November 28, 2013

Three smiles of the Seventh Son: BYO... fish?

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Finally... the third installment of my week at Seventh Son (家全七福).  This dinner came about at the instigation of a chef friend, who responded to a thread on FB by suggesting that I should share my wines with friends like Da Jam.  I wasted no time in rounding up a few people who are all friends with Da Jam - who would also drink a reasonable amount - and it was suggested that we they check out Seventh Son.  At the time this arrangement was made, I had no idea that this would result in my being here three times in a week...

The date was chosen because it was the earliest date that all of us would be available, and I had given absolutely no thought to the fact that it was to be Thanksgiving evening - having gotten used to not having much turkey for the last 2 decades.  Once I realized the coincidence, I knew exactly which dish to pre-order for us...

Pan-fried minced pork and lotus root patties (香煎蓮藕餅) - these were pretty good.  There was enough diced bits of lotus root inside to be noticeable and give it some degree of crunchiness, but it was still mostly a pork patty.  I thought it was better than what I had at Fook Lam Moon (福臨門), but still prefer the really crunchy version at Guo Fu Lou (國福樓) for now.

Deep-fried frog's legs with garlic and chilli (椒鹽田雞腿) - better than the moist and almost soggy ones I had last time.

Sautéed pig's stomach tip (炒肚尖) - I wasn't a big fan of this dish from my last visit, but I was happy to give it another try.  The pieces here are somehow not as springy and crunchy enough, and a little more old-school.  We were all wondering what 肚尖 is in English - other than a literal translation - but I'm guessing it's something like the pyloric canal just before the pyloric sphincter... right before going to the small intestines.

Marinated cucumber (拍青瓜) - with minced garlic and peanuts...

Barbecued whole suckling pig (大紅片皮乳豬全體) - needed to make sure the others tried this and see for themselves.  Actually I now like this better than Fook Lam Moon.  The crackling's just as good, and for the first time I had a taste of the ribs, which were not over-seasoned like they have been at FLM.  Interestingly the piggies here are from Yunnan (雲南) and not Vietnam.

Steamed tonguesole (清蒸金邊方利) - hours before dinner, a message suddenly popped up from David, saying that he's got a fish for us.  I know he's got good sources when it comes to fresh seafood, especially those caught in local waters, but I was wondering if the restaurant's BYO policy extended to something like fish... But I need not have worried about the chef's connections.  He dropped this off at the restaurant in the afternoon.  There was no doubt it would be something special...

This had to be one of the best soles I have ever had.  The fish was incredibly silky and tender, which reflected both its freshness as well as the skills of the chef in steaming.  Simply amazing.  About 2 catties (斤) shared between the 6 of us.  An incredible treat.

Steamed duck stuffed with various fillings (蛋黃八寳鴨) - this being Thanksgiving and all, it just wouldn't feel right if we didn't have a stuffed birdie.  Having tried this on my first visit, I felt pretty confident that the gang would be happy having this tonight.

Eight-treasure duck (八寳鴨) is meant to have 8 different ingredients, so there was chestnut, Jinhua ham (金華火腿), barley, salty egg yolk, lotus seeds, shiitake mushrooms and one other ingredient I couldn't recall other than the duck.  Very, very tasty.  One of the chefs said this reminded him of cassoulet, and I can kinda see what he meant.

Chrysanthemum greens in superior broth (上湯茼蒿) - it's winter and chrysanthemum greens are in season.  I thought having it in superior broth was pretty nice, and softened the relatively strong flavors of the veg a little.

Stir-fried pea shoots and winter bamboo shoots (冬筍扒豆苗) - very good in terms of the ingredients, as they use the very tips of pea shoots and bamboo shoots.  The only drawback is that they used too much starch tonight, and I didn't need the extra calories.

Claypot rice with duck and preserved meats (煲油鴨腊味飯) - 'tis the season and we must get as much of this in as possible as I fatten up slim down for winter.  The preserved meats here are soooo damn good... but I held back and only had 1 serving tonight... I think... as far as I can remember...

Having had the rice crispies (飯焦) in soup a few nights ago, I asked for the same preparation tonight.  The kitchen made sure that the claypot was hot enough to give us extra rice crispies, which was then cooked tableside in superior broth.  Wow!  This was just... I would've been happy to take another 2 bowls of this!

The ambitious ladies pre-ordered dessert before they realized they were stuffed by the rice, but I took them on even though I was already full.

Sesame sachima (芝麻沙琪馬) - you don't get this as many restaurants, and ILoveLubutin No Fork Use wanted some.  Pretty good, I gotta say...

Steamed traditional brown sugar sponge cake (欖仁馬拉糕) - we justified ordering this because, as you can very well see, it's mostly air and not much substance to give it enough calories...  This was really good.

Leaf wrapped glutinous dumpling with red bean paste (豆沙蘋葉角) - another old favorite from FLM.  Mmmmm... lard...

The owner's daughter stopped by to say hello to one of my friends, and I think she knows that I'm a fan now... after seeing me for a second time in a week.

But we mustn't forget about the wines - without which this dinner wouldn't even have taken place.  I think we did better than I expected, with the 6 of us polishing off 6 bottles.  Even Da Jam was drinking a little... but I failed in my objective in getting him toasted.  Ah well, there's always next time!

1999 von Schubert Maximin Grünhäuser Abtsberg Riesling Auslese-trocken - mineral, white pepper, petrol, a little floral, big and ripe on the nose, and also ripe on palate but without the sugar.  Not bad at all.  I had originally wanted to grab a much older bottle, but took this by mistake...

1985 Hospices de Beaune Mazis-Chambertin Cuvée Madeleine-Collignon par Bouchard - decanted for 30 minutes prior to serving.  Plummy, stewed fruits.  Not bad but seemingly a little tired.  Nice on the palate, though.  I tried to be a little more conservative tonight after over-breathing this wine the last two times I served it, but maybe next time I just have to decant just before I serve it...
2004 Ponsot Chapelle Chambertin - a little vegetal, un petit bouchonnée.  But still drinkable.

2000 Coche-Dury Meursault - served after opening for 2 hours.  Really lovely nose, big and toasty, with lots of toasty corn and minerals.  This may not be an elegant wine, but it sure got the power!

1996 Guigal Côte-Rôtie Château d'Ampuis - a little minty, pretty sweet.  Nice on the palate, but this can develop a little more.

1996 Chapoutier Ermitage Le Pavillon - a little green, which led me to think that it was also un petit bouchonnée.  This would be the second consecutive bottle of 1996 Chapoutier Ermitage that I've opened this year that was corked.  WTF is going on with the sourcing of his corks that year?!  Otherwise the nose was smoky, lean, savory like black olives, animal and leather.

A very, very good dinner...  I must come back again soon... but preferrably not too soon!

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