February 28, 2010

The famous Sham Tseng roast goose

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I was at a friend's house near Tsuen Wan today when we decided it was time enough to go for a late lunch.  The elves came to my rescue, sending me a few suggestions in the neighborhood.  Unfortunately this wasn't a crowd that would eat at your local cha chaan teng... so a motion was made to go and have roast goose.

After a big detour, we ended up in Yue Kee (裕記大飯店) in Sham Tseng.  I guess this was the old favorite, even though my friend who lives in the area had warned me that despite the reputation, the roast goose in Sham Tseng is only so-so.  Oh well, you never know until you try!

We ordered a whole charcoal oven roast goose (炭爐燒鵝) to start.  Well...the skin was crispy, but I thought they had over-roasted the bird.  The skin was a little too charred in some places, which I definitely did not want.  In terms of the goose meat itself, it was OK but not really outstanding.  In fact the noodle shop a few steps from my office can probably beat this place in terms of roast goose on any given day...

The double-boiled watercress and goose gizzard soup (鵝腎西洋菜湯) was OK.  Watercress soup is always good, and the gizzards have been boiled for so long that they were starting to turn a little mushy.

The deep-fried smelt (椒鹽白飯魚) was pretty good.  Slightly spicy and tasted great.  I wouldn't have minded if I took half the plate myself...

De-shelled prawns stir-fried with egg (滑蛋蝦仁) is a classic dish.  This was OK, with yellowed chives to provide additional flavors.

I had no interest in the Chinese-style beef steak (中式牛柳) nor the stir-fried goose offal in black bean sauce (豉椒鵝腸什), so I didn't touch them.

The pan-fried salty fish (煎咸魚) was very good.  Pretty salty and a little smelly, but everything you wanted out of the preserved fish.  As I wasn't eating any rice, I just sampled a small piece to satisfy my taste buds.

The stir-fried kale (炒芥蘭) was OK. The sauce of the clay pot lettuce looked like fermented tofu (腐乳), so I chose to stay away from this one, too.

Hopefully, my next trip to Sham Tseng for roast goose will yield better results...

February 27, 2010

Another long and boozy lunch

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A group of us got together for a nice and relaxing long lunch today.  Zuma was having its "Sake Saturday" and we decided to check it out.  Chef Matt is a friend of our friend SONFA (She of no Facebook account), and she arranged for the lunch and for the chef to prepare "something special" for us.

We started with the Washington oysters and daikon snow.  We squeezed a few drops of hanaho vinaigrette - made with akashiso (赤紫蘇) flowers - on top of the radish-flavored shaved ice.  Pretty nice balance between the briny flavors of the ocean and the light acidic vinaigrette.

Akagai and asparagus salad with grapefruit - interesting mix of flavors.  I usually am not a fan of ark shell (赤貝), but found myself having seconds and thirds today as the acidity of the grapefruit neutralizes the taste of the shellfish.

Wakasagi nanbanzuke (公魚南蛮漬け) - a pleasant surprise to see the Japanese smelt here.  My memories of eating wakasagi is on my trips to Hakone, visiting 深生そば by Ashinoko (芦ノ湖), where I'd order a plate of them deep-fried to go along with my soba.  What we had today was marinated with vinegar after frying.

Hijiki and lotus root salad - nice and refreshing, with crunchy texture.  I've always liked hijiki (ひじき) and this is one more way to make it interesting.

Pig ear and kombu with garlic tosazu - another nice salad.  I love pig ears, and I'm pretty surprised to find it here.  Long strips of ears along with sea kelp (昆布), mizuna (みずな) and slices of garlic marinated in tosazu (土佐酢).  Lots of minced ginger.

Mizuna leaves, crispy jacko and onsen egg - by far the most popular salad.  The mizuna leaves were fragrant, and we had crysanthemum petals, nori (のり), deep-fried jacko (片口鰯, Japanese anchony) mixed with a soft-boiled egg.

