September 26, 2021

Cucarachas in the basement

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At a dinner a few weeks ago, both DaRC and Sankala seemed unimpressed with the Shunde (順德) specialties delivered by the restaurant.  This prompted DaRC to suggest that we come to Yixin Restaurant (益新美食館) for some of the same dishes - which is how we ended up in a private room in the basement tonight.

My first visits to what used to be Yaik Sang Restaurant (益新飯店) when I first arrived in the mid-90s, back when it was in Lee Theatre Plaza. I visited a couple of times when it briefly relocated to Happy Valley, and I did go with Tigger when it was rebranded in its current form... but it has been more than a decade since my last visit. That's how long since I last had their lemon chicken. So I requested that DaRC add it to our menu tonight.

Roasted gold coin chicken (吊燒金錢雞) - really, really happy to start off with this classic item. I have been missing my favorite "cholesterol sandwich" for years, and although I now have a new favorite, I'm still on the look out for other versions that make me happy. There's something about the combination of a slice of charsiu (叉燒), a slice of chicken liver (鳳肝), and that essential slice of cured pork lard (冰肉) - roasted together on a skewer - that can transform into magic in the mouth.

These slices are large in surface area but relatively thin, so they are kinda impossible to devour in one or two bites - which is usually the way I'd like to do it. I'm glad they didn't skimp on the lard, as it had almost equal proportion to the other two ingredients. Very, very fatty... and pretty satisfying. But not quite up to the level of this near my home.

Roasted duck in pipa-style (馳名琵琶鴨) - very nicely done. This looked very pretty, with perfectly roasted skin and flavorful meat. It's a shame we did not get a whole duck and missed out on the traditional presentation.

Fresh live prawns fried with premium soy sauce (豉油皇生中蝦) - such a simple and unpretentious dish, but when it's good... it's good! The flavors from the premium soy sauce got inside the heads and covered the shells, and I found myself eating both. Yes, I happily swallowed prawn shells.  Finger-licking good.

Fried fresh milk and egg white with crab meat (蟹肉大良炒鮮奶) - OK... so there's no caviar or anything fancy here, but one look at what's on the plate and you can just tell it's gonna be pretty damn good...

Ohhhhh yeah... The fluffy egg white fried at high heat just made the dish. Slurp.

Double boiled almond juice and pig's lung soup (杏汁燉豬肺湯) - it's been a while since I last had a nice pig's lung soup. This was on point. The fragrant almond cream did its job.

Boneless chicken in lemon sauce (西檸煎軟雞) - BABY, THIS IS WHAT YOU CAME FOR. This was pretty much exactly as I remembered from a decade ago. That rich lemon sauce came in a pitcher and I just poured it all over the chicken. Happy, happy, joy, joy.

Pan-fried stuffed dace (古法釀鯪魚) - so this was pan-fried instead of deep-fried, then drenched in sauce. And I think I do like it better this way.

The stuffing was made of fish, aged tangerine peel...etc. Pretty good.

Baked fish guts with egg (鳳凰焗魚腸) - I have known about this dish since about 20 years ago when I was dining at Yaik Sang in Lee Theatre Plaza, and I have never, ever been tempted to try it. Until today. And I'm not a fan. To compensate for the pungent, fishy flavors, they have chosen to put a shit ton of coriander and other stuff in the "soufflé". That made the whole thing taste like - ironically - the common deep-fried dace balls (炸鯪魚球) that I hate so much. I chose not to swallow a second bite.

Boiled spinach with peedan eggs and salted eggs in superior soup (金銀蛋浸菠菜苗) - I was pretty happy to see this veg dish, even if it came with two different types of preserved eggs and not purely vegan.

Baked ying yang rice in clay pot (生焗鴛鴦飯) - OK... so... someone clearly LOOOOOVES this so much and requested that she be given plenty of the onions with tomato sauce. As a result some of the others - namely, moi - received bowls with hardly any sauce. I guess this is why it's called yin yang, then... since there will be two different versions for different people.

Baked lotus seed paste and sago pudding (蓮茸西米焗布甸) - this is a dessert that is normally too rich for me to want to order, but I must admit I was really, really happy with this. The lotus seed paste was very rich and sweet, and I didn't mind it one bit.

Osmantus and goji jelly (枸杞桂花糕) - very refreshing, and love that osmanthus fragrance.

I had always wanted to bring a specific bottle of sake for this meal, while DaRC decided to ask everyone to bring Italian reds. Needless to say, I ended up being the odd one out...

Dewazakura Junmai Ginjo Dewasansan Muroka Nama Genshu (出羽桜  純米吟醸  出羽燦々  無ろ過生原酒), from isshobin - nice, starchy rice flavors, with a little banana.

1971 Gaja Barbaresco - nose of stewed prunes, nice, woodsy notes, and savory black olives.

1979 Gaja Barbaresco - served 3½ hours after opening. Woodsy, plum notes.

1996 Gaja Barbaresco Sorì San Lorenzo - drank about 2 hours after opening. Smoky and leather notes. Still pretty fragrant.

1996 Gaja Barbaresco Sorì Tildìn - drank about 2 hours after opening. Sweet on the nose, with coconut butter. Dry on the palate and not quite savory. Pretty fragrant, minty, with a little orange almost.

2007 Tenuta di Biserno Lodovico - drank more than 2 hours after opening without decanting. Really fucking fragrant nose, with lots of dried herbs, potpourri, exotic spices, coconut butter. This was fucking beautiful about 2½ hours after opening. Sweet and ripe, with lots of vanilla in the nose.

A pretty good evening. I honestly don't know why I haven't been back in all this time. I did think about lemon chicken from time to time, and I'm glad I finally returned. Time to make regular trips back for that!

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