January 15, 2017

Palate killer wine dinner

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Due to scheduling issues that are becoming more and more of a problem for us, we had to postpone one of our MNSC dinner from 2016 and push it into 2017.  Juliano chose The Chin's (中華匯館), which had recently opened in the same spot that used to house the Central outlet of Sun Tung Lok (新同樂).  The chef behind the new outfit is Ringo Chow (周卓雲), who was originally the chef at China Tang (唐人館) in London, so naturally expectations are high.

The Chin's appetizer platter (中華匯館拼盤) - this included four different items:
Soft-boiled egg with caviar (黑魚子流心蛋) - pretty nice, with some caviar on top to add some savory touches.

Pan-fried tofu (金磚豆腐) - somewhat crispy on the outside while still silky inside.

Kagoshima Chamiton barbecued pork (鹿兒島茶美豚叉燒) - made with pork shoulder (脢頭肉) and using a mixture of black beans, oyster sauce, and galangal instead of the more common honey glaze. Very nicely marbled and tasty.

Sea cucumber in mala sauce (麻辣海參) - definitely spicy and numbing.  Not exactly good for a wine dinner.

Drunken pigeon with Huadiao wine (花雕醉乳鴿) - this was done very nicely.  The pigeon was tender and tasty, and the chef didn't overdo it with the wine... so there was no bitter aftertaste.

Imperial scholar's five-snake soup (太史五蛇羹) - Chef Chow apparently used to work at the banquet hall of Hang Seng Bank (恆生銀行博愛堂) under famed chef Lee Yuk-lam (李煜霖), and therefore picked up the recipe for the famed snake soup.

This was indeed very good.  All the ingredients were finely sliced, and every so often my mouthful would contain a shred of aged tangerine peel, giving off a wonderful fragrance.  Flavor-wise this was neither too tame nor too salty - like what Tim's Kitchen (桃花源小廚) serves nowadays.  In fact, this probably comes closest to my favorite snake soup that's served at my favorite private dining facility - and unlike the other place, this place is open to everyone.

Kung pao lobster (宮保龍蝦球) - at this point we were seriously thinking that Juliano was plotting to fuck with our palates.  First the mala (麻辣) sauce with the sea cucumber, now you've got kung pao (宮保) sauce for the lobster.  My tongue was back on fire.

The dish, though, did get a couple of us to reminisce about the stir-fried lobster dish at Fook Lam Moon (福臨門), and lament about the decline of food quality there after the head chef's departure to Spring Moon (嘉麟樓) at the Peninsula Hong Kong.

Pigeon leg stuffed with bird's nest (燕窩釀鴿腿) - this was pretty interesting.  The exterior was nicely done and very tasty.  Although I don't care much for bird's nest, it didn't detract from the overall flavors.  Curiously there was the distinct fragrance of Mei Kuei Lu (玫瑰露), which made me wonder if the chef had used a little bit of liver sausage in the filling.

Deep-fried wagyu beef shoulder (和牛肩肉) - after our protestations about our palates getting killed by the spicy food, Juliano asked the kitchen to take out the original mala (麻辣) sauce from this dish, but I still tasted a hint of the Sichuan peppercorns (花椒) with the numbing sensation.  The beef itself was fatty and tender, but taken together with the deep-fried batter it seemed a little too fatty and greasy for me.

Crispy chicken (脆皮炸子雞) - pretty decent version of the classic dish.  Nothing to complain about.

Fresh tofu skin with baby Chinese cabbage (濃湯鮮腐竹浸金娃菜) - the tofu skin was very nice, and the veg in a warm broth was a welcome change to all the very "heaty" dishes that have been served so far.

Abalone rice (原隻鮑魚中華匯飯) - pretty tasty, especially the abalone on top.  I guess this wasn't meant to be one of those fried rice dishes with lots of wok hei (鑊氣) as the rice grains were a little on the soft side, but still tasty.

Walnut cookies (核桃酥)

Steamed layered sponge cake (千層糕)

Roselle jelly with azuki beans (洛神花紅豆糕) - I appreciated the acidity here, which was a nice way to finish up the meal.

Our host Juliano prepared a surprising lineup of wines for us tonight, all delicious, to be sure. But once again we kinda demonstrated our inability to come up with inspired guesses as to their identities...

2007 Coche-Dury Meursault Les Rougeots - nice and big toasty nose despite being served very cold.  Showed savory and mineral notes.  Beautiful.

First pair:
1971 Trotanoy - opened and served 1 hour and 45 minutes later from bottle.  A little minty, earthy, a little ripe and still showing nice fruit.  Second pour was much sweeter, and almost a little coconut.  94 points.

1971 Rayas - opened 1 hour prior to decanting, and served 45 minutes after decanting.  More ripe and oxidized, almost maderized.  Cleaner on the palate, very sweet and almost jammy, but also a little savory at the same time.  93 points.

Second pair: opened 2½ hours prior to serving without decanting.
1976 Faiveley Musigny - a little alcoholic on the nose, still kinda closed.  92 points.

1989 Faiveley Musigny - showing a little fruit with some sweetness, still got some tannins here.  92 points.

Second pair: opened 1 hour prior to decanting, and served 2½ hours after decanting.
1975 Lafleur - stinky, a little savory, smoky, with some sweetness.  Somewhat tannic on the palate.  94 points.

1986 Lafleur - a little metallic, minty.  With new pour became very sweet with lots of ripe fruit, almost cconut.  95 points.

A very fitting end to our MNSC year...

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