June 25, 2010

Party animals unleashed

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I was invited to dinner hosted by a friend in honor of a couple of visiting pastry chefs, one of them from a 3-star restaurant in New York.  Naturally it was a gathering of foodies, including - according to the hostess - "the person who can make or break a restaurant in Hong Kong".  There were 3 professional writers, 2 bloggers and 3 chefs - a tough crowd.

So I obligingly dragged my behind back to Fook Lam Moon (福臨門)...again.  The menu had been put together by the two siblings from the second generation who are currently managing the restaurant.

The appetizers consisted of fried pomfret (炸鯧魚), grilled chicken liver (燒雞肝), pig's ear terrine (千層峰) and deep-fried pork neck (椒鹽肉根).  Honestly, I didn't really care for the pomfret...these tiny slivers were just miles away from the whole fish that I'd normally have.  The liver was pretty good, though, and I especially liked the sweet, honeyed sauce. The terrine and pork neck were decent.

The roast suckling pig (大紅片皮乳豬) was up next.  While the skin was as crispy as ever, I thought the pig was a little over-roasted.  The leg that I was gnawing on was definitely a little too charred for my taste.

Conch and chicken feet soup with Chinese yam and wolfberries (淮杞鳳爪燉螺頭湯) - same as it ever was.  Good stuff to cool down my overheated body...

Stir-fried shredded soft-shelled turtle with chinese pickles (炸菜絲炒水魚絲) - this was not bad.  You can't really tell it's soft-shelled turtle... and the shredded pickles (榨菜) and chili really made the dish.

Deep fried live groupa fillet topped with fresh crab and sweet corn (蟹肉粟米扒斑塊) - before we arrived, I had joked about this dish being very cha chaan teng (茶餐廳).  The execution here, of course, was better.  The fillets were nice and crispy, and tasted pretty good.  But I can't shake that feeling about it being the same as what I'd have in a local cafe...

Braised pomelo skin with dried shrimp roe accompanied with chinese mustard green (蝦子柚皮拌芥胆) - not bad, but I found the flavors a little weak... the pomelo skin was simply soaked in too much liquid.

Braised duck with summer baby ginger (子薑炆鴨) - our hostess tried to introduce the dish to her guests, but misunderstood and Cantonese and got confused between "napkin (紙巾)" and "baby ginger (子薑)"... which made for a good laugh.  The duck was not bad, but the baby ginger was pretty nice.

Steamed rice wrapped in lotus leaf (鮮荷葉飯) - a very nice and fragrant way to finish.

Then came the desserts:  deep-fried squares with walnuts (合桃馬仔), glutinous rice balls steamed in apple leaves (豆沙蘋葉角), deep-fried glutinous rice puff (煎堆) and walnut cream (杏仁茶).  The highlight was without a doubt the puffs... they were so perfectly round, and because the layer was thick enough, did not collapse under their own weight as the air inside cooled.  They were also really fragrant... probably the best I've ever had.

I always knew this was not a drinking crowd, so I was pretty reserved when it came to bringing alcohol.  We started with a bottle of 2003 Moët et Chandon Grand Vintage from a friend, then moved on to another bottle of Moët taken from the restaurant.

We then opened the magnum of 1996 Hugel Riesling Vendage Tardive I brought.  Pretty classic Riesling... lots of plastic, floral (osmanthus?) notes, sweet, orange and honey.  Sweet on the palate thanks to this being a late harvest wine.

There was also a bottle of Oka Ichirin (桜華一輪), a very nice daiginjo sake (大吟醸酒).  This offering from Sakura Masamune (櫻正宗) came with a seimaibuai (精米歩合) of only 37%, and was pretty fragrant and slightly dry and spicy finish, despite the slight sweetness mid-palate.

We were all pretty full and getting a little high... and decided to adjourn to a Japanese karaoke lounge for some fun.  What I witnessed in the room afterwards can only be described as the unleashing of a bunch of party animals... but that's another story.

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