November 25, 2019

The pigeon in the shelter

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The MNSC boys have been a busy bunch this year, and we haven’t really found time to gathering for our tastings. Incredibly, enough of us were able to be available during the few days I am actually in Hong Kong this month… and it didn’t surprise me that Dr. Poon chose to host us at Arbor – which has become his “canteen” in recent times...

I have been here only once, and came away with mixed feelings. So I was really looking forward to trying it again to see what I was missing.

Always start with the warm brioche...

Sazae – the horned turban (栄螺) from Fukuoka (福岡) is steamed in herb oil and topped with pickled mustard seeds.  Came with aioli made from the whelk's liver, which was OK.

The shooter was made with matcha, dashi (出汁), and the liquid from steaming the whelk.  I didn't really taste any matcha...

Pork tongue - this was served with Japanese organic pumpkin, yuzu (柚子) pumpkin purée, pork jus, and shaved yuzu zest..

The pork tongue from Brittany (!) was seasoned with some Sichuan peppercorns and covered with blistered kale.  The tongue was tender, but not really juicy.  The combination of flavors reminded me of Japanese yuzukosho (柚子胡椒).

Crab - we've got milk pudding at the bottom, dashi, and Japanese blue crab (渡蟹) as well as some "river weed".  I definitely tasted the acidity from mirin (味醂), and also some umami.

Mackerel - this presentation looks familiar... Served with fruit tomato from Fukuoka, with tomato consommé and kelp oil, along with a touch of horseradish which definitely caught my attention... as did the perilla flowers.  There was that caramelized kelp on top again.

The mackerel was marinated with some sugar, mirin, and sea salt.  Torched on the skin side.  The fish was lovely.

Not sure why the seaweed roll was here...

Pigeon - this was the dish that I didn't get to have last time, because the staff chose to serve us wagyu instead of this... thinking that everyone must love wagyu more than pigeon.  What they didn't know was that there were at least two of us who would choose pigeon over wagyu every single time.

On the side we have a purée of Jerusalem artichoke, which I felt was a little too strong.  We also had a Mont Blanc presented as a flower, with chestnut chips acting as petals and topped with a chunk of chestnut.

The pigeon from Mesquer was done medium-rare.  The staff had originally suggested medium, but I don't quite have that Asian palate and prefer my birds a little more rare.  This was fucking beautiful, and the doneness was perfect.  I was pretty happy with the crispy skin that had caramelized Okinawan dark sugar (黑糖) on top.

Wagyu beef A4 - in contrast, the wagyu tenderloin from Kumamoto (熊本) was much less interesting.  Marinated with Japanese soy sauce, sake, mirin, and kelp before grilling.  Topped with shishito pepper (獅子唐辛子) and sansho leaves (木の芽).  There's also some red pepper coulis and tomato powder on the side.

The tenderloin was indeed tender and lean, but I thought the top was a little too charred and didn't deliver the fragrant flavors one would expect from the right amount of charring.

The Hamburg steak on the side came with some Yume Pirika (ゆめぴりか) rice from Hokkaido, which was steamed with dashi and came with burdock.

Mikan - with mikan (蜜柑) curd, mikan sorbet, and mikan tuille.  All served in a "bowl" made of Greek yogurt frozen with liquid nitrogen.  Pretty nice.

Soy milk - the tofu ice cream came with crumble made of white chocolate and salted egg yolk, and we also had crispy yuba (湯葉) flavored with honey. The black soy beans (黒豆) were marinated in soy sauce from the Kowloon Soy Company (九龍醬園) as well as Okinawan dark sugar.

Madeleine - still kinda dry...

Dr. Poon was his usual generous self, and we were treated to some really stunning wines tonight:

1995 Moët et Chandon Cuvée Dom Pérignon Rosé – nice nose of strawberries.

First flight: served from bottle 1 hour after opening.
1975 Sassicaia – vanilla and a hint of coconut, definitely sweet, a little smoky. Flabby with finish that was a little short. 94 points.

1975 La Mission Haut-Brion – more green and vegetal nose, slightly leaner, cigar smoke, minty. More classic claret with savory notes. Became pretty bretty later and really smoky. 93 points.

Second flight:
1985 Armand Rousseau Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St Jacques – served from bottle 1 hour and 50 minutes after opening. Beautiful nose with leather and really toasty notes. Also some nutty notes later. 97 points.

1985 Sassicaia – served 1½ hours after decanting. Really intense nose with smoky, savory, and really minty notes, along with a little brett. Still tannic. 99 points.

Third flight:
1985 Henschke Hill of Grace – served from bottle 3 hours after opening. Really green and vegetal nose, with a hint of exotic coconut butter underneath. Funky with some orange notes. 94 points.

1985 Guigal Côte-Rôtie La Turque – served 2 hours and 45 minutes after decanting. Really lovely with a little leathery notes, along with a little potpourri. Sweet on the palate. 95 points.

Our host had rejected 3 bottles before dinner started, and he decided to serve one of the bottles which he felt was “off” at the end of dinner. As it turns out, none of us thought there was anything wrong with the wine…

1981 Armand Rousseau Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St Jacques – served from bottle 4 hours after opening. Toasty and beautiful nose, nice and kinda elegant, but slightly bitter on palate.

A very happy dinner with some beautiful wines.  Many thanks to Dr. Poon for his generosity.

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