More than 300 people attended the annual Lunar New Year celebration and banquet at Fung's Kitchen. As in years past, chef and propietor Hoi Fung presided over the festivities alongside friend and colleague Martin Yan, well known for his television series Yan Can Cook.
Yan, who had flown to Houston specifically for the event, was accompanied by chef Tony Wu, the executive chef of M.Y. China in San Francisco, and a master of the centuries-old tradition of noodle pulling.
The evening kicked off with a traditional lion dance, with three lions dancing and working their way through the guests tables to collect little red envelopes containing money. It is the Chinese tradition to bestow the lion with money to ensure good luck and prosperity, and many eager guests did so, posing for photo ops and even petting the lion as they would a live pet.
"We have an eight-course banquet for you this evening," announced Yan. "Why eight? Because eight is a lucky number, and it will bring you good fortunes for the new year." And thus, the joyous food celebration began, beginning with a crispy skinned roast pork and a butternut squash soup teeming with fresh chunks of grouper.
As in years past, Fung and Yan performed live cooking demonstrations on the stage, which were projected onto two large projection panels located in the front and back of the banquet room. Yan explained everything as he went along, keeping the momentum of the evening high, an entertainer to the core. I was hoping to see Wu do his traditional noodle pulling demonstration, but this year he opted instead to show us other tricks, such as how he could slice meat on top of a balloon without popping the balloon.
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There were plenty of giveaways during the evening to bolster the spirit of the celebration, as numbers were drawn (each person had been given a raffle ticket at entrance) and guests came up to the podium, television-game-show-style, to receive their prizes. Among the prizes were items like bottles of sake, gift certificates, and Martin Yan aprons.
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Food-wise, Fung's delivered with items like roast plump champagne quail, imperial whole sea scallop in a wasabi sauce (each guest went home with a gift bag from Kikkoman that included this sauce), colossal tiger prawns in spicy garlic salt that were as big as a five-ounce lobster tail, crispy pork in a hand-made wonton cup, hand-pulled noodles by chef Wu, and caramelized fuji apple crisp topped with sugar threads.
The Fung's Lunar New Year is a colorful, fun event that sells out every year. If you don't want to miss out, be sure to call and make your reservation during Christmas-time or the beginning of January. We leave you with some photos of the food and festivities.