February 5, 2022

A golden finale

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A few hours after my big lunch, I joined some friends at a private residence for a dinner that I wasn't hungry for. This was our last MNSC gathering for the cycle, and thanks to the government restrictions it could not be held in a restaurant. The upside surprise was that our food was catered by Woo Cheong Tea House (和昌飯店), the relatively new Cantonese restaurant I had visited at the end of last year.

I was pretty amazed at how extensive the menu was tonight, and I'm glad my friend's home kitchen is properly set up for this... because what we had tonight was pretty close to what we would have experienced had we dined at the restaurant.

We started with a plate of appetizers which, much to our surprise, were four different types of shellfish:

Pan-fried crispy honey glazed oyster (蜜餞金蠔) - this was indeed a little sweet. I also spotted a little bling.

Marinated clam, spring onion oil (蔥油鮮貝) and Marinated clam, green peppercorn, chilli oil (藤椒紅油鮮蚌) - the clam with the green peppercorn numbed the tongue as expected. The short-necked clams (貴妃蚌) were nice and soft, and the scallion oil was definitely very fragrant and tasty.

Marinated clam, homemade spicy soy sauce (醬油花甲) - these Manila clams were the most spicy thanks to the Sichuan chilli.

Double-boiled fish maw soup, sea conch, cordyceps (冬蟲草日本鮮響螺燉花膠) - beautiful, clean flavors in the broth. The fish maw and conch were pretty good, too.

Sautéed prawn (富貴牡丹花) - now THIS was good. I don't always get the crystal king prawns because many places don't get it right. This one was tender yet retaining a little of that bouncy, springy texture, without the excessive crunchiness that comes from excessive use of baking soda. It was nearly perfect. The accompanying prawn sauce was really nice and elegant, but still packs plenty of flavor.

Tea-cured chicken (鳥語茶香) - smoked with rose and jasmine. This was tender and flavorful with the soy sauce marinade, with lovely smoky notes.

Braised Japanese Yoshihama abalone, Kanto sea cucumbers (日本吉品糖心鮑魚扣關東遼參) - this was very, very good, too. Both the spiny sea cucumber and the abalone were very tender. I'm no expert on either premium ingredient, but I was certainly very happy.

Poached Chinese white cabbage, matsutake mushroom (松茸白菜) - this was clean, pure, and beautiful. Made from one head of Napa cabbage, with just the fragrant broth of matsutake (松茸) and decorated with one sweet goji (枸杞) berry.

Woo Cheong premium barbecued pork (和昌炭燒叉燒) - WOW! This was even better than what I had at the restaurant last time. Roasted with lychee wood, I loooooove how fatty and tender it was, while there were some muscle fibers on the exterior which were more dry and provided more texture. Soooo much flavor. Would have loved to have a whole big plate of this with a bowl of rice.

Deep-fried crispy baby pigeon, tea-cured pigeon egg (雙囍富貴鴿) - the 15-day-old pigeon was really, really tasty. I always love it when I rip the legs and wings off and I see the warm juices run down the side of the pigeon and onto the plate. Absolutely beautifully succulent. And I love that smoky pigeon egg.

Crabmeat fried rice, stuffed in a Japanese tomato (紅寶玉石) - apparently some of us really love fried rice with that tomato sauce, and tonight the tomato from Shizuoka Prefecture (静岡県) looked beautiful and came with a little bling.

Inside the tomato we had the fried rice with crab meat and preserved radish (菜脯). The rice grains were separated and didn't stick together, so the execution was pretty good. I love that this wasn't just served with tomato sauce but with a whole fresh tomato, too... so the flavors were more complex.

Sago with chestnut purée (栗子西米露) - for a guy who wasn't hungry when he arrived at dinner, I couldn't believe I made it all the way to dessert... and this was pretty good, too!

But of course the wines were the focus tonight, and our host - or should I say organizer - prepared quite a lineup for us.

2009 Comtes Lafon Meursault 1er Cru Perrières - lovely toasty nose, this was soooo buttery and soooo fucking beautiful! Wow!

First flight: served 1 hour and 15 minutes after opening without decanting.
1987 Dominus - very smoky, heavy tobacco, a hint of sweetness on the palate, a little chalky and dirty, very smooth on the palate, and somehow leaner on the nose. 95 points.

1991 Dominus - also smoky but a little more ripe on the nose, definitely more sweet on the palate, but ever so slightly pungent. Really big and smoky on the nose. 96 points.

Second flight: served 2 hours and 45 minutes after opening without decanting.
1990 Pichon Baron - smoky, minty, a little dusty, with cool fruit, oaky and woodsy notes. 95 points.

1990 Vega Sicilia Unico - much more fragrant, woodsy, a hint of burnt rubber, sweet with coconut. Beautiful! 97 points.

1990 Hubert Lignier Clos de la Roche - more ripe and sweet on the nose, and also sweet on the palate. 95 points.

Third flight: served 3 hours and 45 minutes after opening without decanting.
2007 Armand Rousseau Chambertin - pretty nice and a little oaky. Really open and fragrant. 97 points.

2009 Armand Rousseau Chambertin - really fragrant with sweet, lovely fruit. 96 points.

This was an evening of beautiful dishes and, of course, fantastic wines. I am ever grateful for the generosity of friends, and long may our friendships continue.

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