It is my honor to be invited by Criz Lai to this mini food blogger gathering along with some experienced and awesome food blogger. The event was being held in Zi Zai Restaurant which situated in Paya Terubong, Penang. I have previously posted my review here. As from what I had previously posted, the main chef in Zi Zai Restaurant is a well-trained and experienced chef which strive to offer quality yet inexpensive food to his customers. The place will be usually flooded with customers especially during weekends. However, the main highlight will be their Poon Choi (盆菜，Basin Dish) instead. Poon Choi literally means to put and to serve all the ingredients into a basin. The basin will be heated when eating to maintain the temperature of the food. The key to success in serving a great Poon Choi is the knowledge in layering the ingredients. If the ingredients are appropriately layered, it will enhance the flavors of the ingredients, an example will be placing white carrots at the bottom of the basin, the white carrot will absorbs the flavor and the essence of the meat that were being placed on top.
Fellow food blogger were being treated with this scrumptious meal -- Poon Choi (盆菜) which consists of 14 layers of ingredients, namely
- Canned New Zealand Abalone (纽西兰罐头鲍鱼)
- Sweet And Sour Prawns (酱爆大虾)
- Deep Fried Homemade Hock Chew Fishballs (手工福州鱼丸)
- Deep Fried Snapper Fillet (炸卡猎鱼肉)
- Broccoli (碧绿芥兰华)
- Chicken With Sesame Oil (香浓麻油鸡)
- Roasted Duck (好味烤鸭)
- Stewed Fish Maw In Oyster Sauce (蚝油鱼漂)
- Chinese Mushrooms (严选花菇)
- Stewed Sea Cucumber (葱烧海参)
- Sweet Turnip (爽甜沙葛)
- Yam (香糯芋头)
- Braised Pork Belly (盆菜猪肉)
- Chinese Cabbage (清甜包菜)
This set of Poon Choi is selling at RM400 (serves 10-11 person) and it comes with a free flow of steamed white rice and herbal tea. They do offer a smaller portion which serves 5-6 person, selling at Rm258 each. The ingredients will be exactly the same (including abalone), just that the portion will be reduced to half (except for the abalone). One day advance reservation is required due to the time-consuming preparations needed for this dish.
The basin will be fully covered with all those mouth-watering and seductive ingredients. The abalone was just awesome, it was not thinly sliced so you can just enjoy the texture and the strong but unique flavor from the abalone. As for other ingredients, they were very fresh indeed. The best part was the portion. You just would not believe how huge it can be. In this big serving of Poon Choi (worth Rm400), 4 chicken thighs and a duck were included, not to mention the pork belly, mushrooms and the sea cucumber/fish maw. The taste was extremely alright especially when towards the end, the sauce becomes sweeter and more flavorful. It works well with some white rice but it would be unnecessary unless you are a big eater.
An overview on what were the ingredients inside the basin. The turnip was awesome as in it provides the sweetness of the whole dish and somehow it functions like white carrots where it absorbs essence and the flavor of the meat at the end yet, without losing its crunchiness. Its definitely something you do not want to miss when having Poon Choi.
Aside from the Poon Choi, we were treated with a few delectable dishes as well. This was their Yao Mak (Rm10, Large). Taste was decent and they have successfully maintained the crunchiness within the vegetables. Quite refreshing after having so many meat.
Belacan Chicken (Rm16, Large). The chicken was okay as the belacan flavor was not strong enough to my liking but they were crunchy enough the time they were being served.
Stir Fried Lala, Rm 12 (clams). During my previous post, I had commented that this dish was on the salty side, but surprisingly, the taste was just right, the spiciness was there either. This shows the significant improvements from the chef. Anyway, if the sizes of the clams could be slightly bigger, then it would be perfect.
Assam Prawns (Rm32, about 16 prawns given). This is one of their signature dishes, the taste was perfectly okay for me (slightly on the sweeter side) as I do not really adore the sourish taste even though the authentic Assam Prawns will have a sourish taste.
Stir Fried Bean Sprouts with Salted Fish (Rm 12, large). The bean sprouts were very delicious indeed, I just love the part where they threw in a couple slices of chilies. They have excluded the upper and lower parts of the bean sprouts too, making the bean sprouts snowy white.
Abalone sponsored personally by Criz Lai, the dish was more on the salty side based on my opinions but the abalone flavor was very strong indeed.
An overview of what we had that day. A big thank to Mr. Tan, the main chef in Zi Zai Restaurant and Criz for making this gathering a success.
Free flow of herbal tea will be provided in the Poon Choi packages. Else, one cup of herbal tea will be priced at Rm 1.20.
3 types of sauces will be given as well. Thai chili sauce, sambal chili sauce and the usual chili padi (small green chilies).
Something you might want to take note of if you wish to try the Poon Choi out. Please do make an advance appointment (minimum 1 day) before the dinner. Everything will be in cash term in Zi Zai Restaurant, make sure you carry enough sufficient cash with you as Rm400 is not a small amount. The prices are at their net prices (no other surcharges). The Poon Choi is something very special and unique, do try them out.
Address: 1239-G, Ground Floor, Jalan Paya Terubong, Paya Terubong, 11060, Air Itam, Penang. (opposite Bomba Station in Paya Terubong, walk straight for less than 1 minute after passing Shell Petrol Station, Zi Zai Restaurant should be on your left).
Business Hour: 4pm - 10.30pm, Closed on every Tuesday
Contact Number: 604- 826 5713 / 016- 421 7392