Saturday, February 6, 2016

Settling for an Early Dinner

We were pulling our hair trying to figure out a place for an early dinner in Macau before heading back to Hong Kong Sunday night. On one hand we don't wanna settle for generic, food-court quality food, which was a dime a dozen in the casino complexes. On the other hand, with only an hour or so to spare, it would have been too much a rush trying to go through a proper, sit-down meal.

At the end we decided at the last minute to go for Chinese at Jade Dragon at City of Dreams, figured we could get a few simple dishes for a quick dinner. Plus I still felt a bit bummed about not able to try the barbecued pork dishes at The Eight the night before (they were sold out), and I heard Jade Dragon's version was just as good, if not better, so this would be a redemption of sort to cap off our Macau weekend.

Sunday evening usually wasn't the busiest night in Macau dining scene so they had a table for us straight away as we walked in just as the dinner service began. I felt the dining area was more spacious and comfortable than that of The Eight, with the brightly-lit room, high ceiling and huge tables with plenty of spaces in between.

One thing that caught my eyes was the rotating seasonal tea selection in addition to a comprehensive list of fine tea available in the drink menu, all freshly brewed at the tea counter near to the entrance. The current selection of Wuyi Oolong with Rose Petals was filled with pleasant floral aroma and the unmistakable slightly roasted flavor.

After the amuse-bouche of crab spring roll and kumquat jelly, the three dishes we ordered came in quick succession. The restaurant has quite a reputation for their barbecued meat prepared in the specialty wood grill viewable from the open kitchen near the entrance, in particular char siu, or the barbecue pork. Two different cuts were available on the menu, the leaner and more tender loin or the traditional pork collar offering more fat. It's a no-brainer what my choice would be (the latter, of course)

One really needed to grab a bite themselves to realise how great that was. There were numerous places serving pretty good char siu in town, but I reckon none compared to this one we had. The meat has perfect balance of fat, giving it a juicy texture without being overly tender and "mushy". It's infused with just the right amount of Chinese rose wine - that and the smoke from the lychee wood smoke during grilling - gave the dish a hint of the enticing aroma. The maltose glaze basted on top added to the subtle sweetness and the caramelized charred crust. This is definitely one of the best versions I have tasted in my memory.

We also found the beef brisket stew outstanding. It's a traditional home-style dish with thick slices of beef brisket slow-cooked and served with chunks of Japanese daikon (white radish) and a clear black pepper-beef broth. I thought it's especially good with the condiment sauces - either the black bean chili sauce or the XO sauce - giving the dish an extra kick.

The poached vegetables in fish broth fell strangely under "Vegetarian Dishes" section. Other than that, there's nothing wrong with the dish. It's baby bok choy served in a deep dish of the "creamy" fish broth, topped with bits of deep-fried grouper fillet and goji berries. It's light but full of flavors, something to contrast to our rich meaty dishes.

We may have run a bit short of time towards the end but that didn't stop us from ordering the steamed sponged cake as dessert, then dashed to the shuttle bus for the ferry pier with half the cake and the elegant petit fours nibbles packed up for us by the staff. Those made perfect snack on our ferry ride home.

More photos on my Flickr album:

When? January 24 2016
Where? Jade Dragon, Level 2, The Shops at The Boulevard, City of Dreams, Macau
Menu Highlights? Jade Dragon Barbecue Pork Collar

(Macau Food Crawl - Part 6)

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