October 19, 2015

Double trouble

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The King was coming back to town, and the gang - some of us worked together going back as far as 20 years - got together for dinner.  This time around I decided to pick the venue instead of relying on BM, as we usually do.  The King had missed out on the opportunity to lunch at my favorite private dining space earlier this year, and I really wanted for him to have a chance to sample the dishes.  I decided to rope in a couple of other old friends, too.  We've also got Winnie the Chew

Every since my last visit here, I've been waiting for an opportunity to have both the Buddha jumps over the wall (佛跳牆) and the snake soup (蛇羹) together.  I finally got my wish tonight!

Pan-fried stuffed tofu skin (香煎腐皮卷) - this was new to me, and I was looking forward to seeing how it would taste.

Stuffed with fish paste that's embedded with ham and spring onions, this was pretty good.

Deep-fried head of grouper (椒鹽海斑頭腩) - a very impressive-looking dish.  The head (and collar) of a brown-marbled grouper (老虎斑) was chopped up, lightly-battered, and deep-fried.  Very, very tasty.

Braised Buddha jumps over the wall (紅炆佛跳牆) - part 1 of the main event.  We had a smaller party tonight, so the pot didn't look as awesome as it did on my last visit.  But we were all salivating...

Our individual portions included an abalone, a spiny sea cucumber, a goose web, some pork tendons, roasted pork belly, and bamboo shoots.  The abalone was very, very tender... Heck, everything (other than the crunchy bamboo shoots) was tender!

As was the case last night, we asked for bowls of steamed rice so we can mix it into the amazing thick sauce.  All that collagen... coating our tongues, the insides of our mouths, and our lips.

Oh, and being the organizer of the dinner, I called shotgun and took the "leftovers" away.  It's gonna make for a helluva lunch tomorrow once I add some rice in!

When they start putting this on the table, you know what's coming next...

Imperial scholar's five-snake soup (太史五蛇羹) - YES!!!! My favorite snake soup!  It's been a long eight months, but I finally got to have it again.

Once again this was a perfect demonstration of the chef's knife skills... and the flavors were just... wow.  Still the finest I've ever had, and yes, I did have that second bowl.  I think everyone else liked it, too...

Stir-fried grouper fillet with celery (西芹炒海斑魚球) - I was initially a little disappointed to see this on the menu, but I understood that the chef needed to use the body of the grouper, and stir-fried fillet is pretty classic.  I normally don't see stir-fried garoupa fillet as a dish worthy of fine dining establishments, but I gotta admit that the chef did a very good job with this.

Crispy chicken (脆皮炸子雞) - very, very good as usual.  Such tenderness in the meat...  A question was raised about whether this was a special breed of chicken, and the chef said that it was just a live chicken from a local supplier.  He also said that fatty chickens are needed for this, because the skin needed to be crispy and take the flavors from the fat underneath the skin.  Lung Kong chickens (龍崗雞) are not suitable for this as they are too lean.

Fried glutinous rice with preserved meats (生炒糯米飯) - oh hello!  How I've missed you!  My favorite version of the fried glutinous rice, still very, very, very yummy.  I stopped the gang from having the very last of the rice, so we could pack a bowl of it away for someone who couldn't make it to dinner tonight...

Stir-fried Chinese lettuce (清炒唐生菜) - another showcase of the chef's knife skills, but in a different way.  Here the chef has chosen to use only the hearts of the lettuce.

Citron Mille Crepes from Lady M - apparently BM is really hung up on these mille crêpes from Lady M... because he brought Winnie the Chew a second one in four days!

The flavor tonight was a "seasonal limited edition", and thankfully much lighter than the green tea version a few days ago.

Almond cream with lotus seeds and egg white (蓮子蛋白杏仁茶) - always happy to have this.  Someone liked this so much that she asked for a second bowl...

I mistook this for a drinking crowd because... well, most of these guys used to be hardcore drinkers on the job.  But as it turns out, these guys can't seem to handle wine... and their alcohol tolerance seemed to be reserved for the hard stuff!  I had to lay down the law and tell them that nobody was allowed to leave until the bottles were empty...

1988 Von Schubert Maximin Grünhauser Herrenberg Riesling Auslese - brought two bottles to start off dinner.  Nice nose of orange marmalade, polyurethane, sweet on the nose with floral notes.  Acidity was actually higher than expected, and this wasn't as sweet on the palate.

2001 Kracher Scheurebe Trockenbeerenauslese No. 9 Zwischen den Seen, from half-bottle - as suggested by the master at my last dinner, I brought this to pair with the Buddha jumps over the wall (佛跳牆).  Very sweet, rich, and nutty.  Unctuous texture.

2007 Jean Foillard Morgon Cuvée "3.14", en magnum - opened but not decanted at least 1½ hours before serving.  Lots of eucalyptus, violet, and floral.  A little bit of earthiness and smoked meats.  After 3 hours some sweet fruit emerged in the nose.

This was my first experience with Jean Foillard's wines, and this is arguably one of the best wines from Beaujolais.  Definitely gained a lot more respect for Beaujolais after this!
2000 La Chapelle de la Mission Haut-Brionen magnum - smoke, mint, and pencil lead.  Classic Left Bank.

I think some of us started feeling full after the snake soup, and everyone was stuffed by the end of the evening.  Very good food, but once again a little too much.  Need to adjust the menu next time...

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