Jane’s Kitchen has been around for as long as I remember. The last time I was here was three or so years ago – we came here a couple of days after ‘The Mother’ and I got married and have not been back since. Not because we had a bad meal but it is one of those restaurants that you forget.
We were catching up with the extended family and the mother-in-law suggested this place. Jane’s Kitchen can be found on Pennant Hills Road, in between Carlingford Court and Carlingford Village. If you haven’t seen it or have never been, it can be easily missed.
It was a busy evening, it seems like everyone was celebrating Chinese New Year in Jane’s Kitchen. Thankfully we had a reservation so we didn’t have to wait for long.
We left all the ordering to both mums, started with the complementary soup – pork and bean soup which is one of my favourites. However, mum’s version is definitely better. I thought the soup was a little watery and the pork not as tender as it should be.
The vermicelli crab hot pot is one dish that we all enjoy. We have never had it here before, and we were all pleasantly surprised. The crab was fat, juicy and succulent. The noodles moreish and cooked to perfection. Compared to Excellent Chinese Seafood Restaurant? I thought the crab at Jane’s kitchen was definitely better, however, the overall dish, Excellent is definitely better. It is more flavoursome and tastier.
Hello fatty crab claw – it was deliciously tender and full of flavour.
Next, the black moss, ‘fa cai’, which actually means ‘hair vegetables’. The black moss is served with lettuce, dried oysters and shiitake mushrooms. It’s a dish that has many symbolisms and a must order on Chinese New Year. The dried oysters (for good luck) were tender, the shiitake mushrooms (longevity or sizing opportunities) is cooked to perfection. A favourite of mine and one that I haven’t had for a very long time.
The fried prawns with fried onions were absolutely tasty. I love the crunchiness from the fried onions and fried noodles. The prawns were fresh and delightful.
Next the steamed fish served with soy sauce, ginger and shallots – ‘The Mother’s’ favourite dish. The fish was firm and moist, and the sauce was a great complement.
The fried chicken topped with shallots and chili was juicy, tender and succulent with crispy skin – what’s there not to like?
Last but not least, scallops cooked with snow peas, celery, carrots and corn was also tasty. I love the crunchiness and freshness of the snow peas and the tenderness of the scallops. Dollop with a bit of chili, it was just scrumptiously good.
We were all too full for dessert. We were given complementary oranges, however, ‘The Mother’ demolished it before I could take any photos!
It was a wonderful dinner with family, it’s not every day that we all get together and indulge in food. Part of the many reasons why I love Chinese New Year!
GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10
841 Pennant Hills Rd
Ph: +61 2 9873 3288
Another year in the Chinese calendar has gone by – again, where did the year go?
2011 is the year of the rabbit – a placid year after the ferocious year of the Tiger. I read that people born in the year of the rabbit are reasonably friendly individuals who enjoy the company of a group of good friends.They are kind, loving people and dislike any hostile act. I tend to pick and choose what I read about Chinese astrology, or any astrology for that matter.
Anyway, enough of the astrology, last year ‘The Mother’ and I were in Hong Kong, we had a reasonably quiet CNY eve. No dinners with the family, I think we went to the flower market and had dinner together. I managed to write the Do’s and Dont’s for CNY. This year, I cleaned the house, made some mango pudding and went to my parents place to celebrate what my Mum believes as one of the most important events of the year. It is a time when the family gets together in order to give thanks for the year that has past, and to reinvigorate ourselves for the coming year.
As per usual, Mum cooked up a storm – eight different types of dishes, eight being the number for good luck! Mum made all my favourite dishes, no guessing what they were, pork balls, pork belly and pork knuckles – my goodness! The recipe has been passed down from generation to generation (stopped at my mother as I have yet to learn how to make this traditional dish!)
Braised pork belly with mushrooms were absolutely divine! I am a tad bias here, but it is the BEST pork belly ever! Tender with a slither of fat, my goodness, unbelievable! Eaten with man tao (chinese steamed buns) – perfect!
Pork knuckle is also another favourite of mine – succulent, juicy and melt in your mouth – WOW! Bad for the cholesterol, but totally scrumptious!
Unfortunately, I didn’t take photos of each individual dish – which is very unusual for me. However, below is a photo of the marvelous feast that Mum and my sister-in-law, O, made.
Steamed fish which in chinese is ‘yu’ sounds like the words for wish and abundance. So having the fish symbolizes a wish for abundance in the coming year.
The shark fin soup – a favourite dish of mine. O made this, a little different to mum’s but it was absolutely superb! A sign of wealth and fortune, so more for me!
