October 15, 2013

What the Fook?!

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We did a belated birthday dinner for BM, even though I'd already attended another belated dinner for him 2 weeks ago.  It's the first time that the four of us - BM, Tigger, the Ox and me - have gotten together for a meal as a group.  The venue?  Some place where all of us are regulars - Fook Lam Moon (福臨門).

Since the Ox and I had just had dinner at Guo Fu Lou (國福樓) a mere two nights ago, he thought it'd be fun to order some of the same dishes and compare the two restaurants.  I heartily agreed.

Deep-fried frogs' legs (椒鹽田雞腿) - honestly, for someone who's had this dish here numerous times, this was the worst I've ever had it.  The exterior just didn't have the same dry, crunchiness about it.  Definitely a little flabby tonight.

Pan-fried lotus root cake (香煎蓮藕餅) - these were complete diasters compared to GFL.  Whereas the ones two nights ago were full of crunchy cubes of lotus root, with just enough pork to hold everything together, I was having difficulty finding any lotus root in the patties tonight - just some flabby chunks of pork.  In fact, I found pieces of cartilage instead.  The patties from GFL were also perfectly fried to a golden brown crisp, whereas tonight… these just seemed a lot more moist without the crispiness.

Deep-fried tofu cubes (椒鹽豆腐粒) - these were OK, but execution at GFL was slightly superior.

Fook Lam Moon's famous crispy chicken (當紅炸子雞) - this was OK, although half a chicken on the plate was somewhat less impressive-looking than the usual whole chicken.

Sweet and sour pork with pineapple (菠蘿咕嚕肉) - TOTAL FAIL. I'd always thought the best sweet and sour pork in Hong Kong could be found right here, and I'd never been disappointed.  Until tonight.  The batter was no longer crispy, but totally flabby.

The reason for failure is clear as day - just look at how much starchy sauce is on the plate.  WTF?!  This looks like what I'd find at Panda Express in the States… I'll bet even restaurants in Chinatown can do better.

Braised pomelo skin with shrimp roe (蝦籽炆柚皮) - the pomelo was actually fine, without noticeable tough fibers or any trace of bitterness.  However the sauce just had too much starch, and could be much lighter without losing any flavor.

Steamed rice wrapped in lotus leaf (鮮荷葉飯) - Tigger's favorite, and this was OK tonight.

Blanched spinach in superior broth (上湯菠菜) - this was fine.  I think it's pretty hard to screw this up...

Stir-fried kale with ginger sauce (薑汁炒芥藍) - this was pretty decent.

Walnut cookies (核桃酥) - gotta say these were pretty tasty, but I've had better… Could have been baked a little longer and a bit more caramelized.

Yolk and lotus seed paste birthday buns (蛋黃蓮蓉壽飽) - uh… FAIL.  This ain't the first time I've had these buns here, but I didn't get no fluffy buns today.  Instead I saw the exterior "skin" of the bun get separated from the inner layer.  Not something I would expect from this place.

We also had a plate of mixed fruits, which were pretty good.

The Ox and I thought it'd be fun to do a match up of wines, so we brought a pair of '86 Bordeaux while Tigger contributed the lovely Champagne…

2002 Cristal - very toasty and yeasty nose, caramelized and sweet.  Good acidity but also ripeness on the palate, showing nice balance here.  Very enjoyable.

1986 Cos d'Estournel - sous bois, a little smoke, minty with nice fruit in the nose.  After a while smoke got heavier, with earthy and tobacco notes.  Drank well right after decanting, and plateau'ed out after a while.

1986 Palmer - minty, a little smoky, and a little bit stewed fruits.  Took a little time to open up.  Nice on the palate.

The four of us had a good time together, but the food really was the worst I've had from Fook Lam Moon.  Ever.  We discussed our recent experiences at Seventh Son (家全七福) with the staff, and was told that Brother Seven has been aggressively luring staff away from FLM.  Apparently while the top 2 chefs are staying, chefs No. 3 and No. 4 have resigned and will leave FLM in a few days.  No wonder the kitchen has been such a disaster tonight!

So within the last two weeks I have dined at Fook Lam Moon as well as its two "spin offs" - Seventh Son and Guo Fu Lou.  Right now, I'm sad to say that my vote goes to neither Brother Five (who continues to run FLM) nor Brother Seven (who started Seventh Son).  I'll be taking my hard-earned dollars to Guo Fu Lou instead...

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