February 21, 2008

Retirement Dinner

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A few of us gathered last night at Fook Lam Moon (福臨門) to celebrate the retirement of a friend. She has recently become a mother, and has decided to leave her job as the head of equity derivatives trading at a bulge bracket firm.

We started the evening with a roast suckling pig, which was done to perfection. The crispy skin was wafer-thin and deliciously crunchy. I munched on one of the piglet's tiny legs, and it was quite a treat. This place always knew how to get the piggy right...

We were then served the shark's fin soup(鮑魚排翅雞湯), where each of us received a very generous portion of the "noodles" in our bowls. The deliciously clear soup was boiled with chicken, abalone and whelk. I normally refrain from sharks fin because I disagree with the practices of obtaining the fins, but I decided that I couldn't pass it up tonight.

Next was a very unusual dish, one which I have had on a previous occasion at this restaurant (and with the same group of friends). We received a few pieces of deep-fried tofu on our plates. Once you bite into it, you realized that this was no ordinary tofu, as it had a creamy texture and was yellow in color. The deep-frying process imparted a nice flavor (and fragrance) to what, in reality, was chicken testicles tofu (炸雞子). Our Korean friend in attendance was not told before he partook in the dish, and he was not amused.

We also had the baked crabmeat in shell (釀焗鮮蟹蓋). The shell was full of fresh and delicious crabmeat, baked au gratin.

No meal at Fook Lam Moon would be complete without the fried giant pomfret. These pomfrets are not the normal ones you would see in your neighborhood market - they are gigantic. It's cut into vertical slices, then pan-fried with soy sauce so that the surface is crispy. Delicious on its own, even better with a dab of mayonnaise.

Next we had the salty chicken(咸切雞), which was nice but not spectacular (nor was it supposed to be, I suppose...).

We wrapped up with a plate of choy sum(菜心)and claypot rice with preserved meats (臘味煲飯). The rice was drenched in the oil from the meats, which included pork sausage(臘腸), liver sausage(潤腸), preserved fatty meat(臘肉)and preserved duck(南安腊鴨). The liver sausage and preserved fatty meat were particularly good, but I was a bit disappointed with the preserved duck. The flavors somehow were just not quite there...not sure why that was.

We were supposed to have toasted our friend with bottles of Champagne, but unfortunately these were left behind in the office by another friend who volunteered for this duty.

Instead we started with the 1995 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley, in a magnum that I brought along. This was fairly good with classic minty and sweet fruit nose. The wine was smooth on the palate, but had enough concentration to go with the meaty dishes like the suckling pig.

The next bottle was the 1997 Chateau Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, which I also brought. This was a big disappointment for me - the nose was very green and vegetal, and my friend Eric and I were wondering if the wine was "off" or slightly corked. It revealed none of the characteristics that I was expecting from this wine.

Despite the mishap with the wine, this was a very, very good evening. I ended up carrying my tummy home, as usual...

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