December 4, 2021

Three little birds

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After my failed attempt to reach culinary nirvana at this romantic dinner for two with my friend V, I have longed to return to Stellar House (星月居) to see if I could finally get what I wanted. As the Compatriot is looking to get more Chinese food in his stomach during his stay, and Big Mac was going on home leave in a few days, this would be a great opportunity to get everyone together.

I didn't mind the least bit that when I booked, only tables in the open dining room were available. This is a place that likes to cater to a clientele which prefers privacy, and most of the diners are sequestered away in private rooms - with only two tables out in the open. The advantage of not having a private room means I didn't have a minimum spending amount, although the restaurant still insists on putting a menu together for us.

Snake soup with fish maw (花膠燴蛇羹) - it's the season for snake soup, and this is the first time I've tried their version. This came with shredded bamboo shoots, wood ear (木耳), aged tangerine peel, fish maw, and of course snake. The flavors from the aged tangerine peel were pretty prominent, and they clearly added white pepper to the soup. Overall this was pretty decent.

Sautéed fresh milk with fresh crabmeat and triple layered crispy pork rolls (大良野雞卷炒鮮奶) - Sankala and I agreed that this was better than what we had at Legacy House (彤福軒), despite the more humble ingredients. We've got purple shallots as well as nicely toasted Chinese black olive kernels (欖仁). Yum.

Steamed tiger grouper (清蒸黃皮老虎斑) - Big Mac didn't care for the brown marbled grouper, claiming that it tasted of mud. I thought it was OK but definitely too big for the four of us.

Pan-fried stuffed mud carp (家鄉釀鯪魚) - another classic Shunde (順德) dish that I really wanted Sankala to try. I really enjoyed it on my last visit, and I thought it was done very, very well.

The texture here is nice and bouncy thanks to the right mix of mud carp and pork. The flavor of the aged tangerine peel, once again, comes through nicely. The skin was fragrant and crispy. I still found a small piece of fish bone in my slice, but I'll live with it. And yes, Sankala thought this was the best version she's tried recently.

Braised sea cucumber and goose web with pomelo piths infused with shrimp roe (蝦籽柚皮海參玉掌伴翡翠) - thankfully there was no bitterness tonight in the pomelo skin. The goose web was nice enough, but I honestly didn't think the sea cucumber was necessary.

Signature roasted pigeons (紅燒脆皮妙齡鴿) - BABY, THIS IS WHAT YOU CAME FOR! A plate of six pigeons for the four of us, when the manager had initially suggested that we each take half a bird... Clearly he didn't know who he was talking to.

And yes, I finally managed to take down 3 of these pigeons in one sitting. These are still beautiful, with that milky flavor coming through the succulent meat. I was so, so giddy about not sharing any of the three birds on my plate.

Truth be told, by the time I got to the third pigeon, the bird had gone cold... so the enjoyment was certainly diminished. I guess in the future, I should probably just settle for 2 birds for maximum pleasure... since having just one clearly isn't good enough.

Stir-fried glutinous rice with Chinese preserved meats (生炒臘味糯米飯) - pretty happy that tonight, the rice was finally not too soggy as it had been in the past.

Walnut cream with lotus seeds (蓮子核桃露) - very rich. Very nice.
We had a nice mix of wines tonight.

1990 Vilmart Grand Cellier d'Or Coeur de Cuvée, N°3595, dégorgée le 8 avril 1999 - beautifully caramelized, with salty preserved lemon. Good acidity on the palate, and so, soo nice. Wow!

2016 Maison Leroy Bourgogne Blanc - more ripe on the palate than expected. Very clean with toasty notes.

2000 BOND Vecina - decanted for 30 minutes starting 1 hour 15 minutes prior to serving, then back in bottle. Very smoky, really oaky. Pretty ripe and sweet on the palate. Two hours after opening this was really open and lovely, a little plummy. Another 15 minutes later this started to show some coconut butter and vanilla notes. Nice and exotic.

2000 BOND Melbury - decanted for 30 minutes starting 1 hour 15 minutes prior to serving, then back in bottle. Really ripe and sweet on the palate, with less smoke on the nose. More savory. Very smooth 2 hours after opening, very plummy, almost like stewed prunes. At 3 hours in this showed more woodsy notes and also more smoke.

A pretty happy evening. Here's hoping for more happy times with my Compatriot.

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