September 28, 2020

The Chairman in Amber Rain

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It's been a long, long time since I last saw The Great One.  We had been hanging out in different circles in the era of social distancing, and I don't remember how many years it's been since we spent this many months without dining together.  So I was very happy when she asked me to join her at The Chairman (大班樓).  I haven't been back since January, so I was eager to see what would be on the menu.

Sea snail cooked in salted fish paste (XO花螺)
- not a fan of babylonia, since I generally suck at removing the digestive tracts.  Of course I ended up with sand in my mouth...

Fermented tofu with Szechuan chili (麻辣臭豆腐) - this was, as I remembered, pretty mild in terms of the pungent, fermented flavors... since they were made without the use of chemicals.  Adding sauce made with salted fish changed the flavor - as well as aromatic - profile.  

Crispy lard and salted egg dumplings (脆皮椶) - always a good choice, especially given the chunks of lard in the middle.  The salted egg yolk was nice, too.  Better with some soy paste and perhaps some chrysanthemum sugar.

BBQ pork char siu with sugar pickled roses (炭燒茶薇叉燒)
- these chunks of char siu (叉燒) were pretty big, and there was good charring on some pieces from roasting with charcoal.

Some of the pieces has significant portions of fat which, to me, is always a plus... since it practically melted in my mouth.  The texture was so tender and the muscle fibers came apart with such ease that I wondered how it was achieved.  There was a good amount of smoky flavors along with a pronounced fragrance of roses.  Me likey.      

Geoduck clam cooked in fish and rice broth (魚米湯煮象拔蚌) - I normally am pretty lukewarm when it comes to geoduck, but this was just too damn good.  That shrimp oil really made the dish.  Of course the "congee" where the rice grains were strained out was just soooo damn smooth and delicious.  I'd love to have more of this.

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) - the signature dish of the restaurant, but while it's delicious as always, I wouldn't mind future visits where this wasn't on the menu.  That, of course, would never happen as long as I'm coming with The Great One.

Grouper fish head steamed with fermented chili and salted lard (剁椒龍躉頭) - another crowd favorite in the last 3 years or so.  Danny knows what we like, so this is often on the menu when we come.

Not everyone enjoys digging into the collagen and the little chunks of meat in the crevices of the fish head, but it IS very tasty with the three different types of chili.  Of course, the dumplings on the side do make it even better.  And... I couldn't resist asking for some steamed rice to soak up the sauce, even though I knew there was plenty of rice coming my way towards the end.

Braised white gourd and pomelo skin with shrimp roe (蝦子冬瓜柚皮) - this was OK.  The pomelo skin was nice but not sure the winter gourd was accretive in terms of flavors.

Smoked fish rice (煙熏馬友魚飯) - the smoky aroma permeated the air around the table as soon as this arrived, which made me salivate in spite of the amount of food I had already consumed.

The smoked fourfinger threadfin (馬友) was so, so delicious! I couldn't resist having a second bowl, even though I was already full.  Zero self-control.

Desserts trio (甜品三味) -  

Mung bean cake (綠豆糕) - with red bean paste filling.  This is more dense compared with the Taiwanese versions, but I really liked this.  In fact, I had two of these. 

Hawthorn berries pudding (山楂糕) - with osmanthus and peach resin (桃膠) as the top layer.

Almond cream (杏仁茶) 

We had plenty of wine to go around, but I was kinda disciplined given the fact that this was a school night...

2012 Roses de Jeanne Côte de Béchalin, dégorgée le avril 2019 - acidity was a little higher than expected.  Sweeter on the palate, and more intense with the spicy babylonia.

2009 La Pousse d'Or Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Le Cailleret, en magnum - nice, with some ripeness but not too ripe.  A little flint and a little white flower in the nose.

2002 Geantet-Pansiot Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Le Poissenot, en magnum - beautiful and floral nose, with eucalyptus and some dried herbs.

2018 Domaine de Pégau Cuvée Réservée Blanc - a little acetone in the nose. Somewhat ripe on the palate, a little bitter, and relatively lean.

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