February 18, 2009

Hungry for some fatty char siu

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Tonight we had a cozy gathering of ex-colleagues, only one of whom is still working for the same employer. We had been talking about going to the Yung Kee VIP Floor (蘭亭閣, on the fourth floor) for some time, and we finally got around to it.

One always starts a meal at Yung Kee with some century eggs (糖心皮蛋). These things may look gross to some people, especially those who aren't Chinese, but it's kinda like manna from heaven for those who have acquired the taste.

Right off the bat we were served the dish that we came for: fatty char siu (肥窿叉燒). This was pretty awesome stuff. The pork had lots of fat, both on the edges as well as in the middle, like five layered pork (五花肉) but without the top layer of skin. The roasting process caramelized the fat, which makes it very, very delicious. The taste is similar to that of roast pork jerky (豬肉乾) that one finds in Taiwan or Singapore. This was a good start.

Next came the most expensive dish of the meal - freshwater shrimp stir-fried with crab roe (禮云河蝦). The shrimps were tender and bouncy, while the crab roe was creamy and delicious.

I had pre-ordered the double-boiled roast duck soup with Chinese parsley and preserved orange rind (香茜陳皮燉鴨湯), and they decided to give us half a duck since there were only four of us. I guess they have no idea of the voracious appetite of this group... Anyway I still love the soup. It's a bowl full of the parsley and orange rind, but the flavor of the roast duck is already in the soup. We did end up having most of the duck meat that was served separately on a plate.

The steamed egg with conpoy (瑤柱水蒸蛋) is a real homey dish, although as someone remarked, you probably wouldn't add any soy sauce when you do this at home.

Another plate of stir-fried pea shoots (清炒豆苗) as it's still the veggie of the season.

Finally we have the stir-fried glutinous rice with winter meats (生炒臘味糯米飯). Now this is a place that knows how to get this right! The rice is relatively dry and chewy, and the grains stick together and don't fall apart when you pick them up with your chopsticks. The last few times I had this rice elsewhere have been a little disappointing, and I'm glad that Yung Kee still knows how to get it right.

For dessert I did not get my own bowl of red bean soup or black sesame soup, but I did have a few pieces of white sponge cake (白糖糕) as well as red bean cake with osmanthus (桂花紅豆糕).

I brought a bottle of 1988 Hugel Riesling Vendage Tardive to go with the food. Being a late-harvest wine, naturally it is a little on the sweet side. Classic nose of petrol, flint, acetone, marmalade and muscat grapes. Due to the age of the wine, there were lots of tartaric acid crystals that have formed as sediment at the bottom of the bottle. I had actually never seen so much crystal in one bottle, actually, and visually it's a bit weird to see them in your glass.

Another gathering with happy, satisfied diners. We'll have to figure out where to go next...

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