By this time we've had so many salads and cold dishes that some of the men were clamoring for some hot food.  But what had to follow, of course, was the sashimi platter, with young yellowtail (魬) and salmon among the offerings.

The first hot dish that came was the pork shaboo, cabbage and sesame ponzu.  This met with overwhelming approval from the crowd, not the least because of the crispy pork rinds which we all loved.  I noticed one of the elves kept picking the leftover pork rinds up, one at a time, and slowly they disappeared from the table.  The pork was sliced pretty thin and blanched in typical shabu shabu (しゃぶしゃぶ) style, then mixed in with the cabbage with the ponzu (ポン酢).

The grilled akagai and kinome butter was arguably the most popular dish of the day.  The ark shell came cooked in its own shells, with a really yummy butter seasoned with kinome (木の芽), the young leaves of Japanese sansho (山椒).  The butter was so delicious that a couple of us drank it.

Matt was kind enough to prepare a second batch and sent some nori toast along.  Drizzing the toast with this butter and finishing it with one bite (more or less...) was just divine.

Next up was the "special dish" Matt prepared, with some grilled chicken fat which someone had brought back from Taiwan.  The chicken fat mushroom risotto with raw egg yolk was definitely different.  Someone remarked that this tasted like yakitori, and in fact almost exactly like a grilled minced chicken (つくね) because of the combination of grilled chicken and raw egg yolk.  Needless to say the bowls were emptied in no time...

Sake kazu roasted kurobuta was another fun dish.  The kurobuta pork (黒豚) was soft and succulent, tasting like really nice honey-roasted ham in texture.  The sauce was a sweet miso based on sake kasu (酒粕), the white solids of the sake lees after pressing.  These were served with baby apples.

Roasted turnip, greens, crispy scallops - the scent of yuzu (柚子) hits you right away.  Apparently Matt used yuzu to marinate the scallops, then used the scallop and yuzu marinade to soak the turnip.  I thought the combination of crispy dried scallops and spinach was interesting.

Chicken karaage (チキン唐揚げ) was not just any fried chicken.  It was damn good fried chicken.  The chefs at the table were discussing how long it had been brined...a discussion that was totally over my head but I didn't care.  I concentrated on eating the yummy chicken, and finished the last drumstick on the plate.

Panko fried aji and takana tartar sauce - the horse mackerel (鯵) was filleted, breaded with Japanese-style breadcrumbs (パン粉), and deep-fried.  The remaining skeleton was also deep-fried as usual.  Tartar sauce was made with a variant of leaf mustard known as takana (高菜).

I had a mishap with the asari clams with roasted garlic miso broth... I took a bite into my first clam (浅蜊) and got a mouthful of sand.  Not a couple of grains...the damn thing was full of it.  I was kinda in shock, and immediately apologized while spitting it out onto the plate.  Not very good manners, I'm afraid... I then proceeded to run to the restroom and rinsed my mouth, as there was just too much sand hiding everywhere.  Later I took a look at my plate, and the clam was slate gray!  Yuck...  Needless to say I didn't touch the rest of it.  But the others didn't seem to have a problem with sand.  Lucky me...

We were really full, but how could we say no to dessert, especially when I always felt it was the best part of a meal at Zuma?

Japanese strawberry with pop rocks - a very ripe and sweet strawberry covered with big chunks of pop rocks.  They kept popping and splitting in my mouth...kinda violently sometimes.

Musk melon sorbet - well, more like granita... in any case it was very refreshing, with a ripe melon ball inside the shot glass.  I love Japanese melons... So refreshing on a warm afternoon.

Sake kazu brûlée with Kyoho grape sorbet - more sake kasu, with a brûlée top. One of the elves SONFA said that it tasted like vomit...well, no one else thought so but I could see the logic.  Sake kasu is the leftovers from the fermentation process, so in that sense...  Anyway, the grape sorbet was good.

Amadei chocolate and sudachi sorbet - the sudachi (酢橘) lime sorbet lollipop was housed in a thin coating made from Amadei chocolate, with what looked like rice crispies.  Somehow the thing tasted of chili or pepper... was it in the Amadei chocolate?

