May 20, 2010

Having an off day

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I set up another dinner at Fook Lam Moon (福臨門) tonight with a group of friends.  A couple is in town from overseas, and after hearing me talk about FLM for so long, they decided they wanted to see what all the fuss was about.  I rounded up my main assault team, called in some reinforcements, and off we went to take on a menu featuring what I consider to be the "greatest hits".

Deep-fried frogs' legs (椒鹽田雞腿) - somehow not as good as usual... dunno what it was...  We had three froggies tonight, and hopefully they all enjoyed the dish.

Roast suckling pig (大紅片皮乳豬) - lots of lovers of pork here...but again, I felt that the pig wasn't as good as usual.  The skin wasn't as crispy as I expected...almost like the humidity got to it.  The leg I munched on was also pretty burnt, but the rest of the pig was fine.

Winter melon soup (鮮蓮冬瓜盅) - pretty nice for a warm day, with the usual mix of exotic ingredients.  The ham flavors were nice and reasonably subtle, and I made sure to finish the two big chunks of winter melon.

Pan-fried eastern star garoupa (煎封雙東星斑) - it's been a while since I've had this here, and I still like it a lot.  The flesh was still reasonably moist - although I thought it could have been a little better - while the deep-fried skin was just soooo good...

Stir-fried lobster with black beans and green peppers (豉椒炒龍蝦球) - the pile of lobster meat was pretty impressive, but again I was slightly disappointed... Did the lobster meat lack a little bit of that bounce?

Baked stuffed crab shell (釀焗鮮蟹蓋) - it's been a while and I have really missed this dish.  I still think it's just about the best crab shell in town, with all that fresh crab meat and sweet onions.

Stir-fried prawns with walnuts (桃茸生汁大蝦球) - I added this dish to the menu when the restaurant suggested that we weren't quite over the "minimum" for booking a private room...and in retrospect this was really unnecessary.  Prawns were de-shelled, coated with a layer of corn starch, and stir-fried and drizzled with sauce and sprinkled with walnut bits. For some reason this dish reminded me of something I had at Nobu a while ago with one of my guests of honor tonight.  Not exactly a healthy dish as the starch soaked up way too much oil...  My guest remarked - and I concurred - that this was the first dish tonight which came to the table piping hot.  Everything else has been lukewarm so far.

Sweet and sour pork (菠蘿咕嚕肉) - I included this dish at the request of the resident Froggie, for the benefit of all the other froggies and female guests.  I normally cringe at the thought of having this dish in a Chinese restaurant, but I do have to admit that they do it well here.

Wolfberries and wolfberry leaves in superior broth (上湯杞子浸枸杞菜) - I jokingly called this the "veggie oyakodon (親子丼)" as we're having both the leaves of the vegetable as well as the fruits.  The leaves are ever so slightly bitter and tannic, but this is balanced by the sweet wolfberries.

Fried noodles with bean sprouts in soy sauce (豉油皇銀芽炒麵) - this was the first time I've ordered the dish here, and I was a little disappointed.  I thought it was interesting that they used very thin flat noodles instead of the usual thin round noodles, and the texture/bite was pretty good - al dente according to one of the froggies.  But I thought the taste was a little too light...they could have used a wee bit more soy sauce.

We were all very, very stuffed, but there was still a couple of desserts to come.  The resident Froggie requested longevity buns (蛋黃蓮蓉壽包) as her birthday was just a week ago, and we enjoyed the nice combination of the sweet lotus seed paste and the savory egg yolk.

The steamed traditional brown sugar sponge cake (杬仁馬粒糕) was not bad, but somehow my piece got a little soggy at the bottom.

Given we have a pretty large group tonight, I decided to bring out 2 magnums...and they definitely looked impressive.

1998 Hugel Gewurztraminer Vendage Tardive - exactly what I expected and wanted out of a Gewurz... loads of lychee and fragrant floral notes upfront, with a little bit of acetone on the nose.  There was lots of sweetness on the palate, with a slightly tart finish like orange rind.  A vendage tardive may be a little too sweet for some people as a food wine, but I always thought that sweet wines go well with Chinese food.  Very lovely.

2003 Fisher Syrah Hidden Terrace Vineyard - pretty much the same as the other magnum I opened last month.  So Cali... tons of sweet, tropical fruit like coconut, caramel, and a bit of smoked meats.

10 dishes plus desserts was just a little too much... I wish I really were round enough to roll back home!  Not sure what happened in the kitchen today, but it's gotta be the first time in a long that I was disappointed with a meal here.  I hope things get better the next time I'm back...after all, I had publicly announced this to be my #5 restaurant in the world!

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