May 29, 2024

The Park at the Forum

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While at dinner last night, someone threw out an invitation to join a dinner gathering tonight with representatives from Howard Park, the winery in Western Australia. I had heard about them from the time I started learning about wine, but for some reason I had never had the opportunity to taste anything from them, so I decided that it would interesting to meet up and try some of their offerings.

No dinner venue had been set by the host, so I booked us a table at Forum Restaurant (富臨飯店). I'm always happy with the food here - which isn't surprising given their 3 macarons - and we can call on Jacky's services should we need him. And since I appear to be the one most familiar with the restaurant, the burden of ordering dishes fell on my shoulders, naturally...

I couldn't believe that they had already run out of char siu (叉燒) by the time we started our dinner. Unimaginable under normal circumstances, but they were reasonably busy tonight. Oh well.

Salad prawn on toast (沙律鳳尾蝦多士) - this is always one of my favorites. I just can't resist ordering prawn toast every time I see it on a menu, and here they do it pretty well. Deep-fried toast?! Hell, yeah!

Pork roll in Fukien style (福建豬肉卷) - for the three Taiwanese at the table, this was a familiar sight... as were the flavors.

Pan-fried cuttlefish cake (黃金墨魚餅) - having tasted this a couple of months ago, I was only too happy to order it again. I just love the springy texture, and of course it goes really well with the white wines we had tonight.

Deep-fried pork with dried mandarin peel in sweet and sour sauce (陳皮咕嚕肉) - as I said to our Aussie friends, I did not order this for their benefit. I genuinely like the dish, especially the version here with strips of aged mandarin peel (陳皮) - real ones with beautiful fragrance, not the cheap crap I got in my dessert last night. Actually, our visitors were suitably impressed by what the mandarin peel added to the dish.

Deep-fried mashed taro with foie gras (荔茸香酥鵝肝盒) - FAIL. I normally love this kind of stuff with the deep-fried taro mash, but tonight the ammonia flavors from the baking soda were so strong I almost wanted to spit it out. Thinking back to my past experiences here, I probably shouldn't have ordered this... as there have been a few occasions where I tasted baking soda. Must remember for future reference.

Deep-fried chicken piece with shrimp paste (蝦醬炸雞件) - I love it when fried chicken is coated in batter seasoned with shrimp paste, as the flavors are just so unique and interesting. Apparently our visitors were impressed, too.

Pan-fried lamb rack (香煎甘肅羊架) - I was expecting something interesting and special as the menu mentioned Gansu (甘肅), but maybe that's just where the meat came from and had nothing to do with the seasoning of it. Still pretty delicious, but just not exotic.

Braised ox tail (燒汁焗牛尾) - these days I can't seem to come here without order this signature dish, and of course it goes very, very well with the reds. It's just so tender and flavorful.

Ah Yat fried rice with foie gras (阿一鵝肝炒飯) - I figured we needed some carbs and fried rice would be perfect. For HKD 100 more than the "regular" version, they throw in some goose foie gras and it made all the difference. I could see people's faces as they realized there were little bits of creamy liver in their mouths. So worth it to "upgrade"!

Mango and pomelo jelly (芒果柚子糕) - we started dinner late and now the chefs have knocked off and gone home, so we couldn't order anything I wanted. They did, however, save a portion of this for us. OK la...

We didn't do too badly tonight, with a mix of Howard Park wines along with a few other whites.

1997 Kistler Chardonnay Kistler Vineyard - very ripe as expected, but not totally oxidized to the point it becomes unpleasant. Caramelized nose with lots of vanilla. The palate was sweet but not over the top, as it's still got some acidity for balance.

1988 Maximin Grünhaüser Abstberg Riesling Auslese Fuder 67 - nose of white flowers and petrol. Palate was rounded but while there's some residual sugar, the acidity was quite high. Drinking very nicely.

2021 00 Chardonnay VGW - the nose was really buttery, flinty, while the palate was nice and lean with good acidity.

2020 Howard Park Riesling Great Southern - nose of petrol and polyurethane. The palate was still relatively dry but it's also got some ripeness.

2023 Howard Park Pinot Noir Flint Rock - really sweet on the nose, like bubblegum.

2007 Howard Park Cabernet Sauvignon Leston - the nose was minty, earthy, smoky, with grilled meats. There was good sweetness on the palate.

I always love the food here so we were pretty happy tonight. Jacky was kind enough to waive corkage for 2 of our 6 bottles tonight, and when the bill came - inclusive of corkage - it was about 20% cheaper than the bill I got last night which had all corkage waived. With just the food alone, it was less than ⅔ of last night's bill. Sure, I didn't order anything that was exorbitant, but I'm much happier with my choices tonight. This will remain my go-to place to open nice wines with Cantonese food.


Anonymous said...

It's an utter joke that this restaurant has 3 stars.

Peech said...

Well... everyone has a different definition of what "3 star" means, and as far as I am concerned, this place is loads better than most 3 star Chinese restaurants around.

Anonymous said...

Well a three star restaurant remain a unique experience. Of course if you are used to pick all of them you may be much more educated and trained than most of us.Therefore I understand that you may feel it is overrated but still it should be a nice experience!
Fabrice Delorme

Peech said...

Fabrice, if you ever find yourself in Hong Kong, I would be honored to take you to Forum for a meal, and you can meet their sommelier Jacky.


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