Saturday, January 12, 2019

First dinner of the year

What’s originally planned to be a small group dinner to buzz in the new year of 2019 turned out to be a dinner for 28 people spreading over 2 big tables on January 1 in a restaurant in Shau Kei Wan which we frequented. We came to Kam Tung Tai Restaurant regularly for some casual but well-cooked home-style dishes and were always delighted to share this with our friends, plus being in a much bigger group meant we could try more dishes that we normally would not be able to with just the two of us.

We started dinner a little late so we could keep the tables to ourselves for the rest of the evening. The restaurant specializes in “Tan Ka Cuisine” with focus on seafood and in rustic cooking style. And we began our evening with a pair of threadfin fish, cured overnight with salt and with one steamed in ginger and one pan-fried. I couldn’t quite tell which one I liked more, as both were delicious – the pan-fried one with the crispy skin and flaky meat (and just the right amount of oil), and the steamed one silky and well-seasoned. And I liked having them side by side so we could taste and compare.

The pan-fried meat patty mixed with salted fish is a dish we always order, and it’s good as usual with rich flavor and done with a good crispy crust. The shrimp toast came in good size with fresh shrimp meat mashed and rolled on top of thin bread slices before being deep-fried and served in individual portion. Both were excellent way to start a meal with. The shredded chicken is one of the signature dishes of the restaurant and one most people ordered. The whole chicken was steamed and the meat shredded along with a roast duck leg, then mixed with a sesame oil dressing and served cold. It never disappoints.

A few more seafood dishes came – first the sautéed mud crabs with ginger, scallions and rice rolls, followed by the clams, pork liver and wine. The crabs were flavorful, and the rice rolls underneath just soaked in all the umami flavor, and the combination of fresh manila clams and chopped pork liver sounds strange at first but it totally worked. The dish was cooked right at our table on top of a portable stove. The splash of Chinese wine removed some of the bitterness from the pork liver and added to the taste too, and we ordered a plate of pan-fried rice noodles to soak up the sauce after we finished with the clams.

We love the casserole rice dish they made here, and this time, we went for a slightly bigger portion, using a much bigger pot and inside, it’s fried rice with chunks of lobster, prawns and shrimp paste – the "trinity seafood casserole rice", as it’s described in the menu. Then we also had a regular pot of rice with minced beef and egg, just to cap off the savory courses before a couple desserts of deep-fried water chestnut and traditional Chinese sweet soup.

Went with a few magnums given the big group across 2 tables. Thought both bottles of sake - with totally different characteristics - went well with the seafood dishes, and it’s also good to share a few other choice bottles with friends, and to look back on a blessed year we had in 2018 and look forward to this exciting new year ahead.

When? January 1 2019
Where? Kam Tung Tai Kitchen (金東大小廚), 59-99 Shau Kei Wan Main Street East, Shau Kei Wan, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Sauteed Clams with Pork Liver
Tatsiriki Daiginjo Komenosasayaki Uematsu – Honda Shoten, Hyogo Prefecture
龍力「大吟醸」米のささやき上松 - 兵庫県 本田商店
Kudoki Jozu Bakuren Cho Karakuchi Ginjo - Kamenoi Shuzo, Yamagata Prefecture
くどき上手ばくれん超辛口吟醸生酒 - 山形県 亀の井酒造
2003 Luciano Sandrone “Le Vigne” Barolo DOCG
2015 Domain du Pegau Chateauneuf du Pape AOC
2009 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 Rioja DOCa

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