Whopping Good Time At Wo Peng Cantonese Cuisine 和平宴!

I was pretty excited about the media invite on 7th January 2016 to taste Chef Julian Tam’s Chinese New Year offerings. I have seen some promotions of Wo Peng on Groupon deals and they were always sold out. This was a great chance for me to get acquainted with some of Chef Tam’s signature dishes as well as some bloggers and foodie instagrammers.

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Wo Peng Cuisine @ Furama City Centre.
Helmed by Platinum Award-winning Chef Julian Tam Kwok Fai from Hong Kong.

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We were served the standard Chinese Tea but when May offered us Snow Chrysanthemum, Mark and I chorused, “Got special tea, of course we drink that lor!” Giggles…

According to the Teasenz, this is not only a tasty beverage, but a healthy one too:

A ‘heavenly’ rare flower tea that is grown only in the Kunlun mountains, where slow flower growth results in a delicious flower taste with notes of caramel and dark red tea liquor. Snow Chrysanthemum flower tea contains high amounts of amino acids and proteins, which are beneficial to your health by lowering blood sugar, reducing high cholesterol, and preventing heart diseases.

In 2011, Snow Chrysanthemum flower tea prices suddenly increased to over 3000 USD per KG due to high demand while supply fell short.

Snow Chrysanthemum Tea Origin
Snow daisy is produced in the alpine region of the Kunlun Mountains in Xinjiang. This flower tea mainly grows at high altitudes on the cliffs and only blooms once a year in August. Snow chrysanthemum tea is rare because it only has a very short blooming season and a very small yield. It’s the only wild Chrysanthemum in the world that grows at high altitudes. This makes this tea really hard to pick, because farmers have to go up the mountains during the harvest season. Thus, it’s pricey but definitely worth all the health benefits that you can enjoy while sipping a cup of this flower.

Health Benefits of the Snow Chrysanthemum Flower
Due to 18 kinds amino acids (and 15 kinds of trace elements), researchers claim that it can prevent high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, coronary heart diseases, inflammation, colds, and insomnia when consumed in form of tea. Wild Kunlun snow daisy has been passed down from generation to generation as a Uighur medicinal herbal flower tea.

How to Brew Xue Ju Hua Cha
Use water with low hardness and steep this flower tea at boiling temperature. A transparent glass or teapot would be the best to observe the flowers and tea liquor. The tea is ready when the liquor color turns slightly red (I think *deep orange or saffron is a accurate description). Compared to most flower teas, this Snow Chrysanthemum tea can be steeped for many brews, while maintaining its intense mellow sweet taste. To preserve the taste and aroma, store it in a dry and clean place.

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Snow Chrysanthemum, known in Chinese as 雪菊, 蛇目菊 or 昆仑雪菊 among other names, is the Sanvitalia procumbens plant.
The Snow Chrysanthemum Flower Tea has no caffeine and the properties within the flowers are said to have calming effect and aid sleep.
In the Traditional Chinese Materia Medica Snow Chrysanthemum is described as aiding respiratory fitness, regulating blood pressure and preventing cancer.
Regardless of any health claims which I didn’t know until researching for this post, I did enjoy the “honeysuckle” aroma and soothing mellow taste.

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*I think rich saffron colour is a more accurate description for this flower tea’s colour. The red colour tea behind is a “standard” Chinese tea.
The two pairs of chopsticks are not due to Michelin Star rating but one pair is for… Yu Sheng!

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Since we are tasting Wo Peng’s CNY offerings, the first dish that was served was of course, their Fa Cai Yu Sheng!

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While these Flour Crackers are quite the norm that goes into the Yu Sheng as one of the secondary ingredients before the great toss…

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Crispy deep-fried Fish Skins are fast catching up during the last few years!

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There has been recent scare of raw fish poisoning and some of the bloggers were talking about it.
May overheard and let us on that these are not real salmon.
She further informed that these Mock Salmon fillet were product made specially for the Japanese vegetarian community.
Mark ate and exclaimed, “Wow! These are scarily real in texture and taste!”

