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.]
This Post Has 21 Comments
SO jealous. Seriously. Would you bathe in Bo’s laksa broth?
Gosh, Kevin, you sure are jealous … and I am SO sorry. LOL! Ben
Ah — I miss the fireworks too, but we usually had the fireworks on the eve of January 1st and not Chinese New Year. It looks like the laksa broth from Bo had fireworks of its own!
Happy New Year to you, Suanne and the boys — best wishes for the year to come!
P.S. You probably have to wait at least 10 years before your boys get married — unless you rush them and tell them to get on with the business of giving you grandchildren! 😉
I feel the same way. All my relatives are in Hong Kong and CNY always falls in February when I have school 🙁 It would be amazing to spend the holiday with them. My parents are waiting for me to get married and have children too I guess!
Hot pot is such a great idea because the dinner lasts longer which gives way to more conversation. One of my friends ordered sushi!
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wow…..that laksa broth looks amazing. When we did the hot pot for $7/person, I cut all the meat… the most expensive was $5.00/lb for the beef tenderloin….everything else was the usual $2 – $3 per lb….so much much cheaper than buying the sliced meats…
the laksa broth takes hot pot way over the top……maybe you could convince Bo to do the broth again, and I will supply the cut up meats 🙂
keep doing what you’re doing with the boys…..you are making great memories for them and they will have lots of stories to tell when they have their own families….
Try Supermarket 2000 in Richmond for cheaper than T&T sliced meat. And the Kuo Hua supermarket on No 3. Ed in Rmd sells great frozen soup bases. It carries a lot of Food from Taiwan. Love hot pot at home. Always looking for different foods to boil. :0)
Hi Ecoellie: We use very simple ingredients for our hot pot. Any advice on more exotic ingredients? Ben
I absolutely understand how you feel. Though I must say that it’s nice that there’s 4 of you in the family. My husband and I moved to Calgary a few years back and this year was hard. It was just the two of us and on CNY Eve we went out to eat noodles 🙁 it was such a “lonely” feeling knowing that all your parents and siblings are enjoying a feast back home while you eat overly salted noodles. But I’m happy to see that you were able to get some Laksa for your hotpot on CNY it looks absolutely delicious and I’m sure at the end of the day your kids will always remember about “the night we had Laksa hotpot for CNY”. 🙂
Hi Anna: Yeah, I think so too. Nanzaro and Arkensen would remember that night we had laksa hot pot … and they would be able to show this to their kids. That would be priceless. 🙂 Ben
Gosh, that looks just gorgeous. How did your sons enjoy it?
Hi Su-Lin: Nanzaro, my younger one, loves it a lot. He loves spicy food. Arkensen on the other hand stayed with the chicken broth. He finds there are not enough meat (“where’s the beef, dad?) because it’s sliced. He is just used to bigger chunkier meat. How is your CNY in the UK? Ben
i donno bout you, but $10 for broth is expensive….
even considering how much chowtime helped this place…
lol cheap owner
Hi Connie: Hehehe … yeah, I guess I could have just asked for the broth but it is just too cheap for me to accept for free. I told Bo up front I want to pay for it. But now that you mentioned it, yeah … perhaps $10 is not cheap. Oh well, it’s just a few dollars and am not gonna sweat small stuff like this. 🙂 Ben
Connie,Ben cannot accept gifts from restaurants otherwise,His judgement might be questioned like recently by a troll in Urban Spoon.
Yes, remembered CNY in HK as a kid and love all the hustle and bustles plus the fireworks. Last time we went back to China visit my Grandma for her 100th birthday, we had a huge fireworks and fire crackers show. The fire crackers was two storeys high. We look at the pictures today with fond memories and fun time. I’m sure my kids will share with their kids, same as what you and Suanne are doing for your lucky boys (yes, tell them that your reader said so:-))
When I did our hot pot last time, I mostly sliced the meat myself. It was a lot of work but way more good quality meat. My favorite meat supplier is Famous Foods on Kingsway and King Edward. They sell non-medicated chicken, local lamb, organic pork, grass fed beef, meaty duck, wild boar and buffalo, and bulk grains, good prices. My boys are meatarians and are very discerning when it comes to the taste and texture of the meat.
Ben & Suanne, Gong Xi Fa Cai, Gong Hey Fat Choy, 恭禧發財, nián nián yǒu yú 年年有馀 (This one is for your next post – meaning – Wishing you prosperity every year! The yú rhymes with fish, which is the main ingredient in your Yee Sang dinner.)
Thanks for a very entertaining blog and creating a community where we come and share some good food, good memories, good vibes. That’s what life’s all about, yes?
Xīn nián kuài lè 新年快樂!
I understand how you feel. 99% of my relatives moved to HK. It does get lonely here. What I like to do on Chinese New Year eve is to go to Aberdeen Mall with my fiance. All the stores and food court (yum) are opened till midnight. They have entertainment and countdown. It’s a lot of fun!
Hi Joyce: Suanne and I was watching the live coverage of the Aberdeen CNY eve events on TV. This is about the only action there is in town. 🙁 Ben
Thanks for blogging about your reunion dinner. I felt exactly the same as you do for CNY. We have no family here and just like you, it is just the 4 of us. My kids are so “ang moh” that they really don’t care if we celebrate CNY or not. We have not been back to Singapore for CNY for 20+ years already due to school in session.
Well, my daughter-in-law or son-in-law are most likely going to be Ang Moh and so that CNY tradition will probably disappear. Sad!!
The laksa looks so good. Who cares if it is expensive! It is CNY. It sure look delicious.
Happy New year to you, Suanne and your two boys.
Sorry for ignorance,Since I am not Chinese,But isnt the correct term Ang Moh Sai???for Chinese kids who dont know the culture.Anyway thats what I know from my limited knowlege of Manglish and Singlish
Hi PinoyGourmet: The term “ang moh” is Fujian for “red hair”. It is a description for westerners. What YanfromNJ is saying is that his kids are westernized. I have never heard of the term “ang moh sai” before. Ben