My grandparents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in the weekend. A banquet was held at Grand Park Chinese Seafood Restaurant in Auckland. I stole one of the menus that was displayed on each table, and if any of the dish names seem a bit weird, well, I copied them directly from the menu.
First dish out was Grand Pork BBQ and Suckling Pig Mixed Platter.
Jellyfish was part of the platter. I love jellyfish. It doesn't have much flavour, apart from the sauce that it is generally dressed in (normally sesame oil, soy sauce and sometimes chilli), but the texture is great. It's crunchy but soft.
The pork crackling was very crispy. I love crunching through the skin to be met with the fat underneath. Mhmm. Next to the pork on this plate is some roast beef.
Next was Stirred Scallop with Macadamia Nuts. There was no skimping on the nuts in this dish. Truthfully, I found them a bit weird. I like macadamia nuts, I just wasn't sure about them stir fried with scallops and vegetables. The crispy noodle nests were good fun though. They tasted just like uncooked 2 minute noodles!
These were the Deep Fried Golden Prawn Balls. It's hard to go wrong with deep fried food, but they could've used a bit more oomph. More seasoning, or some spices perhaps.
Next we had a bowl of Shark Fin Soup with Shredded Chicken. The red stuff is vinegar. Shark fin itself doesn't have much taste - like jellyfish it's about the texture. This soup was a disappointment as there wasn't much flavour.
After the soup came the Lobster in Superior Sauce (I don't know what made the sauce so superior!). This was a large lobster - and there was one for each table! My Bro ate half of it by himself as he was the only one willing to get messy and crack the legs.
This dish was Steamed Marinated Chicken, eaten with a dipping sauce of oil, ginger and spring onion. Hoorah for the chicken head!
The Steamed Live Blue Cod Fish was U-G-L-Y. Not sure what they meant by "live" but the flesh was soft and delicious. There's a word in Cantonese that is used to describe the texture of food - the closest translation I can think of is silky. The fish was silky.
By the way, if you ever get presented with a fish like this, try eating the flesh from the cheeks. It's very soft and delicate. Since no one else on the table looked interested, I ate one cheek and gave the other to Alastair.
The Fish Maw and Chinese Mushrooms on seasonal vegetables was interesting. The abalone (paua!) in the middle was thinly sliced but slightly chewy. It had a stronger flavour than I normally associate with abalone. The interesting part about this dish was the fish maw (it's the whitish stuff you can see). Fish maw is the gas bladder that helps fish control buoyancy. When eating it I was struck by the gelatinous texture and then the fattiness. It didn't taste fishy at all - just fatty. Really fatty. Ick.
Two further dishes came out before cake and dessert. The last two dishes were fried rice and long life noodles. I didn't bother taking photos of them because they were just fried rice and noodles. Everyone was so full at this stage that they were barely touched.
Dessert was Red Bean soup. I wasn't that enamoured. It needed more sugar and they used dried orange peel when cooking it. I find the dried peel too overpowering. My mum makes good red bean soup. She's shown me how to make it, and the last time I tried, I mistook kidney beans for red beans (I don't know where my head was at - they're completely different!). I think I ended up making a bit pot of chilli instead.
And finally, we were served Long Life Buns. These steamed buns are shaped and tinted like a peach.
Inside the soft buns was lotus paste and salted egg yolk. Love the contrast of the salty egg yolk with the sweet lotus paste. I didn't think I could eat any more but I managed two because they were delicious.
It was such a pleasure to be there while my grandparents celebrated their years of marriage. Maybe one day Alastair and I will celebrate our 60th wedding anniversary (if we're long lived enough!). What a lovely thought.
Grand Park Chinese Seafood Restaurant
Cnr Manukau Road & Greenlane East, Alexandra Raceway (Gate B)
Phone: + 64 9 638 6998