July 21, 2019

The hairy Chairman

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It's been a while since I last got a chance to enjoy the company of Hairy Legs and Bilbaobab, so today we arranged to lunch at one of Hairy Legs' favorite restaurants - The Chairman (大班樓).  I asked my dining companions for their favorite dishes, and I was grateful that Danny very kindly obliged us.

Pickled mid-summer ginger root (大班樓子薑) - always good to start with these...

Razor clam steamed with aged lemon and garlic (廿年鹹檸檬金銀蒜蒸蟶子) - this was the one dish unanimously requested by everyone.  In fact, Hairy Legs requested for "more than one, at least two or three"...  Of course, what's not to love about this dish?!  First of all, the razor clams were HUGE, as always.  The diced spring onions, minced garlic, and glass vermicelli were all delicious but pretty standard.  What made the dish, of course, was the addition of diced preserved lemons which have been aged for more than 20 years.  The fragrance was simply amazing... as was the combination of acidity and salt.

Flippers lobsters stir fried with fresh water crab roes and shrimp oil (蟛蜞膏炒蝦籽琵琶蝦) - WOW!  Very happy to have this again.  It's not unusual to find flathead lobsters on the menu here, but getting the roe of river crabs (蟛蜞) - commonly referred to as 禮云子 - is a real treat.  The oil from the crab roe was so rich and flavorful... just amazing!  Of course, the addition of sweet peas today brought a really nice counterbalance to the rich and heavy flavors, while complimenting the sweetness from the flathead lobsters.

Steamed fresh flowery crab with aged Shao Xing wine, and flat rice noodles (雞油花雕蒸大花蟹配陳村粉) - I thought I was being polite by insisting that Hairy Legs and I swap our plates so that he could get the claw and I would take sections of the body, but I should have realized I was dining with a chef.  Like many of us, he knows very well that the meat from the body actually tastes better.  Oh well...

Steamed fish head in pickled chili (剁椒龍躉頭) - AND OF COURSE we would ask Danny for this!  Even a guy like me, who doesn't eat a lot of spicy food, this is a dish that I absolutely love and wanna have.  The three different types of chilis, the Sichuan peppercorns with their numbing effects... the chopped garlic... the strips of cured pork lard... all the gelatinous bits of the jaw...  Needless to say, our resident Singaporean stopped short of licking the plate clean.

And yes, those dumplings (水餃).  They somehow remind me of the ones being served at Mak's Noodles (麥奀記).

Traditional pork belly stew in preserved vegetable (梅乾菜陳皮扣肉煲) - the happiest person has got to be Hello Kitty.  She loooooves this traditional Hakka dish, and so do I.  It was one of the few dishes that I remember from my paternal grandma's relatively limited repertoire.

And yes, one of the most enjoyable ways to eat slices of fatty pork belly is to put it with a steamed bun, like Taiwanese guabao (割包).  SLURP!

Layered beancurd and seasonal vegetables cooked in homemade fish broth (魚湯腐皮浸時菜) - requested by the ladies to help us with a balanced diet.  Always nice to taste the fish broth.

Desserts trio (甜品三味): the usual.
Almond soup (杏仁茶) - so Hairy Legs tells me that the almond soufflé they serve in the restaurant delivers the exact same fragrance.  Guess I'll need to try.

Red date pudding (紅棗糕)

Hawthorn berries pudding (山楂糕)

I thought two bottles would be enough for a casual lunch, but I forgot I was dining with a Frenchman...

Jacques Selosse Exquise, dégorgée le 14 Mai 2018 - definitely on the sweeter side.  Nice bit of toast on the nose, and lovely caramelized notes.

1999 Selbach-Oster Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese - big, big nose of petrol, flint, and some white flowers.  Good amount of sweetness here with nice acidity balance.

2007 Joh.Jos. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese - huge nose of petrol, but also more floral with white flowers.

Such a happy and enjoyable Sunday lunch! Many thanks to Danny for having the staff take such good care of us.

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