Lest we forget, this was a "Sake Saturday" so of course sake was involved...plenty of it!  They're doing a promotion with Nanbu Bijin (南部美人) so we had a couple of them:

Nanbu Bijin Tokubetsu Junmai (南部美人特別純米酒) - a hint of dryness on the palate, turning sweeter with time in glass.  Reasonably smooth.  Nihon shudo (日本酒度) of +4 and seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 55%.

Nanbu Bijin Junmai Daiginjo (南部美人純米大吟醸) - much smoother and less spicy than the tokubetsu junmai, which is not surprising since the Nihon shudo (日本酒度) is +3 instead of +4. seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 35%.

Eikun Junmai Daiginjo Izutsuya Ihei Iwaimai Sanwarigobiki (英勲純米大吟醸井筒屋伊兵衛祝米三割五分磨き) - I picked up this bottle in Kyoto a couple of years ago as I wanted to buy something local.  This was really smooth with a sweet and long finish.  However after leaving the sake in glass for a while, the alcohol became pretty sharp with a dry finish.  Notes of banana and tropical fruits in the nose.  Nihon shudo (日本酒度) of +2 and seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 35%.

We finished lunch after about 4 hours... I'd say it was a pretty good day...

February 25, 2010

Tasting wines with Dr. Katharina Prüm

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Tonight I attended a dinner at the China Club organized by my local wine shop, tasting the wines of Joh. Jos. Prüm.  We were fortunate to have Dr. Katharina Prüm, the current-generation winemaker from the family, in attendance as she swings through on her Asian tour.

The menu tonight seemed to match the food well, and was pretty yummy in and of itself.

Roasted suckling pig accompanied with barbecued pork and jelly fish (化皮乳豬拼叉燒海蜇) - a great way to start the meal.  The jelly fish came with a sauce that made it more flavorful than the usual stuff.  The suckling pig was pretty good, but the char siu was the clear winner.  There were strips of succulent fat, and the honey glaze on the outside was awesome.

Baked stuffed crab shell (焗釀鮮蟹蓋) - a disaster.  One of the worst stuffed crab shell I've had recently.  The filling was hard and tough, and I had to put effort in scraping it off the shell.

Crystal king prawn in "Szechuan" sauce (川汁玻璃大蝦球) - these were pretty huge and impressive when laid out in front of us.  Taste was OK, but we wondered whether these were soaked in soda powder to achieve that translucence.  The sauce was OK...probably more appealing to foreign palates as it's similar to the shrimp cocktail sauce...

Braised shark's fin soup with shredded chicken (紅燒雞絲翅) - I don't (normally) eat shark's fin so I gave up my bowl.

Sautéed minced pigeon served with fresh lettuce slice (生菜片鴿崧) - pretty nicely done, and so much better than the minced duck I had a few days ago.

Sautéed shrededed beef with onion (中式牛柳條) - clearly a dish that appeals to foreign palates, but well-executed and delicious.

Fried rice in "Yeung Chow" style (楊州炒飯) - pretty decent actually.  The rice grains were dry enough and had enough bite.

Braised e-fu noodles (干燒伊府麵) - not bad.

We had some fresh fruits and fortune cookies to finish the meal... Fortune cookies?!  I didn't realize we were in an American Chinese restaurant...

The wine lineup of the evening was spread across vintages, vineyards as well as ripeness categories.

2008 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett - very young and fresh, with notes of pear, minerals, green apple, banana and tropical fruits.

2007 Graacher Himmelreich Kabinett - classic nose, slightly pungent, with notes of plastic, polyurethane, a little minerality, and a bit of marmalade on the finish.

2004 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett - nose of minerals, petrol, a hint of plastic, green apples and a hint of muscat grapes.  This was clearly a more complex wine compared to its younger sibling.

