July 9, 2011

A quick stop in Hangzhou

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I met up with a few friends tonight for a quick meal.  We had talked about doing a larger gathering a few weeks ago, and we finally worked out a date for dinner at Hong Zhou Restaurant (杭州酒家).  I had a really good meal a few months ago, and wanted to come back for a revisit.

I wasn't particularly hungry, and as this was meant to be a casual meal over a couple of bottles of wine, my friends and I ordered a handful of dishes to start.

Drunken pigeon (花雕醉鴿) - I thought this was not bad.

Deep-fried tofu bells (乾炸響鈴) - very good stuff, and still one of my favorites here.  The crispy and fluffy tofu skin is just great.

Braised Dong Po pork belly (東坡肉) - pretty decent, but tricky when trying to use it as the filling for a sandwich... as the slightest squeeze is bound to press the fatty juices out of the pork belly...

Fish balls with watershield (蒓菜魚圓) - I still like this light and airy fish ball, and I was able to taste some ginger in the mix.  The slippery watershield is always fun to eat...

I'm a little tired of bitching about service, but here we go again... getting served 4 dishes in the space of 10 minutes... I guess at Chinese restaurants, we're supposed in inhale our food as soon as it arrives?!

Deep-fried yellow croaker fillets (苔條黃魚) - I normally wouldn't waste a good fish by having it prepared this way, but I wanted to see how well they executed this dish.  Turns out the fillets were yummy. The seaweed they mixed into the batter made it more delicious.  The vinegar-based dipping sauce was good, too.

I'm not a fan of deep-fried stinky tofu (炸臭豆腐), and I was too full to have any stir-fried noodles with freshwater eel and shrimp (蝦爆鱔麵), but I did have some stir-fried baby bok choy with marinated bamboo shoots (筍乾雞毛菜).

Some people wanted dessert, and decided to order up some glutinous rice balls with sesame paste (芝麻湯圓).  The first batch came overcooked, and some of the balls had burst, causing the black sesame paste to leak into the broth.  My friend was unhappy and promptly sent it back.  The second bowl seemed OK.

2007 Kongsgaard VioRus - I dug this out from my cellar and figured it was due to be drunk.  Sure enough, it had started to oxidize a little... Very ripe, perhaps a little over.  Floral, mineral and lemon notes.  The stated alcohol level of 14.1% was very, very obvious.

2005 Pio Cesare Barolo - very lovely and quite a surprise.  Very sweet on the nose, with plenty of vanilla, mint, pine needle and definitely oak.

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