Here's my comment on Friday night's banquet. My far from knowledgeable and close to lame comment. I took no photos, I don't know the names of the dishes, and, in a word, I'm useless. Oh, wait...I DO know the name of the restaurant. It's Saigon Harbor, not to be confused with Saigon in Vietnam.
However....someone must jump into the pool first.
I loved, loved, loved this banquet. My stepson Jack and daughter-in-law Rachel came with me and we sat at a table with Ruth Lafler, Susan Carter, late in SF now in the Central Valley and several other charming folks whose names I can't remember. Can't make the petites cellules grises (actually that should probably be "little gray cells" because Poirot is created by an Englishwoman) work anymore at my advanced age.
Aside from the usual insults and disparaging remarks about my lack of character and evil ways by Yimster, the evening was quite lovely. He claimed that this was his last chow event due to his loss of face when I tied him in the Chinese Chicken Salad war 2 years ago at the Chow Picnic. He stated that his son no longer speaks to him due to this shame. My reminders that Chinese Chicken salad is not really Chinese and was probably invented by some guy at Denny's, did no good as he said his "adieus". I hope he's joshing because there's nobody like the Yimster for verbal jousting!
And now to the food. There is probably a menu online somewhere, but I didn't see it and so will describe the dishes as best I can.
We started with a big platter of sliced meats - pork and duck. I think they were bbq'd and I know they were fab.
The most amazing dish to me was the clam custard. The clam shells (containing clams) stood up in the pale custard. There was another ingredient which I can't remember - mushroom? Anyway, it was served in a souffle dish and looked gorgeous and tasted wonderful.
The whole fish, which was handled by the waitperson who deftly removed all the meat from the bones in about 4 seconds. Perfectly cooked.
There was a dish of chicken with skin on which had been steamed or poached. The skin was yellowish and the meat was white. Looked great. Tasted great.
The most amazing dish to my hayseed eyes was the one with the black, tarry
One of my favorites was a mushroom and (I think) mustard greens dish. A great combo of smooth and silky mushrooms with the tangy mustard greens. I could have been happy just eating this dish for hours...well, maybe minutes.
We had crab that was steamed and shrimp that was poached with a sort-of mayonnaise dressing and fried walnuts. I've had this dish several times before and always love it for some reason...it doesn't really have a strong taste, but the crispy walnuts and the soft shrimp are perfect together.
There was also a nice soup with fresh noodles.
I've run out of steam here.
Thanks so much to Marlon! He did his usual stellar job of organizing this. There was a very good turnout and I was sorry to miss talking to so many other Chowsters. Maybe we should have a musical chairs banquet where we switch half of each table every half hour.
Joan Mocine (Oakjoan)
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