Sean's Kitchen - 2020 Lunar New Year with Cheong Liew

Sean's Kitchen - Adelaide Casino, North Terrace, ADELAIDE SA 5000

When I (Amanda) discovered that the legendary Cheong Liew was bringing a special one night only menu to Sean's Kitchen to celebrate the 2020 Lunar New Year, I couldn't make a booking quick enough!  A long time fan, I look forward to the few exclusive events Cheong appears at, and knew this collaboration dinner with Sean Connolly couldn't be missed. 

Chefs - Cheong Liew & Sean Connolly
With a full house turning up to try Cheong's special menu to celebrate the year of the rat, we were so lucky and honoured to find that there was only room for us at the chef's table right inside the kitchen! Taking a seat a few steps from the action, we quickly realise just how hot a chef's job is in the kitchen, especially for those cooking over the fire pit. Settling into our rockstar seats, we take an excited sip of our champagne, while the first lunar new year dish is presented to us by Cheong.

Yu Shang Lunar New Year Raw Fish Salad $22
The first dish named "Great to be Alive to Bring in the New Year" is a Yu Shang raw fish salad that Cheong tells us is a southeast Asian traditional new year dish. He informs us that this dish is normally made with carp but tonight he used a combination of raw salmon and kingfish. The dish is then made even more exciting when Cheong tells us we all need to toss the salad with our chopsticks and make a wish for the new year. This tradition of mixing the salad together symbolises an abundance of luck, prosperity and happiness for the new year. Sounds like a great start to dinner to me!

Once Cheong gives us the green light to stop mixing and start eating, we are met with a satisfying mouthful of fresh, flavourful and textural elements. With a combination of fresh and pickled ingredients including daikon, beetroot, carrot, ginger, herbs and crispy fried pastry, pulled together with a Japanese salted plum sauce also using plums from Cheong's own back garden, we were in awe of this delicious good luck dish with every single bite.

Shaw + Smith M3 Chardonnay
Deciding to share some of the lunar new year prosperity and strength with the Adelaide Hills community recently devastated by bushfires, we decide on the Shaw + Smith 2018 M3 Chardonnay to accompany our next course, which is a medley of vegetarian dishes. If your first thought is that you're not a chardonnay lover, then take one sip of this one and tell me it doesn't change your mind in an instant. One of my favourite wines (and this is coming from someone who is not a fan of chardonnay).

Bean Curd Rolls
The first of the vegetarian dishes is a bean curd roll, which Cheong made himself at home. He made the bean curd with the aim of making the texture similar to that of eating meat... and we think he succeeded. It really was the best bean curd I've ever eaten, so thanks Cheong, I'm never going to be able to eat bean curd anywhere else ever again, so I hope he won't mind me popping over for Sunday family dinners! Paired with the freshness and heat from the apple and cucumber salad with a chilli mustard dressing, it was a great accompaniment to complement the flavour and texture of the almost meaty bean curd roll.

Silken Tofu
The next vegetarian dish to amaze our tastebuds was the organic fresh silken tofu, served with smoked soy bean (smoked at home by Cheong) with Wakame seaweed, honey and a black bean chilli oil and topped with fried enoki. Again, Cheong masters the perfect balance of texture and flavours with the soft freshness of the silky tofu, the depth of flavour in the smokiness of the soy bean, the kick of heat with the chilli and the crisp texture of the delicate enoki. An absolute winner of a dish.

Eggplant Tarts

The third vegetarian morsel was the sweet and sour eggplant tart. The delicate pastry shell hand made by one of the talented chefs at Sean's Kitchen, was perfectly crisp and flakey and held the sweet and sour eggplant, enhanced with the surprise addition of hazelnuts.

Tomato Gazpacho Shots
To cleanse our palate, Cheong presented a tomato jelly with gazpacho, a cold soup made with raw blended vegetables. This shot of goodness succeeded in doing just that, cleansing our palate with a cold, refreshing burst of flavour.

Vinteloper Touriga Nacional

To accompany our last two dishes we settle on another Adelaide Hills winery Vinteloper, and select the medium bodied red wine, Touriga Nacional. An easy drinking red wine, which worked wonderfully with both the upcoming fish and pork dishes.

Red Roast Barramundi $38
The next new year dish named "Always of Surplus" was a red roast barramundi with a leek fondue, celery. green chilli, spring onion, shaved calamari and snow pea tendrils. This dish was exceptionally moreish. The barramundi was pan fried skin side down in a miso based sauce, which created a crisp and caramelised skin on the stunning juicy fish. The thinly shaved South Australian calamari on top was very lightly cooked, which ensured the delicate calamari melted in our mouths. The creamy decadence of the leek fondue and the freshness of the snow pea tendrils rounded out this dish perfectly.

Suckling Pig $42

Our final savoury course was named "Prosperity with Strength & Smooth Sailing for the Year" and was a suckling pig stuffed with glutinous rice and served with XO sauce. We loved the tender meat surrounding the sticky glutinous rice and earthiness of chestnuts in the centre of a perfectly crisp skin, giving us that clean crunch we were hoping for. Combined with the salty fishy flavours and heat of the XO sauce made for an interesting and delicious dish.

Roasted Pineapple & Coconut Mousse Torte $14

For dessert we had the "Abundance of Profit", a roasted pineapple and coconut mousse torte with bitter chocolate cream and a Smiley Joe. A wonderful way to complete our meal, this dessert embodied everything Cheong aims to incorporate in all his dishes - varying textures, flavours and cultures. We loved the addition of the Smiley Joe, a deep fried sesame ball, made for the new year, bringing a savoury nutty flavour to the sweet, tart and bitter flavours of this delicious dessert. 

The Chef's Table
We were immensely glad we made the effort to make a reservation for Cheong's Kitchen Lunar New Year special event at Sean's Kitchen, as it was truly one of the highlight dinners of our life! Having the honour of dining at the chef's table and indulging in a magnificent menu designed by Cheong and executed beautifully by himself and the chefs at Sean's Kitchen, was a night that will forever put a smile on our face.

Sean Connolly signing the Damn Fine Wall
On our departure, we had the opportunity to watch Sean and Cheong sign the 'damn fine wall' located in Sean's Kitchen. This artwork is by typographer and artist Tania DeBono who is based in New York and makes for not only a great place for all the legendary chefs to leave their autograph, but also a fun selfie location!

Cheong Liew signing the Damn Fine Wall

We love to dine at Sean's Kitchen, which is evident in the many reviews we have enjoyed writing over the years. If you are looking for an excuse to visit, then start planning for the upcoming Crab Carnival running at Sean's Kitchen from Tuesday 17 March, until Sunday 12 April 2020. A fantastic event serving up delicious crab dishes such as the Chilli Mud Crab and Louisiana Crab Boil alongside many other crab favourites.

If you want to seek out Cheong Liew, then you will find him being amazing at the Tasting Australia festival on Friday 27 March until Sunday 5 April 2020. To book your spot at Cheong's Glasshouse Kitchen four course dinner visit the Tasting Australia Glasshouse Kitchen event page.

Happy New Year!


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