August 29, 2015

City of Dreams tour: a pretty Jade Dragon

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After a nice lunch, followed by a stroll in the shopping mall of the City of Dreams in an attempt to burn off a mere 3 more calories, and trying not to slap/strangle/kick the shit out of my misbehaving, picture-taking neighbors while sitting through a beautiful performance of The House of Dancing Water, it was finally time for dinner.  And I was actually in good shape, for once!  Not only was I completely sober, I also had plenty of stomach capacity.

Which was needed for our dinner at Jade Dragon (譽瓏軒) - the Cantonese restaurant in The Crown Towers with a macaron.  Carmen met us at the door and very kindly set us up in the privacy of a private room.  The one thing I noticed upon entering the restaurant - in contrast with the air freshener which filled the entire City of Dreams complex - was that the air smelled of hospital disinfectant... which was a little surprising.

We started with two nibbles:
Sago with diced cucumber and tomato - very refreshing.

Deep-fried prawn cutlet with kumquat oil - nice with a little shichimi (七味) powder.

Then came a trio of appetizers:
Signature deep-fried Fine de Claire oyster (酥炸法國生蠔) - deep-fried for 8 to 10 seconds.  Actually this was surprisingly tasty, although I was a little surprised at the sweet chili sauce that usually comes with Thai-style grilled chicken...

Chilled cherry tomato with plum jelly (冰梅溫室小蕃茄) - this little tomato from Israel was peeled, and sat on top of some umeshu (梅酒) jelly along with some chrysanthemum petals.  Also nice and refreshing.

Jade Dragon prime-cut barbecue Iberico pork collar (譽瓏蜜汁西班牙黑豚梅頭叉燒) - O-M-G.  Nowadays there are plenty of Cantonese restaurants claiming to use Ibérico pork to make char siu (叉燒), and while I certainly haven't tried every single version, I gotta say that this was one of the best that I've tried.  Pork collar (脢頭) is one of the best cuts for char siu as it is nicely marbled, and it definitely showed.  In addition, they use a combination of lychee wood and date wood to smoke their meats, and I could definitely taste the nice and subtle smoky flavor.  Very, very delicious.  I only have two complaints: a little more charring would have been nice... and WHY DID I ONLY GET TWO MEASLY SLICES?!

Hot and sour soup with kegani crabmeat (生拆日本毛蟹酸辣羹) - we had a choice of soups, and Hello Kitty picked this one.  As far as hot and sour soups go, this has got to be one of the better ones I've tasted... as there was just enough spiciness without drowning the palate.

Double-boiled dendrobium and hyacinth bean, barley and yellow squash soup with pork (石斛老黃瓜扁豆薏米燉豬腱) - I, of course, picked something that went much easier on my palate.  This double-boiled soup was designed to drive the excess "wetness" from my body, and the flavors of dendrobium were certainly prominent.  Not wanting to get too full on liquids, I decided to leave half the soup in my bowl.

Steamed garoupa fillet with egg white in "Hua Diao" wine sauce (花雕蛋白蒸斑球) - the wild brown-marbled grouper (老虎斑) sat atop a custard made with egg white and Hokkaido 3.7 milk, steamed with 20-year-old Huadiao (花雕).

Top grade A4 certified Kobe beef in flambé style (火焰神戶A4和牛) - the Kobe beef came wrapped inside some foil sitting on top of a hot plate, with flames shooting out of the sides...

Our waitress flattened the foil to put out the flames, and inside there were three cubes of marbled beef, which were browned in a pan first before being cooked sous vide to around medium-rare doneness.  These were certainly nice, and came with some leeks and carrots.

Braised vegetable with fish maw, Azuaga ham and winter melon ring in beet root chicken broth (金花白玉翡翠) - when this arrived, Hello Kitty and I looked at each other with a knowing smile... We were finally gonna be made to endure the earthy flavors of red beet root... The hollowed ring of winter melon came with spinach shoots, jamón ibérico, and fish maw.  These were all nice in their own right, especially the fish maw.  Surprisingly, the dreaded earthy flavors from the French beet root never showed... because the base of the starchy broth was actually chicken stock.  Whew!

Braised udon noodles with crabmeat and roes (鮮拆蟹粉扒稻庭烏冬) - Hello Kitty chose the udon, and I thought the crabmeat and roe sauce was a little bland.  Apparently she felt the same, as she eventually decided to add some of the restaurant's delicious X.O. sauce into her bowl for some oomph...

Jade Dragon signature fried rice with prawn, sakura shrimp, conpoy and roasted goose (譽瓏軒炒飯) - in contrast, my choice of "flied lice" was a real winner.  The scallop was nice and sweet, while the prawn was no slouch, either...  The rice itself had diced roasted goose for flavor, accented with ginger, spring onions, and crunchy sugar snaps pods.  The dried conpoy and pan-fried sakura shrimp (桜海老) on top really elevated the dish to a different level.  I was pretty stuffed by now, but that didn't stop me from inhaling this bowl.  If only I had more stomach space, I would have asked for another bowl!

Chinese almond crème brûlée with bird's nest and honey (瓏皇杏汁燕窩焦糖布甸) - our dessert came in a pretty Yixing clay (紫砂) tea pot, spouting fog from dry ice inside the pot.

The crème brûlée was actually very nice as it wasn't intensely sweet, and I liked the almond flavors.  The bird's nest on top was unfortunately wasted on me, but I guess it diluted the sweetness even further.

Petit fours (精選美點) - the pink almond rice cakes had a spongy texture, and surprisingly were not too sweet.  The lemon sponge cakes were OK, but the peanut brittles were better.  The ginger gummies were the best.

There were also three little cones, with lime sorbet, corn ice cream, and milk tea ice cream.

Carmen arranged for Chef Tam Kwok Fung (譚國鋒) to come and greet us.  Chef Tam talked to us a little about the restaurant's philosophy of presenting dishes with health benefits, and to that end they collaborate with the Faculty of Chinese Medicine at the Macau University of Science and Technology - located literally across the road - on a continual basis.  I thought that was a pretty cool idea.

Cherry sorbet - Chef Tam decided to send us a little something extra to finish the evening.  This was made with the juice of Tasmanian cherries, and it was certainly delicious.  Chef Tam also poured a few drops of Port on top, and turned this into something really special.

My initial choice of Cali Chard was out of stock, and the sommelier (who had originally served us at The Tasting Room at lunch) brought two worthy alternatives - another Cali Chard at double the price, and a Chablis at half the price.  Since I had spent some time browsing through the wine list before coming to Macau, I asked for a Sauvignon Blanc priced at the same level...

2010 Dagueneau Blanc Fumé de Pouilly - nose of green apples, muscat grapes, then a hint of pipi de chat, a little toast.  Later on a little pungent, almost medicinal... but perhaps that was from the air in the room itself.  On the palate the wine was a little acidic at first, because the temperature was on the warm side.  As it opened it became more medium-bodied.

At the end of dinner I asked to settle the bill for my wine selection, only to be told that it had been "taken care of".  I thanked Carmen for her hospitality, but explained that on junkets like this I will either not order any wine, or I will pay for the wines I want to drink out of my own pocket.  I have done this on my last three junkets to Macau with the Hotel Lisboa, and I was certainly not going to take advantage of their generosity.  The staff finally relented after a few more minutes.

Hello Kitty and I were absolutely stuffed, but that was a happy problem to have tonight.  I thought the quality of the food was definitely pretty high, and I wasn't the least bit surprised that the Rubberman took a shine to this place.  Many thanks to the generosity of the City of Dreams, and also to poor Carmen - who must have drawn the short straw and had her Saturday night ruined on account of us...

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