Sunday, January 20, 2019

Solid Choice for Canto Food

We never need a reason to eat out well, but of course, it helped when our friends J and D asked us to join their family for dinner at The Chairman a couple of weeks ago. The place is always a solid choice for some classic Cantonese dishes and this time I was tasked to sort out the menu for the 8 of us.

Given it’s our friends' first visit to the restaurant, this time we stayed with some of the signature dishes that made the restaurant so famous and popular since its opening a few years ago. We began with a couple deep-fried appetizers – the crispy taro “cake” with smoked duck was similar to the dimsum dish of “woo gok” (芋角) with the fluffy, crispy crust and served with dark vinegar on the side, while the crab-meat and mushroom dumplings were in thin patty shape with the delicate crab meat inside thin coat of batter than deep-fried in oil and served with a lighter white vinegar. Both were excellent. The cold starter dish of halved century egg topped with pickled young ginger root was one of the best I had anywhere with the soft egg yolk matched well with the slightly acidic and refreshing slices of young ginger root – only available during summer time and pickled with vinegar and sugar (and then kept in a jar until ready to serve)

No sane mind would leave this restaurant without ordering the steamed flower crab, and we were lucky that they had one in pretty good size on the night of our visit. The 1-kg crab was just perfect for our group and the meat inside the claws tasted heavenly having steamed with a generous splash of Chinese Shaoxing wine and chicken oil. Of course, the best part was the flat rice noodles sat underneath the crab which soaked in all the flavor from the steaming liquid and the umami taste from the crab. So good that we ordered an extra bowl of rice to mix in and ate like a risotto of sorts.

We asked for recommendations for a chicken dish from the wait-staff and he suggested the baked chicken with caramelized shallots and onions. Love the thick fatty skin of the chicken baked to golden color which went well with the tender meat underneath and the chopped shallots and green onions on top. I am normally not a lamb person, but thought the lamb belly was another excellent dish one shouldn’t miss – little chunks of fatty and gamey lamb belly was deep-fried and served lukewarm with a mix of shaven cucumbers, onions, shallots and garlic with a generous drizzle of vinaigrette dressing. Almost like a warm salad and it was salivating with punchy flavor.

The steamed Chinese mustard green with pickled vegetables looked like a simple home-style dish, but here, only the most tender bits of the vegetable stalks were used for the best, crunchy texture, along with the pickled vegetables giving that the rich flavor. And we finished with the Fried Rice with Prawns Trio – fresh prawns, dried prawns and shrimp paste – with bits of vegetables. Again, through common dishes like this one could clearly see the difference cooking skills made, and this is the textbook example of a perfectly done fried rice, with just the right amount of oil and well-balanced seasonings.

There’s always a choice of unconventional (ice-cream) or conventional desserts, which is the sweet almond soup, and I went for the former as I usually did. And the small bowl of osmanthus and goji berry ice-cream was great as I remembered. Went easy on wines for the night (after all it's a weeknight and we all had to work the next day) and had a couple of bottles. The champagne was fine with good acidity, more floral than yeasty with apples and pears on the palate. And good to know the bottle of 2010 Brunello is approaching its prime with concentrated red fruits on the palate followed by some spice notes and a long and rich finish that lingered nicely.

More photos:

When? January 7 2019
Where? The Chairman, 18 Kau U Fong, Central, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Steamed Flower Crabs with Chinese Shaoxing wine and fragrant chicken oil
Champagne Henriot Brut Souverain NV
2010 San Filippo "Le Lucere" Brunello di Montalcino DOCG

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