October 3, 2017

The flowery Chairman

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We promised to take Mikacina for a Cantonese meal while she's in town (she's already had another Cantonese meal before tonight), and we decided to take her to The Chairman (大班樓).  Neither The Great One nor I have been there in a while, so this was a good opportunity for a refresher.  Since The Great One made the arrangements through Danny, we knew we would be well taken care of.

We started with some cold-brewed Oolong (烏龍) tea, which had amazing floral notes as if they came with osmanthus (桂花) - the way some tea merchants like to combine them.  Just as Danny said, this was almost a little sweet on the palate.

Pickled mid-summer ginger root (大班樓子薑)

Sweet vinegar pickled tomatoes (醃漬蕃茄)

Deep-fried spinyhead croaker (酥炸獅頭魚) - this wasn't on our menu, but Danny sent out a plate of these delicious fishies.  Very, very crispy and yummy with seaweed powder sprinkled all over, and I slowly chomped on the head as Danny reminded us about the 'stones' instead which could chip our teeth.

Rock lobster meat cooked in fish and rice broth (魚米湯煮琵琶蝦) - the flathead lobsters were nice, and came with a viscous fish congee that has been strained to remove the rice grains.  Nicely seasoned with shrimp roe and shrimp oil.

Smoked abalone (煙燻野生青邊鮑角) - the wild greenlip abalone was braised in abalone sauce, and did taste a little smoky.

This was served with a second glass of cold-brewed Oolong tea, which was smoky and matched the abalone well.

Lamb and steamed bun (羊肉夾包) - the Lazy Susan was cleared so that a whole spread could be laid out on top, starting with the shredded lamb.

We also had the steamed buns as well as condiments such as caramelized shallots, shredded ginger and cucumber, dill, and basil.

We then put everything together into a bao before drizzling the sauce on top of everything.  This was really, really delicious.  Why did I only get one bun?!

Steamed garoupa with sundried mandarin peel (古法陳皮咸肉蒸老鼠斑) - the humpback grouper was steamed with dried mandarin peel as well as slices of cured pork fat - essentially lardo.

We're biased and think that the Cantonese way of preparing steamed fish is the best cooking method for fresh fish.  When shiitake mushrooms and chiffonade of dried mandarin peel is added, the wonderful fragrance takes things up a notch.  Of course, adding lardo into the mix is like hitting the NOS button on cars modified for street race.

Steamed fresh flowery crab with aged Shaoxing wine and flat rice noodles (雞油花雕蒸大花蟹配陳村粉) - the pièce de résistance.  Cue Calvin Harris' This is What You Came For.  And it was a big one!  A whole 2 catties!  The two claws were simply HUGE!

I'm actually happier eating the body, so I let the visitors enjoy the claws.  We made sure that we had plenty of the sauce made with Shaoxing wine (花雕) and chicken fat for the noodles to soak up.

Pan fried whole crispy chicken stuffed with shrimp paste (香煎百花雞件配魚露) - always an interesting preparation, as shrimp paste is encased with the chicken and pan-fried.  Pretty decent.

Layered beancurd and seasonal vegetables cooked in homemade fish broth (魚湯腐皮浸時菜) - very nice and delicate, I have a fondness for the Cantonese way of serving vegetables with fresh beancurd sheets (腐皮) cooked in fish broth.

Crab meat sticky rice (蟹肉糯米飯) - this was VERY, VERY good.  Mixing lots of shredded crab meat and diced spring onions - along with plenty of crispy, pan-fried sakura shrimp (桜海老) - into glutinous rice is a surefire way of delivering happiness.

Dessert trio (甜品三味):
Almond soup (杏仁茶)

Hawthorn berries pudding (山楂糕) - this was OK.

Red date pudding (紅棗糕) - probably the best out of the trio, with plenty of jujube flavors.

As usual, I brought along a few bottles to share...

2014 Ganevat Les Chamois du Paradis - good acidity here, almost a little fuzzy on the palate, and definitely not 'clean'.  Flinty.

2008 Ostertag Fronholz Gewurztraminer Vendages Tardives - lots of lychee, peaches, honey, and floral notes, with a little flint.  Very sweet on the palate.  Worked reasonably well with the abalone and the crab.

1997 Guado Al Tasso - classic claret nose, with smoky, minty, and a little bit of earthy notes, along with sweet fruit.  Drinking really well just after popping the cork.

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