although this came with really fresh Salmon Sashimi, they were in such big slices that they weren’t enough to go around. On top of that, the flour crisps were replaced by peanuts and bleagh, I dislike peanuts.
Miso soup was nice but nothing special.
The Chawanmushi was served hot thus I really enjoyed the smooth and firm texture (though still incomparable with my all-time favourite Chawanmushi from Itacho). If I remember correctly, there were diced chicken and artificial crabmeat. Perhaps it would appear more appetizing if it was topped with slices of Narutomaki (Japanese fish cakes with a swirl in the middle).
The Sumuono Moriawase was one of my favourites that evening. There were prawn, octopus, crab claw meat and other meat (can’t remember the rest oops) with seaweed and cucumber in sweet vinegar sauce. They were all soooo fresh!
Live oysters (shared among 6 people) was mad fresh too! Spritz some lemon juice onto it and you’re good to go! The coldness of the oyster made eating it even more enjoyable 😀
Lobster sashimi (extreme bottom left) was MY FAVOURITE. It was so fresh and sweet! This dish was shared between 2 people but there were plenty of flesh on the claws so Bf and I didn’t have to compete against each other for it hehehe.
This HUGE (I think it was as long as my arm) salmon was steamed to perfection. I’m not sure if it’s actually on the menu (or was it a special item requested by my uncle) because it tasted a lot like Seabass cooked Cantonese-style with all the sweet and savoury soy sauce. But the steamed salmon was so gooood and my jaw hung in stunned disbelief when it came. It was gigantic, I repeat, GIGANTIC.
Close-up shot of the meat to make you drool!
Tempura prawn and potato! Being a seafood lover, I’m surprised to find myself liking the potato more. It’s chewy and addictive!
Okay, this is definitely not on the menu because it was prepared by one of my aunts – broiled mushrooms and chicken feet with abalone. #aufamilycancook!
4 strips of Chicken Karaage because I forgot to take a picture of it when it was served. I don’t really like Chicken Karaage despite being a huge poultry lover because they tend to be really dry from my experience. But this was mildly juicy and very crispy! I believe this is a common item on their Groupon deals. Worth a try!
I believe this was Gyudon (beef bowl) without the rice. It was a tad dry and I don’t think we managed to finish this. Kinda expected considering the amount of food we were served that night!
These cheesecakes (I only had one slice of it anyways 😦 ) were the BEST I had tasted in my life, no joke! It was like a mixture of vanilla ice cream and fluffy cheesecake which literally melted in my mouth. IT WAS DIVINE OMG. If I didn’t have to rush off for a movie, I’d totally ask for another slice! This is highly recommended 🙂
And the sumptuous feast ended with a bowl of porridge which I felt was a um… strange arrangement? But it was alright and the watery texture reminded me a little of KFC breakfast porridge.
Let me conclude this post with a picture of Bf entertaining my bored nephew in between dishes with Clash of Clans.
All in all, the dishes served towards the end of the meal were a lot better than the entrees and appetizers. I personally think that this restaurant has potential if not for the steep prices. After reading some not-so-favourable reviews about the restaurant online, I can conclude that Gion Dining specialises more in seafood sashimi and makes better food when there is a smaller dining crowd.
Try avoiding Groupon vouchers (the dishes they typically include in their Groupon promos look awfully cheap to begin with anyway) if you can afford the regular prices and don’t dine there during the period of time when Groupon vouchers are accepted as I don’t think the restaurant, which is visibly facing a shortage of manpower, is able to handle the Groupon crowd.
So there, I’ve said my piece! Thanks for reading 🙂
Royal Plaza on Scotts
25 Scotts Road
Operating hours: Opens daily
Lunch: 11:30am to 2pm (lunch closed on Mondays)
Dinner: 5:30pm to 10pm
Contact number: 67356100
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