January 14, 2020

Last round for snake

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I've been so busy at work this year - and with a pretty crazy travel schedule in the last quarter of 2019 - that I actually didn't get a chance to visit my favorite Cantonese private kitchen during the all-important snake season.  I even had to cancel an outing with DaRC and The Dining Austrian due to my company offsite.  So I finally got around to asking the chef for a date that was still available, just so I could make it to Softbank Kitchen at least once before the end of the season.

The menu tonight had no surprises - all the dishes are ones I've had numerous times.  But there's nothing wrong with having the same dishes over and over again when they're well executed...

Barbecued kurobuta pork (黑毛豬叉燒) - nice charring on the char siu (叉燒) today, and also very fatty... which made it pretty damn tasty.  Overall the flavors seemed stronger and heavier today, not that I am complaining!

Pan-fried medallions with birds' nest (琵琶燕窩盞) - always good to have these, but tonight the egg white 'madeleines' seemed a little more soggy and greasy than I remembered.

Traditional Buddha jumps over the wall (古法佛跳牆) - the first big pot of the evening was this beauty.  As usual the chef removed shark's fin from the mix for me.

I will always love this dish to death.  The abalone tonight was pretty good, and the usual contributors of collagen like fish maw, pig trotter tendons, goose web, and sea cucumber were all good - although I found the sea cucumber tasting a little strong this time.  Apparently Ro Ro is a huge fan of the trotter tendons and the staff know to give her some extra whenever she's here...  I, of course, also love the deep-fried pork belly as well as the winter bamboo shoots.

Imperial scholar's five-snake soup (太史五蛇羹) - BABY, THIS IS WHAT YOU CAME FOR...  No points for recognizing the porcelain.

One and a half bowls of my favorite snake soup in the world, and I was a warm and happy man.  I just can't get over how finely shredded the snake meat is - and there are always 5 different types... The knife work on the rest of the ingredients - such as aged tangerine peel, fish maw, shiitake... were all very fine - not to mention the kaffir lime leaves

Tonight, though, the fragrance of shiitake filled the room as soon as the lid was lifted.

RoRo asked the staff to bring this nice little bottle of Cognac, as DaRC - who isn't around tonight - thought the soup would taste better with a few drops of this Tesseron Lot N°29.  I felt bad about dipping into a man's stash when he's not around, but RoRo insisted...

Steamed sole (清蒸海方利) - this was a big one, and chef did a very good job.

Braised hundred-treasure duck (百寶炆大鴨) - every time I see this dish, I'm always tempted to shout "He's dead, Jim!'  I don't know why...

But I do love this stuffed duck, with the diced shiitake, duck, chestnuts, salted egg yolk, barley, lotus seeds...etc.

Stir-fried pea shoots with crab roe (蟹皇扒豆苗) - it's been a while since I had this, too... and the combination of crab roe and crab meat made for a wonderful topping.  Soooo sinful.

Fried glutinous rice with preserved meats (生炒糯米飯) - one of the best in town.  Pity that it's always served at the end of a long and large dinner, when I don't have much space left in my stomach.

Double-boiled ginkgo nuts and lotus seeds (銀杏燉湘蓮) - always a delicious finish.

We brought along a few bottles, although to the fair, our consumption level was pretty tame...

2006 Krug, ID 118014 - nice and caramelized nose, with some coconut notes.

(2017) Ganevat Les Dentelles - pretty pungent nose with sulfuric notes.  Very, very light in color.

2006 Marcel Deiss Schoenenbourg - very ripe and sweet thanks to the residual sugar and botrytis.  Also pretty plasticky nose.

2012 Gaja Gaia and Rey - pretty ripe nose and pretty toasty.  Sweet on the palate, with notes of Chinese licorice.

2002 Marquis d'Angerville Volnay 1er Cru Taillepieds - nice and smooth on the palate now.  Really lovely and fragrant.

2012 Liar's Poker Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve - very ripe as expected, very metallic, very smoky, with lots of cedar wood and coconut.

Very happy to have gotten together with my friends tonight. Gotta make more time for snake next season!

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