2007 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Spätlese - almost my wine of the evening.  Very complex, with lots of minerals, petrol and plastic in the nose.  Being a spätlese it was naturally sweeter, with a little bit of orange rind on the palate.  Beautiful and a pleasure to drink.

2005 Les Fiefs de Lagrange - inserted by the local agent coz they thought that us "local people" only drink red wine and couldn't possibly sit through an all-white dinner.  How wrong they were... This was a really funky wine... there was sweet fruit in the nose, with some vanilla and caramel from the oak barrels, but the nose was dominated by what I thought was a mix of Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce or some sort of a barbeque sauce.  There were notes of mint and smoke, too. 

2007 Graacher Himmelreich Auslese - very fresh and fruity, with nose of plastic and candied pomelo rind.  The wine is rich and smooth now, sweet (as auslese should be) but with good acidity. 

1995 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese - not surprisingly, this was my wine of the evening.  A huge nose of petrol, mineral, slate and perhaps a hint of white pepper?  For a wine that is almost 15 years old, the color was surprisingly pale - no doubt the result of the slow aging process as it sat in the cellars at the estate until very recently.  The wine was surprisingly dry on the palate, especially for auslese.  Katharina said that their wines are made to age, and the proof was in my glass.  What an amazing wine!  And how I would love to watch it develop over the next 10 years!

This was a very pleasant evening, leading me to immediately placed orders for my favorite wines.  Maybe I'll try to visit the estate one of these days...

February 24, 2010

Go stuff yourself...

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It was supposed to be a quiet and uneventful evening - a welcome respite in a week packed with dinners and drinking sessions - but it was not to be.  I'm stuffed.  Again.  So how did I get here?

A couple of days ago I received an email from someone at WOM Guide (Fergus and Samanta are really nice people), informing me that I had won the weekly competition for submitting reviews.  I think I posted a few of them in a row.  Anyway, the prize was a free meal worth up to $500 - compliments of WOM - and the requirement was to dine somewhere within a week and post a review.  So...I promptly decided to go somewhere and stuff myself...at someone else's expense.

So after pondering about how I would spend WOM's money on a solo dining experience, I decided to pay Union J a visit.  This place has been around for a while, and a couple of my friends are friends with the chefs.  But somehow I have never found myself stepping into the space, until now.

I was gonna make a simple meal out of it, not wanting to eat too much, but ultimately I got suckered into getting the 3-course set dinner.  That would already be more than enough for me, except that I really wanted to try one of the side dishes...so yes, I ended up having 3 and a half courses.

I started with crispy boneless chicken wings: ginger caramel, shrimp stuffing, citrus slaw.  The smell of ginger, caramelized sugar and Asian spices like lemongrass hit me as soon as the plate arrived.  It was obviously gonna be a fusion dish...with that pink sauce at the bottom reminding me of a very, very weak Thai red curry.  The portion was pretty big, actually.  But I thought the ginger caramel was just too sweet, almost like having molasses on top.

Red wine beef cheek: cooked overnight, celery root purée is one of the chef's recomended dishes, according to the menu.  It came looking like a well-charred hamburger patty, which yielded to the knife as if it were butter.  It was that soft.  There was enough fat (oops!) collagen, but the texture of the meat itself - plus the slow-cooking process - produced something that just about melted in my mouth.  There's a little bit of cracked black pepper on the outside, which was nice.  The celery purée was pretty nice, and there were some cooked celery stalks topped with a "salsa" of carrot, onion and pancetta.  Slurp...  I can see why they keep recommending this dish.

I couldn't resist ordering some duck fat fries, even though I knew I could never finish them.  These were good, even though I normally don't like fat fries.  The steak sauce that came with it was also interesting, tasting of sour plum and Asian spices like star anise.

