Recently I was lucky enough to be invited to a bloggers dinner at Shun Fung on the River by another food blogger (WenY Wonders Why). It was a complimentary banquet specially thought of by the owner Eva to mark the start of a new era for the restaurant. Four new chefs have been brought in to the revamped venue where seasonal ingredients are used in a take on classic Chinese recipes.
Jeremy and I arrive at 6.30pm sharp and are escorted past the beautiful river views into a private dining room where the other bloggers all are seated and chatting happily. It's not long before the food comes out and we're started off with a running sheet menu plus a glass of Vasse Felix to compliment the seafood dominated menu.
First off for the menu comes the appetisers. Spicy kimchi (Chinese style) is chilled and I like the crunch it has while also being slightly toothsome. It lacks the promised spiciness for me, which is a bit of a shame though the overall flavour profile is enjoyable.
Green chilli and ruccola salad
Our final appetiser is the Marinated Duck Wings. They come up simply presented but I think that makes it look even more delicious. I am what most would probably call a duck fiend. And I'm pleased to say that my favourite meat here did not disappoint. The duck is cold and tender; the layer of fat and skin melt in your mouth. The only complaint I have here is that there wasn't enough to go round the table so Jeremy and I split a piece.
Marinated duck wings
I'm happy to see that the restaurant has gone out of their way to cater to the dietary needs of one of our party - food blogger Chomp Chomp. All night she was given a great gluten free substitution to dishes which I managed to grab some photos every now and then. Her first substitution was a tomato dish with dipping sauce. I didn't hear the description but judging from my photo it looks like there's some squid on there (though I could be wrong!).
Gluten free substitution dish
The entrees come out on an impressively long platter; piled with delicious dishes that are completely crying out to be eaten. There's Oysters with Foie Gras Sauce, Chilli & Salt Mini Dried Fish and Golden Radish Balls. And it all looks amazing!
The oysters have been freshly shucked that day we're told and have been topped with a foie gras based sauce that is rich and flavoursome. It's not as decadent as other foie gras dishes I've had elsewhere but that said I think it allows the oysters to shine. As an oyster fan, I'm pretty happy right now and enjoy the combination. The oyster is on the smaller side which I tend to prefer over the larger creamy ones many restaurants serve.
Golden radish balls
The golden radish balls are round scoops that are crunchy on the outside and pillowy soft on the inside. They have a delicate mild taste that reminds me of a new world version of the radish cake my mum makes sometimes on weekends for lunch. Definitely winning me here with this one! I don't get to try the dipping sauce on the plate which is a bit of a shame as I think a sauce would make this even more enjoyable.
Salt & chilli mini dried fish
The salt & chilli mini dried fish live up to their name. They're crisp and moorish - something I could easily see myself sitting back in the sun with an icy beer enjoying like chips. I could have easily devoured the whole basket they were so easy to eat. I'm not so sure about the thousand island looking sauce that's put on our plate to dip the fish in - I think it wasn't necessary but it didn't hurt either.
San choy bow
Next up comes our soup course which is Sliced Abalone in Superior Soup. There's a bit of theatre with this course; the wait staff bringing it out as a bowl of ingredients and pouring the hot liquid over the top in a tantalising cloud of aroma.
I like the soup and I'm pretty sure the others do too since the whole table goes quiet as spoons clink on bowls and slurps are heard all round. There's a nice combination of ingredients while the broth itself is well seasoned and has a comforting richness. There's a surprising amount of crunch to the soup which I wasn't expecting as in the past I've had abalone soups that were extremely tender and soft.
The base of abalone soup
The superior soup
The makings of abalone soup
The finished soup product
The first main that comes out is my favourite dish for the night. It's the Steamed Coral Trout Fish with Ginger and Shallots. Yum oh yum! The fish is so flaky and tender; the flesh soft and so fresh it practically screams of the ocean. I love the flavours especially when combined with the slices of shitake mushroom and goji berries on top. Very delicately delicious!
Steamed coral trout
Steamed coral trout
Our next main is the Diced Wagyu Beef on a Sizzling Stone. It comes out as bite-sized chunks of steak, steaming and cooking away before our eyes. Our lovely waitress apparently told the group to eat it straight away after its plated but I'm too busy snapping away so by the time I get to eat mine it's a little tougher and cooked than I would usually like (blogger issues). But that said, the meat is very flavoursome, and Jeremy tells me his piece (which was eaten immediately) was extremely tender. Next time I should really listen to the instruction!
