January 3, 2016

Once in a Spring Moon

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Dining in hotel restaurants is a fact of life in Hong Kong.  For the first 10 years that I lived in this town, the number of quality restaurants outside of hotels was pretty small.  Even as the dining scene developed and matured in the last 10 years, I still found myself dining in hotels pretty frequently.  If there is one top hotel in town whose restaurants get no love from me - and, coincidentally, get no love from Michelin - it's the Peninsula Hong Kong.  I can probably count my trips to said hotel's restaurants in the last 10 years on one hand...

The visiting foodies are eating their way around Hong Kong and Macau, and wanted to have dim sum at Spring Moon (嘉麟樓).  My memories of this place are very hazy, and probably come from a wedding banquet some 15 years ago.   I had never had to urge to return in all these years.  So I figured it would be a good opportunity to check it out again.

I left the ordering to our visitors and simply sat back and watch as the food showed up at our table...

Spring rolls with mixed fungus and mushrooms (羅漢齋春卷) - these were OK, but I wonder why the restaurant chose not to cut these in half, as is normally done at other restaurants?

Steamed shrimp dumplings with bamboo shoots (筍尖鮮蝦餃) - the lighting was a little dim and the folds weren't clear enough for me to discern them, but Hello Kitty counted 11 folds.

Deep-fried dumplings with minced pork and dried shrimps (安蝦咸水角) - OK lah...

Steamed pork and scallops dumplings with matsutake mushrooms (松茸帶子燒賣) - this definitely tasted a little off somehow.  I was trying to figure out the little brown bits on top, so I picked them out and nibbled on them.  Thought the texture was like mushroom.  After looking at the menu later, I found out they were supposed to be matsutake (松茸) mushrooms...

And this is what pisses me off about this place.  What was the point of putting tiny, chopped up bits of matsutake that had neither flavor nor fragrance?  The only reason would be to "upgrade" the siu mai and make it seem more "premium" - the same reason why some other restaurant puts 5 fucking little lumpfish caviar on top of a siu mai so that people can say: "Ooooh!  Caviar!  So grand!!!"  It adds ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

Steamed turnip cake with preserved meat (砵仔蘿蔔糕) - our visitors seemed to like this.  Frankly, it's probably rare to see the steamed version outside Hong Kong.  Not bad.

Pan-fried glutinous dumplings filled with dried shrimps, black mushrooms and preserved vegetables (家鄉煎茶果) - OK lah...

Golden mashed taro with diced abalone, chicken and black mushrooms (鮑魚雞粒芋角) - something definitely tasted off here... like a bad reaction of abalone to the baking soda.

Pan-fried rice flour rolls with homemade XO sauce (XO醬炒蝦米腸) - I ordered this because I figured our visitors probably haven't had it before... although some of them are getting exposed to XO sauce as an ingredient.  Pretty decent.

Two of our visitors very generously brought a rare and beautiful bottle of bubbly to share with us.  I initially apologized for showing up empty-handed today, explaining that I was recovering from a hangover after a night drinking with my Russian caviar supplier... and wasn't planning on drinking at lunch today.  Someone was definitely twisting my arm by bringing this baby...

1996 Jacques Selosse, dégorgée à 2 Fevrier 2005 - honey, Chinese licorice (甘草), acidity a little high on the first sip.  Nose of salted plum (話梅), hay, savory and mineral.  Soooooo beautiful!  Especially after airing in glass for about an hour.  Naturally the acidity level went up as it warmed up further in glass.  What a privilege to have drunk this wine!

Lucien Albrecht Crémant d'Alsace Brut Rosé - smells like carbonated orange blossom water... Could almost taste the strawberries on the palate.

So... I know this is the Sunday after New Year's Day, and maybe the dim sum chef was off on vacation... but the food was honestly below my expectations.  If I were working for the Rubberman and came to inspect this place for dim sum, they'd get absolutely zero stars.

So the question is: do I even bother coming back to try out dishes for dinner?

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