Finally there was the cheese cake: blueberry snow, candied grapefruit.  The nice manager who recommended it to me didn't know what I meant by New York cheesecake, which I guess is tough for people who haven't spent much (or any) time in the States.  All she could say was that it was creamy.  Well, that it was.  The flavor was what I wanted out of my cheesecake.  But the consistency was like parfait - it melted under the temperature of my mouth.  I prefer my cheesecake to be solid and packed - a chunk of which I can toss around inside my mouth with my tongue, needing some pressure to work it over before it finally gives way and starts thinning.  But nevermind...as long as it's rich enough.  And the blueberry "snow" was interesting.

I do have to mention the excellent service I got, which was a pleasant surprise.  I stumbled in as a solo diner without a reservation, and I was led to a table by the window, away from the rest of the crowd in the dining room that was half full.  As I waited for my food to arrive, the manager brought me two magazines so I had something to do other than twiddling my thumbs.  And my waiter seemed to understand that I wanted to pace myself a little, not wanting to just stuff myself with food and leave in a hurry.  For once in a Hong Kong restaurant, the waiter did not feel the need to swoop in and clear the dishes mere seconds after I put down my cutlery.  Kudos to the management.

Unfortunately for me, there was simply too much food for one person...and my usual double espresso remedy didn't do much good tonight.  That's it!  I'm rejoining a gym and hitting it hard...

February 23, 2010

The three Pierres

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A friend of mine graciously invited me for dinner and share some wines at Wagyu Kaiseki Den. It's been a couple of months since my first visit, and I was pretty excited about going back.  Interestingly, I was sandwiched between two Pierres - making us a trio.

先付:lobster, uni, komatsuna and caviar with seaweed in sesame sauce - I suppose the combination of lobster, sea urchin and caviar is interesting, as the sweetness of the first two ingredients would balance out the savory flavors of the caviar.  The komatsuna (小松菜) was kinda interesting, as it is a Japanese variant of spinach - hence the familiar pairing with sesame sauce, although interesting we had both white and black sesame tonight.

前菜:hairy crab with vinegar jelly, ebiimo age, daigo age, negitoro, kamo quail meat with gobou and shirauo - this is pretty typical of kaiseki... putting lots of different bite-sized items in a lacquer box and serving them together.  The hairy crab jelly was not bad; the deep-fried taro (海老芋) was good; ネギトロ and the rest were OK.

椀物 :hamaguri clear soup - actually the clam (蛤) was kinda disappointing.  There was a single bamboo shoot and some kind of radish wrap on top.  The veggie inside the wrap has pretty strong flavors.

造り:chef's selection sashimi - served in two courses: first were a few thin slices of yellowtail (鰤), which I didn't like.  I'm used to thicker slices of buri, which when served cold gives a crunchier, chewier texture.  What we got tonight were limp and soft - which may be the way locals here prefer the fish.  Second serving came with a very nice halfbeak (細魚) as well as pieces of fatty tuna.  I didn't think it would be polite to turn down the tuna - even though I'm trying not to eat bluefin - so I ate the very fatty and yummy slices.

お淩ぎ:gyu tan iimushi - two very soft and tender pieces of ox tongue, steamed in a ceramic cup (with holes at the bottom) over rice.  Very yummy.

揚油物:fried taraba crab and amadai yasai maki - the deep-fried veggie wrapped in a thin slice of horsehead (甘鯛) was pretty nice, as the texture of the fish was soft and silky.  Nice deep-fried slice of mushroom - I think it was king oyster mushroom (エリンギ) and not matsutake (松茸)... The real interesting part was the deep-fried red king crab leg (鱈場蟹), with a layer of flour in the shape of a bunch of brunoise-sized "studs".  Very yummy.

進肴:kamo and lilybulb manjyu with truffle sauce - I'm assuming by kamo the restaurant meant duck, but I didn't taste anything remotely like duck... The manju was filled with sweet lilybulb mash, and the black truffle sauce was pretty fragrant.

主菜:charcoal grilled wagyu - very fatty, succulent and yummy beef, grilled flawlessly, with a single grilled ginko nut on top.  I didn't want to spoil the beef by dipping it into a sauce or even salt.