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Together with the sweet Plum Sauce (on left next to the mock salmon), our Lo Hei began!

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Lo Hei (撈起) is a term for eating Yu Sheng.

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This auspicious plate of rainbow coloured Yu Sheng 七彩魚生 looked good and tasted even better after we have tossed it enthusiastically to good heights.

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Double-boiled Superior Chicken Soup with Almond Juice; dried scallops, bamboo pith, gingko nuts, goji berries.
If you are familiar with the components of traditional Chinese cooking, you will notice the nutritious and hearty elements this concoction holds!

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Sautéed “Peach Resin” with Egg White and Green Vegetables.

I did a double take when reading “Peach Resin”. Mark asked, “Isn’t resin a kind of plastic material or sap of tree???”

Peach resin also known as “peach blossom tears” is peach tree’s secretion of resin or amber-coloured gum. Apparently, it is a common Chinese “medicinal” ingredient said to be rich in amino acids, collagen, galactose, rhamnose,  etc… etc… The Chinese believes that peach resin has blood lipid, and thus consuming it can relieve stress. I don’t know how long this peach resin has been used in Cantonese or for that matter Chinese cuisine, but this is the first time I have heard and tasted it so to me, at least, herein lies the modernity Chef Julian is incorporating something “new” in his traditional menu!

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Steamed Wild Cod Fish Fillet accompanied with deep-fried cod fish head and fish tail with superior soya sauce in Hong Kong style 鸳鸯蒸鳕鱼.

Did the menu say cod fish? I have never seen a whole cod fish served. We usually have fillet or steaks since the cod (银鳕鱼) is huge! The texture of this wild cod was firmer than expected without the silky smooth bias similar to that of a gindara I had foolishly assumed. The flesh tasted very much like that of a big garoupa’s (斑鱼), firm and slightly coarse, but not in an unpleasant way. You may not be familiar but an “authentic” Chinese diner would know that a whole fish must be served with together with its head and tail intact! The person who eats the head will also eat the tail so that everything s/he does has head and tail (有头有尾), a Chinese idiom meaning “I started, so I’ll finish; to carry something through to the end; no loose ends, has conclusion.”

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Le Master Chef and I playing “shoot out” while we were waiting to be served his specialty – Poon Choi!
After taking a few shots at each other, he graciously allowed me to win, saying, “Okay, okay, I give up!”

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Another must-have Chinese New Year dish is the Poon Choi 盆菜, literally basin cuisine.
That’s May portioning out the premium ingredients from Chef Jullian’s signature dish Poon Choi.

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What’s in this bowl?
Starting clockwise at 12 o’clock: Abalone, Prawn, Mushroom, Pork and Black Moss Seaweed (Fatt Choy), Fish Maw, Broccoli, Sea Cucumber, Dried Oyster and Dried Scallop was under the fish maw.

The first helping of Poon Choi consisted the top layers of prized ingredients as shown in the photo above. After eating those, we probed the pot and discovered roasted pork, pig’s skin, daikon, nappa cabbage, dried shrimps, etc… etc… which, although are pedestrian ingredients, they played a crucial role in overall flavour enhancement, sealing the basin cuisine with a crescendo of umami notes. By then, I was yearning for steamed rice to slurp up the delectable gravy.

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This is the real McCoy of a Poon Choi dish if you know what I mean!
Some impatient diners will use their chopsticks to plough into the base for the daikon instead of waiting for the layers to be eaten.

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Smoke Roasted Duck with Rice, Tea Leaves and Camphor Wood 樟茶熏烤鸭.

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The duck’s delicate crisp skin with tender juicy morsels made me forget to dip it in plum or hoisin sauce… Were there any in the first place?