The noodles,which represent longevity and long life was magnificent.
O also made these wonderful prawns! We needed a bit of colour, a bit of red, and these prawns were it! Red being the colour for happiness so these delicious prawns symbolises joy.
Last but not least, bakso goreng – deep fried pork balls (yes – Mum certainly knows how much I love pork!) were unreal. I couldn’t help but eat five prior to dinner, I can’t remember how many I managed to eat.
My contribution to the feast – mango pudding, recipe adapted from food safari.
- 1 cup water
- 6 tsp powdered gelatine
- 3/4 cup caster sugar
- 1 litre soft mango ice cream
- 75ml evaporated milk
- 1 cup crushed ice
- 1 large mango, peeled seeded and diced
- Remove ice cream an hour before starting to allow it to soften.
- Boil some water and place in a bowl – mix sugar and gelatine together. Stir until all is dissolved and thick and syrupy.
- Pour into a large bowl and add mango ice cream and stir until smooth.
- Add evaporated milk, crushed ice and diced mango pieces and stir together.
- Pour mixture into individual serving glasses or bowls.
- Chill in the refrigerator until set, at least two hours.
Unfortunately, I was too full to eat any desserts. I could not move! ‘The Mother’ had to carry me back to the car. The other diners had some and thought it was wonderful. I did leave one at home, and will have it later for dessert.
It was a wonderful evening spent with family. I even got some ang pao (red packets) from Mum! I guess you are never too old to receive them!
To my dear friends and family, Xin Nian Kuai Le! All the best in 2011 – Wishing you all the happiness, good times, and good fortunes to cherish forever! Here’s to 2011!
Chinese New Year (“CNY”) is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays, sometimes also called the Lunar New Year. It is considered a major holiday for the Chinese and people will pour out their money to buy presents, decorations, material, food and clothing.
The celebration actually starts on New Year’s Eve with the reunion dinner.
The following should have been done before New Year’s Eve:
- Clean house and get rid of all things that are associate with the old year
- Put away brooms and brushes
- Pay all your debts
- Resolve differences with family members, friends, neighbours and business associates
- Get new dollar bills from the bank and insert the new dollar bills into the red envelopes (lee see)
You need to buy the following:
- Red money envelopes
- Oranges (which represent good health and long life) and / or tangerines (long lasting relationships)
- Circular candy tray (candy for sweet and circular for togetherness)
- Flowers, especially plum blossom, peach blossom and water lily (if flowers bloom on New Year’s Day, it will be a prosperous year)
- A new set of clothes and shoes for children preferably something red or orange
On New Year’s Eve:
- Get together with family members for a dinner
- Pay respect to ancestors and household gods
- Open every door and window at midnight to let go of the old year
On New Year’s Day:
- Decorate home with symbols of good fortune. Ie: bright red (happiness); gold / orange (wealth and happiness) colours
- Eat the following food:
- Jai ie ginkgo nut, black moss, dried bean curd, bamboo shoots, vermicelli and scallion (represents good fortune)
- Fish and chicken (represent prosperity). Do not cut them in pieces, present as a whole as they symbolize completeness
- Noodles (represent longevity) – again should not be cut
- Desserts including oranges, ni gao (Chinese New Year cake) and prosperous cakes
Do’s and Don’ts on Chinese New Year
- Greet others with “Gung Hey Fat Choy”
- Give two lee see’s to each child (happiness comes in two’s and not just one – passing your good luck to the next generation)
- Wear brand new clothes, preferably in red.
- Wash your hair
- Sweep the floor
- Greet people who are mourning
- Drop your chopsticks
- Say the number ‘four’ or mention death
- Borrow or lend money
You may or may not choose to follow these traditions. However, since my mother is quite traditional and superstitious, I have developed and continued some of these traditions. My favourite tradition would be receiving ang pao (red packets) and buying new clothes. Unfortunately, since I am married, I no longer get ang paos, instead I HAVE TO GIVE THEM OUT to those who are younger than me and not married!!
The best and one that I will miss this year is dinner with my family. I know for a fact that mum would start prepping for CNY eve dinner a couple of days beforehand. She would usually make 8 dishes – 8 being the lucky number and would include shark fin soup, peking duck, steamed fish, fried chicken, bakso goreng (pork balls), noodles, pork and stir fry veggies – all homemade and with lots and lots of love! I am truly going to miss CNY eve dinner this year and am looking forward to next year’s already!
To my parents and my brother – missing you guys for CNY – hope you have a fantastic New Year!