雲丹とトリュフ土鍋ご飯 - the claypot rice that I had last time was great, and tonight's variation was also impeccable.  Reasonably big chunks of sea urchin, finely chopped spring onions, finely diced black truffle along with black truffle shavings were mixed together to create this really fragrant pot of rice.  I couldn't resist a second bowl, especially with the burnt rice crispies.

Dessert was a crème caramel with black soybeans, with a caramelized hard top made from Okinawan black sugar.  A pretty nice combination.

The wine lineup tonight was very nice, spread across two countries and three regions.

1999 Amour de Deutz - the last time I had this Champagne was at my friend's wedding in Reims.  This was beautiful with a yeasty nose, ripe, round and smooth on the palate and a nice finish.  Paired very well with the first course.  Interestingly, there's a twist to the metal cap which traditionally covers the Champagne cork.  The metal piece here has been stamped with an image of Cupid, and a string has been attached to make it into a pendant.  That's a pretty nice touch.

1996 Ramonet Bâtard-Montrachet - I've always loved the white wines of Ramonet, and this was no exception.  A very lovely nose, very ripe with notes of pineapple, straw, marmalade, salty plum (話梅), sweet cotton candy, caramel...and towards the end, almost exactly like the Cantonese drink of sugar cane and water chestnut (竹蔗茅根水)!  Acidity was a little high, and showed some minerality and metallic flavors on the palate.

1993 Hubert Lignier Clos de la Roche - unfortunately I only had one pour of this wine (drinking too slowly...), but initially it was a little sharp, with notes of pine needle, forest, eucalyptus and black cherries.  It died about three hours after opening, and all that was left was smoke and brett.

1998 Baron Bornemisza Aszú 6 Puttonyos - this interesting wine is the baby of Marchese Lodovico Antinori.  Nose of orange marmalade, botrytis, sugar cane and plum.  Obviously pretty sweet as it's a 6 puttonyos.  Once I've tasted the next wine, this one naturally tasted much fresher and lighter...and it's not everyday that you can say that about a 6 puttonyos!

1993 Château Pajzos Esszencia - Wow! What a wine!  This is the first time I've drunk Tokaji Esszencia, one of the richest sweet wines in the world.  I actually have a couple of 50cl bottles of this wine, and my friend brought out a 10cl baby bottle given to her by winemaker Ronan Laborde, whose family also owns Château Clinet.  This was really concentrated, unctuous, with nose of salty plum (話梅), caramel, toffee, spices and a little botrytis.  Tokaji is known to be very sweet, especially Esszencia, but this has great acidity balance.  I think I's gotta get me some more...

What a wonderful evening!

February 22, 2010

Isle of Islay vs Isla Formosa

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Tonight I went back to Bar Seed for a drink (or two...) with a colleague.  We had just received our license for our company from the SFC today, so it seemed like a perfect excuse to do a little celebration.

We finished the bottle of Murray McDavid Macallan 1997 from my last visit.  I enjoyed this as much as last time, possibly more.  Nose of honey, caramel, raisins, butterscotch, a little salty plum (話梅) and a bit spicy.  The palate was sweet, with a long and spicy finish.  Not surprisingly, this was good on the rocks but much better straight from the single malt glass.

I brought out something different tonight.  There's been a little bit of excitement in Taiwan recently over Kavalan (噶瑪蘭), the new whisky distillery in Yilan, Taiwan.  Apparently at some random blind tasting last month - with a small sample of 4 whiskies - the regular Kavalan offering (Sherry cask) won over the rest.  Taiwanese media of course made a big deal of out it, and I finally took notice of this product whose advertisements I have seen numerous times in Taoyuan Airport.

On my way out of Taipei after the Lunar New Year, I picked up a bottle of the (limited edition?) Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask.  There's no indication on how old this single malt is, but given that the distillery was only set up in the last couple of years, this is probably no more than 3 years old.  This was also at cask strength, so just under 60% alcohol.

