The Royale Bintang Resort & Spa Seremban,
Jalan Dato’ A.S.Dawood,
70100 Seremban
(Tel: 06-766 6666)

WHEN invites to sample a hotel’s Chinese New Year spread land on my desk, I often anticipate elaborate dishes with prosperous-sounding names.

With hotel chefs thinking up creative ways to present traditional Lunar New Year favourites, the array of dishes served during these food-tasting dinners are often a feast for both the eyes and the palate.

So, imagine my surprise when at one such dinner, familiar dishes, nothing wildly imaginative, were served instead.

At the Royale Bintang Resort & Spa Seremban, chef Lee Siew Hong has decided to buck the trend of innovative CNY fare and plate up simple crowd-pleasing dishes this year.

Lee is the executive Chinese chef at the hotel’s Han Pi Yuen restaurant.

“I have been heading the restaurant for eight years now and over the years, the kitchen team has experimented a fair bit, devising creative dishes with bold flavours.

“Some dishes were winners while others did not go down so well with diners, not because they were lacking in the flavour department but simply because many diners expect to see the dishes they have grown up with,” he said.

With three set menus to choose from (priced between RM688+ and RM1,188+ for 10 persons) and a la carte items also on offer, diners still have plenty of variety.

I sampled the Wealthy & Healthy Family Chinese New Year set menu, priced at RM888+ per table of 10.

Among the tried and true dishes on this menu are braised shark’s fin soup with crab meat, roasted duck, steamed sea bass Hong Kong style, butter prawns, fried rice and deep fried nian gao.

Nothing wildly imaginative.

However, on the plus side, all these dishes were meticulously prepared with quality ingredients.

“The dishes were chosen based on feedback from customers over the years. Because many of the dishes are common, we decided to make them taste as good as possible,” said Lee.

Crispy roast duck served with a homemade plum sauce.

And Lee does deliver on his promise of good-tasting food.

Using only the freshest produce and quality ingredients such as abalone imported from South Africa, chef Lee and his team do not disappoint.

For starters, Lee served us Prosperous Fatt Choy Yee Sang with Pear and Salmon, which is a delightful combination of flavours and textures.

The slivers of Japanese pear added a sweet bite to the dish and a nice contrast to the smooth salmon. The accompanying sauce, as everyone must know by now, determines if a yee sang is any good or not.

Fortunately, Lee’s sweet and sour sauce with hints of zesty lemon and apple jam goes down smoothly.

Next on the menu was the braised shark’s fin soup with crabmeat.

Rest assured, no sharks were harmed in the making of this dish as only mock shark’s fin is served at this restaurant.

A delicate balance of flavours, the soup is just the thing to whet the appetite in preparation for the remaining courses which include steamed fish and roast duck.

One of my favourite dishes was Pei Pa Beancurd served with vegetables and dried oysters.

To make the beancurd cakes, Lee combined steamed tofu with fish paste, Chinese parsley and black mushrooms.

The mixture is shaped into little cakes and then deep-fried.

To end the meal, you have traditional sticky cake or nian gao.

Each set menu has nine courses and can be ordered for both lunch and dinner from now until March 31. – By C.S. NATHAN


This is the writer’s personal observation and not an endorsement by StarMetro.

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