One of the customs of the Chinese New Year is the Family Reunion Dinner. This is usually held on the eve of Chinese New Year where every member of the extended family will gather at the patriarch home for a feast.
When I was still living in Malaysia, the Family Reunion dinner is always something we all look forward to. We would be planning it for days and my mum will sometimes take two days to prepare for the feast. And there would be so many people that we would have makeshift tables and chairs setup all over the house. Everyone would be decked in new clothes to usher in the new year.
After a very boisterous dinner, we would then go outdoor to set up fireworks and fire crackers. Yeah, fireworks is illegal but we all did not care … just as long as we don’t do it in front of the house because the police will come around looking for tell-tale signs of fireworks. Yeah, this is what Suanne and I missed every year. This is very much like the feeling of having to spend Christmas alone having instant noodle watching the burning log on TV.
Well, this is something we miss having every Chinese New Year because every single one of our extended families are not in Vancouver. Chinese New Year in Vancouver is also a very muted affair. There is no atmosphere and the build up of excitement.
Frankly, our two boys don’t really care for Chinese New Year. We understand that. However, Suanne and I do try to have our own Family dinner. It is not much of a “reunion” dinner. It’s just the four of us. Kind of sad. :-(
I guess we will have to wait till the boys grow up, get married and have children before I can have a real Family Reunion dinner.
We decided to make hot pot at home. Suanne was glad when I suggested that because it means that she does not have to think about what to cook. Anyway, I recently saw that the hot pot meat in the market in Crystal Mall was much cheaper than those we had during the last hot pot at home.
Some of you may remember I blogged about it and found out that it costs about $12.00 a person making at home. I thought it was still expensive and wanted to find out how JoyLuckClub managed to do it for less than $7.00.
The most expensive component of the hot pot was the meat. The last time I bought the sliced Lamb Shoulder and Beef Blade Chuck from T&T, it was $16.00 a pound. The meat that I bought this time from Crystal Mall is way much cheaper. They costs as follows:
- Lamb Shoulder: $7.00 per pound
- Beef Blade Chuck: $7.00 per pound
- Chicken: $4.50 per pound
- Pork Shoulder: $4.50 per pound
Yeah, I bought too much for the four of us. It’s a men thing. We are just hopeless in estimating how much is too much. We buy food with the heart while women buy groceries with their brains.
Just buy, buy, buy … and let Suanne figure out how to use them all.
I also got some fish paste from the roast pork stall in the same market in Crystal Mall. Yeah strange … but they do sell fish paste in that stall. So I got a tub of that which I think is also one pound. This one is $5.70.
See? It was so expensive getting it from T&T. With prices like this, no wonder JoyLuckClub could do it for just $7.00 a person.
I thought I make it a bit better this time. I had been thinking of trying a Laksa Hot Pot. I spoke to Bo of Bo Laksa King before asking him to offer laksa hot pot. I thought it would be a great broth for hot pot … well, in theory anyway. Some people I spoke too was not so sure about that idea because they think the broth would dry and thicken too much.
A couple of months ago Bo experimented with the laksa hot pot using his own curry. He did it with his staff and everyone gave it a thumbs up. But Bo just told me the results but added that he is simply too busy to make it available in his restaurant.
For this Family Dinner, I wanted to try the laksa hot pot for a change. I just wanted to taste it for myself … not just any laksa but the best laksa in town. It has to be Bo’s laksa.
So I picked up the phone and called Bo. I asked if he would please sell his broth to me. It would ruin my entire CNY Dinner plans if he had said no. I know it was a long shot and it was a strange request.
Whew … good thing Bo said sure, come over. So with great expectation, I drove over to Bo’s restaurant on Hastings. It was good to catch up with Bo again. Things are looking up for him since his humble days at the convenience stall on Joyce (see blog here). He told me business had been good because the local newspaper featured him twice in January and that a magazine will also write about his legendary laksa this month. He is such a nice guy that people just want to root for him.
Bo gave me two litres of his broth and charged me $10.00. I don’t care if he charges me more. I asked if he would sell the broth if someone asked of him. He said he can’t do that as yet because it takes a lot effort to make it and he can’t make enough.
So, sorry guys … this is for chowtimes only. Maybe if you be nice-nice to him, he will be nice-nice to you. Otherwise you could buy several orders (like five?) of his laksa and instruct Bo to “hold the noodles” … if you are that desperate, that is.
Please don’t hate me for getting the laksa!
The two litres of laksa broth came in three containers. Actually it was too much for us. one litre would have been sufficient. So we had some leftover for the next day.
We did half and half. The other half of the broth is simpler. Suanne used the pho ga (chicken) broth cube and added some garlic and green onions.
That’s it. Just add hot water and we are set. The cooking will flavour the broth as we go.
The star of the hot pot was the sliced meat and the laksa broth. The rest of them are simple. Some of them are leftover from the hot pot we had the last time.
Well, the laksa hot pot was awesome. We pretty much concentrated on this side of the pot.
When we started the boiling, we thought it was not good because it was gathering too much “foam”. That did not last. When we threw in the meat, the foaminess disappeared and from then onwards it was just simply delicious.
The spiciness level was perfect. It remained consistently spicy throughout. We tried adding one meat at a time, starting with lamb to beef and then pork. We did not add the chicken because we were already too full. The meat enhanced the broth very nicely.
So we ate with a bowl half filled with the laksa broth. We pick the meat out from the hot pot and dunk into the cooler broth in the bowl first. It was marvellous!
Bo did mention that he had some plans around this laksa hot pot but I think I’ll let him speak of it and not have you hear it from chowtimes.
[Bo, if you are reading this, thanks for the broth. This is a winner and when you offer this in the future, I know people are just gonna rave about it.]