May 2, 2014

Hello Kitty birthday x2

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It's that time of year again. 娜姐's birthday.  Last year I was privileged to have attended two of her birthday bashes, with the latter featuring a decidedly Hello Kitty theme.  This time our hostess chose Gough 40 for the bash, which was pretty exciting for me because - despite having been open for more than a decade - I had never been there.  For the last few years I had always been going to On Lot 10 just opposite, and for some reason just never had the inkling to try coming here.  Tonight I would finally get my chance.

Work was keeping me late in the office, and it's very poor form to show up late at someone else's birthday bash.  I sent apologetic messages to the hosts as I half-jogged from the office to the restaurant, and was told by the host to take a couple of drinks as punishment.  Anticipating a long night ahead, I decided not to follow my host's commands...

The menu looked decidedly mainstream, sticking to a selection of dishes that looked to be popular with a very local, Hong Kong crowd - as opposed to the variety of more interesting options across the landing.  I asked for a half-portion of pasta and a main course, while skipping the white pearl oysters that the crowd was sharing, because I wasn't really in the mood for oysters.

Linguine with mullet roe and smoked eel - I'm like Pavlov's dog, and salivate on command at the sight or thought of mullet roe.  Well, there wasn't a whole lot of mullet roe here, but I did notice the flavors.  The dominant flavors came from the smoked eel, which wasn't bad at all.  Interesting that there were julienned cucumbers adding the crunch, and for some reason it reminded me of the Chinese 炸醬麵 from the north.

Grilled French duck breast with sun-dried cherry sauce - this was OK.  I think the slices were a little on the thin side, which meant they didn't retain the heat as well and got cold pretty quickly.  Flavor-wise this was OK, but the strips of fat under the skin seemed particularly yummy tonight... and for a few slices I was kinda savoring it.

Australian wagyu tomahawk - this was ordered by our hostess to share amongst the table.  Here I'm gonna make good use of my ever-improving Bloggerese and apply a term I learnt just today... Flavors were very "2D".  No fleur de sel were provided, and if you didn't want to drizzle some of the sauce from the separate bowl, then this was a very bland piece of meat indeed.  The difference of night and day with the Galician chuleta I had across the street just a week ago.

The highlight tonight, of course, were the cakes.  We had not one, but TWO Hello Kitty cakes.  No surprises here given our hostess...

The first one was from a chain, and was actually pretty damn big.  We had lots of suggestions for how our hostess should cut the cake, including decapitating Kitty, stabbing her in the back, frontal assault, chopping off an ear...

The other, more elaborate cake was created by our friend who runs Mara Js Pâtisserie.  Lots of little flowers on a yummy strawberry-based cake.

There were also these lollipops... and each of the ladies got one.  I, despite my profile picture on Facebook, did not.  Pout.

Our hosts (and a guest) generously shared some of their wine collection with us:

1982 Lanson en magnum - toasty nose, surprisingly fresh given the age, slightly higher acidity than I expected.  Very delish.

1999 Chapoutier L'Orée en magnum - a little oxidized as expected, but thankfully not dead.  Very ripe, sweet, marmalade and honey.  Long finish.

2010 Felton Road Chardonnay Block 2 - fresh, lively, some toasty oak, a little sweet nose, ripe and fruity.

1999 Prieuré-Roch Nuits-Saint-Georges Clos des Corvées en magnum - really sweet and lots of ripe, jammy berries, but with a surprisingly and obvious undertone of toasted and almost burnt oak.

1982 Calon-Ségur en magnum - star anise, Asian spices, smoky, a little earthy.  Drinking really well.

1970 Trotanoy - smoky, pencil lead, so smooth on the palate.  A little sweet vanilla on the nose later.

2011 Joh. Jos. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spälese VDP auction in magnum - flinty, a little sulfur, mineral, a little sweet with good acidity balance.  A lovely wine.

This was from the VDP auction.

The night was still young, so we strolled down to Ronin for a late night drink...

Kozaemon Tokubetsu Junmai Shinano Miyama Nishiki (小左衛門 特別純米美山錦) in issho-bin - very full flavors of fermented rice, good balance between sweet and dry.  Seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 55%.

Still not content to call it a night, we ended up having supper at Tsui Wah (翠華餐廳) at 2 am... consuming calories that I definitely did not need.  What's worse?  The crispy bun served with sweet condensed milk (脆嘩奶油豬) was crap.  They couldn't be bothered to toast it to their usual standards, and they didn't drizzle enough condensed milk on top.  I think they're cutting corners to squeeze more profits now that they're listed.

A very, very enjoyable evening.  Too enjoyable, perhaps... thanks to 娜姐.

P.S.  A little confession and mea culpa... Exactly a week after I bitched about a bunch of educated people with no manners disturbing others at a restaurant, tonight it was my turn to sit at a table that was making excessive noise.  I realized this halfway through dinner, as the effects of alcohol were manifesting themselves.  As this wasn't my party and I didn't know most of the guests, I chose to keep quiet and did my part by keeping my voice down.  I think I noticed one or two others doing the same.  Thankfully most of the customers were actually sitting out on the landing...

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