May 4, 2021

Second Man: Ho!

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I'm dining out at a Cantonese restaurant located in a hotel for the second night in a row.  This time, though, the dinner was organized for the Peanut Gang... and I finally got a chance to see for myself why KC has been a long-time fan of Chef Jayson Tang (鄧家濠) of Man Ho Chinese Restaurant (萬豪金殿) at the JW Marriott Hong Kong.

The menu was pre-arranged with the chef, and no doubt KC informed him about The Arrogant Prick being in the house.  With a disappointing dinner last night, I was hoping that things would turn out very differently tonight. 

They certainly did.

Our welcome drink was made with purple onion and lemon, tasted of a little honey, and was meant to boost immunity.

The amuse bouche was a mix of green papaya with passion fruit.

A trio of bites came on a platter, giving us a glimpse of the chef's specialties:

Marinated cuttlefish with preserved vegetables (鹵水釀墨魚) - this looks like the typical marinated cuttlefish one sees in casual eateries around town, except we got a small one that had been stuffed with pickled vegetables.

Signature barbecued pork loin with honey sauce (萬豪貴妃叉燒) - made with the collar (脢頭) of Duroc pork, this was really fucking good. In fact, it's been a while since I last tasted char siu like this. Of course this was tender, thanks to the marbling of the cut, but I loved how it was a little crunchy on the outside. Just the way I like, and would be perfect it it came in a thicker cut.

Deep-fried eel with honey and pepper sauce (蜜椒鱔球) - I normally shy away from eel at Cantonese restaurants, because it's almost always got that muddy flavor and the kitchen doesn't use anything to try to cover it up. With this version, the chef clearly tried to add some pepper on top of the usual honey... but I still tasted a little mud. The presentation, though, was beautiful - as it resembled the sculpted form of crystal prawns (玻璃蝦球) found in high-end Cantonese restaurants.

Poached egg with chanterelle mushrooms sauce (雞油菌溫泉蛋) - DAFAQ? As delicious as this was, I had to ask Chef Jayson why this showed up on our menu at a Cantonese restaurant. I thought Philippe Orrico move to New York City with his wife... but maybe he came back to cook this for us.

Fish head broth with shredded fungus and bean curd (鮮拆魚雲羹) - I know fish soup like this takes a lot of effort, and the knife skills are pretty evident. But while I enjoyed the collagen from the fish head, I still tasted the muddy flavors. Maybe I should have added some ground white pepper. Thankfully there was the aged tangerine peel chiffonade, but we could have used a little more.

Wok-fried mantis shrimp fillet with crispy garlic and chilli (避風塘富貴蝦柳) - a signature dish here, the mantis shrimp had its shell removed.

I loved that it came with the pile of deep-fried garlic and chili. The kick was just right, and the riesling paired very well with the dish thanks to the slightly sweet palate.

Pan-fried silver pomfret fillet with preserved vegetable (酸菜鷹倉魚柳) - the Chinese silver pomfret (鷹鯧) was nicely pan-fried to a golden brown then baked, all the while remaining succulent. The fish broth was put together with pickled cabbage and turned the dish into sour cabbage fish (酸菜魚). Of course, this was a more "refined" version so the flavors have been toned down and made more "elegant". The Sichuan green peppercorns (青藤椒) on top were a nice touch, adding a touch of that tongue-numbing sensation.

Pan-fried fish maw with lily bulb in almond and chicken sauce (杏仁濃湯百合煎花膠) - fish maw isn't a dish I order often, so this was the first time I had it pan-fried with a thin coating of batter. Slightly springy with a light crunch on the exterior. The thick almond sauce was pretty interesting, and we've also got the 9-year-old lily bulbs which are now popular at fine dining restaurants around town.

Sautêed sliced eel with chives and bean sprouts (鱔糊) - WOW! This was AWESOME! I grew up eating stir-fried freshwater eel (炒鱔糊) from the time I was a toddler, as it's one of my maternal grandpa's favorite dishes. I was so happy to have the dish made with fresh eel, as the crunchy texture while biting down was just really satisfying. The crunchy bean sprouts, the yellowed chives, and the sauce with diced garlic... the whole combination was just so nostalgic for me. Slurp.

Baked French lamb belly with black sesame (黑芝麻焗法國乳羊腩) - I can never resist milk-fed lamb, and this was just really, really wonderful. While the cumin in the crust was obvious, I was surprised by the liberal use of black sesame seeds. Very fragrant. Very fatty and lamby. Despite being pretty full at this point, I just had to strip that bone clean of anything I could put into my mouth!

Fried rice rolls with sliced beef chuck (牛頸脊炒陳村粉) - very, very nice and fresh rice flour rolls (陳村粉)... much thinner and more delicate than hofun (河粉). Too bad we could only manage to have a little at the end of the meal.

Chilled pistachio cream with cashew nuts, red bean, pearl algae and salted milk foam (奶蓋開心果露) - kinda interesting to have gexianmi (葛仙米) added into the mix along with red beans and cashew nuts. This was nice, but much too rich at the end of a heavy meal.

Deep-fried purple sweet potato pastry (紫薯金酥)

We did manage to polish off a few bottles tonight:

2014 Nicolas Feuillatte Blanc de Blancs - nice and easy to drink.

2019 Anne et Jean-François Ganevat Poulprix - leather, forest, black fruits like plum.

1989 Trimbach Riesling Cuvée Frédéric Emile Vendages Tardives - very nice, with big nose of petrol, white flowers, and polyurethane.  A little honey on the nose and a little sweet on the palate.

1997 Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon - decanted for 2 hours before serving.  Perhaps a hint of TCA, possibly decanted for too long.  Pretty short on the palate at first.

This was a damn good meal. Of course the menu was arranged by the chef, who knew we are picky diners, so it's not surprise that the level of execution tonight was high. Coming on the heels of a mediocre dinner last night, though, the contrast was just much too stark...

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