September 9, 2022

Mushrooms and wine

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The Compatriot is back in town for a few days on his way back to Rosbif Land, and since I missed catching up with him in Taiwan, I was determined to see as much of my friend as possible during his short stay. I was also determined to take him to places for cuisine he'd have difficulty accessing in Rosbif Land, and this meant mostly going to Chinese or Japanese restaurants. Tonight we would start with a visit to Man Ho (萬豪金殿), as I pinged chef Jayson Tang to set us up with a menu.

I had, unfortunately, missed out on a mushroom-themed dinner here a few weeks ago, so I was pretty happy that Jayson arranged some of the same dishes for us. I also looked forward to see what other interesting creations Jayson had in store for us.

Marinated cuttlefish with preserved vegetables (鹵水釀墨魚) - the cuttlefish was tea-smoked and stuffed with pickled vegetables. Served on top of a pile of shredded celtuce marinated with sesame oil.

Steamed chanterelle mushroom dumpling with diced barbecued pork, shrimp roe and peanuts (油雞樅水晶粿) - ummm... "雞樅菌" should be "termite mushroom" and not "chanterelle"... this was very tasty with plenty of different textures and flavors from the different ingredients, and a little bit of Sichuan peppercorn oil (花椒油) gave it a little kick.

Deep-fried chanterelle mushroom pastry (雞油菌蜂巢酥) - the "nest" was made by deep-frying mashed potato instead of the usual mashed taro, and the flavors were certainly different. The "leaf" at the base was actually a leaf-shaped potato chip.

Wok-fried mantis shrimp fillet with crispy garlic and chilli (避風塘富貴蝦柳) - I really liked this dish on my first visit so I was pretty happy to have it again.

I do like the punchy flavors from the topping, and I thought my mantis shrimp was fine. Sankala didn't care for her mushy mantis shrimp, though...

Double-boiled matsutake mushroom soup with conch, winter melon and duck (雲疊松茸科甲嚮螺水鴨湯) - we are now in the season for matsutake (松茸) from Yunnan Province (雲南省), and we've got 3 variations of the shroom - fresh ones which were put in the soup, dried slices which went into making the broth, and freeze-fried slices which added another layer of complexity to the broth. A slice of ham has been sandwiched between 2 layers of winter melon. We've also got lotus seeds, fox nuts, as well as tonkin jasmine (夜香花) in the duck soup.

Deep-fried shrimp mousse stuffed with foie gras, sea cucumber and South African dried abalone in abalone sauce (鮑魚海參鵝肝夾) - this was undoubtedly the star of the meal for me. The "millefeuille" came with a layer each of abalone and foie gras, surrounded by a layer of shrimp mousse (蝦膠), a layer of sea cucumber, and finally a crispy layer of cuttlefish mousse flavored with squid ink. Abalone sauce. Flavors were on the heavier side, but I thought this was very, very tasty.

Chef Jayson said he wanted to do his own version of "鮑參翅肚" (without the shark's fin, of course), so this was his solution.

Roasted chicken with Chinese herbs (飛天燒"我"鳥) - a local Ping Yuen chicken (平原雞) made to resemble roast goose. The chapon was certainly tender, and it was served with the same sauce which typically comes with roast goose, along with plum sauce on the side. Honestly, it's a decent chicken but I didn't find it particularly special.

Braised catfish fish maw with terminate mushroom in chicken stock (雞樅菌黃燜鮰魚金魚肚) - interesting to see a block of deep-fried radish, which was pretty tasty. We've also got shredded termite mushrooms here, along with a chicken and conch soup seasoned with saffron.

But the focus was certainly this fish maw taken from Chinese longsnout catfish, which was OK but I didn't it brought much to the table.

Sweetened purple glutinous rice with sweet corn, aloe and coconut milk (怡香玉米露) - I loved that there was lots of sweet corn here, and the aloe was certainly nice and refreshing.

Baked taro and coconut pastry (椰香芋頭酥)

I decided to bring out some nice bottles for the Compatriot, and also because the couple in the Tiny Urban Kitchen had recently celebrated a special day.

2007 Taittinger Comte de Champagne Blanc de Blancs - pretty floral and alluring nose, and a little caramelized. Very lovely wine.

2011 Sine Qua Non The Moment - 55% roussanne, 19% chardonnay, 19% petit manseng, 7% viognier. Initially showing a hint of dustiness but thankfully this faded. A little metallic, a bit of flint, with caramelized sugar, bubblegum, and tropical fruits. Ripe on the palate, naturally. Later on toasty popcorn showed up. Drinking beautifully.

2018 Blanc de Lynch-Bages - definitely showing pipi de chat, green apple, and flint. Also developed a nice, toasty nose later.

2001 Fisher Vineyards Wedding Vineyard - decanted 30 minutes after opening and served 1½ hours after decanting. Smoky, more tannic on the palate at first. Minty. After 2 hours in decanter this was very open, more fresh and lively on the nose compared to The Maiden. Pretty smooth on the palate after some 2½ hours in decanter, and really ripe after almost 3 hours.

2001 Harlan Estate The Maiden - decanted 30 minutes after opening and served 1½ hours after decanting. Smoky, a bit more ripe on the nose than the Fisher, and lots of mint. Almost like a Right Bank Bordeaux, more fragrant, with a hint of green pepper.

2001 Sine Qua Non Mr. K The Noble Man - nose of honey, very grapey and raisiny, a little nutty, with honeydew melon. Very rich and unctuous, and very sweet.

I think overall the crowd was fairly happy, but I would just nitpick and added a couple of points on service:

Some of the bottles of wine tonight holds special meaning, and the bottles were taken home as keepsakes. Unfortunately, one of the pretty labels was stained during decanting at the restaurant. It would have been nice had more care been taken.

We told the staff at the start of dinner that not everyone spoke Cantonese, so introduction of the dishes should be done in English. We had to keep reminding the staff on this point, which was not a fail but more of an annoyance. We expect better from an establishment such as this one.

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