December 8, 2013


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Year end is always busy season for the MNSC boys, as half the birthdays are bunched up in the last quarter.  Two weeks after our last mind-blowing tasting, we're back sitting at the same table and, surprisingly, sharing it with the wives.  Time to tone down the conversation... =P

Juliano played host and called us to China Tang (唐人館), the new outlet opened by the foodie tycoon. Normally I would have waited a little before visiting a place this new, but I was actually curious to see how it positions itself versus the other Tang cousins around town.  I'm a big fan of Island Tang (港島廳), and apparently this is meant to sit slightly higher up on the scale...

We started with some nibbles and appetizers:

Pan-fried Shanghainese dumplings (上海生煎包) - not a fan.  The dough was just too soggy, mushy and stuck to my teeth, and that ain't the way it's done in Shanghai.

Tofu skin with XO sauce (XO醬鮮腐竹) - these were OK, and with the slightest touch of heat.  But I didn't see any trace of XO sauce...

Marinated cordyceps mushrooms (涼拌蟲草花) - pretty interesting.  Noticeably spicy.  Mixed with different mushrooms and diced garlic.

Pan-fried beef pocket with jus (灌湯牛肉餅) - not a fan.  Similar issue with the dumplings, but slightly better.  With onion mixed in with the beef.

Then we each got a plate bearing 5 different appetizers:

Roast suckling pig (化皮乳豬件) - this was OK, but I'm just happy to eat any piggy.

Vegetarian goose (潤澤上素鵝) - this was decent, with finely diced shiitake mushroom.

China Tang barbecued pork (唐人館叉燒) - not as good as what I'd get at Island Tang.

Deep-fried tofu cubes (椒鹽蜂巢豆腐) - the sesame seeds were a nice touch.

Pork and spring onion rolls with garlic (蒜泥白肉卷) - not bad, but the garlic ain't exactly wine-friendly...

I don't eat shark's fin, so I gave up my bowl of stir-fried shark's fin with egg white (鮮蛋白炒海虎翅).  Surprisingly, no one picked up my bowl...

Deep-fried de-boned duck coated with taro crust (荔茸香酥鴨) - this is a far cry from the delicious creation at Island Tang.  Was there any duck in here at all?  I could taste the taro, and I got the piece of green bell pepper (or shiitake mushroom, depending) at the bottom, but duck?  Hmmm...

Traditional Peking duck (老北京傳統掛爐烤鴨) - apparently they've gotten themselves a license for a charcoal (or was it wood-fired?) oven, so they can make a proper Peking duck the traditional way.  The skin was not bad, but then again, I'm no Peking duck connoisseur...

The meat was pretty decent.  The pancakes were beautifully thin.

Crystal king prawn (油浸大玻璃蝦球) - it's been a while since I last had a really good crystal king prawn, and tonight this was very, very good.  Lots of flavor here, and I didn't get an MSG or baking soda attack.

Crispy beef brisket (脆皮牛腩) - nice, fatty beef brisket lightly battered and deep-fried.

Tofu skin with black truffle (黑松露千層腐皮) - nice and fragrant.

Kale in sizzling claypot (啫啫芥藍煲) - with some pretty large dried shrimp (蝦米) and minced pork in shrimp paste.  Nice of Juliano to stink up the room for us.

Langoustine with e-fu noodles in superior broth (上湯小龍蝦炆伊麵) - very decadent to have this whole langoustine, but soooo damn tasty!  I wish I could have picked up the shells and licked the deep-fried batter off, but that would have been a little too much...

Claypot rice with duck and preserved meats (煲油鴨腊味飯) - of course we had to have this... and only my fifth time in the last month across 3 different restaurants.  I could smell the rose wine (玫瑰露) from across the room as the staff was mixing the soy sauce into the rice.  Yum.  I was already pretty full, so I refrained from taking any additional rice crispies.

Now we were ready for dessert, starting with some petit fours... The walnut cookies (合桃酥) were very, very good.

Muscovado sponge cake (黑糖糕) - this seemed to be better than what I had at Island Tang a few months ago.

Birthday buns (壽包) - we're celebrating Juliano's birthday, and you can't do without these birthday buns.

Finally we ended with some fruit.

The line up of wines tonight:

1983 Ramonet Bâtard-Montrachet - caramelized nose, a little sweet on the edges, a little oaky, some Chinese licorie.  Slightly acidic finish.  Later on a little nutty.  About 1½ hours later, showing sugary bubblegum notes.  Nice and rich on the palate.

Flight 1:  opened for 1 hour before serving.
1978 DRC Échézeaux - beautiful nose, really sweet with black cherries.  A little plummy towards the end.  Sweet like candy, with a hint of savory black olives underneath the layer of sweetness.  An absolutely beautiful wine, with floral, rose petal notes.  97 points.

1978 Chave Hermitage - richer and denser on the nose but still light on the body.  More animal notes, slightly meaty, bloody, iron and minerals.  A little smoky but more closed.  92 points.  Some of us were not surprised that this wine was a little disappointing, although the bottle we drank in Jean-Louis Chave's cellar was - of course - perfect.

Flight 2:
1990 Cheval Blanc - opened for 2 hours but decanted for 1 hour and 15 minutes prior to serving.  Minty, smoky, nice and smooth on the palate but not light.  Grassy and green notes, with lead pencil.  95 points.

1990 DRC La Tâche - opened for 2 hours but decanted for 30 minutes prior to serving.  Sweet, a little exotic, coconut butter, plummy.  94 points.  Disappointed that this didn't show.

Flight 3: opened 2 hours prior and decanted for an hour
1990 Pichon Baron - sweetish, seeming a little cooked, with green pepper.  A little dusty and dirty.  93 points.

1990 Gruaud Larose - oaky, lead pencil, green pepper, plastic, sharp, a little moldy, stinky, smoky.  A little corked.  90 points.

1990 La Mission Haut-Brion - smoky, savory with tea leaves.  Very nice and classic.  96 points.

Many thanks for Juliano for serving such great wines, and happy to have tried out China Tang!

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