Zilver, previously called Silver Spring, closed down and renovated a few years ago, completely changing its image, and vastly improving its menu, whilst uptiering its target market to a more upmarket offering.  Its “All you can eat for $17.50″ days have long gone and it has transformed completely into a rare gem of Chinese dining – great food AND service to go with it! 

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My friends Tracy and Chris got married on the weekend, and apart from being a long awaited marriage, it was also for me a long awaited feast hehehe. And I was not disappointed at all.  First cab off the rank- suckling pig entree platter with shredded cuttlefish.  The pig wasn’t overly fatty although the skin was quite thin so was slightly chewy.  Chewy the jellyfish was not – it was the perfect thickness and appropriately crunchy in texture.  Second course was deep fried seafood balls – minced seafood – predominantly prawns, rolled into balls and covered in almond flakes deep fried and served on a bed of shredded cabbage.

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Palate cleansing vegetables came next – perfectly cooked and crisp broccoli and mushrooms covered in a sauce thick with dried scallops – a real chinese delicacy.  And then came the emperor of all soups – sharks fin soup. So expensive is this dish that waiters often use a bread plate to catch any drips off the ladle that dare escape on the way from the tureen to bowl. You can have it with shredded chicken or crab meat as well as dried fish stomach (don’t ask, just drink).

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What a treat. Lobster cooked in classic ginger and shallot sauce.  One of my friends told me that when you have lobster at a wedding banquet, it adds an extra $300 per table of 12 (you do the sums!).  So I relished my huge tender chunk of lobster tail and made an attempt at the huge claw.  But didn’t try too hard as once my grandmother stabbed her finger with one of the sharp bits – ew!

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Stomach reaching capacity, next came sliced abalone and mushroom in oyster sauce with lettuce, and then steamed live coral trout.  It must be so hard cooking 25 two kg fish to the point of just cooked, and then sending it out to the masses.  Nevertheless, this one was perfect, its meat sweet and succulent.

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On the home stretch now.  The more expensive dishes are of course served first after the entrees, so that you can enjoy them before you get too full.  So the chicken that came next wasn’t eaten by all, and neither the rice nor noodles – which are served at the end in case you still have room and aren’t full.  Chinese tradition says that rice is not served at banquets because it looks as though you don’t have enough money – only poor people had to eat food.  So that’s why steamed rice is not offered during the meal, and the second last course is a rice dish – but never white.   This was sticky rice with prawns wrapped in lotus leaf. The lotus leaf infusing a gentle smokiness into the rice, which was definitely not pauper food – packed with prawns.

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There are traditionall 8 courses at a chinese banquet, 8 being the number for fortune or rich.  That’s 8 courses excluding the noodles and rice that is – which as I mentioned are the fillers.. But that doesn’t stop me from having one of each. The noodles were delicious. Not too salty at all, and not overly soggy as they tend to be, and also had enough flavour.

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And finally, dessert is usually provided at the end of dinner. Fresh fruit platter – generally oranges and melon; and some Chinese petits four (or petits two usually). These were deep fried sesame cookies – “smile mouth cookies” – because the crack looks like a laughing face. And then also some red bean pastries that looked like sausage rolls. The pastry was even thinner than filo, and packed more tightly.  Overlook the reality it’s made with lard.   All in all, the wedding banquet topped off a beautiful wedding, with brilliant speeches and entertainment. Congratulations Chris and Tracy! Look forward to coming to London to do more FoodieChat posts! :)

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