October 10, 2017

Assholes for neighbors

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A friend is back home for a few days and misses Cantonese food dearly.  I have, unfortunately, been stuffing my face a little too much lately... so I wasn't able to spend more time with her.  But I did promise to take her to Tasting Court (天一閣) for some nice Cantonese, so we grabbed a few accomplices and got ourselves a table, tailoring the menu a little.

Deep-fried pork fat stuffed with prawn (金錢蝦餅) - the chiffonade of kaffir lime leaves gave off a lovely fragrance to go with the prawns wrapped inside deep-fried caul fat.  I also liked the pickled cucumbers.

Steamed orange stuffed with crab meat and scallop (白玉紅蟳釀金盞) - one of the dishes which impressed Chef Alain Ducasse on his visit.  I still love the fragrances of Chinese celery and kaffir lime leaves, and the crunch of water chestnuts - together with the celery - was quite a nice contrast to the crab, scallop, and orange.  Of course, the dish worked best when one ladles the Huadiao sauce over the stuffing.

Chinese grilled pork chop with soybean (西班牙黑毛豬叉燒) - this has certainly become one of my favorite versions of char siu (叉燒).  The pork itself was very, very tender and flavorful - one could really taste the flavors of the pork itself.  The special paste in which it was marinated - consisting of aged mandarin peel, black beans, and Chinese black olives - made this a truly special dish.

Slow-cooked chicken wrapped pigeon with Shaoxing wine (狀元紅燉鳳吞雞) - lots of flavors in the soup thanks to the large variety of herbs used, but having flavors doesn't necessarily mean lots of salt.  Delicious.

Yes, there's a pigeon stuffed inside the chicken.  The heads of both birds were taken by someone who is really into them, and I thought I spotted two round balls... but they turned out to be pigeon eggs.

Steamed fresh flowery crab with aged Shaoxing wine served with rice noodle (香醉紅蟳) - well, we've got a couple of crab queens around tonight, so once again I was very restrained in terms of getting myself some crab.  There's never a time when this dish didn't deliver.  Just beautiful.  And the noodles which have soaked up the delicious sauce made with 25-year-old Huadiao.

Slow-cooked meat ball in chicken soup (葵花斬肉) - another dish that impressed Monsieur Ducasse.  This was a really, really tender meatball... with an amazing texture that reminds me of a very soft cuttlefish ball.  Delicious.

Baked chicken pickled with sea salt (海鹽焗雞) - the chicken was buried under the salted meringue.

The final presentation came with a ton of chopped spring onions and a good drizzle of oil.  Very, very fragrant.  Loved this chicken and its giblets.  For fans of chicken ass, however, they were dismayed to discover that their treasured parts had been discarded by the kitchen...

Vegetable scalded in fish soup (魚湯浸時蔬) - FAIL.  The ginkgo nuts were very, very bitter, and actually imparted its bitter flavors onto the loofah.  None of us touched the veg after the first couple of bites.

Prawn roe stirred noodle with prawn and shallot essence oil (蝦子蝦油蔥油撈麵) - I loved the noodles that came with plenty of spring onion and spring onion oil, but there were complaints around the table regarding the meager quantity of shrimp roe.  I was still happily lapping it up, though.

Blended jujube coconut juice pudding (椰汁棗茸糕) - complaints around the table about this one, too... as it was served lukewarm.  This meant that the rich jujube flavors normally coming out were a little muted.

25-year-old Huadiao wine (花雕酒) - this was pretty good as usual, with a single jujube inside.

We were pretty weak in terms of alcohol tonight, with the 6 of us only managing to polish off two bottles...

2009 Doisy-Daëne Sec - toasty, flinty, with some green apple.

Azumaichi Junmai Daiginjo Shizukushibori (東一  純米大吟醸  雫搾り) - seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 39%.  Very sweet on the nose, very floral and fragrant with fermented rice notes.  Initially served very cold, so it was light on the attack at first, then gradually built up after warming a little.  Later on slightly sweet on the attack then turns dry.

The evening would have turned out fine except for the table next to us.  When I first arrived, I raised an eyebrow at the sight of some of the characters... and things only got worse when the table filled up.  I don't expect big tables to stay quiet, but these guys were waaaaay over the line.  They acted like they were in the privacy of their own home and no one else was around.   What's worse is that towards the end, these guys started smoking.  That's just fucking ridiculous.  A real bunch of assholes, even worse than these guys.

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