February 11, 2023

Book signing dinner

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The Great One has been globetrotting over the last few months, so we haven't been able to see much of her. As our respective schedules are about to get busy again, we decided to hit Neighborhood together. I did make it known to Shirley that the Great One would be coming with me, so that the Kitchen Nazi would have a free rein for the night. And I got my Favorite Cousin to join us to make it a foursome.

But first things first. The Great One has published a book! The "official" launch date of the Kung Pao and Beyond isn't for another few weeks, but somehow shops in Hong Kong have already started selling it. I managed to grab a couple of copies yesterday so I brought them to dinner to get them signed by the author. My copy is supposedly number 3...

The food started arriving fast and furious...

Smoked red bigeye - four of us shared this red bigeye (大眼雞), which was just as well since the fish falls in the "avoid" category on World Wildlife Fund's Sustainable Seaoof Guide. This was cooked in the same fashion that has now become one of the restaurant's signatures, and bears some resemblance to Chiuchow-style chilled fish (魚飯). The meat was cold and the smoky flavors were very prominent.

Sweet potato with bottarga - I love sweet potato and I love bottarga even more.

Deep-fried spinyhead croaker - I don't get to have these spinyhead croakers (獅頭魚) often, so I do relish every opportunity. What's not to love about deep-fried fishies?! But as always with this fish, beware the two tiny ear stones in the head...

Baked sea snails - these looked like babylonia (東風螺) and came stuffed with minced pork and fennel. Lots of pork flavor here, and very, very spicy, but they tasted really good. The pork tasted almost like... a very spicy version of salsiccia.

Amera fruit tomato salad / Cantabrico tuna confit - we've got delicious tuna belly confit together with some creamy burrata, shaved black truffle, and Amela (アメーラ) tomatoes. This was real nice with a sprinkle of salt.

Puy lentil / poached egg / "N25" ossetra caviar - I'm usually ambivalent on lentils, but here we've got a soft-boiled egg in the center and some caviar on top.

The best way to eat this is, of course, on some sourdough bread.

Hiroshima Kajiya Farm green salad / strawberries / sea bream - always good to get your greens, and even better when you have some sea bream carpaccio on top.

Squid / pesto - this is a perennial favorite and always elicits excitement when the hot pan arrives at the table. The little squid is so, so tasty, and that pesto - where the garlic sometimes can be wild garlic from Hokkaido - really packs a punch with a little spicy kick. Would be perfect with a bowl of steamed rice.

Hokkaido salt cod brandade / poached shirako - not at all surprised that with the Great One in the house, fish cum is on the menu. Of course I refused to partake, and only yielded to take one piece of deep-fried fish skin along with a very small piece of the cod.

Handmade garganelli / Breton scallop + wild boar ragu - I am always grateful to the Kitchen Nazi for indulging my desire for pasta here, but they always do it so well! Tonight we've got the "usual" garganelli with wild boar ragù, but it was served not in a bowl but a scallop shell, with the scallop from Brittany. Interesting combination but hey, I'll take it!

Local beef brisket / oxtail / bavette - this was... really interesting. The big pieces of bavette were immediately identifiable, as were the braised oxtail. Hidden underneath the choy sum (菜心) and flowers were also pieces of braised skirt steak (崩沙腩). All very tasty, especially the oxtail and the skirt. And of course there was no way for us to come close to finishing the dish.

Tart tatin - there are two people at the table who love tart tatin/apple pie... and one of them refused to share.


I was pretty restrained tonight when it came to wine...

Laherte Rosé de Meunier, dégorgée en mars 2022 - with lively red fruits.

2010 Domaine de l'A, en magnum - decanted 45 minutes after opening, and served 1 hour after decanting. Plenty of sweet fruit, vanilla, oak, and leather. Drinking pretty nicely now.

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