January 12, 2010

The hottest Cantonese table in town

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My foodie friends and I hit one of the hottest tables in town tonight.  The Chairman (大班樓) opened late last year to rave reviews, so of course we were eager to try it out. We sat at a table upstairs, and the restaurant was clearly buzzing. 

Deep-fried small yellow croakers with balsamic vinegar (酥炸獅頭魚配陳醋) - very nice and crispy, espcially the head.  What a way to kick off the meal!

Longjing tea and chrysanthemum-smoked pigeon (龍井菊花燻乳鴿) - wow! This was pretty amazing.  The smoke was really intense, and hits you right away.  The meat was soft and tender.  I happily grabbed it with my hands and tore it apart.

Spicy beef tongue marinated with preserved orange rind (陳皮麻辣牛舌) - nice, thin slices.  Pretty spicy indeed, and I had to scrape off most of the chili seeds...

Marinated pork chin with honeycomb tofu (鹵水豬下巴蜂巢豆腐) - the fatty pork had a chewy texture which was pretty nice.  The pork used here has been sourced by Tam Keung (譚強), who is well-known in foodie circles for having raised pigs locally.

Pan-fried pork patties with salted fish (馬友咸魚煎肉餅) - pretty decent.  I do like my salted fish...

Daily soup (是日靚湯) - there were two choices and I picked the one with cordyceps (冬蟲夏草).  Nice and herbal. 

Flower crab steamed in chicken fat and Huadiao wine (雞油花雕蒸花蟹) - the flesh was fresh and sweet, but as usual the best thing was the sauce.  Unlike the thick and viscous version at Manor, the sauce here was lighter.  Fragrance was amazing, with an orange marmalade aftertaste.  This was served with riceflour rolls (陳村粉) which soaked up all the yummy sauce.

Preserved plum and cinnamon-flavored sweet and sour pork spare ribs (話梅肉桂糖醋排骨) - O-M-G!  This was definitely the best dish of the evening.  I didn't taste any cinnamon but the plum flavors were ultra-yummy.  All of us chewed the meat off the bones in no time, and we had a contest to see which one had the cleanest bone left on the plate.  It was so good that we actually ordered a second plate, because we couldn't imagine having only one of these ribs.  I could have done with at least four...

We had some stir-fried pea shoots (清炒豆苗), which were excellent as was to be expected. 

Claypot prawns with garlic and scallions in sate sauce (蔥蒜沙茶大蝦煲) - this is the Chinese version of sate (沙茶醬), and the light spiciness went well with the prawns.

Shiitake and morel mushrooms with tofu skin (冬菇羊肚菌炆腐皮) - the intense flavors of the morels dominated, and lent support to the tofu chunks and tofu skin.

"The Chairman" (十八味豉油雞) - Wow!  This is probably the best chicken I've had in a while.  All these Cantonese places that talk about their special chickens... couldn't possibly match this.  Our friend who was here for her fifth visit complained about the bland flavors of the chicken before we arrived, so I think the kitchen added a little extra something tonight.  The meat was very soft and tender, and the dish was definitely worthy of its moniker.

Braised fatty pork with preserved mustard greens and dates (梅乾菜南棗炆豬肉) - this has always been one of my favorite dishes in Chinese cuisine, and they did it pretty well here.  We ordered the congee with preserved orange rind, tofu skin and gingko nuts (陳皮腐竹銀杏粥) to go along, and I happily dropped the yummy preserved mustard greens into my bowl and mixed it up.

We had two types of ice cream for dessert: osmanthus and wolfberry (桂花杞子雪糕) as well as ginger (子薑雪糕).  The ice cream was a little too milky and overpowered the subtle flavors of the osmanthus.  The ginger was pretty strong so that worked well.

I was too full to take in the galette des rois that some friends had brought along, so I took my portion home for breakfast the next morning.
I brought along two bottles of wine: the last of my 2007 De Villaine Bouzeron tasted exactly as expected, with lemon citrus, toasty oak and minerals in the nose.  A little acidic on the palate.  The 1996 Les Pagodes de Cos was classically claret, with nose of smoke, sweet fruit, mint, wet earth and soy sauce.  Finish was fairly long and a little tart.
This was a great meal.  I definitely understand why the whole town is abuzz with excitement about this place, as this has got to be one of the best new Cantonese restaurants around.  I look forward to coming back real soon.


Jin said...

wow, thanks for writing about this! finally, a new place to take my folks to when they come visit.

Lambda said...

I wish I were there... Two dishes that I am particularly interested in:

Braised fatty pork with perserved mustard greens and dates. Do you know where they got their preserved mustard green from?

Preserved plum and cinnamon flavoured sweet and sour pork spare ribs. You know it's a must have dish on my list when I eat Chinese food.....


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