January 10, 2024

Trotter to tail

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A year ago I came to The Chairman (大班樓) on the first working day of 2023 with my team for a team dinner, and tonight I'm back for my first meal here this year. I no longer have a team, but once again I'm with friends who are just happy to join me here - including someone who was here with me a year ago.

Last year I insisted to have my team choose the dishes that they wanted to eat, and the result was both a little interesting and frustrating. This time around only two of my friends voiced their preference for one dish, and I decided to order either new dishes or ones I don't get to eat often.

Pickled rose buds with lily bulb and lotus root (荼薇百合藕片) - this came with compliments of the restaurant, and it's something I haven't tasted in a few years. The pickled lotus root carries the wonderful fragrance and elegant flavors of centifola rose (荼薇), and this time crunchy lily bulb has been added to the mix.

Ginger and vinegar pig trotter terrine (甜醋子薑豬手耳凍) - a new-and-improved version of what I tasted 2 months ago, this was simply a beautiful bite. The pork is now more evently distributed in the terrine, forming a pattern that is very pleasing to the eye. Flavor-wise this was just as wonderful as I remembered, and I just looooove the sweet vinegar jelly melding together with the finely diced pickled young ginger (子薑) on top. Then again, I was always gonna love anything with pig trotters. It's simply fantastic that they took the traditional 豬腳薑 and made it into a cold terrine.

Fresh water crab roes with pomelo skin and winter melon (蟛蜞膏柚皮冬瓜) - my friend finally got to have some river crab roe (蟛蜞膏), a year after being disappointed by the choices of others. Served over a piece of braised pomelo skin on top of some winter melon, this was just very, very flavorful. I love that The Chairman still insists on serving this delicacy, as it's so rare these days.

Lily bulb, lotus root, and dried oyster soup (百合蓮藕蠔豉湯) - pretty nice. The lotus root flavors were obvious, and I love the strong notes from the dried oysters (蠔豉).

Whole fish 2 flavours: stir fried fillets with pepper (一斑二食:胡椒炒球) - I had forgotten that this was a dish I had a year ago, but nevermind that. This was still pretty delicious, with tender and moist filets lightly-seasoned with fragrant cracked pepper. The sugar snap peas were nice, too.

Thick cut Chairman style char siu (炭火厚切叉燒) - I think the others were pretty impressed with this hunk of char siu. Then again, it is a pretty tender and tasty piece of pork.

Whole fish 2 flavours: steamed with aged lemon and fried garlic (一斑二食: 陳年鹹檸檬蒸頭腩) - I was pretty surprised that we finished this part, given it's all about fish head and fins. The flavors of the aged lemons were very prominent this time around.

Crispy skin chicken with red bean curd marinate (南乳麵醬炸子雞) - this was some really, really tasty chicken! The skin was thin and crispy, the flesh moist, and the diced spring onion and ginger which had been rubbed underneath made all the difference. Oh, the flavors coming from the red fermented bean curd (南乳) were pretty dope...

Sweet and sour pig tails (菠蘿咕嚕豬尾) - WOW! What is this sorcery?! We've had sweet and sour pork a million times, and I've also gotten used to the version here with its light and airy batter, but this was something else! By substituting the fatty pig tail for the usual pork, they've come up with something that I just can't resist. I feel like I need to ask for a whole serving just for myself the next time I'm here.

Stir fried seasonal vegetables with XO sauce (XO醬炒時菜) - they always have wonderful produce here, and this kailan (芥蘭) stir-fried with X.O sauce is just so, so tasty.

Crispy aged eel and salted pork belly claypot rice (瑤柱咸肉燒鱔煲仔飯) - BABY, THIS IS WHAT YOU CAME FOR! I had this for the first time four months ago, and it was pretty damn awesome.

The rice is always tasty, and this has got a fair amount of crispy shreds of conpoy (瑤柱) along with thin slices of cured fatty pork belly. The real star, of course, was the thick hunk of eel which has been marinated. Both of my friends who requested for this came away very happy.

I would never say no to rice crispies from the clay pot.

Happily, this comes with a second serving where most of the rice crispies is taken back to the kitchen and cooked up with soup that comes with clams, coriander, and spring onions. Always happy when this is on offer.

Desserts trio (甜品三味):

Almond cream (杏仁茶)

Puff rice cracker (米通) - similar to something I got to taste on my last visit, a little savory and a little sour.

Adzuki bean cake (豆沙糕)

The crowd tonight didn't like what my friend and I brought, so we couldn't even finish...

Jikon Daiginjo (而今 大吟醸), 2020 - seimaibuai of 40%. Very fragrant nose with lots of banana and peach. Sweet on the attack but turns dry mid-palate. Smoother and rounder after 2 years of aging. Very easy to drink.

2011 Joh. Jos. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese, from magnum - lots of petrol and polyurethane on the nose, along with some white flowers. Lightly sweet on the palate.

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