October 2, 2023

Geruhage HK tour day 4: spring roll one

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While it seems like having Cantonese food would be de rigueur when visiting Hong Kong, I generally make sure that I take visitors to experience other types of cuisine when they're in town - time permitting. The last few years have seen two of China's high-end restaurant groups plant the flag in Hong Kong, and they're interesting enough to warrant taking Geruhage for a taste. The first stop would be Yong Fu (甬府) for lunch today.

By way of unfortunate circumstances, we did not manage to pre-arrange the menu, so we made do by trying to order up a few old favorites, and took some of the recommendations coming from the restaurant manager. I had to put my foot on the brakes during the ordering process so that DaRC does not do his usual thing of ordering half the menu. In the end, though, we had just a liiiittle bit too much.

Stir-fried baby broccoli balls (熗炒芥蘭球) - DaRC and I absolutely wanted to have this again. It's amazing how much care is taken by this restaurant on humble ingredients like vegetables. The stem of local kailan (芥蘭) is peeled, fermented in brine, tenderizes by cutting to break the fibers. The end result is a aesthetically pleasing presentation of a common ingredient, where the slightly acidic and spicy flavors and the tender texture are incongruous with what we normally associate with this green vegetable - thereby delivering a whole new experience for something we normally take for granted.

Mud crab with mashed ginger and coriander (招牌十八斬) - we must order one of the signature dishes for our visitors, but I did not partake, as usual.

Boiled celtuce with Sichuan pepper (玉釵萵筍) - this now comes with a sprinkle of sesame seeds, but the fragrance and the tingling of the tongue from Sichuan peppercorn oil was still lovely.

Sliced homemade seaweed flavor fish cake (自製苔香魚餅) - these still aren't sliced no matter what the menu says. OK but still relatively underwhelming...

Yellow croaker in sour broth (酸湯黃魚羹) - yellow croaker is de rigueur here, and I'm having this non-traditional hot and sour version for the second time in a row. The fish fillets were, of course, very tender as expected. We also had bits of loofah (絲瓜) with their slightly earthy flavors, bamboo pith (竹笙), as well as really thin wonton wrappers called yanpi (燕皮) made with fish. The sour flavors of the soup come from fermented vegetables.

Stir-fried scallops with green ginkgo nuts and lily bulb (綠銀杏九年百合醬爆鮮帶子) - new dish, where diced scallops have replaced small river shrimps while green ginkgo nuts have taken the place of lotus seeds. We've also got sections of string beans and chili paste. The one constant ingredient - while it's still in season - is the 9-year-old lily bulb.

Ningbo-style spring rolls with freshwater eel (寧式鱔糊春卷) - an interesting dish I had for the first time on my last visit. From the look of it, it seems Chef Liu has already improved on it.

As someone who grew up eating Shanghainese stir-fried freshwater eel (炒鱔糊), this was an easy dish for me to love. Within the very crunchy wrapper was a filling made with the eel, chives, and broad beans. Definitely got that white pepper in there. Very nice.

East sea silvery pomfret with leafy mustard (雪菜筍絲燒東海白鱗鯧) - an old favorite. In Shanghainese restaurants, pomfret is NOT a cheap fish.

I know how this tastes. I've grown up with this since childhood. Maybe not exactly this way with the preserved leafy mustard and bamboo shoots, but 白燒 is one of mom's common ways of cooking fish at home.

Deep-fried sturgeon tendons with pepper paste (肥椒醬脆皮龍筋) - I'd read about this for some time now but never had the chance to taste it before. Really happy that the others indulged my wish to give this a try.

Within the deep-fried dough was sturgeon bone marrow, which is something I've never tasted before. Texture was not unexpected. Topped with some home made green chili sauce (肥椒醬).

Braised Tibetan pork belly with melon (姜柄瓜藏香豬肉) - a dish suggested by the manager, which uses a type of pumpkin from Yunnan Province called 姜柄瓜. The texture was kinda halfway between pumpkin and zucchini.

The belly of the Tibetan pig (藏香豬) was very, very tasty. As much as I'd love to have this again, though, I worry about the conservation status of this breed of pigs that mostly grazes in the wild. Hopefully the crossbreeds are just as tasty.

Handmade buns (主廚手工包子) - always very, very good... especially when the dough is partially aged.

Hawthorn and pear drink (山楂雪梨飲)

Ningbo sesame glutinous rice balls (寧波湯圓) - a meal here just isn't complete without this.

The fruit selection today included pomegranate and fresh winter jujube (冬棗).

One of the things DaRC did today was to have a tea tasting for Geruhage. So he brought along three different teas:

Orient Beauty (東方美人 白毫烏龍) - so soft, elegant, and alluring.

Dayuling (大禹嶺) - more intense, but still very clean.

Milanxiang Dancong (蜜蘭香單叢) - from the restaurant. A bit more smoky.

1960s Puer (六十年代 雲南大葉普洱) - so smooth. So elegant.

I did bring along one bottle of riesling...

1987 Maximin Grünhäuser Abstberg Kabinett - good acidity, crisp, kinda simple on the palate. Acidity got a little sharper at the end.

A really good meal today, as usual. I think our visitors were suitably impressed.

I dropped my friends off at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre so they could look at all the goodies on exhibit at the Sotheby's Fall Sale. I rejoined them a little later to catch a bit of the wine auction, and got a little sip of wine. Not a bad day...

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