Tuesday, November 24, 2020

What's Said In The Room

There’s never lack of interesting topics going round the table when this group of friends got together for a meal, this time at Duddell’s to check out Chef Li Man-lung’s new seasonal menu one evening. The private room right next to the dining area provided just the perfect setting, starting with a round of pre-meal drinks before moving onto the long, customized 10-course menu. 

We started with the seasonal hairy crab dishes presented as appetizers. The Xiaolongbao with hairy crab roes was large, served inside a neat bamboo basket, and inside the thin dumpling skin was the soft pork meatballs mixed with the decadent hairy crab roes. Next to it was another crab dish, this time, the bowlful of crab roes served with a crispy rice “cone” – what we did is to carefully spoon everything onto the cone and ate with a generous splash of dark vinegar on the side. Both were rich but in the right portion. 

The whole duckling was brought in and carved at table-side. The 20-day-old bird was done in the traditional pei pa-style, marinated then hung dry before being roasted upright to crisp up the skin. It’s surprisingly meaty with good balance of fat, and I love the sesame sauce served alongside bringing out the best of the flavor with a touch of chili oil. Another crab dish was next – with the piece of Hokkaido scallop pan-fried and served on the bed of the crab sauce made of crab roes and egg white. 

And just as we finished, the salt-baked chicken was brought over in an earthenware casserole and “unearthed” from the pile of salt that the chicken was cooked under. I like the chicken being tender and juicy, but I actually like the rice that’s mixed with the chicken giblets and served in the casserole more. The rich flavor from the giblets matched well with the slightly crisped rice with chicken oil splashed in. Another course that I liked that evening was the traditional-style fish soup, cooked with spotted garoupa and finished with preserved egg and coriander – it’s rich and comforting. 

Towards the end of the meal, we went for the unconventional dessert combo, with the milk pudding with sweet ginger syrup resembling a panna cotta served in a stemmed glass, plus the freshly-baked egg tart on the side. Both were excellent. We got an unusual choice of wine too, this time a Chardonnay from Xinjiang’s Gobi Desert in the northern China. Some citrus acidity with a good deal of minerals – not bad for the everyday drinking kind of wine. 

There were more than just food and drink that went around the table, but then what's said in the room stayed in the room. 

(Meal was by invitation. More photos can be found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/g4gary/albums/72157716938317998

When? November 16 2020
Where? Duddell's, Level 3-4, 1 Duddell Street, Central
Menu Highlights? Roast Suckling Duck
Drinks? 2017 Tiansai Skyline of Gobi Reserve Chardonnay, Yanxi, Xianjiang, China

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