“But I want to go to Sek Yuen!”, Eeyore whined.

It was the day before Eeyore’s birthday, and we had somehow changed dinner plans in the hopes of surprising him.

“Wouldn’t it be nicer to eat crabs and sang har meen (fried noodles with prawns) and lots of seafood at Green View Restaurant for your birthday?”, I asked Eeyore in a soothing voice, akin to a mother talking to her child.

“But I want to eat pork! I want to eat pat poh ngap! I don’t want to eat crabs!”, lambasted Eeyore defiantly.

Several frantic calls later (thanks Barbie and Smokin’ SOB), we were all set for Sek Yuen. We certainly weren’t going to disappoint our dear friend, Eeyore. Of course, as we soon found out, good ol’ Murphy has a weird sense of humour.

sek yuen
Sek Yuen was crowded as it was the Friday before Chap Goh Mei and all the tables were occupied. We had already pre-ordered the pat poh ngap (Eight Treasures Duck) the night before; ordering the remaining dishes was a stupendous task due to the variety of options presented to us. The aunty taking the orders could rattle off several dishes without pausing for breath. Never underestimate old people.

yue sang
We waited with bated breath as the yue sang was placed before us. On one hand, most of the ingredients were fresh which was what I was looking for. On the other hand, the yue sang, or specifically the raw fish, was doused in an overly generous amount of sesame oil, thus overpowering the rest of the flavours and our senses as we felt the grease on our tongues; the only flavour strong enough to withstand the taste of the sesame oil was the plum sauce. So when two giants fight for attention, the audience suffers. And that was our fate.

pat poh ngap
The pat poh ngap (eight treasures duck) was then presented on our table. The braised duck was stuffed with gingko nuts and mushrooms. Thanks to the hours of cooking, its flesh was tender, and the sauce was infused with the flavours of the duck and the other ingredients.

Here ends my visual description.

As the duck made its way around the table, the gods decided that Eeyore deserved a romantic meal and the power supply abruptly ended leaving us salivating and unable to see our food. Despite having mobilephones with inbuilt flashlights, we were still prodding in the dark with chopsticks, fingers and tongues. The restaurant owners were apologetic, and we goodnaturedly carried on eating, wondering if we were putting chilli padi in our mouths.

Halfway through our meal, the chinese lanterns suddenly lit up. Partial power had resumed; a little sinister, no doubt, but it made for a charming chinese inspired dinner. We were still unable to see our food, though.

The subsequent pictures, taken with flash, will reveal our meal for the first time to the Makan Club who were unable to see what they ate that day.

stewed lamb
Stewed stink badger.
Tender, but smell of meat was not sufficiently masked. There were leftovers, but not because people couldn’t see the dish.

hoong siew yue tau
Hoong siew head of prehistoric panderichthys.
Deep fried, this delightful dish had a sauce that was rich in flavour…I distinctly tasted pork. Hmmm…pork in a fish dish? That was when I tasted siew yoke (roasted pork) in my mouth. Mmmm. Definitely thumbs up. I ended up eating half the head.

kah heong chai
Kah heong lalang and lizard’s tail.
I blogged about this in my previous post on Sek Yuen. It’s our all-time favourite vegetable dish due to the lovely flavour of nam yue (red fermented bean paste) which we didn’t have to see to know it was there. The nose is an underutilised tool in dining.

lai pak
Fried venus flytrap.
This dish of stir fried vegetables was placed in front of Barbie. She ate most of it and pronounced it good.

woo tau kau yoke
Yam and dog belly meat (less fat, more meat).
A dish that was full of promise, but turned out disappointing as the meat was dry and the yam was drier. They should have let the dog live.

Happy Birthday, Eeyore!
Happy Birthday, Eeyore!

Note: No endangered species were slaughtered, willingly or unwillingly, in the name of gastronomy. But I acknowledge that a little creative licence and a lot of alcohol can make one write strange things. So, in all honesty, the following are the real dishes, together with their boring names, which we purportedly ate that night:-

Stewed stink badger – stewed lamb

Hoong siew head of prehistoric panderichthys – hoong siew yue tau (fried fish head)

Kah heong lalang and lizard’s tail – kah heong chai (mixed vegetables)

Fried venus flytrap – fried lai pak (vegetables)

Yam and dog belly meat – woo tau kau yoke (yam and pork)

My conscience is now clear (hic!).

Lyrical Lemongrass. March 9, 2007.