February 20, 2021

Delicious high end Chiuchow lunch

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Sankala had been wanting to try Howard's Gourmet (好酒好蔡) for quite a while, as she's heard a lot about the place.  In fact, she chose it as the original venue of our wedding last year, before an unexpected turn of events derailed our plans.  Knowing this was an itch she wasn't waiting to scratch, I figured we should have ourselves a nice lunch there.

The menu today seemed a little longer than I remembered from my last lunch 5 years ago, but that's OK.  Most restaurants have been trying to maximize revenue at lunch during the months when dinner service was banned.

Chaozhou snack (潮州開胃小碟) - marinated cucumbers were slightly spicy, and we've also got marinated wood ear fungus with some Chiuchow-style fish cakes - with the latter being pretty springy.

Chef's espresso (特色暖胃湯) - made with red rice. 

Then came two different "Chaozhou tapas":

Deep-fried crispy prawns, spicy pumpkin sauce (微麻鳳尾) - pretty nice with the batter.  Didn't feel the dipping sauce was necessary.

Crispy crab cake cube, seaweed (野生紫菜脆蟹肉粒) - these were very nice.  I could certainly taste the delicious laver on top, and the flavors of the crab meat outshone those of the pork.  Dipping into the sauce made with kumquat oil added another layer of complexity.

Double-boiled fish maw, sea-whelk, aged tangerine peel (35年老陳皮海螺燉公肚) - I could smell the fragrance of the aged tangerine peel mere seconds after the lid were removed from the bowl.  Very, very nice.  The fish maw was really tender, as one would expect, but the real surprise was how easily the whelk yielded to my teeth.  I don't remember tasting chunks of whelk this tender anywhere else.

Stewed silvery pomfret, fermented soya bean, fried garlic (蒜子普寧豆醬焗鷹鯧) - very, very tender, and I love it when I get to have pomfret this size.  Nice to have the famous fermented soy bean sauce from Puning (普寧), and those garlic cloves were so, so tasty.

Wok-fried freshly silky fowl preserved oliver oil (欖油炒鮮烏雞) - the black silkie chicken was very tasty, thanks to the lovely flavors from the olive oil along with herbs like coriander (and undoubtedly a few more).  There were also a few spears of white asparagus at the bottom.

Simmered spring vegetable, Chinese mushroom (香燉日本溫室時蔬) - Sankala and I both love dishes like this, where vegetables are simmered in broth together with some shiitake (椎茸) and garlic.  So comforting.

HG signature hot and sour noodles (酸辣手工麵) - looking at how red the liquid was, this was definitely more up Sankala's alley than mine.

The handmade noodles delivered a very nice bite, and the shredded Chiuchow-style pork sausage (潮汕豬肉餅) reminded me of Vietnamese chả lụa.  The level of spiciness was just within my tolerance, and the acidity apparently came from lemons.  Very good, actually.  I was pretty surprised that I liked it as much as I did.

Crispy taro pastry, Chinese sausage (臘味芋頭酥) - pretty tasty, and kinda interesting to have savory bits of sausage in a sweet taro mash.

Sweeten coconut juice, water chestnut pudding (鮮椰汁清心馬蹄糕) - I love pudding made with water chestnuts, and here it was made in the style of Chiuchow jelly called 清心丸.  Slurp.

I try not to drink too much at lunch unless I'm traveling on holiday, but I've kinda gotten used to having wine with nice lunches over the last few months.  When Sankala commented about the pricing on the restaurant's wine list, I decided to take a look.  Indeed, this was one of the most reasonable wine lists I have seen in a while.  On future visits, I don't think I'll bother with my usual BYO... I took a glass of one of my favorite sauvignon blancs as the price was simply irresistible. The manager also remarked that they are offering this wine by the glass because they feel that it's a light and refreshing wine that works especially well at lunch. I wholeheartedly agree, and it shows the degree of care the restaurant takes in crafting the optimal customer experience. Of course, Uncle Peter's restaurants usually do not fail me...

2016 Cloudy Bay Te Koko - really fresh, with a huge nose of muscat grapes, green apple, and flint.

A very filling but happy meal. Sankala was satisfied with her lunch, and I really should come back a lot more often...

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