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Wok-fried Glutinous Rice with Assorted Chinese Waxed Meats 糯米饭.
Glutinous rice is also known as sticky rice but a good wok-fried sticky rice shouldn’t stick to your teeth or worse still, grandma’s dentures! Lol… 😉
The grains were well lubricated making it “liap liap” or fluffy in dialect, retaining soft yet chewy texture.
This rice dish boasted of wok hei combined with the smoky savouriness of preserved meats.

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Steamed Salted Egg Yolk Custard Buns aka Liu Sar Bao.

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Liu Sar Bao is the new chocolate molten lava cake!
How not too get fat???

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Before this shot, we were fighting who would stand in front when I told him I was hiding my fat tummy after this feast behind his svelte frame, Chef Tam burst into laughter.

Master Chef Julian Tam is a culinary master in Hong Kong-style cuisine. He began his career at the tender of of 17 which he later embark on a 9-year apprenticeship programme in a renowned culinary school in Canada. He has worked at Hong Kong’s esteemed Kowloon Club and illustrious Yung Kee Restaurant during the 80’s and moved back to Canada in 1989. He is currently based in Singapore running two restaurants Wo Peng Cuisine Furama and Wo Peng Cantonese @ myVillage.

“At Wo Peng, our philosophy is simple. We cook with love, joy and harmony.”

Chef Tam is the man behind Wo Peng Cuisine. He is also the first to introduce the famous traditional festivity “Hong Kong Wei Cun Poon Choy” dish into Singapore’s food scene as well as making it available daily his restaurants’ menu. The Poon Choi was definitely a crowd pleaser and if you aren’t planning on cooking during this CNY, you might just want to check out Wo Peng’s value-for-money CNY take-outs!

CNY Set Menu for Take Out:
$298 for 5 pax or $528 for 10 pax includes four dishes:
Wo Peng Poon Choy Braised Australian Abalone w/ Dried Assorted Seafood in Casserole
Prosperity Crispy Fish Skin, Vegetarian Salmon Yu Sheng
Wok-Fried Glutinous Rice w/ Assorted Chinese Sausages
Deep-Fried Red Bean Pan Cake

Poon Choy for Take Out (FREE STAINLESS STEEL TREASURE POT!)
$228 for 5 pax (Usual Price $298)
OR
$428 for 10 pax (Usual Price $568)

What I liked best from this tasting were the Yu Sheng sans the mock salmon. I’ll definitely use sashimi grade fish or canned abalone to top up to their freshly prepared crisp rainbow salad. The next dish, which is also what everyone at the table agree, was the Poon Choi – strip-teasing our tongues. The next dish I enjoyed was the Superior Chicken Soup with Almond, simple yet steeped in robust flavours! The least favourite of the banquet was the Liu Sar Bao – I don’t know if our photography had taken too much time, the luke warm baozi had become a little harden and the salted egg yolk custard didn’t quite match up to those I have had in other establishments. That said, the amicable Chef Julian, the impeccable wait staff and May, the trendy bloggers at my table together with reliable Mark, my makan partner for the night, were such good spots I had a Whopping Good Time At Wo Peng Cantonese Cuisine 和平宴! Thanks to Hazel Hearts for the invite!

Wo Peng Cuisine @ Furama City Centre
Address: 60 Eu Tong Sen St,
Singapore 059804.

Tel: (+65) 6534 2282

Operating hours: Daily
Lunch: 11.30am – 2.30pm
Dinner: 6pm – 10.30pm

Wo Peng Cantonese @ My Village At Serangoon Garden
Address: #02-01, 1 Maju Avenue,
Singapore 556679.

Tel: (+65) 6634 7666

Operating hours: Daily
Lunch: 11am – 2.30pm
Dinner: 6pm – 10.30pm

Happy eating and bonding 🙂

Info credit for Snow Chrysanthmum Flower Tea, Teasenz:
http://www.teasenz.com/snow-chrysanthemum-flower-tea#.Vpm2e1N96gR

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