November 25, 2017

Wine-y Macau trip day 2: German riesling with 3-star Chinese

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I actually got pretty drunk last night - much to my surprise - and ended up having insomnia.  After getting some much-needed congee to calm my stomach for breakfast, we retired to our room to rest up before meeting the gang for lunch at The Eight (8餐廳).

For this meal we were joined by a couple of new faces (to me, anyway), so we became a party of 8.  The sommelier immediately handed me their iPad wine list, as he fully expected me to order some wine.  As I had already done my homework beforehand, I quickly picked out 2 bottles of German riesling - as usual...

...and as usual, we start with a duo of nibbles:

Wagyu beef cubes with pine nuts and peppers in crispy bird's nest

Abalone with yuzu jelly - this version is so much nicer, with shaves yuzu zest delivering wonderful fragrance.

Steamed Shanghainese dumplings with hairy crab roes (鮮蟹粉小籠包) - absolutely delicious.  Wonderfully thin and delicate wrapper - one of which unfortunately broke... and of course the filling was yum.  I could easily down about a half-dozen of these...

Then came a steamer bearing two dumplings...

Steamed crystal blue shrimp dumplings in goldfish shape (藍天使蝦金魚餃) - the goldfish dumpling has been the signature dim sum item here for, I don't know... donkey years.  They've been steadily improving it since my first visit 6 years ago, and the latest change since my lunch last year is... GOLD FOIL!  My favorite useless ingredient!

Having said that, it is still one damn delicious dumpling!  The shrimps were very crunchy, as were the pieces of bamboo shoots inside.

Steamed pork dumpling with abalone (原隻鮑魚燒賣皇) - the other signature dim sum that's been around forever.  Very nice.

Crispy barbecued pork buns with preserved vegetables (脆香叉燒包) - now THIS is impressive.  I first had these cute porcupine-shaped buns last year, and was pretty happy to eat more today.  The pieces of preserved leafy mustard (梅菜) were pretty crunchy.

The chef responsible for this - Brother Fai (輝哥) - apparently makes a dough that is a little firmer than usual, which allows him to take a pair of scissors and snip all those spines into shape.  That attention to detail is simply amazing.

Baked tartlette with crabmeat in curry sauce (葡香焗蟹撻) - another cute item in the dim sum menagerie here... The crab meat inside the tart was done in "Portuguese sauce (葡汁)"-style, with curry powder.  Pretty yum.

Barbecued pork (玫瑰蜜汁叉燒) - another signature of the restaurant.  I've been a big fan of this ever since my first visit, and although there has been the occasional variation in quality, this has consistently been at the top of my favorite char siu (叉燒) list.  Served with a rose-flavored honey glaze that simply glistens under the lights.

The chefs select only the best parts of collar (脢頭) for their char siu, and insist on serving them thick-cut to deliver a level of satisfaction not possible with thinner pieces.  The marbling is fantastic, as is the light charring.  Wonderful texture.  Simply beautiful... whether you take it in one bite (as I sometimes would) or two.

The quality today is about as good as any I've had on my previous visits here.  In fact, what I wouldn't give to do a face-off with the char siu from Jade Dragon (譽瓏軒)...

Chicken broth with fish delicate and beau curd in chrysanthemum shape (菊花魚圓) - the fish ball soup (obvious typo aside, not sure what the restaurant meant by "fish delicate"...) has always been one of the most impressive things on the menu, not just because the very fluffy and airy fish balls, but for the amazing tofu chiffonade (文思豆腐) by their chef trained in Huaiyang (淮陽) cuisine.  Apparently, the chef makes 105 fine cuts to the piece of silken tofu - while making sure that all strands remain attached to the bottom of the tofu.  Of course, the matsutake (松茸) added some light and delicate fragrance to the broth.

Steamed crab claw with egg white in fish broth (魚湯蛋白蒸蟹鉗) - I can never find fault with this dish... not with the freshness of the crab claw, nor the bouncy and wobbly texture of the steamed egg white, nor the delicious savory flavors of the starchy fish broth on top.

Poached seasonal vegetables with lily bulbs and birch seeds (百合杞子浸時蔬) - I love lily bulbs, and I also love wolfberries (枸杞子).

Seafood fried rice topped with sakura shrimp (櫻花蝦海鮮炒飯) - another favorite dish of mine here...

The rice was stir-fried at high heat, and came topped with a generous helping of crunchy sakura shrimp (桜海老).  If only I had twice the stomach space...

Black and white sesame pudding with sesame ice-cream (黑白芝麻布甸配芝麻雪糕) - one of my preferred desserts here, made better now with a little scoop of white sesame ice cream that came sprinkled with both white and black sesame seeds.  As much as I loved this, I simply could not finish...

Finally, the usual mini Portuguese egg tart (葡式蛋撻)...

...and not to forget the little cup of milk tea (奶茶)!  This is probably still my favorite milk tea anywhere in the world, and since Hello Kitty can't take more caffeine at this hour, I had an extra cup for myself!  Yay!

So we had a few bottles with lunch. Thankfully I was no longer hungover by the time we sat down...

2013 Keller Dalsheimer Hubacker Riesling Großes Gewächs trocken - flinty on the nose, with good ripeness on the palate but still good acidity on the back.  More like a French riesling than your average German off-dry riesling.

1971 Christoffel Berres Erdener Prälat Riesling Auslese - decanted just prior to serving.  Lots of Manuka honey in the nose, very fragrant, with marmalade notes, a little whiff of old, musty nose... at the same time rich and nutty.  Good depth of flavors on the palate, but a little short.

I was perfectly happy with just having 2 bottles of German riesling, especially given my condition as well as being told by g4gary that he was gonna take things easy. But Kenneth and the sommelier came over and started laying down Riedel Sommelier Bordeaux Grand Cru glasses... and informed me that Jonas Schuermann - who took over as MD of Hospitality Services at SJM - had prepared a surprise for me.

And what a surprise it was! Much, much too kind of him.

1978 Mouton-Rothschild - decanted and served right away.  Just 15 minutes later, the wine showed beautiful nose with classic smoke and pencil lead.  The palate was a little short at first, but improved with time.

This was, of course, yet another fantastic meal at a restaurant that has never disappointed me.  And to have had the opportunity to enjoy it with lovely wines was even better.  Many thanks to Jonas, Ada, Kenneth, and the team at Grand Lisboa Hotel for their kind hospitality.  Thankfully I was finally allowed to pay for the rieslings today, and I'll be back to pick out more gems from their cellars soon enough!

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