August 16, 2016

Private reunion

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Thanks to my week of painful gastritis, I managed to cancel a few dinners with friends - including someone I hadn't seen for a couple of months.  When we decided to reschedule our meeting, we figured we should go back to my favorite private dining space.  As we began thinking about who else to grab for this dinner, it seemed like a good idea to invite our friends who had worked with us at the German sausage factory.  It gave us a chance to catch up with everyone.

After taking a couple of requests, I added a couple of my favorite dishes, and arrange the menu with the chef.  Some of us have not had the chance to dine here, so anticipation was high.

Barbecued Iberico pork (黑毛豬叉燒) - always one of my favorites.  Lots of flavor here without the excess honey glaze.  Today the pork was a little lean and tough, but still tasty.

Pan-fried medallions with birds' nest (琵琶燕窩餅) - another old favorite.  Love the bouncy texture of these savory "madeleines" made with egg white, crab meat, and birds' nest.

Stir-fried tripe with mixed vegetables (七彩炒肚尖) - a little disappointed with this favorite dish today.  Over the last couple of years I have come to regard this place as having the best version of this dish in town.  Tonight I thought there was a little too much liquid left in my bowl... and the tripe itself wasn't as bouncy and springy as usual.  Still pretty delicious, especially with the toasty flavors of the Indian almonds.

Double-boiled winter melon soup with shrimps, Yunnan ham, fresh crab meat and lotus seeds (百寶燉冬瓜盅) - the weather is still very warm, and nothing cools the body down like winter melon.  Just love this in the summer, and the tonkin jasmin flowers (夜香花) were really fragrant.

Braised garoupa fin in traditional style (古法炆斑翅) - there was a request to skip the usual steamed sole, so I asked for this instead.  Much less likelihood of this being over-steamed.

And so much more interesting!  Each piece of fin was fried so that the skin was crispy, then braised with garlic slices, shredded shiitake mushrooms, and lettuce.  Pretty yum.

Tea-smoked chicken (茶皇烟燻雞) - my favorite preparation of chicken from the chef.  I just loooooove that smokiness, and the scent hits you as the plate is laid down on the table.  So much flavors, too!  Not bland like many crispy chicken (炸子雞) can be, or over-salted like salt-baked chicken (鹽焗雞).  Just the right amount of sweetness to balance out the savory notes, along with the spices.  Beautiful.

Steamed minced beef patty with aged mandarin peel (陳皮蒸牛肉餅) - I haven't had this too many times, but I love the diced aged mandarin peel mixed inside.  Wonderful fragrance in the mouth.

Choy sum in superior stock (上湯菜心) - don't be fooled into thinking that this was nothing special.  Vegetables here are of the finest quality, and the way they're cooked by slowly feeding stock so that the flavors are fully absorbed... and yet stay so delicate.

Sweet and sour pork with pineapple (菠蘿古老肉) - the ladies were so happy that I ordered this.  No, this isn't just for gweilos.  The crispy batter was perfect, and just enough sauce to deliver the flavors.

Steamed rice wrapped in lotus leaf (飄香荷葉飯) - very nice.  Much better than I remembered.

Almond cream with lotus seeds and egg white (蓮子蛋白杏仁茶) - Slurp.  A good way to finish the meal... on a sweet note but without being overpowered.

ILove Lubutin very kindly brought a few of these really sweet Japanese peaches to share with us.  So ripe and sweet, and so juicy!
We brought a lot of wines with us, but didn't end up opening them all.  Pretty weak...

2007 Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay - pretty toasty with slightly high acidity on the palate.

2008 Galardi Terra di Lavoro Roccamonfina - smoky, minty, and later on coffee notes.

Agrapart Terroirs, mis en bouteille Mai 2012, dégorgée en Aout 2015 - an extra brut blanc de blancs that was very easy to drink.  Well-balanced acidity with a nice mousse.  Oaky and a little pungent.

Agrapart Complantée, mis en bouteille Mai 2012, dégorgée en Aout 2015 - richer, deeper flavors, with a longer finish, and a little more acidity.

2007 Rene Rostaing Côte-Rôtie La Landonne - floral with violet notes, fruity, sweet, a little ripe.  A beautiful wine drinking well right now.

1982 Cos d'Estournel - decanted for about 2 hours, which was definitely too long.  Very smooth and smoky, but lost a little of the fruit.

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