Thursday, June 9, 2011

Li Garden Seafood Restaurant

My friend and classmate Ron organized our annual iaido seminar dinner this year, and I have to raise my glass to him that it was a success.  We managed to squeeze about 40 or 50 people into an already smallish restaurant.  They were clearly short-staffed but the staff that were there worked their butts off to make sure make sure we were okay.

 As we were entertaining a couple of very senior instructors from Japan, there were several matters and details that needed to be looked after and the manager (at least I think she was the manager) made sure that was all taken care of.

They started us off with a cold plate with apparently some pork tongue, some slived roast beef, honey garlic spareribs (first time I'd ever seen this dish served cold) and jelly fish.  It all tasted pretty good so we were off to a good start.

We got a mountain of prawns served on a bed of peas......there were a lot of prawns, and this dish disappeared quick.
 Tofu skin (fried) with enoki mushrooms on a bed of broccoli.  I was beginning to wonder that since a vegetarian organized this feast, we were going to get screwed, but thankfully Ron has a good heart, despite the rest of us being carniverous heathens, haha!

 The seafood soup was chock-full of goodies and tasted really good.  I was quite happy with it actually.

Crab is always a pain in the but to eat in a restaurant, and it was pretty much untouched by the senseis.  It tastes good to them, but mendouksai to eat (in public anyway).  I feel the same way in that I'd eat it at home, where nobody can see me make a pig of myself, haha, but I don't want to be seen eating it outside.  What I did manage to get was the kani miso, which many people ignored. I probably helped myself to at least 3 or 4 crab shells to get to it.  Damn, that's good stuff.

 I smuggled in a bottle of Koshi No Kambai sake for the sensei's table.  I was saving it for a special occasion such as this, but gotta be careful not to leave that stuff too long, it doesn't age well.  Now I have to go back to Japan to stock up again.

 The fish and the shitake mushrooms tasted good, gotta love the starchy sauce, but what I really liked was the preserved meat or ham, or whatever it was. 
 There was also abalone as one of the courses, but I have no idea how to appreciate abalone. Someone mentioned that these were "American Abalone" and I have no idea what that meant, then someone else mentioned these were abalone mushrooms, so I reall have no idea.
 The shrimp chips were popular with the sensei, someone mentioned that these were also known as bakemonosembe, because they start off small, and when the drop them in the deep-fryer, the expand and look like ghosts.......or something to that effect.  All kinds of things get lost in the translation.  Anyway, the chips were okay, and the chicken was good.  Not too dry like some places, and when sprinkled with the seasoning salt, tastes oh-so-much better.
 I didn't try the noodles, but they didn't look particularly appetizing.  There were mumblings about serving noodles near the end because of long-life or something.  I know in Japan, some people will have yaki-soba at the end of their BBQs.  Something about the order of food intrigues me.  When we went for Japanese food with the senseis one day, someone had mentioned that the sushi should be served last.  Not sure why that is.
Fried Rice was served last and we had an assortment of seafood on top.  It was really good and I enjoyed it even though I was sooooooo full.

The food for the most part wasn't out of this world amazing or anything, but tasted good overall.  There was nothing to complain about from me, nothing to bland, nothing overseasoned.  There was a decent amount of seafood, and though I didn't eat much crab at the restaurant, I snatched some of the leftovers and it tasted good. 

Would I go back?  Maybe.  It was a special banquet arrangement so I didn't check the prices of the food.  We got 10 courses for $25 which is pretty good right?  I know I walked out feeling very, very full, haha!  But from the looks of other bloggers experiences, the place looks like it's got decent dim sum too, so I may just go back to try that.

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