Diced wagyu beef
The Honey and Mustard King Prawns that come out after the beef are huge and look incredible. I'm basically eating them with my eyes the second they are put down in front of us. The sauce that coats each crisp prawn is a combination of honey and wasabi, so when you bite into the prawn you get the sweetness of the honey with a kick of wasabi as you swallow. Very clever. And very much something I would eat again and again. I'm actually still thinking about that sauce - wasabi anything in my book!
Honey and mustard king prawn
Pan fried coral trout
Pan fried coral trout
We find ourselves with the other half of our large coral trout, this time pan fried to a crisp on the outside with soft flaky flesh on the inside. I'm surprised by the bones inside the fish which I feel is a bit of a let down to the dish.
Szechuan spicy chicken
The Szechuan Spicy Chicken comes out in a woven basket and surrounded by a crunchy sea of green and red. A few of us brave the vivid chillis on hand (myself included) but they aren't too hot unless you catch one full of seeds.
The chicken itself is succulent and tender. There's a nice kick of chilli with each bite that makes my mouth zing with excitement.
One of our final main dishes for the night is the Braised King Oyster Mushrooms with Shallots. They come out looking extremely vibrant and well sauced. I love mushrooms and these completely deliver on that requisite earthy taste and slightly toothsome texture. They have a melt in your mouth quality and the shallots accompanying them are crunchy and flavoursome. This was actually one of the best dishes of the night in my opinion.
Gluten free runner beans
The savoury portion for the night finishes with a tray of Sizzling Runner Beans. I'm pretty full by this stage so I only grab a tiny amount to try but I like the slightly charred flavour they have while retaining some of their firmness. They taste nice but there's no wow factor in these.
As with most other courses, there's a gluten free option for Chomp Chomp too which is adorable and well presented.
Additional gluten free course
Dim sum platter
Before we move onto the dessert portion of the night, a giant dim sum platter comes out filled with an array of delicious looking items. There's a jelly like layered coconut item and another similar texture which I think was red bean. There's also a couple fried pastries - one having a durian filling and the other pumpkin.
Jeremy and I pick two different ones each so we can split them in half and that way try all four in total. I love the two fried options in particular. The pumpkin is sweet and soft in the centre; the outside having the most amazing crunch.
It's my first time trying durian which I've always avoided due to the smell, but I was really pleased with how nice it tastes. The filling is like a creamy custard and the pastry on the outside is flaky and moorish. It's a great introduction to this somewhat polarising fruit!
Coconut dim sum and durian pastry
Pumpkin dim sum
When it comes to dessert, our waitress advises us we have the choice of three options:
- mixed sweet beans with ice-cream
- deep fried ice-cream
- red bean pancake with ice-cream
I choose the Deep Fried Ice-Cream with chocolate sauce. It comes out and is, as fried ice-cream should be, crunchy on the outside and gooey on the inside. There's not as much chocolate sauce on mine as the others around me which is a bit disappointing but thankfully the deep fried ice-cream is tasty enough without it. I don't think the biscuit or the chocolate stick on the side add anything and I would have preferred them left off personally.
Jeremy gets the Red Bean Pancake with Ice-Cream for his dessert. It comes out and I immediately have order envy. There's a nice accompaniment of fruits on the side (he lets me have his cherry which makes me extremely happy) and a crisply battered chunk of red bean. The texture is both smooth and grainy at the same time, as you would expect from red bean. For us, we both really like it - it reminds me so much of a dessert my mum always used to make when I was a kid.
Red bean pancake
Red bean pancake
Our meal at Shun Fung on the River was enjoyable. What I particularly liked was how Eva told us at the end that she wanted our blog posts to be honest and that she welcomed feedback. For me that's so important as I blog as a hobby and never want this to turn into an advertorial situation. Being honest means I can say I did really like the food we were presented with.
The banquet menu is now available which I believe is around $100 a head to get something similar to our experience (though the dim sum platter items are not currently available). For Chinese food it is a pricey cost that many people wouldn't usually be willing to wear for this particular cuisine. But that said, if the food presented is of the same quality that we experienced, I would have no problem paying this much myself.
I hope that people who previously went give it another go because it looks like Shun Fung is taking all the right steps to revamping themselves and their food in order to please the people who frequent it.