March 8, 2023

The wino Chairman

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I had originally booked dinner at The Chairman (大班樓) tonight to kinda help My Birdbrain Cousin celebrate her birthday. She was pretty excited about it until a few days ago, when she informed me that she had a sudden work conflict. This was disappointing, but I subsequently found out that she was spending her actual birthday back home with family, for the first time in a few years, so I was happy for her.

I eventually rounded up a group of (mostly) wine lovers - half of whom turned out to be lawyers. Even the Compatriot was lucky enough to get himself a seat, as he had just landed from Rosbif Land just a day earlier. This was gonna be fun.

Having learned my lesson from the last meal here with my former team, I decided that I would ask for preferences but make executive decisions myself.

Pickled mid-summer ginger root (大班樓子薑) - always nice to whet one's appetite with these.

Deep fried crab meat and mushroom dumplings (金錢蟹盒) - OK la... Still feels a little greasy.

The Chairman fatty pork char siu (炭火厚切叉燒) - this is definitely one of the more tasty char siu in town. I love it when fatty pork comes thick cut, as it's just so satisfying to bite into a piece. There was a good amount of marbling plus the strip of fat running down one side. The charring was pretty nice, too.

Crispy taro cake with smoked duck (茘甫鴨盒) - this was always one of my favorite dishes... as long as there was no taste of baking soda. Very happy to report that none was detected, and I do love the smoky flavors they deliver nowadays.

Local shrimp stir fried with fresh water crab roes and shrimp oil (蟛蜞膏豆仁炒本灣甜蝦仁) - always a dish I like very much, because it's so difficult to find restaurants serving up the roe of these fresh water crabs. The local shrimps had been slightly charred in the frying process, and the green peas are always sweet and delicious.

Cleansing soup (一口湯) - made with papaya, peanuts, and chicken feet (木瓜花生雞腳) today.

Pan-fried mud crabs with soy sauce and black beans (豉油王豆豉欖菜煎泥蟹) - I got tired of having the usual crucifix crab with Shaoxing wine so I picked this one instead. We got 2 big mud crabs for the 8 of us, and I was pretty happy with this.

Pork belly slow cooked in preserved Chinese vegetables with Chinese bun (梅乾菜陳皮扣肉配夾包菜) - I ordered an extra main course as a comprise between two requests. I would never complain about having braised pork belly, especially when it's such a traditional prepration with preserved leafy mustard greens (梅乾菜).

Perfect with the steamed bun. Not quite Taiwanese gua bao (割包) but delicious nonetheless.

Camphor wood smoked goose (樟木煙燻黑腳鵝) - HE'S DEAD, JIM!

Seriously, though, I do love this smoked goose. The flavors are complex thanks to the spices as well as the camphor wood used to smoke the bird. The skin wasn't crunchy crispy, but tasted more like what one may find with duck confit... with the fat soaked up by the skin. Very, very delicious. I'm still amazed that no one on my former team chose this dish at my last dinner.

Smoked threadfin with rice (煙燻馬友銀魚窩飯) - this is always a good call, not only because of the smoked fourfinger threadfin (馬友) but also the crispy sardine fry on top.

The fatty, smoky fish is just so, soooo tasty. We didn't get a second serving in soup, though...

Double boiled vegetables with fried pork skin and dried cherry blossom shrimps (豬皮櫻花蝦燉遲菜芯) - it's a veg dish but... when you add pig skin that has been deep-fried and braised, plus some crispy sakura shrimp... the dish just gets so much tastier.

Finally, we have the Dessert trio (甜品三味):

Almond cream (杏仁茶)

Mung bean cake (綠豆糕) - the flavors of rue (臭草) in the red bean paste was fairly strong, which was met with the Candidate's approval.

Sesame balls (煎堆)

The winos brought a bunch of bottles, and I do have to thank the seasoned staff at the restaurant for their wine service:

Krug Grande Cuvée, fifth generation label, (163ème Édition), ID 314050 - very nice and showing that it has mellowed with some age. Good and toasty nose.

1990 Tertre Roteboeuf - back in the bottle after decanting for 30 minutes, and drank about 1½ hours after decanting. Very minty, smoky, very soft on the palate and almost a little flat. Definitely on the downhill slide.

2017 Justin Girardin Corton-Charlemagne - fragrant and floral nose. Kinda soft on the palate.

1982 Talbot - drank about 1½ hours after decanting. Nose was very Saint-Julien, a little smoky, a little savory now, slightly grassy, almost a hint of brett.

1989 Lynch-Bages - drank about 1½ hours after decanting. Smoky, nose definitely very Pauillac, with grilled meats but still got the fruit underneath. Drinking pretty nicely.

2016 Cos d'Estournel Blanc - a little flint on the nose, oily on the palate, still got the acidity.

2015 Egon Müller Scharzhofberger Auslese, from half-bottle - so floral with orange blossom, honey, and a little acetone. More acidity on the palate followed by a little sweetness and roundness.

Needless to say there were smiling faces all around, and even the Candidate was happy in spite of the fact there was only 1 bottle of Champagne and the lone bottle of Burg she brought. It sure is easy to make friends when you can offer people coveted seats at restaurants that are hard to book...

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