December 6, 2015

Sunday School

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The Tiggers are big fans of The Man in the White T-Shirt, and Babu has been waiting for me to take her to Fish School.  Her fondest memories from On Lot 10 - besides those giant steamed artichokes - were the fish that we always got.  So when she finally got the chance to try the place out tonight, expectations were high.

I had pinged The Man in the White T-Shirt ahead of time, and asked him to "save us some good stuff".  After all, there's gotta be some benefits to knowing the chef... right?  I asked the staff upon arrival, and sure enough, two dishes had been reserved for us.

Salted garoupa / clams / potato brandade - one of my go-to dishes here.  I love the texture and bite of the chunks of salted garoupa, and the potato brandade works so well with it.  Of course the crispy, deep-fried garoupa skin is simply addictive...

Marinated raw crab / sea urchin / oyster / rice - I'm not a fan, but the Shanghainese women can never resist something like a drunken crab, so we took the dish.  I didn't mix the contents of the crab shell into the glutinous rice, but served it up like a topping.  Not bad, and the ladies seemed happy with it, but no "wow" for me.

Grilled water bamboo / cashew praline / chestnut / apple - loved this from last time so I ordered it again, especially when I have fellow Shanghainese with me.  Unfortunately tonight the praline sauce was too rich and overpowering, and kinda covered up the natural sweetness of the water bamboo somewhat.

Charred cabbage / raw scallop / sea urchin - the Chinese cabbage was surprisingly a little bitter.  The slices of raw scallop and the raw sea urchin were nice, but the most interesting part of the dish were the crispy wafers made from purple cabbage.

The first special dish tonight was this knifejaw.  Unfortunately, none of us liked the fish.  Whether it was due to the freshness of the fish, or the natural flavors of the fish itself, the lemon butter sauce simply didn't work here.  I like oily fish with strong flavors, but even I found myself losing interest after a couple of bites.  The saving grace of the dish?  These "potatoes" made from potato mash and encased with chunks of Cantonese sausage (臘腸).

Steamed flower crab / sea urchin / cauliflower / white truffle - after the fish disaster, the following dish was practically a life-saver.  The shell of the flower crab was stuffed full of goodies... First there was plenty of fresh and sweet crab meat - including two whole crab claws without their shells.  Mrs. Tigger announced how satisfying it was to feast on a whole claw.  Sea urchin and crab go well together, so this was a natural combination.  I'm a big cauliflower fan, but I didn't think the crunchy chunks here delivered the right texture... and the cauliflower may be better after a bit of stir-frying so that the sweetness comes through.  Nevertheless, this made happy campers out of the four of us... especially with the white truffle shavings on top!

Lemon marigold sorbet / apple / roselle - the staff knows I've had this before, and seemed excited to tell me that they switched out one of the ingredients.  Maybe it was a miscommunication with the kitchen, but those chunks weren't "pineapples"... but green apples.  Anyway, still refreshing and nice.
Pumpkin ice cream / persimmon / melon - Babu loves persimmon, so I made sure we got this dessert for her.

Well, this wasn't quite the introduction I had hoped for... but there were certainly highlights tonight.  I think we each wanted the steamed flower crab for ourselves, without sharing with anyone else.  I think if we could arrange for a simple dinner with just one starter and one crab for each of us, we probably wouldn't even need anything else... and life would be pretty damn good!

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