October 3, 2013

Seventh on Sixth

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Tonight's dinner was a highly anticipated event, as the venue chosen by the birthday boy was on the top of my list of new restaurants to try - Seventh Son (家全七福).  As long-time fans of Fook Lam Moon (福臨門), it was naturally sad for us to see the brothers split with each other, but the result is that we now have a third outlet in the Wanchai area serving cuisine that is comparable to FLM.  Nominally it was BM's birthday dinner, but in fact we were kinda celebrating 3 birthdays together.  I'm glad BM ended up booking us a room here.

Upon my exit from the elevator on the sixth floor, I was led through a maze of corridors, passing trolleys loaded with supplies, dishes…etc.  Not exactly classy or grand for a high-end restaurant targeted at the city's elite, and tonight our neighbors in the next door included one of the city's most recognizable tycoons.  The decor here was a little bare, I thought…

I was just around 15 minutes late, and two starters were already on the table:

Deep-fried frog legs (椒鹽田雞腿) - unlike at Fook Lam Moon, the frog legs we got here were full-sized pieces, providing a more satisfying sensation of having meatier chunks in one's mouth.  Unfortunately, this also meant they're no longer as crispy and yummy as the FLM version.  BM made a comment to the staff, and moments later we got a second plate that was a little better.

Sautéed pig tripe (炒肚尖) - not as refined as the version from Tim's Kitchen (桃花源), but I supposed the bigger pieces here are more "homestyle"…  The tripe was reasonably crunchy, and the peppers were actually a little spicy.

Poached fresh 'kai wai' shrimps (白灼基圍蝦) - I thought these were OK, but BM wasn't entirely happy.

Long boiled soup of the day - today we had 青紅蘿蔔瑤柱燉豬蹍湯, with radish, carrots, corn, conpoy and pork shank.

This was really delicious - the sweetness of the ingredients came through.  As much as I liked this, I kept to just one bowl…

Barbecued whole suckling pig (大紅片皮乳豬全體) - this is one of the signature dishes at FLM, and the dish I measure all other roast suckling pigs against, so I was very curious to see how this would match up.

Well… this was pretty good, but not as good as FLM.  The crackling was paper-thin alright, but didn't have the same crunchiness.  I allowed myself 3 pieces and didn't touch the other parts of the pig.

Steamed Hong Kong grouper (紅斑) - of course we'd have to have two of them… This was one delicious fish, but I thought it was just ever so slightly over-steamed.  I'd give it somewhere above 90 points, but admittedly perfection is difficult to achieve… and not often encountered.

Steamed duck stuffed with egg yolk (蛋黃八寶鴨) - this looked pretty damn good when it came to the table...

…and was also pretty tasty.  The chestnuts and egg yolk stuffing are perfect for the fall season.

Pomelo rind braised with abalone sauce (鮑汁柚皮) - there are three options for pomelo rind, and BM chose abalone sauce over shrimp roe and flounder (大地魚) sauce.  I thought this was pretty good - no noticeable fibers or bitterness.

Noodles with beef shank and bean sprouts (銀牙牛蹍麵) - not a fan. The alkaline flavors of the noodles were simply overpowering.  Why a restaurant of this quality couldn't take the trouble to rinse the noodles with water before serving is beyond me.

I was pretty full and happy to have some mixed seasonal fruits, but Winnie the Chew had other ideas.  Sesame rolls (芝麻卷) are nicknamed "film rolls (菲林)" by locals because of their resemblance to rolls of film, and one can actually unravel them in the same way.  These were pretty good, but I found a couple which were rolled up rather sloppily…

This being a birthday celebration and all, I thought I'd bring a few bottles along to get the evening going…

Krug Grande Cuvée - riper on palate than expected.  Should have used white wine glasses for this…

2002 Marquis d'Angerville Volnay 1er Cru Taillepieds - drank about an hour after opening.  Pretty sweet on the nose, with some forest notes.  After 2 hours, the nose opened up further and sweetness was even more prominent.  Palate-wise I had expected a little more, especially on the finish, although there's nothing wrong with it.

2003 Kistler Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast - drank without too much aeration.  Pretty sweet nose, with lots of strawberries and black fruits.  Later showed a little toffee and potpourri.  Still plenty of tannins here after 10 years.

Sooo… the food was pretty good, but didn't quite measure up to FLM, yet.  Of course it's still early days, and hiring good restaurant staff appears to be mission impossible in Hong Kong these days.  I'd say Brother Seven's new venture is delivering about 80% of the quality of Brother Five's Fook Lam Moon, but time will tell whether he could catch up.

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