August 28, 2018

Eating with chefs: drunken Chairman

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The City Foodsters are back in town for a few days, a year after I first met them on our trip through Korea.  DaRC set up a few meals for them, and I was more than happy to join them for dinner tonight at The Chairman (大班樓).  In addition to the few of us who are already familiar with them, we also counted a few chefs/owners at our table, including the Bromance Twins.  This was gonna be fun...

Danny had promised to put a nice menu together for us, so I was particularly looking forward to trying out a few things that would be new to me.

Home brown sugar pickled roses on figs (荼薇無花果) - a beautiful dish to start us off.  The chilled fig came topped of a Chinese variant of the Provence rose that had been pickled in jars with sugar (7 years according to Danny back in January).  The pickled roses delivered some savory notes on top of the expected sweetness, and there was a tiny bit of kaffir lime leaves to add some lovely citrus fragrance to the mix.

Salted fish in fragmented tofu with Szechuan chilli (麻辣咸魚臭豆腐) - Danny jokingly called this their "double stink (雙臭)", as there's some pungent salted fish on top of the already smelly stinky tofu (臭豆腐).

We were first asked to try the cube without any sauce on top so that we could try the original flavors.  There are apparently only two suppliers of stinky tofu in Hong Kong who make them without the use of chemicals, and while these did have the distinctive fermented smell, they were far less pungent than I had feared.  They also came with little chunks of crunchy water chestnuts, and we dipped the first cube into the fermented bean sauce (豆瓣醬) on the side.  

The second cube came topped with a sauce made with crushed salted fish, but accented with Sichuan peppercorns.  Amazingly, the fragrance of the peppercorns overpowered both the salted fish and the stinky tofu. The result was pretty spectacular.  I almost forgot that I was eating one of the very few food items that I usually avoid like the plague.

BBQ chicken liver with lard and Chinese buns (金錢雞) - nowadays this is one of the better versions of "gold coin chicken" around town.  The thick medallion of smooth chicken liver, lathered in a delicious honey and soy glaze, worked perfectly well with a layer of pork lard below.  The crispy deep-fried bun at the bottom served to absorb all the delicious fat that ooozed out as one's teeth bit into the toppings and began applying pressure.

Coconut and clams broth (椰青蜆清湯) - the manila clams were savory with a little bit of sweetness, and a slight hint of coconut from the coconut water.

Steamed catch of the day with ginger and shallot (清蒸三刀/金石蚌) - half the table had been eating up a storm at the fish market during lunch, and now they were getting more fish...  Danny had prepared two different types of fish for us tonight.  First was a star snapper (金石蚌).

Then we have two spottedtail morwongs (三刀), which had everyone oohing and aahing.  Needless to say many bowls of rice were consumed along with all the goodies that consisted of the meat around the fins, the collars, together with the spring onions and of course the sauce.

Steamed flowery crab with aged Chinese wine and rice noodles (雞油花雕蟹) - can't come here and not get this... or the rice flour noodles (陳村粉).

Chicken from Hong Kong local farm poached in chicken stock (蔥油香港農場小扇雞) - the little free range capon was only about 110 days old, and was poached with both hot and cold chicken broth.  I dunno how that works, but damn this was a tasty chicken! 

Pork belly stew with Chinese bread (梅乾菜扣肉包) - we all started drooling when we saw the plates bearing the fatty pork belly...  And for once in Hong Kong, it came with the Hakka-style preserved leafy mustard (梅乾菜) instead of the lighter and sweeter Cantonese version.

We shoved the pork belly and the delicious leafy mustard in the bun.  This was just fucking good...  Love the heavy and rich flavors.

Steamed crab rice sticky rice (蟹肉糯米飯) - another signature dish here.  What's not to like about a blob of sticky rice with lots of crab meat on top?

Stir fried Chinese vegetables with ginger (薑汁芥蘭) - the ingredient here was very, very good.  Wonderful crunch in the stems of the kailan (芥蘭), and the flavors were incredible.  But I didn't taste much ginger, if any at all.

Desserts trio (甜品三味) - this was made of hawthorn jelly at the bottom, topped with osmanthus and bird's nest encased in agar on top.

The second part was a mung bean cake (綠豆糕) with red bean paste, and somehow there was the taste of condensed milk here.

Almond cream (杏仁茶) - of course, I had to tell Jim Löfdahl that it actually wasn't made with almonds but apricot kernels.

We had a ton of wine tonight, as some people brought multiple bottles.  As usual DaRC decided on the wine pairings...

2013 Ganevat Grusse en Billat - good acidity with a little ripeness and some flint.

2010 Roxanich Milva - very oxidized and sweet on the nose.

2009 Conterno Barolo Cascina Francia - smoky nose.  Some ripeness but dry on the palate.

Charles Dufour Avalon, dégorgée le 11 Juillet 2017 - really strong and yeasty, a little tart, like aged tangerine peel.  A little pungent.

1999 Louis Latour Bâtard-Montrachet - really ripe... possibly over-ripe.  So oxidized and caramelized with sugar cane notes.

Pagoda Brand 20-year old Huadiao (塔牌二十年陳釀花雕) - of course this was served warm and paired with the crab...

1955 Massandra Sherry - savory and very nutty.  I didn't notice the sweetness but apparently others thought it was sweeter than the Huadiao.

Buran Junmai Ginjo (不染 純米吟釀) - clearly oxidized.  Slightly sweet on the palate with fermented rice flavors.

2009 Chapoutier Châteauneuf-du-Pape Croix de Bois - still kinda young and a little sharp.

2009 Poggio di Sotto Brunello di Montalcino - very fragrant, with eucalyptus and a bit of smoke.

2009 Rutini Felipe Rutini - concentrated on the palate, with ripe fruit, eucalyptus, and smoky notes.

This was a great evening, and for the first time in a long while, I found myself having a tough time holding myself together at the table towards the end of the evening. I was probably not in the best condition to begin with, and we had simply mixed too many different types of alcohol.  Thankfully I made it home in one piece...

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