May 31, 2017

The giant eel and the giant peach

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It's the Zhongmeister's birthday, and he organized a get together for a few of us.  I had only been to The Chin's (中華匯館) once right when it first opened, and I thought the food was pretty damn good. This was a good opportunity for me to go back for another sampling.

One of us was running late, and there was a tableful of hungry people, so we ended up ordering an extra plate as "starter"... since there's no such thing as a bread basket at Chinese restaurants to tide people over...

Barbecued Kagoshima Chami pork (鹿兒島茶美豚叉燒) - damn good just like I remembered.  Very, very tender with marbling.  Tasty, too!  Shame we all only got one little slice each...

The Chin's appetizer platter (中華匯館拼盤):
Manila clams with scallions (蔥油花蛤) - not bad at all, especially with a little bit of diced scallions.

Barbecued Kagoshima Chami pork (鹿兒島茶美豚叉燒) - OK, got two small pieces to satisfy that craving.  Wouldn't mind ordering up an extra plate or two...

Deep-fried prawn with taro crust (蜂巢鳳尾蝦) - not bad.  The taro crust was, of course, nice and crunchy.  But I could definitely taste the baking soda...

Double-boiled giant mottled eel head in clear broth (清湯燉花錦鱔頭) - not something one is likely to have everyday.  This giant mottled eel came in at more than 4kg, and only the front half was used for the soup... along with a ton of chicken feet (for adding sticky collagen) and plenty of pork.  We started picking at the big plate of "dregs", and despite the presence of lots of fine and prickly bones, the eel was pretty tasty.  The chicken feet were also very popular - even with zee German!

When the Zhongmeister first sent me the menu, the soup was meant to be 天麻川芎白芷燉鱔皇頭湯 - which had many different Chinese medicinal herbs.  I last had this preparation at a wine dinner at Seventh Son (家全七福), and couldn't smell any of the fine wines in front of me thanks to the overpowering medicinal nose.  So I urged our host to ask for a substitution... and what came in the bowl in front of me was much, much better.  Very clean flavors, but by no means light.

Steamed fresh crab claw with winter melon (冬瓜鮮蟹拑) - this has always been one of my favorite items on a fine dining Cantonese menu, and my rather large claw was pretty good.  The piece of winter melon underneath was very, very soft and disintegrated with very little pressure.

Traditional braised giant mottled eel (古法紅炆花錦鱔皇) - then came the rest of the eel...

Love it when they fry the fish to make the skin crispy, then the skin softens after braising but still retains the flavors that come from frying.  Very yum.

Garoupa in spicy chili oil (麻香烤海上鮮) - our host decided to add this as an afterthought, and I don't think it was a good call purely from my selfish perspective...

This was soooo spicy that my tongue became numb with my second bite of the fish... and my tongue stayed numb for quite a while.  I couldn't taste any wine for a while... and in all honesty, this added to our already full load of dishes.

Crispy chicken stuffed with shrimp paste (脆皮百花雞) - ho hum.  I was expecting the old school version with just the skin, and this came with some chicken meat under the crispy skin.  But the meat wasn't all that tasty...

Fresh tofu skin with baby bok choy in fish broth (魚湯鮮腐竹浸小唐菜) - the tofu skin is always soft and delicious, and the fish broth delicate as always.

Inaniwa noodles with wagyu beef and scallions (蔥油和牛肉稻庭長壽麵) - I guess it's only appropriate that the noodles which came with wagyu were Japanese inaniwa udon (稲庭うどん).  The wagyu was pretty good, with plenty of fat for flavor.  The scallions were battered and deep-fried.  Yum.

Birthday buns (子母蟠桃) - OH YES!!!! GIANT ASS!!!  We were only supposed to eat the little buns on the side with lotus seed paste filling, and the one in the middle was just a decorative shell without any filling.  Given my experience with a similar shell earlier this year, I lifted this one up and held it above the birthday boy's head... while everyone snapped pictures with their phones.

Walnut cookies (核桃酥) - pretty damn tasty, these...

Coconut pudding with split peas (椰汁馬豆糕) - these weren't bad, either.

Surprisingly, we didn't get through as many bottles of wine as I thought we would... but this may have something to do with a few of the boys getting a little drunk the night before...

1982 Joseph Perrier Cuvée Royal Brut, en magnum - a little sweet on the nose, a little caramel.  Naturally this improved later.

2013 Prieuré Roch Roses, en magnum - nose was very pungent, stinky, sulfur,  like rotten eggs, with some heavy toast.  Pretty WTF.  Listed as a "quaffing wine" on the domaine's website.

2012 Lucien Le Moine Corton Blanc - very tight upon opening, very toasty, almost a little mandarin zest, with good acidity.  More open after 30 minutes, with lemon citrus.  After an hour more buttery notes came out, but remained very toasty.  Punches above its weight.

2001 Ponsot Griotte Chambertin - served a little warm after 2 hours.  Minty, earthy, smoky and meaty.  After 2½ hours showing a little wet cardboard...

1986 Gaja Darmagi - decanted for more than 3 hours and served too warm.  Smoky and reminiscent of Left Bank Bordeaux, with almost savory notes on top of inky and cigar nose.

2011 Marcel Deiss Alsace - pretty tropical nose with a hint of pineapple, acetone, beeswax.  Ripe and almost a little bitter on the palate.

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