April 28, 2013

A reunion of sorts

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Two nights after my last visit, I'm back at Fook Lam Moon (福臨門) for dinner.  No, I did not choose the venue, and I didn't pick it for Friday, either.  I am, however, always happy to come here as the food is of fairly high quality in general.  And there are a number of my friends who are regulars, so I end up coming here probably more than any other high-end restaurant in Hong Kong.

I was getting together with a couple of friends as I haven't seen them in quite a while.  They, in turn, invited a few of their friends in the name of drinking some good wines, and before I knew it we were a party of eight.  As it turns out, all but one of us used to work at the same sausage factory, although in different departments.  Not surprisingly, none of us remain at the factory today (well, one of my friends is serving his notice period...) so this was an interesting gathering...

Dinner here for many of us would traditionally start off with the roast suckling pig (大紅片皮乳豬) - if there are enough people.  This is still hands down one of the top 2 pigs in town for me, given the quality of the crackling.  However increasingly I have noticed that the underside of the pig has gotten over-seasoned, and so my enjoyment of the remainder of the piggy has gone down somewhat.

Deep-fried frogs' legs (椒鹽田雞腿) - funny how I can't seem to escape from this dish… not that I'm complaining, of course!  I do like the way they do it here.

Sautéed shredded prawns, crab meat with onions, bean sprouts and egg (蟹肉桂花炒蝦絲) - mmm… stuff that's fried in lots of oil… with onions and egg to bring out the flavor… what's not to like?!

Long braised pork belly with preserved Chinese cabbage (梅菜扣肉煲) - hmmm… I always thought that 梅菜 was made with leafy mustard varietals like 雪裡红 and not cabbage?  Anyway… I'm always up for pork belly like this, especially when it's made with the sweet variant of 梅菜 like this.

Stir-fried morning glory with shrimp paste (蝦醬炒通菜) - ummm… normally a nice dish to have, but we are drinking some nice wines tonight, no?  What's going on with this pungent shrimp paste?!  Thankfully I only had about 2 mouthfuls on my plate…

Stewed eggplant with minced pork and salty fish sauce (魚香茄子) - OK, I see where we're going… more yummy dishes with pungent flavors to screw up the palate…

Stewed garoupa belly with Chinese lettuce (蒜子唐生菜炆斑翅) - very delicious, with the fish having been pan-fried before stewing.  I actually didn't mind the big cloves of garlic which have now softened and absorbed the flavors of the sauce.

Stir-fried kale with ginger sauce (薑汁炒芥藍) - one can often judge a restaurant's by the quality of the ingredients they use.  The kale here is top-notch.

The seasonal clay pot rice (合時煲仔飯) was made with steamed finely minced beef with aged mandarin peel (馳名陳皮蒸牛肉餅).  This is simply mixed with steamed rice, but what an awesome dish!  The soft, slightly bouncy texture of the minced beef; the delicate fragrance of the mandarin orange peel (陳皮)…  Fook Lam Moon has been stereotyped by many as a place to splurge on shark's fin and abalone, but what they're also really good at is simple, comfort food like this…

The ladies seemed like they had a thing for sweets, and that was fine by me!  I didn't get a bowl of dessert soup, but did indulge in a number of steamed cakes and cookies…

Steamed traditional brown sugar sponge cake (杬仁馬粒糕)

Walnut cookies (核桃酥) - O.M.G… this thing has the potential of turning me into the Cookie Monster… or Po the Kung Fu Panda...

Glutinous rice balls steamed in apple leaves (蘋葉果)

For some reason, ILoveLubutin insisted on sharing a piece of sachima (薩其馬) with me… then proceeded to sneakily grab a bigger "half".  In return, she offered me half a piece of steamed layer cake (鳳凰千層糕).

I was pleasantly surprised that I wasn't stuffed at the end of the evening, for once… but then again, tonight was really more about the wines for me.

1982 Philipponnat Grand Blanc - recently disgorged so relatively fresh.  Nicely oxidized but not overly so.  Mild on the front palate with an acidic and long finish.  Interesting to drink such an old blanc de blancs.

1985 Hospices de Beaune Mazis-Chambertin Cuvée Madeleine-Collignon par Bouchard - it looks like I didn't learn a lesson from my last bottle… this wine just shouldn't be double-decanted but rather drunk straight out of bottle.  You'd think I would know better…  Nose showed a little stewed prunes right after uncorking.  After an hour it was showing soy sauce, braised pork belly with preserved leafy mustard (梅菜扣肉), minerals.  Acidity was a little high.

1982 Beychevelle - very classic Left Bank, with a smoky veil on top of earthy and mineral notes.  Very smooth and perhaps a little on the light side.  A lovely wine.

1982 Drucru-Beaucaillou - one of my favorite wines, and this was in excellent condition.  Really nice and lovely, with some sweet grass notes, sweet fruit, a hint of smoke and later star anise.

1999 Greenock Creek Shiraz Roennfeldt Road - first whiff was really plasticky… later on showed vanilla and coconut butter, which I guess is what I'd expect from an Aussie Shiraz.  I'm glad this has been cellared for a number of years so that it's softened somewhat.

1970 Warre's - a little sharp thanks to the alcohol level.  Caramel and prune notes.  Very sweet on the palate.  I last drank this on my birthday last year

Wenjun (文君) - normally I don't drink baijiu (白酒) as I just can't stand the smell nor the taste of it, but for some reason the staff brought this out for us to try.  Typical smell that just seems so artificial to me, while lovers of this would find it very aromatic.  Apparently this has been made in Qionglai, Sichuan (四川邛崃) since the Ming Dynasty.  Two sips is quite enough for me...

A very good way to spend Sunday evening… but perhaps a tad too much alcohol for a school night...

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