March 16, 2010

HK Chowmeet 2010 part 1: the Chairman revisited

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Tonight saw a few foodies reconvene our Chowmeet in Hong Kong after a year.  We had come across each other on Chowhound, and met up around this time last year for 2 memorable meals in Hong Kong.  As I had raved about my dinner at the Chairman (大班樓) back in January, it was decided that we should meet up here.

We went with the same tasting menu I had on my last visit, but added a couple of dishes.  We had heard about a few new dishes from our friends, and tried to order them.  Unfortunately Tony the waiter kept recommending some other dishes, and insisted that the dishes which my friends told us about - which they had less than a week ago - do not exist.  Tony suggested that my friends must have remembered wrong...and that those were dishes from another restaurant.  WTF?!  What kind of attitude is that?  Unfortunately the friendly manager who greeted us last time was nowhere to be found, so we ended up with this bozo...

We started with variable yellowcress soup (野葛菜湯).  Pretty interesting, with cooling effects on the body.  Nice to see this on the menu instead of the more common watercress (西洋菜).

Then the rest of the appetizers kinda all came in quick succession.  I understand that it can be traditional for some Chinese restaurants to serve all the starters all at once.  It's OK when the plates are small, one is sitting at a big table and the dishes are cold to begin with.  But we soon ran out of room on the table and were forced to quickly polish off the food in order to make space.  That's always annoying.

Japanese golden oysters pan-fried with Port wine (砵酒煎日本金蠔) - one of the new dishes that we wanted to try.  Pretty nice as semi-dried oysters always pack in the flavors.

Pan-fried pork patties with salted fish (馬友咸魚煎肉餅) - still like this one.  Minced pork and salted fish... homey yet slightly upgraded.

Marinated pork chin with honeycomb tofu (鹵水豬下巴蜂巢豆腐) - even nicer than I remembered from last time.  The tofu was crispy on the outside, while the holey interior remained soft.  The fatty pork was very tender...yummy...

Deep-fried small yellow croakers with balsamic vinegar (酥炸獅頭魚配陳醋) - this was sooo nice and crispy. I ate the whole thing - other than the vertebrae.

Longjing tea and chrysanthemum-smoked pigeon (龍井菊花燻乳鴿) - just as last time, this was really nicely smoked.  I would have gladly had a whole pigeon by myself.

Spicy beef tongue marinated with preserved orange rind (陳皮麻辣牛舌) - just as spicy as I remembered.  This was the last starter I tasted, as I knew my taste buds would be overloaded.

After a pause, the waiter placed the flower crab steamed in chicken fat and Huadiao wine (雞油花雕蒸花蟹) on the table.  As we were oohing and aahing over the dish, and just before digging in, the waiter came back to take it away from us.  Apparently this particular crab belonged to another table, and was replaced minutes later with a slightly smaller crab.  You can imagine my disappointment.  Anyway...I took a merus (arm) and cracked the tough shell with the tools.  Nice and sweet meat inside.  The best part, of course, was the sauce.  I made sure to mix it real well with the riceflour rolls (陳村粉).  I think we all could have just drunk the sauce down...

After the crab, when we asked them serve the following dishes, they came in quick succession once again.  I think the kitchen wanted to knock off early, and in general they wanted us to finish and be gone.  This is one of my pet peeves, as I just don't like the feeling of being pressured for time when I'm enjoying a meal.

Claypot prawns with garlic and scallions in sate sauce (蔥蒜沙茶大蝦煲) - very nice.  The prawns were big, and chopped into two sections.  Tons of sauce here, which honestly tasted more like sweetened balacan.  Lemongrass, garlic and ginger complete the taste.

"The Chairman" (十八味豉油雞) - just as nice as I remembered from last time.  We again asked the kitchen to put a little extra flavor in the chicken.  One of the best soy sauce chickens in town.

Shiitake and morel mushrooms with tofu skin (冬菇羊肚菌炆腐皮) - very nice.  Love the morels.

Stir-fried kale (清炒芥蘭) - not bad.

Preserved plum and cinnamon-flavored sweet and sour pork spare ribs (話梅肉桂糖醋排骨) - the favorite dish from last time, it was still very popular.  We were a little too full, though, to order a second portion.  That plum sauce was very, very nice.  I did notice that the flavor of the pork was a little stronger than usual.

I picked the wolfberry ice cream (杞子雪糕), but it was only OK.  The small cup of almond cream with egg white (蛋白杏仁露) was a total failure.  It was just too thick, like curdled milk, and reminded me of what I had at Manor.  I guess desserts are just not their forte...

I brought 3 bottles of wine to share with the group.  Speaking of wine, I must say that the wine service was in complete contrast to the food service.  The other waiters were very nice and helpful, and made sure to change the wine glasses when we switched reds.  The one blemish was when Tony came over for the wine service.  He was either trying to show off his skill or just careless, but he ended up dripping wine all over the table.  Sigh... Waiters like him are the reason why I usually insist on pouring the wine myself.

1994 Figeac - drinking very nicely now.  Classic nose of smoke, red fruits, slight hint of green peppers as well as black pepper, with a little mint.

2007 Joh. Jos. Prüm Graacher Himmelreich Kabinett - lots of plastic in the nose, with minerals over the underlying floral notes.  Reasonably sweet for a kabinett.  I preferred this bottle over the one I drank with Katharina Prüm a few weeks ago.

2001 Kistler Pinot Noir Kistler Vineyard - a couple of hours after opening, the nose was still a little sharp, with clear minerals/metallic notes over the sweet candy, pruny nose...along with some eucalyptus.  Pretty full-bodied for a Pinot.

For a second time, I walked away from this restaurant with my appetite and taste buds satiated.  I would like to return again, but I'd want to make sure the menu is different for variety's sake.  And seriously, someone needs an attitude adjustment...or this will turn out to be another Da Domenico!

1 comment:

johannes said...

It's so close to our office - i really must remember to go there more often.
雞油花雕蒸花蟹 with 陳村粉... 引死人咩 !?!!


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