July 3, 2020

Coulda, woulda, shoulda

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I was looking for something to do tonight while Hello Kitty would be out with her friends, and I figured that V might want some company while he is still home alone.  Given that we only started to discuss this yesterday, figuring out where to go eat turned out to be a challenge - especially when I didn't want to ask for any favors from chef friends.  On a Thursday night, I called 7 different restaurants for a table of 2 for dinner on Friday, and all of them were full.

I was happy that the hospitality industry was doing good business, but I still didn't have a place to eat and enjoy some wines.  Getting desperate, I suggested we go somewhere Chinese - specifically, Shanghainese.  The two choices I offered were Liu Yuan Pavilion (留園雅聚) and Jardin de Jade (蘇浙匯).  As my one and only visit was some 10 years ago, I decided to book a table at the latter, thinking it would be a little more modern.  Three of us - Hello Kitty included by now - would try to have a chill evening out.

I started to regret my choice of restaurant as soon as I started flipping through the menu.  This place is supposed serve Shanghainese cuisine, but there were a bunch of dishes typically seen on Sichuanese menus... and I also found a few Canto dishes - and even an Indonesian fried prawn cake!  I knew then that I should lower my expectations - even though the Rubberman has given this place a macaron since the 2013 edition of their guide.

Marinated chicken with Shaoxing wine (花雕醉雞) - I usually order this for Hello Kitty.  This was OK.

Black fungus and cucumber with red chillies (魯拌雲耳) - another thing I know Hello Kitty likes.  OK lah... not too spicy.

House special braised pork (紅燒肉) - first of all, I was shocked that this arrived so early in the game.  It's a heavy dish that I expected to show up later in the meal.  But whatever.

Unfortunately, this wasn't anything special at all.  The texture was average, and the flavors were flat,  In fact, this simply hadn't been braised long enough for the flavors to get into the pork.  So disappointing.

Capsella broth with yellow croaker (薺菜黃魚羹) - FAIL.  I was hoping for something like what I had at Xin Rong Ji (新榮記) on my first visit 2 years ago, but this was nothing like that.  First of all, this looked like a Cantonese style soup thickened with cornstarch - more like a 西湖牛肉羹 - which mean the soup itself didn't have the rich flavors I was expected.  The other problem was that it tasted mostly of salt.  The final nail in the coffin was that the croaker was just too fishy.  Yellow croaker is one of my favorite kinds of fish since childhood, but I didn't even want to finish more than half the bowl... It just wasn't worth wasting my calorie quota.

Sauteed river shrimp with Longjing tea leaves (龍井河蝦仁) - this was pretty decent.

Fried green soy bean with ham (蜜豆炒火丁) - SOY BEAN?!!  Obviously a translation fail, but at least they didn't call it "fire small sugar snap peas" like Liu Yuan Pavilion a few years ago...

But these were delicious and sweet, and tender.  Hello Kitty found the diced ham too salty, but I didn't mind.  Perhaps they could have been diced into smaller cubes for a better ratio.  I wish we had ordered another serving instead of the braised pork...

Braised wild rice stem (油燜茭白) - another one of my favorite veg, and this reminds me of mom's cooking.

We were not too happy with the dishes so far, so we ordered up a few carbs to finish...

House specialty steamed juicy pork dumplings (蘇浙湯包) - OK, so these WERE special.  The wrappers were thin and delicate, the minced pork fillings were silky, and there was plenty of meat juice that gushed out at the first bite.  If only all the dishes tonight were executed at this level...

Baked Huangqiao sesame cake (黃橋燒餅) - I was kinda hoping there would be more filling, but OK la... At least I enjoyed the fragrance of sesame seeds.

Honey date and black dates puff (黑棗泥蜜棗酥) - these were pretty decent, and I love dates.

Once again, the food here just wasn't anything special... I guess I don't need to come back.  Should have gone to Liu Yuan Pavilion, like I concluded 10 years ago.

We brought a few bottles of wine to dinner, naturally.

2005 Vincent Girardin Corton-Charlemagne - totally oxidized.  Decided not to drink this.

2010 Lucien Le Moine Corton Blanc - also somewhat oxidized but still drinkable.  First whiff also pretty caramelized, with mamalade notes.  Still got the acidity but definitely very sweet on the palate.

1992 Guigal La Landonne - lovely nose with leather and smoky notes, a little floral, almost soapy, certainly fragrant.  Showed graphite notes later.

Not feeling very happy about dinner - or the wines - we decided to adjourn to House Welley for more drinks.

The Whisky Agency 34 Years - distilled at Tomatin Distillery in 1976 and bottled in 2011.  Nose was floral and fruity for sure, with sweet vanilla notes later.  Seemed stronger than the 51% alcohol indicated.

Shinanoya Iskandar 17 years - distilled at Clynelish Distillery in 1996 and bottled in 2014.  The label was illustrated by Kobayashi Tomomi for the 25th Anniversary of Saga.  Nose was kinda muted, sweetish, not so sharp and alcoholic on the nose.  Nose was certainly more elegant, but the palate was kinda sharp.

1 comment:

Joy said...

Have you been to new Ming Court in Wanchai? Should be easy to book. Not much in terms of service but pretty good grub!


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