October 31, 2023

The double-header

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I can't believe it's been almost exactly a year since I was last here, but I finally found time to return to my favorite private dining space. It is, once again, snake season... and that's what we've come for. Of course, the rest of the chef's classic repertoire are also reasons for us to return at any time of the year, but I must admit that the winter reptile season gets us extra excited.

Barbecued kurobuta pork and (黑毛豬叉燒) - I've always liked the way char siu (叉燒) is done here, and for those who are here for the first time, they tend to get a little surprised by this.

I love how these get charred around the edges, and instead of being drenched in a honey glaze, the flavors are more soy sauce based. I got a few really fatty slices, and that made me so happy.

Pan-fried medallions with birds' nest (琵琶燕窩盞) - I really do love these savory "madeleines", as the texture is fluffy and bouncy. Once again, the first-timers were surprised by this combination of egg whites, birds' nest, and crab meat.

Crystal king prawn (玻璃大蝦球) - there are always gasps around the table whenever this big plate comes out with its collection of giant king prawns.

These are still my favorite crystal king prawns in town. Yes, the crunch comes from the use of baking soda... but it's clear that the chef wasn't being heavy-handed in that area, and the flavors of superior broth (上湯) that had been fed to the prawn still shine through.

Traditional Buddha jumps over the wall (古法佛跳牆) - it's been quite some time since I last ordered this up. In fact, I didn't even request it... chef just figured I'd be wanting this so he wrote it into the menu. Of course, my version always comes without shark's fin.

Abalone, goose web, pig trotter tendons, spiny sea cucumber, fish maw, and pork belly. I guess no bamboo shoots tonight. All braised and served in this sauce thickened with collagen. Can't possibly imagine not pouring that sauce all over some steamed rice, which we did!

Whenever these condiments come out, we know the snake soup is coming next!

Imperial scholar's five-snake soup (太史五蛇羹) - I absolutely love the sight of this beautiful pot from Legle with its treasures inside.

This remains my standard in terms of the five-snake soup. Everything is so finely shredded, and the flavors are at once full while being delicate and balanced - thanks to the stock made with snake bones. The kaffir lime leaf chiffonade and chrysanthemum petals add a beautiful fragrance.

Steamed sole (清蒸海方利) - we got two of these babies tonight instead of one big fish, and they were steamed perfectly. Sadly, though, we didn't have enough lovers of fish heads tonight.

Crispy chicken (脆皮炸子雞) - we were very full by now, so a few of us just picked up one or two pieces of the chicken... I think about half of the bird got packed up for takeaway.

Four treasure vegetables with superior broth (上湯四寶蔬) - I've loved this particular dish of vegetables since my very first visit, as the vegetables - especially the radish - really absorbed the flavors from superior broth.

Sautéed rice rolls with minced beef, bean sprouts in satay sauce (沙爹牛肉炒腸粉) - always a crowd favorite thanks to its strong flavor profile, but the Malaysians present could never understand why something like this is associated with the description of satay... Grateful that the Candidate chose to skip the dish so I didn't need to swap it out for something else.

Almond cream with lotus seeds and egg white (蓮子蛋白杏仁茶) - a classic and sweet ending to our meal.

I was using this dinner as pretext to bring along a magnum of German riesling, so I asked everyone to bring wines that aren't expensive. Well... only the Candidate followed my instruction tonight. Or perhaps everyone else was bringing the cheapest wines in their cellar...

2004 Krug, ID 214041 - drinking very nicely, with good maturity now and also good acidity balance.

Laherte Rosé de Meunier, dégorgée Juillet 2021 - so easy to drink, so smooth. Love the vibrant red fruits.

2001 Kracher Scheurebe Trockenbeerenauslese No. 9 Zwischen den Seen, from half-bottle - really viscous, grapey and raisins. So rich and unctuous. Like honey and dates.

Henri Guiraud PR90-18, dégorgée 14 Janvier 2022 - decent acidity balance here.

2018 Rougeot Bourgogne Blanc Clos des Six Ouvrées - decent acidity but there is also ripeness. Lots of vanilla oak on the nose.

2018 Domaine du Bel-Air Bourgueil "Grand Mont" - nose of animal and leather. Nice and oaky.

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