I took this on the rocks, letting the water dilute the strong drink.  Nose was a little unexpected - salty plum (話梅), sour plum soup (酸梅湯), and ripe fruits in general.  Pretty sweet on the palate.  The nose was almost brandy-like, and pretty different from your run-of-the-mill whisky.  Maybe the regular Kavalan whisky would have a different nose.  From my bar stool last night, I couldn't quite understand why the group of people in Scotland actually picked Kavalan to be the winner.  The darn thing was just too one-dimensional, with no complexity whatsoever.

Guess I'll have to try it again, probably drinking it straight instead of diluting it.  I'll get a better sense of the nose this way.

February 20, 2010

Flushing another Michelin star down the toilet

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It's been two hours since I stopped eating, I've recovered from my buzz, and now it's time for dinner.  I volunteered (insisted?) to pick the venue for this post-Lunar New Year dinner with my adopted family, and decided we should try out Regal Palace (富豪金殿).  Reasons for this pick? 1: I was tasked to find a new place where the family hasn't been. 2: The restaurant has gotten a macaron for the last two years. 3: I vaguely remember a fellow blogger talking about it last year.  I should have listened to the naysayers next to me...

As soon as we walked in, I detected a whiff of that "Chinese (read mainland) restaurant" smell... and was amazed that I found it in a restaurant in Hong Kong, and one with a star, no less!  Not a good sign of things to come.

I was still pretty full, and the ordering was done by someone else.  In retrospect I should have insisted on ordering for all of us.  There were a few Lunar New Year specials that I wanted to try, but I wasn't gonna eat a whole lot anyway.  Oh well.

The stuffed tofu skin (腐皮卷) was OK.  The skin had the right amount of smoky flavor, but the filling of julienned veggies could have been cut finer.  Maybe I'm just spoiled but it was just too crunchy for me.

We probably should not have ordered the Chiuchow-style marinated cuttlefish (潮式鹵水魷魚)...it's more a noodle shop item for me...and of course it sucked.  We actually ended up asking them whether this was made in-house or bought from outside... None of us wanted to have it so someone went and finished it all.

Roast Peking duck (北京片鴨) was next, and it was OK. I was hungry enough to have made 3 pancake wraps out of it.

I didn't touch the next two dishes as they were pretty uninteresting to me.  Stir-fried beef with spring onions (蔥爆牛肉) was for someone else's benefit; spinach in superior broth (上湯菠菜) was boring, and I hate that sometimes spinach carries that earthy taste.  Apparently the spinach here had fine grains of sand...didn't wash or flush them out thoroughly.

The pan-fried prawns in soy sauce (豉油煎中蝦) was probably the only decent dish all night.  It was the only thing that somewhat got my mouth watering...

The hairy gourd and conpoy pot (瑤柱節瓜煲) is normally something I would really love, but tonight I didn't have much of an appetite.  This is a simple dish that I enjoy, but what I had in front of me didn't look as appetizing as the ones I had elsewhere... Would have preferred a little less soy sauce so the thing didn't look as dark.  But taste-wise it was OK.  I even had seconds.

The remainder of the duck came back as stir-fried diced duck (炒鴨崧), which we wrapped in iceberg lettuce leaves.  This was also a little disappointing.  The duck meat wasn't that good - kinda mushy in fact.  They added water chestnuts for crunch but I was kinda hoping they'd throw in a few pinenuts...no such luck.

Finally, there was a stir-fried mixed vegetable dish featuring lotus root.

I was pretty excited about the dessert menu, because it's the first time I've seen a four-page dessert menu at a Chinese restaurant.  But I was pretty full and I think the crowd wasn't that happy with the food anyway, so no dessert for me.

I came back and looked for my fellow blogger's post about this place - and my own comment at the time.  I actually said something like "it looks like I don't need to go for a visit"...  Well! I came, regretted my decision, and won't be coming back.  Admittedly, we did not order anything really special, and some of the dishes we ordered weren't exactly Cantonese.  But I'm a firm believer that if a restaurant can't get the simple dishes right, then they shouldn't be in business.


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