March 3, 2018

Bday in Macau: suckling pig maki

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A few hours after we kicked off the weekend with a delicious lunch, and after the ladies had finished their spa session, it was time for dinner.  For this we would pay a visit to Chef Tam Kwok Fung (譚國鋒) at Jade Dragon (譽瓏軒) in the City of Dreams.  The restaurant very kindly seated the four of us in one of the private rooms - in fact the same one that I was in on my last two visits.

I had pre-ordered a couple of items with Chef Tam, and picked out a couple of dishes from the menu, and then left the rest up to him.  One is usually not disappointed when such arrangements are made by a top chef.

First to arrive were two amuses bouches:

Corn spherification - with pop rocks on top.

Pan-fried radish cake (香煎蘿蔔糕) - with a sakura shrimp (桜海老) on the side.

Marinated black fungus, cucumber, and jellyfish with garlic in aged Italian balsamic vinegar (蒜香意大利黑醋拌小木耳及海蜇頭) - Chef Tam decided to add some crunchy jellyfish head into the mix.  Nice.

Chilled abalone with mustard seed (芥菜籽鮑魚) - a dish I first had two years ago, and tonight the execution was slightly better... the abalone was more tender than I remembered.  Nice acidity and spicy kick.

Jade Dragon prime-cut barbecue Iberico pork pluma (譽瓏蜜汁西班牙黑豚叉燒) - I didn't get this on my last visit as the restaurant was out of its supply.  Happy to have had it tonight, but as I complained to the staff: "WHY DID I GET ONLY ONE PIECE?!"

When we first arrived, a menu for soup promoting health benefits was placed on the table.  After some discussions with Chef Tam, he suggested that the four of us share 3 bowls of soup, and chose one which would remove the excess moisture from our bodies in this weather.

Double-boiled cordyceps flower and dendrobium soup with pork (鮮蟲草花石斛燉豬腱) - very light and clean.  Perfect.

Steamed garoupa fillet with egg white in "Hua Diao" wine sauce (花雕蛋白蒸斑球) - a suggestion from Chef Tam which I agreed to somewhat reluctantly.  Hello Kitty and I had tasted this on our first visit, and while it was enjoyable, it didn't really deliver the "wow factor" for me.  The wild brown-marbled grouper (黃皮老虎斑) came with a custard made with egg white and Hokkaido 3.7 milk, and which was steamed with 20-year-old Huadiao (花雕).  All great ingredients, but... as I had feared, the fish fillet came just a tad overdone. 

Crispy baby pigeon marinated in fermented bean curd (南乳桂花乳鴿) - something Chef Tam was testing out and wanted us to taste.  To be quick frank, I didn't taste much fermented bean curd, and the only wonderful fragrance I smelled from osmanthus came from the ones sprinkled on my plate.  But that didn't matter, because this 2-week-old pigeon was really damn good!

Next came a combo of two items, one of which was something Chef Tam wanted us to try...

Braised Hokkaido sea cucumber with roasted leek (蔥燒日本刺參) - this was very, very good.  Of course the spiny sea cucumber had been braised until it was very tender, but the leeks - both the soft, braised ones as well as the crispy chiffonade on top - were simply outstanding.  Even better with a sprinkle of shrimp roe.

French blue lobster deep-fried with Parmesan (芝士法國藍龍蝦) - yes, the homard bleu was delicious, but the crunchy batter with Parmesan was what elevated this to something special.

Leafy amaranth in superior broth (上湯浸莧菜) - very young and tender.

Suckling pig filled with pilaf (金陵乳豬飯) - and here's the other dish I pre-ordered.  Is there any universe in which I would come here and NOT order this?  Absolutely not.

Tonight, the crackling rolled around the stir-fried glutinous rice seemed even thinner than what I had last time.  The rolls seemed a little smaller, and perfectly gone in just two little bites... or one big bite.  It almost seemed like a maki sushi (巻き寿司), except that it's better than any maki I've ever had.  Drizzling a little bit of kumquat sauce on top was kinda interesting, but the X.O. sauce was probably a better way to go.

The restaurant found out that we were celebrating a birthday, so we got a few goodies...

Birthday buns (壽包) - with lotus seed paste and egg yolk.  Yum.

And a chocolate cake with sparkles. How did they know that My Favorite Cousin is a chocolate fiend?!

Then came the usual mignardises:

Milk tea, lime, and red bean sorbet

Strawberry gummies - they tasted just like strawberry jam.

Malay sponge cake (馬拉糕)

Jujube and walnuts squares (紅棗核桃糕)

Pandan macarons

We brought 3 bottles of wine with us tonight:

1975 Moët et Chandon Cuvée Dom Pérignon - very mature by now, with lots of salted plum, savory minerals, tons of marmalade.  Big on the palate, good acidity but carried a slight bitterness on the long finish.

2006 Louis Roederer Cristal - kinda yeasty, much fresher, with white flowers and a little bitter.

1982 Trotanoy - decanted for 2 hours and chilled prior to serving.  Smoky and fragrant, with plenty of coffee, pencil lead, and cedar.  A beautiful wine.

It was yet another happy meal for us this weekend.  Many thanks to Chef Tam for taking such good care of us, and we all went to bed dreaming of the piggy...

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