August 13, 2013

Île Saint Jacques

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I'm having the first of my three "cheat meals" this week, and for most of the afternoon all people could talk about was whether the typhoon was coming close enough to Hong Kong to warrant the raising of the No. 8 Signal.  While most people in the city were hoping for a unscheduled holiday, I for one did not want the typhoon to hit us too soon.  When I got a call in the afternoon to reconfirm my dinner reservation, the tone at the other end of the line seemed to be: "With the typhoon coming, are you sure you still want to come to dinner?  Can y'all please cancel so we can all go home early?"

Well, there was NO WAY I was gonna give up this dinner…

As I arrived at Island Tang (港島廳), I was relieved to find that there were others already seated in the main dining room.  In fact over the course of the evening, the restaurant would be about 2/3 full - not bad for a rainy, windy night when I was checking for weather updates with my phone on an hourly basis.  But what was meant to be a party of five ended up being a foursome for most of the evening, as one of us had a little trouble flying in from Taipei and arrived 3 hours late…

Of course we would have to start with the signature honey glazed signature barbecued pork (蜜汁叉燒)!!  It's hard to find a better version in town, and I just looooove the marbling of the fat!  My nutritionist had suggested that I spit out the fatty bits of char siu when I have it, but I told her that it was not possible here…

I put the first piece in my mouth and just took a few seconds to enjoy the soft, fluffy sensation as I gently applied pressure to it with my teeth and my tongue… I was in heaven.  THIS is what I live for…  and no, I didn't stop at one or two pieces… I had four.

Roast pigeon leg stuffed with preserved liver sausage (潤腸燒釀鴿腿) - we were drinking some red Burgs tonight so the manager recommended this dish.  Of course it worked fantastically well with the wines.  This came out piping hot, and I had to be careful when taking my first bite… as there was a lot of heat trapped inside.

This was some succulent pigeon!  And of course the liver sausage inside was delish, too!  The fragrance of the Mei Kuei Lu (玫瑰露) used to make the sausage just melded seamlessly with the red Burgs.  Absolutely fantastic.

Crispy wagyu beef cheek (脆皮和牛臉) - frankly a little disappointing.  I think the slices are way too thin… With beef cheek you need bigger chunks to appreciate the collagen.  This just didn't do it for me.  Lightly battered and fried means bad for me diet…

Baked silver cod with Peking scallions (京蔥燒焗銀鱈魚) - I remember liking this dish from an earlier visit so I ordered it again.  Pretty good.  The exterior has a slight crispiness to it while the cod is of course very tender and moist.

Deep-fried de-boned duck coated with taro crust (荔茸香酥鴨) - this has been off the menu for the last few years but I asked Remy ahead of time if the kitchen could do this for us.  Soooo happy that I did.

The duck was both crispy (at the bottom) and succulent in the middle, with some of that yummy duck fat coming through.  The layer of taro? Heavenly.  You've got a mix of soft taro mash topped with a layer of deep-fried, fluffy crust.  To die for.  I definitely had my fair share of this dish, too… since I was the one who ordered it!

Braised oyster mushrooms with vegetable (百靈菇扒菜膽) - gotta get some veg in, although this definitely wasn't enough…

Pan-fried rice vermicelli with diced chicken, black truffle and wild mushroom (黑松露野菌雞粒煎米粉) - after the delicious fried rice from my last dinner, I wanted to order it again… but was told that they're now doing it with rice vermicelli.  This was also very yum… in a slightly different way.  The deliciously fragrant filling was sandwiched between layers of crispy and dry rice vermicelli.  Slurp.

I wasn't gonna take any dessert, but there was a piece of leftover muscovado sponge cake (黑糖糕) so I decided to take it.  Not impressed.  A far cry from what we can get in Taiwan, and wasted calories in my opinion.

But in reality, we met up tonight to drink some vino.  I was trying to be considerate to my friend's health and thought that 3 bottles would be enough for 5 of us.  I couldn't have been more wrong… even with just the four of us…  That was a decision that neither my friend nor the Specialist is likely to let me forget for a while…

Jacques Selosse Substance, dégorgée à 20 Novembre 2007 - I brought this for my friend who loves Champagne, as he loved the same wine I brought to an earlier dinner.  This was another beautiful bottle, showing a lovely, aged nose thanks to the solera system of blending back to 1986.  So much honey, caramelized sugar, Chinese licorice, sugar cane and desiccated coconut in the nose.  Very complex.

I was gonna bring a bottle of Clos Saint Jacques - which had actually been given to me by the Specialist as a birthday present.  The Specialist decided to match it with another bottle from the same vintage but a different producer, so that we could do a side-by-side comparison of the two.  What a good idea!  And a very nice gesture from the Specialist.

2004 Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St Jacques Vieille Vigne - very clean and pure.  Lots of strawberries and raspberries, a little bit of sous bois?   It smelled as if I was walking in strawberry fields.  What a lovely surprise!  Not decanted nor breathed prior to drinking.

2004 Rousseau Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St Jacques - more intense and concentrated, with animal and leather notes on top of the fruit, along with mineral and savory notes that are almost like black olives.  Also very sweet and delicious.

The Rousseau was of course delicious as expected but the Fourrier provided the surprise of the evening… and at less than half of the price of the Rousseau, I know which one I'd pick!

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