April 14, 2017

A Stellar Good Friday

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I've been trying to get together with a couple of friends, and after multiple rounds of trying to schedule something that works for everyone, we finally managed to meet up on Good Friday, again.  The six of us gathered at Stellar House (星月居), where the kitchen is helmed by Chan Yat-Sang (陳日生) - formerly the head chef of Shun Tak Fraternal Association (順德聯誼總會).  The chef's reputation precedes him, and I had in fact tried his cuisine once years ago, so I was pretty curious about this relatively new restaurant.

The menu we had tonight was the second version that was proposed - or at least, the second version that I had seen.  The earlier version had braised abalone and was a shorter menu.  Obviously our hostess didn't think the abalone was necessary and asked for substitution, and we ended up getting quite a few more dishes in exchange...

Double-boiled soup with fish maw and conch (花膠響螺湯) - I didn't taste any of the fish maw from the plate of "dregs" because a couple of the others complained about its quality, but the soup was OK.

Wok-fried crystal prawns (玻璃明蝦球) - the many dinners I've had at my favorite private dining space has forever spoiled me when it comes to many dishes... and this is one of them.  This is such a "plain" version in comparison, even for something as basic as the scoring of the prawns.  The flavors and texture of the prawns also fall some ways short. In fact, I felt the flavors were a little off...  Only the little strip of crispy ham kinda helped.

Daliang fried milk (大良炒鮮奶) - rather disappointing.  First of all, we didn't get to the dish right away because dishes were being delivered a little too quickly, before we've had a chance to get to the earlier dishes.  When we finally got to it... well, it was a disappointment to me - just as it was seven years ago.  Besides the sliced mushrooms and pine nuts, there was also some crab meat.  Unfortunately, the kitchen did a poor job and extracting the crab meat, and I found quite a few pieces of hard crab shell on my plate.

Crispy pan-fried and baked fish jaws (煎焗魚咀) - these were pretty good, and we were each given one piece of upper and lower jaw.  Nice and tasty gelatin here.

We had asked for the kitchen to slow down the service of dishes, and we became annoyed when the fish came when we were still busy with the other dishes.  We were told that the fish was already being steamed when we passed down our earlier instruction, and going forward the dishes will arrive at a slower pace. Well... I guess this place is just like 95% of Chinese restaurants - the kitchen dictates how quickly you should eat.

Steamed brown-marbled grouper (清蒸海老虎斑) - the sauce served with the fish was surprisingly sweet, and has a higher proportion of oil than what I'm used to.  Which made it more delicious than usual.

Sweet and sour pork with pineapple (菠蘿咕嚕肉) - everyone loved the sweet and sour pork.  There was a little more sauce than I had expected, but the combination of crispy batter and tender pork inside was a winner.

Crispy pigeon (脆皮燒乳鴿) - O.M.G.  It's been sooooo long since I last had a crispy pigeon this tasty.  This was old school... marinated in 20-year-old 滷水 before roasting.  Incredibly thin and crispy skin, and very, very juicy and succulent.   I especially love it when the pigeon tastes almost "milky"...

Eight treasures stuffed duck (霸王八寶鴨) - honestly, this was waaaaay too big for the six of us, especially since we had so many other dishes.  The duck came stuffed with salted egg yolks, shiitake mushrooms, lotus seeds, ginkgo nuts, and Job's tears.  We all ended up taking boxes of it home.

Fried glutinous rice (生炒糯米飯) - apparently the glutinous rice is washed in hot water several times in order to reduce its stickiness, but I'd rather prefer the texture of other versions of the dish.  This version also doesn't have any soy sauce added, and relies on the preserved sausage and preserved pork for seasoning.

Jujube soup with lotus seeds, lily bulb, and longan (紅蓮百合圓肉糖水) - pretty decent.  Any sweet soup with longan and jujube is OK in my book...

Naturally, we brought a few bottles to our little gathering.  I was, however, a little surprised that we didn't polish off more bottles tonight...

2006 Roses de Jeanne Côte de Val Vilaine, dégorgée en Avril 2014 - always nice to drink this blanc de noirs.  Pretty soft and round on the palate, with a little acidity along with ripeness.  The minerality kinda clashed with the prawns.

2004 Didier Dagueneau Pur Sang - pretty ripe now, with good acidity balance. Later on opened up to show a little flint and acetone.

2012 Robert Mondavi Fumé Blanc To-Kalon Vineyard I-Block - this has always been one of my favorite Californian wines, prized (by the likes of me) for its rarity - as it's only available at the winery itself.  The I-Block contains sauvignon blanc vines planted in 1945, and for me there is always something special about old vines.  Initially the nose was a little muted, with a little oak and flint.  Lean with good acidity.  Later this opened up to show some muscat grapes and a little pipi de chat.

1999 Roulot Meursault Charmes - good acidity here, showing flint and lots of tasty notes.  Drinking beautifully.

[1968 or 1970] Penfolds Dalwood Hermitage - very bretty and medicinal, barnyard, and savory.


Mike Goldstone said...

Penfolds Dalwood Hernmitage? Wow, that's a new one on me! Presumably made by Max Schubert, the 'father'of Penfolds Grange.

Peech said...

Mike, the same friend brought a bottle of 1970 a few years earlier. It drank slightly better but still tasted "old".


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