March 19, 2010

HK Chowmeet 2010 part 2: lunch at someone else's canteen

Pin It

A small group of Chowhounds gathered for lunch today at a venue where, some months ago, I had declared that I would never visit.  The last time I walked through the doors of Fan Tang (飯堂) I found the manager's attitude off-putting.  This time I decided to ignore my preconceptions to see whether the food measures up to the place's reputation.

I brought a bottle of white to share, and the manager suggested that they bring us a couple of dishes to accompany the wine.  We gladly accepted, and waited...and waited...and waited.  Well, as we ended up ordering a few items of dim sum, somehow these dishes got pushed to the back end instead of coming first... Kinda defeats the purpose.

2003 Kongsgaard Viognier/Roussanne - as I had feared the wine is now over the hill.  There was none of the floral notes from the Viognier...and the wine actually smelled like a Chardonnay!  Nose of minerals, toasty oak, lemon, orange rind and a little bit of sweet corn at the end.  Very ripe on the palate but with a very tart and short finish.  I realized later that I had brought another vintage of this wine to our Chowmeet last year...

Xiaolongbao with chicken broth (雞汁小籠包) - not bad.  Skin was pretty soft and thin and didn't break as I picked it up.  But if I had to be picky, I'd say that the skin is still a long way from the quality of the XLB specialists.

Crystal prawn dumplings (晶瑩鮮蝦餃) - the skin was perfect.  The prawns were crunchy to the bite, and exploding with flavor with a sweet aftertaste (or was it umami?) - leading one of us to question the use of MSG.  My tongue's usually sensitive to MSG but didn't send me any messages today.  However, I did pick up a hint of baking soda.

Lemon char siu puff pastry (檸檬叉燒酥) - I really liked this.  The execution on the puff pastry was perfect, and the lemon flavor of the filling was refreshing.  I didn't mind that the filling was more runny and not full of chunks of char siu.

Country style salty fried dumplings (家鄉咸水角) - pretty nicely done, too...especially the skin.

Pig trotters with salted plum sauce (話梅豬手) - wow!  I loved this dish...and I've had my share of pig trotters around the world.  The skin was coated with that yummy, fragrant sauce, and glistened under the light.  The acidity of the plum helped cut down the fat, and the result was that...well...I felt I could have had the entire claypot by myself...  The execution was also perfect, with the skin and tendons in that sweet spot where they are neither too soft nor too hard.

Deep-fried pork ribs with lemongrass (香茅炸排骨) - finally the first of the two "appetizers" arrived.  Full of flavor, and this time even I started to wonder whether MSG was used...although my tongue still remained silent.  The lemongrass was fragrant and a very nice touch.

Deep-fried baby yellow croaker (椒鹽小黃魚) - very nice, and in a style different from that of the ones at the Chairman (大班樓).  These were bigger in size, and not fried quite to the golden brown state, so the flesh inside was still moist and juicy.  Yummy.

Country style stir-fried rice vermicelli (家鄉炒米粉) - another great dish.  The rice vermicelli is from Hsinchu (新竹), and was pretty awesome.  Lots of yummy ingredients here, including some sweet preserved vegetables.  Lots of wok hei (鑊氣) showing the high heat used, and not oily at all.  I'd say this is even better than the version at Fu Sing (富聲).

Steamed bun with golden runny filling (金黃流沙包) - yuuuummy!  Breaking these open revealed the sweet and salty filling made with egg yolks.  I could have had a few more of these...

Pan-fried crêpe - forgot the Chinese name of this thing. The crêpe was so nicely fried... dry, crispy with just the right consistency.  The twin fillings of red bean paste and diced peanuts were nice, too.

It was a very nice and relaxing lunch for a Friday.  Food was excellent - no way I could find any major faults here.  But once again I go back to the service...which was OK but a little slow at times. The manager clearly paid a lot more attention and fawned over the regulars, and at times I wondered whether the kitchen was prioritizing the dishes in favor of the regulars.

In any case, the four of us really enjoyed our gathering.  Looking forward to next year...

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails

TripAdvisor Travel Map