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Long Feng Chinese food festival best yet

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Wednesday, 14 February 2018 00:00

By Madushka Balasuriya

How does one go about reviewing 100+ dishes of Chinese cuisine? That’s the question we were asking ourselves as the DailyFT made its way down to the Chinese Food Festival at Cinnamon Lakeside hosted by its resident Chinese Restaurant, Long Feng.

Rs. 2,600 nett per person will get you 15 action stations featuring a host of Chinese specialty items, and a menu curated by Master Chefs Huanxi Yan and Mei Din Duan which includes, but is not limited to, an assortment of soups, salads, and appetisers; 31 main dishes which embrace a variety of meats and vegetables; and possibly the most extensive Dim Sum bar in Colombo.

The foremost issue with such a vast buffet however is that one evening simply isn’t enough to try everything, and even if you do, then there simply isn’t enough room left to go back for those dishes that get the all-important nod of approval when it comes to second – and sometimes, third – servings.

So if you dear reader, like us, tend to get easily overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of choices on offer, then this review is for you. The festival, which started on 8 February, is on every night from 7 p.m. – 11 p.m. until the 18th, and as such there is still an opportunity to make your way there more than once, but if it must be one and done the following is as definitive a list of must-haves as will be found anywhere.

Overlook the salads at your peril!

Usually when it comes to buffets, the salad bar is the least crowded; many see the all you can eat concept as a free pass on an otherwise healthy dietary routine and the poor old leafy greens end up not getting much love. Well, this is not your ordinary salad bar.

With no less than 10 (ten!) salads to choose from, the modest salad side plates really don’t allow for a ‘let us try a little bit of everything’ approach. But fret not; we’re here to tell you to focus on the Chinese BBQ Duck and the Crispy Chilli Beef. There are of course honourable mentions for the Poached Shrimp and Glass Noodles and the Steamed Cold Chicken with Peanut and Chilli Oil, however the duck and beef really were exceptional.

Still they were not the standout. That distinction goes to the Chilli Marinated Pickle Chinese Cabbage, which headed up a varied selection of meat-free options, and truly knocked it out of the park in terms of flavour and spice.

Don’t sweat the soup!

Right alongside the salad bar is the soup station. Personally, I find that soups tend to fill me up and with that firmly in mind I was very cautious not to overindulge. 

There are two primary soups on offer – the Crab Meat Sweet Corn and Salmon Head and Vegetable – both of which had broths brimming with flavour. 

What really caught my attention however was the Noodle Soup, which was based in a delicious chicken broth. Every other aspect of the dish meanwhile was customisable from the type of noodle – I went with glass noodles – to whichever meat or seafood takes your fancy. With four varieties each of meat and seafood on offer, alongside a host of vegetables, you’re not spoilt for choice.

On the whole all the soups were extremely flavourful, and well worth trying, but our suggestion would be to save room for what’s to come.

Kung Fu knock out!

Which brings me to the Kung Fu noodles, an action station in every sense of the word and which has pretty much been made for Instagram. The chef behind the counter is positively mesmerising in his measured violence; taking a lump of dough, he tugs, twists, wallops and weaves, until all that remains are thin strips of flattened out noodles.

As with the soup station, an assortment of meat, seafood and vegetables, as well as sauces, are on hand to customise your noodle dish. But if such intense decision making is not your thing, not to worry, there is also a readymade concoction of Kung Fu noodles with Chilli Oil ready to serve. In the end, we went with the easy option, and were we glad we did; a solid contender for probably the best dish of the night, and definitely one not to be missed out on at any cost.

All that and Dim Sum!

A close second in our list of favourites was the Dim Sum bar; boasting some 21 different items, it’s honestly probably worth the price of entry alone. 

The bar comprises a host of steamed buns, rolls, and dumplings, with an expansive selection of fillings – prawns, scallops, lobster, red bean, chicken, pork, fish, lamb, beef, it’s all there. And almost as if to prove that every aspect has been thought of, there is also a special station for pan fried dumplings (The Spicy Mutton is genuinely excellent).

Of the steamed items, the Chilli Pork Buns and the Lamb Dumplings were our favourites. There are also three sauces – green chilli oil, oyster, and hoisin – to choose from, each offering their own unique kick. 

Mains, stations, and more stations!

Full disclosure by the time we got to the mains, our appetites had significantly diminished. That said there were still a few dishes that managed to hold our attention, namely the Salt and Pepper Pork Ribs. Simple yet delicious, it was perfectly seasoned and the meat was expertly cooked – in fact, the pork dishes alone might warrant a review unto itself. Meanwhile the Yangzhou Fried Rice managed to surprise us with its standalone flavour.

There were several stations as well serving up a seemingly limitless number of delicacies from Honey Roast Duck to homemade sausages to exotic kebab skewers – Octopus, Prawns, and Eel, to name but a few – to some of the most flavourful pan fried seafood I’ve tried in recent memory.

A plethora of sauces too accompanied the fried meats, with chefs on hand to recommend the appropriate sweet or tangy sauce for your choice of meat.

Don’t forget dessert!

Finally we come to the dessert which – surprise, surprise – had some 20 items to choose from. Our favourites, truth be told, were some of the more traditional flavours. An exquisite Creme Brûlée, delicious ice creams (Coconut and Red Bean), and yummy egg tarts all stand out, and they each brought a satisfying conclusion to our meal. 

Several of the desserts though – such as the Mung Bean Soup, Fried Sesame Balls, and Sweet Potatoes in Ginger Syrup – have some interesting flavours to say the least. While they may not all be everyone’s cup of tea, I heartily recommend maybe sharing a few among a group; If you don’t like it, at least you’ll have a story to tell.

Now if all of this seems too much to keep track of, Long Feng has you covered with a handy leaflet listing all the items available. All in all this food festival is one not to be missed, so make time on that calendar. For reservations call 0112491949.

Pix by Shehan Gunesekera


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