November 14, 2015

From South China Sea with love

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Hello Kitty was meeting a very good friend who was in town, and we discussed where to take him for dinner.  Fish School seemed to offer the best opportunity to sample things not available from New York City, so I dutifully hauled my ass over for the second time this week.  First World problems, I know...

We took a pretty early seating, so The Man in the White T-Shirt wasn't in the house yet.  A couple of the staff now know me by sight, given it's my third visit in three weeks.  I let the others do the ordering, and foolishly passed up a special fish available tonight...

Salted garoupa / clams / potato brandade - had this just a few days ago, and tonight the deep-fried fish skin was even better.  Love the chewy texture of the salted garoupa.

Charcoal grilled seasonal shrimps - pretty interesting.  We were encouraged to eat the shrimps "in their entirety", and so I did.  Nice smoky flavors from the charcoal grilling.

Mantis shrimp popcorn / cured duck yolk - this was pretty good, although I still wasn't able to pick out the flavors of cured duck yolk...

Grilled water bamboo / cashew praline / chestnut / apple - water bamboo (茭白筍) is one of my favorite vegetables since childhood, and I was really happy to have it tonight.  I just love its clean, sweet flavors.  The praline sauce was pretty interesting, and the wafer-thin slices of apple and chestnut provided a nice twist.

Australian wagyu bavette - it's the first dish that I've had here that wasn't seafood, and I gotta say... even though I didn't get to this until it went cold, it was still very, very tender and tasty.

Wild eel - this is always a good call here, and the wild eel was done a little like the Japanese kabayaki (蒲焼).  Garnished with thin wafers as well as chunks of red and yellow beetroot, along with some smoked herring.

We finished our first two rounds of orders, and were wondering if we should take in more food.  The Man in the White T-Shirt had arrived by now, so I asked him if there was anything special...

Live abalone - the boss showed me this live abalone, which was huge and fat compared to its thin shell.  It was, of course, still moving and wiggling, and I probably should have taken a video of it.  Apparently this came from the Pratas Islands (東沙群島) in the South China Sea, and had been pretty rare in the last few years thanks to the ongoing conflict between China and the Philippines.

Abalone / lobster coral emulsion - OMG.  The abalone, which was sautéed in brown butter, was incredibly tender.  In fact, it was probably the most tender I've had in recent memory.  The lobster coral emulsion was pretty interesting.

Pumpkin ice cream / persimmon / melon - nice to have this again, since it was full of flavors of fall.  Still love the soft persimmon and the crunchy, pickled melon.

Chartogne-Taillet Rosé - full of strawberries on the nose, with good acidity.

We adjourned to ON Dining Kitchen and Lounge for a few drinks...

2009 Sarget de Gruaud Larose - nose of cedar, a little smoke, a hint of earth, a little nutty, maybe?  Good balance between acidity and tannins here.

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