April 24, 2016

Macau Michelin tour 2016: dim sum menagerie

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Less than two hours after an old school dim sum breakfast, we found ourselves seated for the main event of the day - a dim sum lunch at my favorite Cantonese restaurant.  Ever since my first visit 5 years ago, my love for The Eight (8餐廳) at the Grand Lisboa has never wavered.  It's certainly the finest Cantonese restaurant I have ever visited, and its location within the Lisboa gives it access to one of the best wine lists in the world - and perfect for a Riesling lover like yours truly.

I insisted that we come for lunch on this trip, because my last few visits have all been at dinner time, and that means I didn't get to enjoy any dim sum items - because the dim sum chef doesn't work at night, and he refuses to have the kitchen serve any dim sum when he's not around.  I'd been seeing some really cute pictures of dim sum in animal shapes, so I was determined to try them out.

As usual we were presented with two little nibbles as amuses bouches, and they haven't changed much over the years...

Abalone with plum jelly

Wagyu beef cubes with pine nuts and celery in crispy bird's nest

Then came the dim sum dishes I ordered.  Unfortunately service failed today, and all of them arrived within a span of about 7 or 8 minutes.  This was one of not just mine but the Great One's pet peeves, because a restaurant with 3 Michelin stars should certainly know better.

Shrimp toast filled with mango in fish shape (魚形香芒蝦多士) - I love Cantonese shrimp toast, and these were definitely the cutest ones I had ever seen.  Breaking the nice and crunchy exterior released the liquid mango inside, which worked really well with the flavors of the shrimp.  I'd definitely love to chomp on another one of these...

Steamed "Shanghainese" dumplings with chicken essence and vintage dried tangerine peel (老陳皮雞汁小籠包) - I've had these before, and anytime I get to have some aged tangerine peel in my food, I'd definitely take that option.  The soup inside was just so fragrant...

Steamed "Shanghainese" dumplings with lobster (龍蝦小籠包) - these were chunkier and more satisfying, and not just because of the lobster filling.  The only bummer was that I found some lobster shell in mine.

Steamed dumplings with pork and mushroom in X.O. chili sauce (X.O.醬豚肉刺蝟水晶餃) - it's kinda difficult to make out the porcupine patterns on the wrapper after steaming, but this thing still looked pretty cute.  And tasty, too!  Love it when they add that X.O. sauce inside to give it a little more ooomph.

Steamed dumplings with cristal blue shrimps in goldfish shape (藍天使蝦金魚餃) - this has always been my favorite... and the first dumpling that they made into a cute animal shape - taking care to emboss a fish scale-like pattern on the wrapper, and dyeing it with crab roe so that it looks more like a goldfish.  Oh, and I have zero complaints about how it tastes.  Delicious.

Steamed dumplings in cuttlefish shape with satay sauce (像形沙爹墨魚餃) - just when you thought these steamed dumplings couldn't get any cuter, along came this lil' cuttlefish with tentacles.  That spicy satay sauce sure was tasty!

Steamed barbecued pork buns with preserved vegetables (8餐廳特色叉燒包) - who needs those boring ol' char siu baos (叉燒包) when you can have these cute lil' porcupines?!  The filling also includes some preserved leafy mustard (梅菜), but the flavors are kinda faint.

Crispy barbecued pork buns with preserved vegetables (脆香叉燒包) - the same buns also come pan-fried instead of steamed, so they have a crunchier bottom.  Incidentally, pan-frying also makes the porcupine's quills harder.

Barbecued pork (玫瑰蜜汁叉燒) - one cannot leave here without having their signature char siu (叉燒).  This was once my favorite, thanks to their preference for serving it thick-cut.  I love the honey glaze and the charring, and while this was still very tender and tasty, I gotta say that this has now been beaten by both versions of Iberico char siu we had at Jade Dragon (譽龍軒) last night...

Roast pork belly (金牌脆皮火腩) - you can't beat crunchy crackling, but where was the delicious fat??!!

30 years vintage tangerine peel chicken (三十年陳皮雞) - for some reason our waitress was trying to dissuade us from ordering this, but Fergie and I weren't having any of it.  The reason we love this dish lies beneath the paper-thin crispy skin...

There was plenty of aged tangerine peel chiffonade here, and that fragrance... those flavors... just lingered in one's mouth.  Unfortunately, though, parts of the chicken was a little overcooked - especially the breast.

Poached seasonal vegetables with shredded Yunnan ham in congee broth (米皇雲腿浸時蔬) - an interesting way of serving poached veg... in relatively plain congee.  Very clean and mild flavors.

Seafood fried rice topped with sakura shrimps (櫻花蝦海鮮炒飯) - this was one beautiful-looking pot of rice!

Lots of crunchy, fragrant, and delicious sakura shrimp (桜海老) here, and the crunchy rice crispies made things even better.  Full-on flavors here.  I wish I had enough stomach space for another bowl.

We couldn't handle any desserts, so we made do with these mini Portuguese egg tarts.  Pretty delicious.

Finally, my favorite milk tea in the whole wide world.  So intense, so sweet, so beautiful.  Since Hello Kitty couldn't have her cup, I got myself a second cup...

I got ourselves a private room by booking through the PR team, so there was the little matter of minimum charge.  As we were here for dim sum and not ordering anything super-premium, the easiest way to solve this problem was ordering a nice bottle of wine off the Lisboa's amazing wine list...

1990 Dr. Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel - nose of mineral and flint, a little white flower, some orange marmalade.  Not too sweet on the palate.  Nose started to really open up after half an hour in the decanter.  Pretty good, but a little disappointing given the vintage.

I was very, very happy with lunch today.  I had finally managed to go through all the cute dim sum items on the menu, and I could tell the Great One was happy, too.  Now all that was left for me to do was to catch a nap before dinner...

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