December 2, 2021

The five decade span

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It was finally time for a gathering of friends from my high school, and this time around we agreed to meet at Heichinrou (聘珍樓). I have kinda missed the food since their Central branch closed down when they got booted by their landlord, and the remaining branches are a little out of the way for me. Tonight, though, getting there was made much easier when the boss agreed to drive us to his restaurant.

Rather than the usual, tight-knit group of us, tonight we invited some of the younger alumni from school. A few of these kids are attending Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, with the youngest having just graduated high school this year. So there is a span of almost 40 years from the oldest to the youngest at the table...

We started the evening by sharing bottles of curry pan cider (カレーパン サイダー), which is a drink I've come to enjoy this year and threatened to introduce to the gang. It really DOES taste like eating the real thing... and the curry spices are pretty nice! That is, until one starts burping...

Pan-fried king prawns with soy sauce (頭抽煎大花蝦) - this was always gonna be good. Great flavors from the soy sauce, especially as one munches on the prawn head.

Shredded abalone / fish maw / conpoy / sea cucumber thick soup (鮑參柱肚羹) - boss knows I don't eat shark's fin so he arranged something different for me. In Cantonese cuisine, the premium ingredients are abalone-sea cucumber-shark's fin-fish maw (鮑參翅肚), and I've got 3 out of the 4. Very grateful.

Braised 28 head South African abalone with goose's webs (28頭南非鮑魚扣鵝掌) - this was very, very delicious. The rehydrated and braised abalone was very tender, with good depth of flavors. The goose web was also very, very tender. I did tell the gang not to drink the red wines while eating this dish, as they definitely don't match.

Sauteed sea cucumber muscle and scallops with bell pepper (彩椒芹香桂花蚌帶子) - I was pleasantly surprised to see the inside of the sea cucumber (known in Chinese as 桂花蚌 or 海參扣) on the menu, but I do love the crunchy texture. Works well to contrast the tender and sweet scallops.

Steamed sliced giant garoupa with shredded jujube and Yan nan ham (紅棗雲腿蒸龍躉片) - this was very, very good. I love giant groupers for their thick and gelatinous skin, and here the kitchen has flavored the fish with some ham broth, and the addition of jujube provides some interesting sweetness. I also liked having the crunch of wood ear fungus in the mix.

Roasted crispy chicken (蒜香脆燒雞) - very, very nicely done crispy chicken. Crispy skin with succulent meat.

Braised E-fu noodle with fresh hairy crab meat and roe (生拆大閘蟹炆伊麵) - it's Shanghainese hairy crab season, and apparently this is a dish which found popularity first in Japan before the boss introduced it here in Hong Kong. Not bad, but I would have wanted a higher proportion of crab roe to make it really sinful.

Sweetened almond cream with egg white (蛋白杏仁茶) - pretty nicely done with egg whites.

I decided to bring 2 magnums of red wines to share with the group. As I told the guys, these aren't expensive but they should drink well after being in my cellar for almost 10 years.

2010 Domaine de l'A, en magnum - served 20 minutes after decanting. Very fragrant nose, with cedar and woodsy notes. Very nice and open with some nice, ripe fruit on the palate. Drinking very well right now.

2010 Lucia, en magnum - served 2 hours after decanting. Nose was a little off, with smoky notes but generally a little stinky.

This was a fun night out, and it gave me an opportunity to interact with the younger alumni I don't normally come across as the second-oldest ojisan in the group. Let's do this more often!

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