“Kong Hey Fatt Choy”
It is the Year of The Dragon, the fifth animal in the Chinese calendar. Out goes the “rabbit” year. The first day of the new year starts on Monday 23rd January 2012. Last weekend, the festival was celebrated at the predominantly Vietnamese community suburb of Richmond. This weekend, there were three other festivals ushering in the dragon year. I went to the one held on the Saturday at Box Hill. It was quite different from the one at Richmond, which I thought was much better. The food at Richmond was much more interesting with a focus on the Vietnamese street food. The public space was bigger and wider with more space to move around without being overly crowded.
At Box Hill, most of the stalls were selling the same thing – barbeque meat on skewers and more barbeque meat on skewers, Korean swivel fried potatoes and more of the same. There were two stalls selling the fried raddish cake, which I bought from one stall for $6. It was a disappointment. It was overfried, hard to eat and bland. I threw most of it away.
The festival at Box Hill was far more commercialised than Richmond. There were many more stalls, but more than half of the stalls were promoting their businesses – the Banks, the property developers, several DVD stalls, and retail stalls. It was very Chinese – about wealth and business. The stalls were setup in a small and narrow pedestrian mall next to Box Hill train station, and adjoining small street at the other end of the pedestrian mall. The crowd was mostly Asian. It was hard to know whether I was in Australia or in Hong Kong! It was SO crowded! I kept knocking on people. The main stage was small in a small area. There was another smaller stage at the end of the pedestrian mall for street performancers. The thing I enjoyed most at Box Hill was the lion dance – professional, skillful and entertaining, the Buddha shrine for worshippers and the street Chinese women drum dance.
The crowd kept coming in…
The food stalls…lots of barbeque skewers food stall after stall…,
and,…the stall that sold me the fried raddish cakes. Looks good, right? That was what I thought until I tried them. Maybe he gave me the overcooked ones which he packed earlier in a takeaway container.
The food stalls were quite disappointing. Not as interesting as the stalls at Richmond’s festival. I decided to eat at one of the restaurant in Box Hill. There were quite a few along the main road. The only problem was I didn’t know which one is good, and I ran out of battery on my iPhone to Google Places to find the best eat. I ended choosing “China Bar”.
It is one of those places where you get a quick bite, get up, pay and leave. The service was fast. The table turnover was equally fast. It was the hanging roast meats at the front window that attracted me to this place. But, after looking through the extensive menu, which offers almost everything from dumplings to rice dishes to noodles, from Malaysian style to Chinese style. Kind of a confusing menu. My first impression was it doesn’t sound good, but I was tired and hungry.
I decided for fried dumplings and Hor Fun (flat rice noodle) with egg sauce. Unfortunately, they were both wrong choices and I suppose a wrong choice to eat in the first place. The fried dumplings were not crispy fried, but chewy and spongy. After eating one, I had to leave the dumpling skin and ate the fillings. The Hor Fun dish was a plateful of noodle with lots of gravy, and little ingredients. It was extremely starchy and bland. The good thing was I didn’t have to spend to much for making the wrong choice.
Anyway, it is Chinese New Year. Remember no quarelling, no bad temper, no complaining and be generous, compassionate, understanding, giving, no cursing and foul language for the next 15 days so you can have all the good fortune and luck in the next 366 days. Oh, after that you can start complaining, cursing and blah blah as much as you like for the remaining 351 days! We are only human! 🙂