April 4, 2009

Eat and fly

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I’m flying to Paris tonight, but I’ve made arrangements for one last dinner before I go. A couple of friends wanted to try Island Tang (港島廳), and I was only too happy to oblige. I’ve always found the food to be simple and good.

We started with a few dim sum items: baked puff pastries filled with signature barbecued pork (蜜汁叉燒酥), baked barbecued pork buns in pineapple shape (焗菠蘿叉燒包), and vegetable and pork won tons with chili oil (紅油抄手). I thought the pastries were pretty good, the buns only so-so, and the won tons were nice and flavorful.

We also had a mixed platter with char siu (叉燒), soya chicken and marinated jellyfish. The char siu was very tender and nice, although it would have been even better with a bit of fat. The chicken was also pretty nice. Nothing fancy here, but everything was well-executed.

The scrambled eggs with mashed “Tai O” salted fish and chives (大澳鹹魚茸炒滑蛋) were awesome. This is a real homey dish found in places like tea houses (茶餐廳), and I was surprised to find it here. Lots of flavor from the fish and the chives, and we probably should have enjoyed it with some rice…

The pan-fried prawns with premium soy sauce and garlic (蒜香頭抽皇煎中蝦) were also a hit. Absolutely nothing to complain about here – again the execution was solid.

I was sure that everyone would enjoy the deep-fried de-boned duck coated with taro crust (荔茸香酥鴨), and I was right. The ladies absolutely loved the taro, of which there were three different variations – the mash on top of the duck, the deep-fried crust on top of the mash, and the taro chips on the side. I can have this dish all day long…

Finally, a veggie dish in the form of braised bean curd sheet with black fungus and bean curd stick (雲耳豆卜鮮支竹) to balance things out. A pleasant surprise to everyone.

The one disappointment for me was dessert. The sago coconut cream with water chestnut (椰汁馬蹄露) was really just sago cream with some water chestnut bits, as opposed to water chestnut cream with some coconut… Oh well.

I brought along two bottles of 1999 New World Pinot Noirs for a tasting. I’ve been dying to try these wines as they’ve been sitting in my cellar for years, and I think the side-by-side comparison was actually very interesting.

1999 Bass Philip Old Cellar Pinot Noir – the color was very light and translucent, and because the wine was unfiltered and no decanting was done, it got to be very cloudy. The nose was very, very sweet, with lots of strawberries, bubblegum and a bit of grass. Really nice and elegant.

1999 Dry River Pinot Noir Amaranth – a completely different wine with darker colors. Huge nose of buttery toffee, caramel, tropical fruits like pineapple and orange – even a bit farmy. Smells and tastes a lot like some Californian Pinot Noirs. Nose was very powerful but the finish was short.

I must say that the dinner turned out pretty well, and it was with a satisfied smile on my face that I headed to the airport to board my flight…

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