November 7, 2012

Just say roe

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In this age where we get live feeds from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the like, it's not unusual to get a flood of images coming from friends who have just dined at a particular restaurant together.  Not long ago I kept seeing pictures of certain dishes come across my various social media accounts, and decided that they looked good enough for me to try.  A quick call to Mrs. Tigger and we had ourselves a table at Man Wah (文華廳) in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

The restaurant is running a joint promotion with Shing Lung Hong (成隆行), a long-time distributor of hairy crabs (大閘蟹) in Hong Kong.  A number of dishes have been created to highlight the seasonal crabs and their delicious roe.  I was naturally drawn in by the beautiful pictures taken by my friends.

I was late to dinner due to a misunderstanding, and arrived to a half a plate of Cantonese roast meats.  The char siu (叉燒) was actually very good, with just the right amount of marbling inside.  I should have checked with the restaurant to see if this was pork shoulder (脢頭肉)…  The crackling of the roast suckling pig (烤乳豬) was pretty good, too.

We I decided to dispense with the set dinner and order à la carte, ignoring the pain of being kicked under the table by Tigger (who was pushing me to take the set).  I was really only interested in a couple of specific items…

I don't eat raw crabs, so I let Mrs. Tigger and Grandma Bear dig into the plate of Chinese wine marinated crab (王府醉蟹).

Shanghainese gluten, fungus, dried lily bulbs, red dates (四季烤麩) was the first to arrive, with green soy beans (毛豆), mushrooms, black fungus and even jujube (紅棗) to add some red into the color mix.

Deep fried boneless chicken wing filled with crab meat (蟹粉燒鳳翼) - this was the main dish that I came for, but it wasn't as good as I had hoped.  While the skin was deliciously crispy, the meat was over-seasoned and too salty.  Combined with a saltier-than-expected crab roe/meat mix, the effect multiplied. I definitely needed a few sips of tea during and after this dish.

Crabmeat served on a crispy pastry (蟹粉盞) - the other item I came for.  Basically a like my favorite egg tarts (蛋撻) with puff pastry crust, except the filling was crab roe and meat.  OMG.  These were pretty damn good!  I could have easily polished off two of these without blinking an eye, although a third one might be pushing it…  Unlike the chicken wing, the relatively bland pastry was able to balance out the salty filling.  Just about perfect.

Stir fried hairy crab, rice cake, salted fish (鹹魚年糕毛蟹) - this dish turned out to be completely different from the traditional style that I had expected, and I uttered the first series of WTF of the evening.  To this day, it continues to amaze me that how many restaurants miss the point that this dish is all about the rice cake and not the crab, the way that many people miss the point that - as Tony Bourdain will repeatedly tell you - sushi is all about the rice.

In any case, the number of tiny pieces of rice cakes that came with the dish was laughable.  The crabs they used were also too big in my opinion, although I guess by this time of the year they have all grown up.  Young crabs which you could finish off half in one or two bites would have been perfect.  By being creative and using salted fish, the chef also made the sauce runny and liquid instead of being sticky and sweet.  The end result is that as I tried to work on the hairy claws, the sauce ran down my hands and fingers, making a nice mess.  Sigh.  At least there were some yummy crab roe...

Pea shoots in superior broth (上湯浸豆苗) - this is the right season for these pea shoots, and OMG this was soooo delicious.  The superior broth made with Chinese ham was wonderful, complementing the sweetness of the veggie.  Let's not forget those garlic cloves which have been browned before blanching.

Premier crab roe, steamed rice (禿黃油撈飯) - I was stunned when this arrived on the table.  WTF.  This is what I get for HKD 98 a bowl?!  One lousy teaspoonful (if that) of crab roe on top of a whole bowl of rice?!  What am I supposed to do with the rest of the bowl after the first two mouthfuls when I run out of crab roe?  Damn, I wanna go back to Tien Heung Lau (天香樓) for their crab roe with noodles (蟹粉撈麵)!

I finished with the petits fours, which consisted of:
Glutinous rice balls with egg custard (奶黃糯米圓)

Walnut tart (核桃酥)

Red bean jelly (紅豆糕)

Oh well… the meal didn't turn out as fantastically as I had hoped, but maybe I'll run back and get some more of those yummy puff pastries...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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please let me know what is the best way to contact you.

my email:

phone: 2851-3220



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