June 8, 2021

Spicy cotton

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Time for another Peanut Gang dinner, again arranged by our friend KC. Tonight we would be checking out Mián (紅棉), which has taken over the space vacated by Guo Fu Lou (國福樓). Our convenor has made arrangements with Chef Ronald Shao (邵德龍), who was previously at Yunyan Szechuan Restaurant (雲陽閣川菜舘) and, in fact, was born in Sichuan.

Razor clams with aromatic ginger (鮮沙薑蟶子) - the razor clams were very fresh and sweet, and a little dip of that classic aromatic ginger (沙薑) sauce seemed like just the right touch.

Apple wood smoked bean curd sheet rolls ∙ assorted vegetables (蘋果木煙薰素鵝) - pretty smoky, more so than expected.

Boneless silky fowl and chicken fillets ∙ spring onion ∙ dan dan sauce (擔擔鴛鴦雞) - nice presentation on the silkie chicken.

Braised sea cucumber with abalone and chicken liver sauce (肝油乾燒遼參) - I grew up eating mom's braised sea cucumbers, which are very, very tender... sometimes to the point where it almost melts in the mouth. So for me, this one was a little too firm and crunchy to my liking. Having said that the sauce with chicken liver, preserved olives and mustard leaves (欖菜) was very nice. Rich and a little spicy.

Sichuan style boiled ∙ tiger grouper ∙ assorted chili (沸騰老虎斑) - not at all surprised that this is on the menu. And as one would expect, a more premium catch like brown-marbled grouper (老虎斑) is used, and while the broth was still spicy, it has been dialed down somewhat from the stereotypical simmered fish with chilis (水煮魚).

We've also got some udon and loofah thrown into the mix.

Ox tongue and tendon ∙ chili pepper broth (椒香清湯牛筋厚切牛脷) - Chinese-style braised beef brisket and tendon is always a good idea. This version looks a little different from the usual, though...

This was FUCKING GOOD! The skirt steak (蝴蝶腩) was very, very tender, and there were also flat ribbons of celtuce. What really made the dish, though, was the wonderful fragrance of erjintiao (二荊條) chili in the broth. That bold Sichuanese statement made this a real winner.

Crispy chicken with scallions in oil (紅棉䓤油炸子雞) - an interesting twist to the Cantonese crispy chicken (炸子雞) with the pretty Shanghainese profile of burnt spring onions in the sauce, along with those diced fresh spring onions. The execution on the Ping Yuen chicken (平原雞) was very good, with nice and crispy skin on top of very tender meat. Another fucking good dish.

Braised bitter melon in broth (翡翠玉枕) - this was a nice surprise, with the very thick chicken broth helping to temper the bitter flavors from the shredded bitter melon.

Baked Japan Kagoshima pork chop rice ∙ organic tomato ∙ egg (有機蕃茄焗日本黑豚豬扒飯配雞蛋) - our convenor described this as the "fucking expensive pork chop rice", and the pricing is certainly among the highest in town, if not the most expensive. The four of us shared one serving, with four pan-fried Japanese eggs for us to lay on top. Both Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino are used.

This really was very good. Fatty, tasty Japanese pork that's been breaded and deep-fried, then baked under a cheese gratin. That fried egg with the runny yolk was indispensable, as one would expect.

Is this the best baked pork chop rice in town? I don't know. I was pretty damn happy with my bowl, and someone needed to take the leftovers home to a happy wife. Come to think of it, Sankala made a few pretty good versions of it at home last year.

Sweet crispy glutinous rice cake ∙ wild green vegetables (玉玲糕) - this was made with some Chinese mugwort, and came with crispy puffed rice outside.

Hawthorne cake (山楂糕) - surprised that this was made the same way as the sesame roll, but pretty nice.

Black sesame roll (芝麻卷) - the film strip was thinner and firmer/more elastic than what I'm used to seeing at Fook Lam Moon (福臨門) / Seventh Son (家全七福) and I kinda like that.

We did OK on the alcohol front, which meant that a couple of us were more than a little buzzed when we got home...

Ise No Nami Junmai Daiginjo (イセノナミ  純米大吟醸) - very sweet on the nose, with pretty fermented notes of rice lees.

2007 Charles de Cazanove Tradition Père et Fils - yeasty and very nice, with caramelized nose along with marmalade. Good depth on the palate.

2002 BOND Matriarch - decanted for 1½ hours before serving. Lots of woodsy fragrance. Initially showed plenty of good fruit but a little lean. Two hours in this was really exotic with coconut butter, and pretty sweet on the palate. Drinking really well.

2015 Vega Sicilia Valbuena N° 5 - decanted for 1½ hours before serving. Eucalyptus, a little smoke, ripe fruit, and very fragrant if alcoholic nose.

This was another very good dinner, but given Chef Shao's pedigree one should hardly be surprised. I guess this is another venue I could consider when we start to be able to gather in larger groups for Chinese meals...

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