Friday, December 7, 2018

Cantonese Dinner at Wynn Palace

We made our way to yet another Macau trip this time mainly for a single reason, that is to have dinner at Wing Lei Palace, where Chef Tam Kwok-fung (formerly of Jade Dragon at City of Dreams Macau) has moved across and took the helm at the kitchen there a few months ago. We left office on the dot, hopped on to the Macau-bound ferry and made it to Wynn Palace hotel right on time for our late dinner.

“Wow” was all I could say as we were ushered into the restaurant with the luxuriously bright décor in gold and green color scheme and the floor-to-ceiling window spanning across the side of the dining room overlooking the fountain lake outside. This was undoubtedly the best spot to watch the orchestrated fountain show that went on in the lake regularly every evening – it certainly reminded me of the one at Bellagio Las Vegas.

We had a wonderful meal prepared by Chef Tam a few months ago at his former restaurant, but this time he and Ms S from the Wynn Palace PR team who hosted us assured us that the dishes were going to be different, as chef spent a few months working on his new kitchen and team, and re-designed the whole menu with many new dishes. Well, we shall see…

We began with a trio of appetizers – first the suckling pig with minced shrimps and topped with caviar, then the plum juice pickled tomato with lychee jelly and lastly, a piece of deep-fried oyster served in its shell. Just the other day we had another suckling pig dish served with a twist to the traditional Cantonese version, and here’s another one. It’s an interesting combination of textures, with the crispy suckling pig skin paired with the minced shrimp, which has a bouncy texture, and then the caviar on top added to the rich mineral and umami flavor. The oyster was done exactly the way I expected with the crispy, well-seasoned batter working well with the creamy, plump Fine de Claire oyster. And the piece of tomato was just the perfect palate cleanser in between with a play of sweetness and acidity.

On our printed menu we were asked to choose between the braised fish broth and the hot and sour seafood soup, but at the end Chef Tam decided we should have a taste of both. The braised fish broth with fish maws and vegetables was an upgraded version of the traditional Shunde Fish Soup with the addition of fish maw for the texture along with finely julienned vegetables and mushrooms, and it was rich and comforting.

I was impressed with Chef Tam’s Hot and Sour Soup before and I was amazed that the version we had at Wing Lei Palace was further improved, this time being “more sour” and “less hot”. Chef dropped by to explain to us that three types of vinegar (Zhenjiang black vinegar, Cantonese rice vinegar and Italian aceto balsamico) were used for better balance, and inside the soup, there was the picked crab meat, seared scallops and fish maws, plus a dollop of steamed egg white custard on top. I could live with a spicier kick but overall the dish was brilliant with very complex flavor.

Our main courses was a pair of seafood dishes. First one was the steamed lobster and yellow croaker with 20-year-aged Huadiao wine and egg white. The presentation was sumptuous with both the whole lobster chopped into pieces and the yellow croaker fillet laid side by side on top of the wine-infused egg white custard and a splash of superior broth gravy on top for the rich flavor. And the second one was a stir-fried dish, with chunks of fresh abalones served with leeks and bell peppers. Both were delectable. We paired both dishes with two totally different wines - the lobster with the dry and aromatic daiginjo from Saga Prefecture, then the abalones with the mineral-rich Austrian Gruner Veltliner. They went great with the food in both cases.

Cantonese Roast was considered a specialty of Chef Tam’s kitchen and other than the suckling pig we had as our first course, we also had the roast goose served with a black truffle fried rice and topped with a few slices of white truffles as our final savory course. It’s an interesting combination with the subtle yet distinct aroma from the white truffles first hit the nose as the dish was served, and then it dissipated and the rich aroma from the roast goose and rice took over. And that goes without saying the goose was perfectly roasted with the crispy skin, done in the traditional way above lychee wood fire and with regular basting, and the meat jus went into the fried rice for the rich, gamey taste. And after we did an encore on the roast with a few pieces of char siu (barbecued pork) that we ordered in addition to the menu – I figured it would be a shame leaving the place without a piece of the memorable char siu by Chef Tam.

Four different desserts were served to end our meal with, some more traditional, like the small cup of sweetened lotus seed cream with sago or the baked sago custard with taro paste (my favorite), and some were more of western-style, like the persimmon done 2 ways with it roasted and served as sorbet along with puffed rice.

Glad we have gone out of our way to come for dinner and it didn't disappoint.

(Dinner and the stay at Wynn Palace was by invitation and sponsored by the hotel. More photos can be found in my Flickr album:

When? November 9 2018
Where? Wing Lei Palace, Wynn Palace Macau, Avenida da Nave Despotiva, Cotai, Macau
Menu Highlights? Braised Fish Broth with Fish Maw and Vegetables
Champagne Delamotte Blanc de Blancs Brut NV
Nameshima Daiginjo, Fukuchiyo Shuzo, Saga Prefecture
2015 Schloss Gobelsburg "Ried Renner" Gruner Veltliner, Kamptal Austria
2015 Burn Cottage Vineyard Pinot Noir, Central Otago, New Zealand

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