April 13, 2019

10 days in 3 cities day 1: the bling-bling Palace

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The Dining Austrian is back in my part of the world, and this time I've planned an eating tour with him spanning 3 cities over 10 days.  As was the case last year, the first leg is in Macau... and once again my friend took a ferry straight to Macau after landing at Hong Kong International Airport.

But this time around I didn't make the Macau leg into a "boys' weekend", and we opened up to a wider group.  Six of us would be coming from Hong Kong, and instead of taking the ferry as usual, we hired a driver with a 7-seater and made our very first trip across the HongKong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge.  We were thankful that we did so today, because the rainy weather likely would have made for a rough ride on the ferry.  The journey across the bridge, meanwhile, was pretty smooth and painless.

We checked into the Grand Hyatt Macau, freshened up, and crossed the road in the rain to Wynn Palace Cotai.  As it was raining, we decided to enter the hotel by riding the cable car instead of walking around to the entrance...

We were placed in one of the semi-private rooms near the entrance of Wing Lei Palace (永利宮), adjacent to the one where I suffered through 4 hours of agony.  We were very happy to see Chef Tam again, and with the exception of one dish I gave him carte blanche.

We started with the Wing Lei Palace platter (永利宮嘗味拼盤):

Barbecued suckling pig filled with minced shrimps top with caviar (黑魚子百花乳豬件) - normally I would have thought the suckling pig crackling encased with shrimp paste crusted with sesame seeds would be tasty enough, but this is Macau, after all... so caviar and gold leaf we must have.

Taro puff filled with scallop (蜂巢海鮮芋盒) - very yum as expected, but kinda surprised at the salmon roe on top.

Deep-fried oyster with spicy salt (椒鹽生蠔) - the Belon oyster came with a thick and crunchy Parmesan crust.  One of Chef Tam's signatures.

Barbecued black Iberian pork glazed with honey (蜜汁黑豚肉叉燒) - very tender as expected.  Lovely smoky flavors with some tangerine notes.

Deep-fried spinyhead croaker (酥炸獅頭魚) - the first off-menu item tonight.  We are lucky that Chef Tam indulges us by picking up fresh local fish from the market.  These beauties may not be able to fetch top dollar at the table, but for those of us who know, these are the treasures of the sea we value over the expensive coral fish that high-end restaurants like to push.

These spinyhead croakers were gigantic!  The ones we usually come across are much smaller.  Loved chomping down on this.
Steamed French blue lobster with 20 years aged Hua Diao and egg white (二十年花雕蛋白蒸法國藍龍蝦) - another signature dish of Chef Tam's.  The amazing part of the presentation was that the shallow bowls came sitting in steamers made of Japanese cypress (檜)... so of course we were treated to the wonderful fragrance.

The dish was as elegant as always, although we found the slice of Parma ham on top too overpowering and unnecessary.  As the Chinese would say... like drawing legs on a snake (畫蛇添足).

Wok-fried garoupa fillet with seasonal vegetable and preserved olives (欖角時蔬炒斑球) - the highfin grouper (花英斑) was cut up and stir-fried with white and green asparagus, sugar snap peas, capsicum, and preserved olives (欖角).

Some parts of the fish were also battered and deep-fried.  This was OK.

Double-boiled chicken soup with fish maw, chrysanthemum and dendrobium (胎菊石斛花膠湯) - Chef Tam is well-known for his double-boiled herbal soups, and he's decided to add some noble dendrobium (石斛) for medicinal purposes.  The fish maw was very, very good, and the chrysanthemums were really nice and fragrant.

Sweet and sour prawn with fresh fruit (鮮果咕嚕蝦) - YEAH BABY!  Sweet and sour!  The tiger prawns from the Philippines came battered and dressed with a hawthorn (山楂) sauce.  Nice and old school.

Vegetables fried rice with lychee wood roasted goose (極品燒鵝飯) - this was the only dish I requested from Chef Tam.  I didn't get to have it back in December, and since then lots of people have posted about it.  I figured it had to be done.

This was fucking good.  The rice was drenched in goose fat, which made it deliciously sinful.  The roast goose was very, very good.  The last of the European black truffle, of course, added their nice fragrance to the dish.  However, the consensus was that the truffle was completely unnecessary... although I, for one, appreciated it.  It is, of course, something done more for the "influencers" who will post to their social media accounts and generate buzz and "likes".  And yes, yours truly is certainly guilty of that.

A certain someone - who shall remain nameless - confessed to having three bowls of the rice.  Actually, I think at least 2 or 3 people had three bowls...

Steamed yellowfin sea bream (蒸黃腳臘) - another off-menu item from Chef Tam.  We joked that the staff found these at the bottom of the kitchen cabinets...  While I thought the three fishies raised their pectoral fins as a sign of "I'm dead", Ro Ro thought they were engaged in synchronized swimming - a far more elegant explanation.

Yup... simple steamed fish is great when the fish is fresh and tasty.  If you know what these are, then you will get excited, too.

Wok-fried wagyu beef with bird's nest fern (和牛炒山蘇) - the wagyu was fine, but I was more interested in the bird's nest fern - something found in many local joints in Taiwan.  Love the crunch.

Stewed wagyu beef cheek with turnip in black pepper broth (胡椒湯蘿蔔和牛臉頰) - initially thought we were going to be served wagyu noodles (和牛麵), but wagyu cheek (和牛面) came instead.  Needless to say this was very tender, and I liked the carrots that came along with the turnip.

Fruit platter - besides the pitahayas, the most interesting thing on the platter has got to be the star apple, which is sometimes called milk fruit due to the milky white liquid that oozes out when cut.

Sago pudding with lotus seed paste (焗蓮蓉西米布甸) - the second night in a row where this is served to me.  Very rich and heavy.  Apparently the lotus seed paste is sourced from Malaysia.

Pineapple ice cream with caramelized pineapple - with some desiccated coconut on top.

Being the winos we are, 3 of us actually carried bottles to Macau for this weekend...

2004 Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Millénaires - maybe disgorged in 2018?  Pretty nice and toasty.

2012 Egon Müller Scharzhofberger Riesling Kabinett - nice sweetness but balanced by crisp acidity.  Nose of polyurethane, minerals, and white flowers.

2012 Egon Müller Scharzhofberger Riesling Kabinett Alte Reben - riper on the palate and with more depth.  Longer finish.  Mineral notes.

2002 Lucien Le Moine Corton Bressandes - lots of banana, and specifically banana peel notes, with wonderful leather and animal nose.

1997 Peter Michael Les Pavots - decanted for almost 3 hours prior to serving.  Smoky, minty, ripe and beautiful.

A pretty happy dinner overall, and grateful as always for Chef Tam's hospitality. It's unfortunate, then, that Hello Kitty suffered a bout of food poisoning just before dinner started... but thankfully recovered somewhat halfway through.

P.S.  Chef Tam told us that the resort spent USD 25MM on the restaurant's decoration, which included lining walls with real peacock feathers.  He also showed up the two large quartz crystals in the men's room by the entrance - which reported cost around USD 800k by themselves...

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