February 26, 2012

Dinner with a palatial view

Pin It

Tonight was the second gathering for mom's birthday, and I decided to revisit Le Palais (頤宮).  My last visit piqued my interest and I wondered what it would be like with more people and a wider range of dishes.  Heaven knows this family needs to find a few more venues for our gatherings, and this one happens to be extremely convenient for me to get to…

The setting is great.  We took a private room on the top floor of the Palais de Chine Hotel (君品酒店), which faces west and just happens to have direct line-of-sight of my apartment building.  The period Chinese decor - with many accents dating from 2 millennia ago - worked well and achieved the mood I wanted.

I had received fax copies of the restaurant's set menus, and decided to cherry pick individual dishes that I wanted to try.  Turns out Mom didn't exactly agree with my choice of dishes… Oops!

As usual we were served a shot of vinegar to start - hibiscus vinegar (洛神花醋) for tonight.  Too sweet for mom's liking, of course…

Fried doughnut stuffing with minced shrimp in X.O. sauce (X.O.醬油條) - I ordered this again because I found it to be kinda interesting.  Once again I didn't taste much X.O. sauce, although this was a little more spicy than I remembered thanks to the chilis.  I think this was well-received by the family tonight.

Roast suckling pig with roast duck (乳豬拼燒鴨) - I actually didn't get to have the suckling pig, although it looked really yummy.  The roast duck wasn't bad, though…

Deep-fried pork spare ribs (椒鹽排骨) - usually anything fried is gonna taste pretty good, and this was definitely OK, especially with that generous load of deep-fried garlic and chili.  I did wish the pork wasn't 50% fat, though… That shouldn't happen at a restaurant of this caliber.

Braised sea cucumber and goose web (鵝掌扒烏參) - OK, so the sea cucumber "rolls" did look a little suspicious… kinda artificial.  And they failed miserably - there was absolutely no taste to them since the kitchen simply didn't spend enough time cooking.  Texture was also too  springy.  The goose webs, however, were very good.  Soft and melt-in-your-mouth.

Roast Peking duck wrapped in pancake (北京片皮鴨) - I ordered half a duck, since I know how this crowd just loves Peking duck.  We were served only the paper-thin layers of skin wrapped in pancakes.  These were OK, but not satisfying enough without any of the duck fat.

Wok-fried duck meat with lettuce (生菜片鴨鬆) - this was OK, with pieces of fried Chinese crullers (油條) which were a little stale for my taste… although it was to be expected.

Glutinous rice stuffed with chicken wings (糯米釀雞翼) - FAIL.  First of all, I think it's kinda hard to stuff chicken wings into glutinous rice… but that's just me being picky about semantics.  Second, the outer layer of chicken skin wasn't prepped properly, so the texture was all wrong after deep-frying.  Finally, the stuffing of glutinous rice was pretty mushy, and that's just completely wrong.  The individual rice grains should still be discernible while retaining their bite.  What we got was simply overcooked.

Steamed marble goby (清蒸筍殼魚) - I made the mistake of rejecting the bigger fish and taking one that's only 13 taels.  This was a tiny fish for the 8 of us… and we joked that the head and tail which were headed for dad's plate was about half of the fish!  But the one little mouthful that I got as my share (OK, two mouthfuls…) was delicious - steamed pretty well and not overdone as I had feared.

We can't have a meal with grandma without dessert, so I made sure we had a few sweets to finish off.  I recommended the sweetened cream of almond soup in papaya with Chinese doughnut (木瓜杏仁露) for mom and dad, but skipped it myself this time.  I did take a piece of the sweetened osmanthus jelly with Chinese lycium (桂花枸杞凍).  There were layers of wolfberries at the top and bottom, although I would have preferred a little more osmanthus for their wonderful fragrance.

Steamed egg yolk paste buns (黃金流沙包) - these were not bad.  The center was pretty liquid… maybe a little too liquid.

1997 Beringer Merlot Bancroft Ranch - still kinda alcoholic on the nose initially, with fruity, minty, cedar notes along with a little smoke and dried herbs.  Smooth on the palate as expected.

Well, dinner wasn't exactly a roaring success judging by the food, but I don't think we would do much better if we had gone to one of the old standbys…  At least the setting and service here was much, much better, the evening worked out overall.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails

TripAdvisor Travel Map