August 2, 2022

A tea house feast without tea

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It has been just about 6 months since the MNSC boys got together for a formal tasting, as we waited for some of us to return from our various trips out of Hong Kong. Lord Rayas finally got his chance to play host, and I wasn't the least bit surprised when we were asked to show up at Woo Cheong Tea House (和昌飯店).

Deep-fried homemade turnip puff (日本手作蘿蔔千絲酥) - this was... meh. The crispy shell was rather powdery, and the dough just inside was kinda soggy, almost as if it wasn't properly cooked. Didn't expect to see shreds of carrots inside along with radish.

Woo Cheong premium barbecued pork (和昌炭燒叉燒) - this was fucking good! Very marbled and fatty, with a very springy texture, and even crunchy in some parts.

Chilled jelly, goose liver, red wine (萬紫千紅) - the red wine jelly was on the firm side. The flavors from the goose foie gras was pretty rich, but the bitterness threw me off and I almost thought it was chicken liver...

Winter melon soup (小海葵冬瓜湯) - this was absolutely beautiful. The Chinese name describes it as a sea anemone, and indeed there is some resemblance. It reminds me more of 文思豆腐, where chefs demonstrate their knife skills by slicing a block of tofu into shreds as thin as hair.

It certainly was very, very clean in terms of flavors, and I loved every drop of the soup.

Pan-seared rice rolls, lobster, supreme broth (上湯龍蝦煎腸粉) - this was one big Australian spiny lobster!

But I'm not such a big fan of Aussie lobsters, especially in this size, as the flesh would be more chewy. The chunks of lobster were lightly coated with starch, and I rather felt that it could have used a little more seasoning to bring out the flavors of the crustacean. The rice flour rolls were lightly pan-fried to create a little crunch, and the sauce managed to deliver that nice shellfish flavor.

Pan-fried soldier fish (脆鱗煎金鯛) - I don't know what a soldier fish is, but this was a tilefish (馬頭魚) if I ever saw one.

By now many of us are familiar with the way tilefish is served in many restaurants - by pouring hot oil repeated over scales to make them stand up and become crispy. Meanwhile the flesh was just sooo soft and tender, and almost melted in my mouth. Delicious!

Stir-fried pork spareribs, aged manadarin peel, Modena balsamic (不知年陳皮義大利黑醋骨) - the reason that the words "unknown age (不知年)" was used in the description was just that... the supplier to the restaurant could not verify the age of these aged mandarin peel (陳皮), but probably in the teens or twenties. Well... the exterior was really crunchy - much more than expected. Another unexpected aspect was the serving temperature - almost scalding. The use of balsamic vinegar instead of black Chinkiang vinegar (鎮江醋) was unexpected, and the flavors were certainly very strong. The acidity was so strong and sharp, in fact, that it took me until the last of my 4 pieces to finally get the fragrance of the aged mandarin peel.

Steamed chicken, vegetable, clear soup (上湯菜膽雞) - must admit that the chicken was very, very tender and very smooth in terms of texture, and not bland at all.

Angus beef fried rice, goose liver (安格斯牛肉鵝肝飯) - another dish which interfered with us smelling our wines, since all we could smell was the fragrance of beef fat.

The rice was pretty moist and soft, with some chewiness.

Beancurd pudding (木桶豆腐花) - I love beancurd pudding!

We got 4 different condiments to go with the pudding - in additional to the usual syrup and powdered ginger sugar, there was also rose syrup and lychee syrup. Slurp.

As delicious as the dishes were tonight - and they really were very tasty - the focus of any MNSC dinner is squarely on the wines. Our generous host started us off by having us blindtaste the white wine:

2006 Joseph Drouhin Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche - very buttery nose with lots of corn, pretty nice and elegant.

First flight: opened and poured into glass 1 hour prior to serving.

1982 Latour a Pomerol - really lovely, nice and sweet with bacon, smoky, animal, grilled meats, eucalyptus. Fat and sexy at first, but got leaner some 20 minutes in, then turned more bretty and medicinal about 30 minutes in. Rated 95 points but would have scored higher had the wine not gotten leaner and medicinal.

1982 Le Gay - a little more brett and animal, sweeter on the nose, and meaty. Showing well. 96 points.

1982 Guigal La Mouline - this was my favorite of the trio from the start. Really big and toasty nose, the most powerful of the three, with coffee, animal, sweet fruit. Sharper, more focused and precise. Fucking good. 99 points.

Second flight:

1995 Comte Georges de Vogüé Bonnes-Mares - served more than 2 hours after opening without decanting. A bit green with wet cardboard. I felt this was bouchonée.

1995 Rayas - decanted nearly 2 hours after opening, and served 30 minutes after decanting. A little dusty, more muted at first, then turned more bretty, smoky, and minty. 96 points.

1995 Lafite-Rothschild - decanted nearly 2 hours after opening, and served 30 minutes after decanting. Nose of vulcanized rubber, a bit sharp, but also fragrant with cigar smoke. 94 points.

Many thanks to Lord Rayas for the treat. What a fantastic evening!

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