June 1, 2021

Cherry-popping, 2021 edition

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The Great One has a monthly booking at The Chairman (大班樓), and this time she has graciously asked if we wanted to join her as she introduces the place to a couple of first-timers.  I was asked to invite a couple of others, and thought it would be a perfect opportunity to get Big Mac out again... along with My Favorite Cousin.

With a few virgins around, it was inevitable that The Great One would request a few of the signature dishes of the restaurant.  I also put in a request or two for things I wanted to eat, which aren't often served up when I go there with my friend...

Crispy taro cake with smoked duck (蜂巢芋泥煙鴨盒) - I love this but don't get to have it often, so it's one of the dishes I requested.  Loooove that fluffy, deep-fried taro crust which, at times, would feel almost ethereal.

Pickled mid-summer ginger root (大班樓子薑) 

The Chairman fatty char siu (炭火叉燒) - for a number of years now I have been partial to thick cuts when it comes to char siu (叉燒), as it just delivers so much more satisfaction when biting down.  These chunks were pretty damn big - even bigger than the ones at The Eight (8餐廳). Very, very tender thanks to the marbling, and I loved the fragrance of roses in the mouth. That it came with a little rice was the best way for us to enjoy it.

Slippers lobsters stir fried with fresh water crab roes and shrimp oil (蟛蜞膏炒琵琶蝦) - slipper lobster is now a staple on the menu here, and one of the best preparations is having it stir-fried with the fresh water crab roe and a little ginger, then pair it with some really tender and sweet sugar snap peas. Beautiful ingredients whose flavors worked so well together.

Steamed catch of the day with fermented chili (剁椒咸肉蒸花英斑) - we didn't get the big head tonight because there were a few people who wouldn't have enjoyed it... so a whole highfin grouper (花英斑) was served up.

This has always been a really good dish, even though I normally don't choose dishes with chilis. The Sichuan peppercorns were so flagrant and floral, with lot of violet notes. The dumplings are always tasty, as are the strips of cured pork lard...

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) - yup. We had this AGAIN. Can't complain too loudly, though...

Camphor wood smoked 7 spiced goose (樟木菊花煙燻七味黑鵝) - another dish I requested, and while the smoky flavors were nice, the skin was too wet and limp instead of being dry and crunchy. Also... I never thought these next words would ever come out of my mouth, but the fat underneath the skin was excessive. The ratio of skin, fat, and meat was all wrong.

Guess who took the big head of the goose? It's not the same person who loves asses...

Seasonal vegetables cooked in homemade fish broth (魚湯浸時菜) - always a well-executed dish here.

Sparerib and liver sausage clay pot rice (排骨膶腸煲仔飯) - I always look forward to the clay pot rice nowadays, since the combination is different for each visit.

Tonight we had some of the classic ingredients, with delicious pork spare ribs along with fragrant and fatty liver sausage.   The best part though, was the deep-fried whitebait.  How do you top that?!

I haven't had the "second service" of clay pot rice in a long, long time.  This used to be done at Fook Lam Moon (福臨門) and Seventh Son (家全七福), and I'm glad we got that tonight.  They added some clams in this preparation, and I was pretty happy to slurp down a soupy bowl of rice crispies.  Pure comfort food.

Desserts trio (甜品三味)

Mung bean cake (綠豆糕) - this is really, really good... as always

Hawthorn berries pudding (山楂糕)

Almond cream (杏仁茶)

We did pretty poorly in the wine department, as we could only manage to polish off 4 bottles...

1999 Musar Rouge - served a little warm and without decanting. A little pungent nose, with leather, farmy, and savory notes.

Paul Déthune Cuvée Prestige Grand Cru, dégorgée en janvier 2017 - very light on the palate, some caramelization on the nose.

2016 Philippe Bornard Côtes du Jura Ouillé Les Chassagnes - flinty, a little floral, with good acidity. No real oxidation.

2005 Torbreck Les Amis - decanted for 2 hours and 15 minutes before serving. Not as jammy on the nose as initially when opened, but this was very floral and lovely, with plenty of sweet fruit here.

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