June 10, 2016

Macau with Bear: dinner at Eight

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Believe it or not, I'm back in Macau after a mere five days' absence.  This being a long weekend for school and all, the Tiggers have decided to spend a couple of days in Macau.  I'm joining them for an overnight stay, since I had made the suggestion that we take Bear on the Batman Dark Flight ride at Studio City.

But spending time in Macau means - for me, at least - eating more good food!  So I'm introducing everyone to my favorite Chinese restaurant in the Pearl River Delta - The Eight (8餐廳) at the Grand Lisboa.

In spite of all the news about the plunge in punters/visitors from the Mainland, the two restaurants with Michelin 3-stars within the Grand Lisboa are still doing brisk business.  While in Macau last week, we were told that the Eight nowadays is booked solid for 2-3 weeks at a time.  So I was extremely lucky to have been able to grab a table for Friday night - albeit at an earlier seating time of 6:30 p.m.

I arrived late due to travel arrangements, and poor Babu had to wait for us all by herself.  Thankfully Kenneth Lai - who runs the Chinese section of the F and B business at the hotel - had moved us into one of the private rooms.  This would prove very handy while we had Bear in tow.

Ordering the food tonight was a little tricky, as we needed to accommodate the needs of our little Bear as well as keeping Hello Kitty's temporary dietary restrictions in mind.  In the end, though, I think we did OK...

First came the duo of amuses bouches:

Baby abalone with plum jelly (梅子鮑魚仔) - nice with the grated lime zest.

Cristal blue shrimp dumpling (藍天使蝦餃) - WOW!  This little dumpling was sooooo tasty!  The shrimp inside was so savory with umami.  Kenneth said that the chef didn't want to make it exactly the same as their har gau (蝦餃) served during lunch, but these tasted pretty similar.  Small chunks of bamboo shoots gave it some crunchy texture.

Barbecued pork (玫瑰蜜汁叉燒) - they stopped serving my favorite barbecued pork leg char siu (明爐叉燒不見天), so I had to settle for the next best thing... One can never go wrong with the char siu here, as there's enough fat to make it tender, sufficient charring on the edges, and I don't mind the sweetish honey glaze one bit.  We were all pretty hungry, and this disappeared in no time.

Double-boiled traditional winter melon soup with cristal blue shrimps and assorted seafood (傳統八寶海鮮藍天使蝦冬瓜盅) - Babu always liked winter melon soup, so we took a small one and went with the "traditional" version, without stuff like black truffle and the like...

As is traditional, you've got shrimp, diced barbecued duck, crab meat, scallops, shredded dried scallops, button mushrooms, lotus seeds, loofah, and Tonkin jasmine.  Everything delivered clean and pure flavors.  Absolutely loved this.  The best part was the har gau, whose wrapper was made from a thin slice of winter melon.  The prawn inside simply exploded with flavors.

Crab claw deep-fried with spicy salt (脆炸椒鹽鮮蟹鉗) - I decided to have the deep-fried version as I've already had the steamed version a couple of times before.  This looked pretty damn good when it arrived...

The batter was crunchy and there was lots of deep-fried garlic on top.  Inside the batter the crab claw delivered the natural sweetness perfectly.

Sauteed sole fillet with Long Jing tea leaves (脆炸茶香晰龍脷球) - we figured we would get some fish for Bear, and instead of the usual steamed fish, we got this instead.  The sole was pretty damn big (the menu says 700g...) and each deep-fried piece actually needed a couple of bites.  This was obviously not the healthiest of dishes, but it was pretty tasty... if slightly heavy on the seasoning.  The deep-fried tea leaves are interesting... but not sure it added that much to the dish, though...

When we were done, the bones were taken away and chopped up.  There are few things better than munching on deep-fried fish bones... especially when they're battered.  But here the seasoning was even stronger.

Shredded chicken with crispy skin and pomelo in honey flavoured with lime sauce (脆皮柚子手撕雞) - I had kinda chastised the waitress on my last visit for suggesting this dish instead of my favorite chicken with vintage tangerine peel, but tonight we decided to try it out.  The shredded chicken meat was just as tender, the skin just as paper-thin and crispy.  There was a lot of pomelo here to make things light and refreshing, and the honey made things a little sweeter.  I also liked the lime zest used in the sauce.

Sauteed seasonal vegetables with fresh bean curd skin and gingko (鮮腐竹銀杏炒時蔬) - the ladies were in love with this dish, which had a lot of fresh bean curd skin (腐竹) in a milky broth.  I found the presence of dried apricots and raisins a little strange...

Suckling pig filled with fried rice and preserved meat (原隻乳豬焗飯) - here we go... I was so happy to be able to order this tonight... even if it were just half a pig.  Just look at that glazed crackling glistening under the light!

This boned piglet was rolled into a tube and stuffed with delicious fried rice.  It really doesn't get better than this!

The piglet was then cut into rings... so each serving has a decent amount of crackling - with a delicious layer of fat underneath - enveloping the fried rice in the middle.  The preserved Chinese sausages made everything taste soooo good!

Coffee jelly (咖啡啫喱) - if there's one dessert I must order every time I'm here, it's the coffee jelly.  There's a layer of coffee mousse on top of the jelly, and a thin layer of milk at the very top.  Loads of coffee flavor here... and served with some honeycomb crunch on the side.

Finally, my favorite milk tea in the world   I can't sing its praises enough, as it just has so much depth of flavor along with that smooth and silky texture.  And I like it sweet, too...  Since Hello Kitty can't handle the caffeine at this time of day, I was happy to drink a second cup!  Even better that the jelly on the side has changed to lychee flavor, with nata de coco and birds nest inside.

It's been a while since I've had a bottle of Keller so I wanted to pick one of their bottles from the list. The restaurant manager knows my history of drinking nice, old Rieslings, and promptly suggested that I open up a bottle of Keller's G-Max... which lists for MOP 10,000 or so.  I smiled and told him that we were gonna take it easy tonight, and took something about 1/10th of the price - probably the cheapest bottle of wine I've ever ordered off this list.

2003 Keller Dalsheimer Hubacker Riesling Spätlese 26 Goldkapsel - nice level of sweetness with a bit of acidity on the palate.  A little polyurethane on the nose.  With the deep-fried fish some minerality came out.  Delicious and easy to drink.

I really enjoyed our dinner tonight, and of course I'm always happy to be back at this restaurant - which I always considered to be the real 3-star.  Many thanks to Kenneth for arranging the room for us so that Bear can fall asleep quietly in the middle of dinner...

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