February 6, 2017

Fatty roast meats for lunch

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Mrs. Tigger is back in town for a couple of days, and I badly wanted to catch up after not having seen her for a couple of months.  I asked what food she missed most, and the surprising answer I got was "goose".  I'm guessing quality Cantonese roast meats must be in short supply over there... Anyway, I was thinking we should go somewhere a little more comfortable than Yat Lok (一樂燒鵝), so I thought about either Duddell's (都爹利會館) or Mott 32 (三二公館).  Unfortunately the former doesn't seem to serve roast goose, so Mott 32 it is...

It's been a while since my first and only visit, and this time I wanted to check out a few things from Chef Lee Man Sing (李文星), who used to head the kitchen at Man Wah (文華廳) - a restaurant Mrs. Tigger is all too familiar with.  Too bad there were only two of us...

Barbecue pluma Iberico pork, Yellow Mountain honey (蜜汁頂級西班牙黑毛豬叉燒) - this right here... this is the signature dish of the restaurant.  It was in the press release sent out to all the media outlets, and when the place first opened, it was in every freaking blogger and social media influencer's (nowadays known as "KOL") post.  I got so tired of the hype that it turned me off from wanting to go to the restaurant.

So now that I've finally had it, what did I think?  Well, I gotta say... it was DAMN GOOD.  While there are other versions of Iberico char siu - even ones made with pluma - this one was particularly tender.  It's not just because of the fat around the edges... the texture of the pork had been cooked until it was soft, almost a little mushy.  And the flavors were really, really nice.  Again, it wasn't just coming from the marbling fat, but it seemed like the flavors had been ingrained into every fiber of the muscle.  I was seriously impressed.

Har gau with South Australian scallop, air dried pork floss (肉鬆帶子蝦餃) - pretty nice.  I could taste the sweetness of the scallops, and the pork floss gave these dumplings a nice textural contrast.  The nori (のり) seaweed chiffonade also threw a little kink into the flavors.

Hot and sour Iberico pork Shanghainese soup dumplings (酸辣小籠包) - I ordered these because I thought they sounded interesting.  Well, anyone who bites into these has gotta be very careful.  We are familiar, of course, with the hot broth that is often found inside the wrappers of these dumplings.  But these are extra lethal - in addition to the hot temperature, the broth is also spicy as well as pretty acidic.  One could easily scald the back of one's throat with this hot, spicy, and sour liquid - and some choking and coughing could be in order.

Admittedly I am not usually a fan of very spicy or acidic food, and while I thought this was creative, I wouldn't order it again.  The hot and sour flavors completely overpowered the original taste of the Iberico pork - which was a real waste of a premium ingredient.  Even Mrs Tigger - who normally enjoys spicy food - wasn't a fan.

Australian wagyu beef puff (澳洲和牛千絲酥) - this has Chef Lee's fingerprints all over them, as we both remember having these at Man Wah.  In fact, it's a dish that my godson Bear loves.

So you've got cubes of beef covered in black pepper sauce, inside lots of layers of fluffy puff pastry.

Apple wood shredded Peking duck spring roll (鮑魚北京鴨絲春卷) - these were pretty good.  The abalone wasn't really obvious to me, and I didn't realize the duck was actually Peking duck, but the filling inside the crispy exterior was pretty tasty... and I particularly liked the addition of yellowed chives (韭黃).

Roasted traditional Cantonese goose (脆皮燒鵝) - I'm not sure why the roast goose was served last, but I'm glad they didn't forget about this pre-ordered item.  The paper-thin skin was wonderfully crispy, but I must say that I found it a little on the bland side.  Maybe these days I'm too used to all the spices that Yat Lok uses to marinate their goose, so this just didn't taste all that sexy to me.  The meat was very, very tender, but the duck itself was way, way too fatty for my taste.  Yes, believe it or not, it IS possible for me to find something too fatty!

I'm glad I came back for a chance to taste their signature dishes.  In general, it seemed that these guys were trying hard to do a more upscale version of Cantonese cuisine, by using what would seem to be premium ingredients - Iberico pork, wagyu, caviar, truffle, imported seafood... In that sense it does fall into the same category as Duddell's in my book, and almost seem like they're adding these ingredients so that they could charge diners more.  In some cases the premium was worth paying, but I'm not so sure that it's the case on all the dishes.  Overall, though, I was happy with what I ordered today.

It was good to catch up with Mrs. Tigger today, and I look forward to seeing Bear in a few months.  Oh, yeah, and his daddy, too...

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