Nostalgic reunion traditions at Qing Palace

This Chinese New Year, Qing Palace, the award-winning Chinese restaurant at Pulai Springs Resort, is holding fast to the annual tradition of reunion feasts.

Entrance to Qing Palace at Pulai Springs Resort
Reunions are not just for families but also among friends and colleagues, who wish to celebrate this festive season together with a sumptuous meal.

I’m at Qing Palace for a media preview hosted by the resort’s general manager, Sunny Soo and the Marketing & Communications team. 

While I’m familiar with the menu here, I’m eager to check out how Master Chef Lim Ming Chong and his culinary team have created a choice of set menus at Qing Palace for diners to enjoy on Jan 27, the eve of Chinese New Year and from Jan 28 to Feb 11, 2017.

To accommodate the modern trend of enjoying the family Reunion Dinner in a restaurant, Qing Palace offers two dining sessions scheduled at 5.30pm and 8pm on the eve of Chinese New Year, Jan 27.

A platter of pan-fried har lok prawns
Aware of the layers of preparation that go into marinating, brewing, braising, stewing or steaming traditional Chinese New Year delicacies, the kitchen team at Qing Palace are applying their collective culinary skills to serve menus designed to please discerning diners.

They are doing their part to let the Chinese keep their proud tradition of indulging in dishes created with premium ingredients of high value and auspicious names that augur well for good fortune and greater wealth at the start of the new year.

Qing Palace is offering an 8-course reunion dinner menu for tables of 10 or 6 diners. 

The recommended Menu A features the ubiquitous Yee Sang or raw fish salad with fresh salmon, braised shark fins soup with shredded abalone and dried seafood, camphor and tea smoked duck, Hong Kong style steamed dragon garoupa fish, pan-fried har lok prawns, braised sea cucumber with black mushrooms and broccoli, lotus leaf glutinous rice topped with chicken floss and deep-fried nian gao – traditional Chinese New Year Cake – for dessert.  Table for 10 at RM1,388 and table for 6 at RM888.

Pulai Springs Resort general manager, Sunny Soo,
helping to serve the soup at our table
Studying the list, I’m particularly pleased to see Qing Palace signature dishes like camphor and tea smoked duck and traditional har lok prawns, in the festive menu.

It’s heartwarming to see the pride of Chef Lim and Soo for their renowned signature dish, the camphor and tea smoked duck, as they posed for a photo shoot.

When the dish was finally ready to be eaten, I realized that some at our table refrained from eating duck and I privately punched the air with an imaginary “Yay!” because it simply worked out to, “Less man more share!”

Master Chef Lim Ming Chong [Left] and GM Sunny Soo
presenting Qing Palace's signature dish,
camphor and tea smoked duck
Yes, it tasted just as I remembered it.  The slices of duck meat were tender and juicy while its skin was crispy and flavourful with a dash of the sauce.  There were also deep-fried mantou or buns to complement the meat and wipe up all the tasty sauce.

Prawns – a must-have for Chinese New Year because of its auspicious and cheerful name – was prepared in a traditional har lok recipe that entailed pan-frying where all its natural juices are soaked up in its delicious meat.

I asked Soo about the soup item in their festive menu and he explained how the Chinese have a tradition of splurging on rare and high-value ingredients to celebrate the new year, as an indulgence just once a year. 

The Chinese community, who developed from humble beginnings mainly in an agricultural economy, rarely had the privilege to eat meat or seafood except on special occasions like in the new year or at wedding banquets.

Ready to toss the Yee Sang for greater prosperity!
As the Chinese worked hard to establish themselves and increase their prosperity, many have the practice of eating humbly throughout the year but will only indulge themselves on auspicious occasions like the Chinese new year as they believe that it augurs well for greater prosperity in the coming months.

So for diners who wish to opt for a meal without shark fins, they may choose Menu B which offers braised dried seafood superior soup with fish maw – without shark fins.

This menu includes crispy roasted chicken with Mongolian sauce and Hong Kong style steamed red snapper, fried prawns in gold dust, three types of mushrooms with greens and dessert of honey dew with sago.  Table for 10 at RM918 and table for 6 at RM698.

The tradition of tossing Yee Sang or lo hei to usher in greater prosperity at the start of the new year, keeps this raw fish salad as an appetizer in most menus during the festive season.

Diners may choose from two Yee Sang options that feature salmon or abalone offered in two sizes: Salmon RM68 (small) RM128 (large); Abalone RM100 (small) RM200 (large).  Available from now till Feb 10.

A nostalgic taste of home and family in this festive dessert
of deep-fried nian gao with yam and sweet potato
To end the meal sweetly, Menu A offers a festive dessert of deep-fried nian gao, a traditional Chinese New Year cake made from ground glutinous rice. 

Qing Palace brought back a taste of nostalgia when they presented this traditional rice cake in a familiar recipe, just like how our grandmothers used to prepare them at home!

One slice of nian gao sandwiched between a slice of yam and sweet potato and deep-fried in a light batter.  

As I sank my teeth into its crispy layers and slowly savoured each chewy bite, it reminded me of home and family, and how I’m missing my late grandmother’s Chinese New Year traditions.

Pulai Springs Resort is at 20km Jalan Pontian Lama, 81110 Pulai, Johor.  Qing Palace serves food which is pork-free and without alcohol

For reservations, Tel: 607 – 521 2121, Email:

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