Disclosure: I dined courtesy of Silks, Crown and Media Moguls.
In the Chinese / lunar calendar, the mid-autumn festival is one of the most important events of the year. It’s held on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar year, when the moon is said to be at its brightest.
One of the ways the festival is celebrated is by eating mooncakes – confections / pastries made with a thin pastry skin and traditionally filled with lotus paste or red bean and often containing salted egg yolk (my favourite part and anyone who does like yolks, well you have no taste thanks bye).
This year, the mid-autumn festival falls on Thursday 19 September. In the couple of weeks leading up to it, there’s a series of events happening at Crown, including a special banquet menu available at Silks.
Silks is a Cantonese fine dining establishment located in the Crown Complex, and they recently appointed double Michelin star chef, Tsang Chiu King, from Hong Kong as Executive Chef. Last week I was invited to check out a preview of Chef Tsang’s mid-autumn festival menu with a group of other bloggers.
The banquet started with steamed scallops and vermicelli with garlic. Two large, plump scallops had been cooked with toasted garlic and were sweet and garlicky. The scallops were served on top of strands of soft vermicelli.
The next course was a soup – double boiled chicken consommé with dried scallop and mushroom. The soup was excellent, containing a pure sweetness from chicken bones. Inside the broth were squares of a crunchy, spongy fungus, dried scallop, and shiitake mushroom. Delicious.
Next we had giant coral trout enrobed in minced shrimp. The middle piece, lying on top of sweet grilled leeks, had a layer of minced prawn on the bottom and trout on the top. Dare I say… it made me think of a very high quality prawn toast?! (That is a good thing.) The rest of the prawn had been deep fried, which made the shell nicely crunchy.
The seafood continued with sautéed lobster in black bean sauce and pine nuts. This dish was light on the black bean sauce – which is good because it can be overpowering when used too much. Instead, there was just enough black bean to complement the sweetness of the lobster flesh. I really liked the pinenuts too.
Getting to the end of the meal with some meat – diced beef tenderloin with mixed mushrooms in gravy sauce. The beef was so meltingly tender. The vegetables – mushrooms, red capsicums, leeks – were quite sweet while the meat was rather salty, so there was that whole sweet/salty thing going on. It was a really nice dish though.
And finally, the last savoury course – a small bowl of fried rice. As per banquet tradition, rice is served last so you don’t fill up on it, and have space to appreciate the other courses instead.
Dessert was sweetened walnut soup. Inside the soup were glutinous rice dumplings with a black sesame filling. Yum.
And finally, for the lucky eighth course, there was slices of traditional mooncake with lotus seed paste and salted egg yolk served with Chinese tea.
The banquet isn’t a cheap meal but – being Chinese fine dining – the focus is on high quality ingredients and was quite lovely.
For more on the dinner, check out Gourmet Chick.
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Level 1, Crown Towers
8 Whiteman St, Southbank VIC 3006
Phone: (03) 9292 6888