Sunday, December 20, 2020

The Peanut Gang Gathering

We finally managed to eat at Renren Heping Restaurant for our regular "Peanuts Gang" meetup a few weeks ago, after our original plan kept slipping because of typhoon and the everchanging COVID government rules. The restaurant is one of those places I frequented - at least once every 2 weeks I swear - but with a slightly bigger group this time and someone else taking care of the menu, I managed to check out a few new dishes with a few bottles to go along with.

This restaurant in the quiet neighborhood of North Point has slowly garnered the reputation with their well-executed homestyle Cantonese dishes. Particularly, I think they had one of the best roast goose in town, done in-house, carved a la minute and served warm with the marinated meat-jus and sweet and sour dipping sauce served on the side. The skin was thin and crisp but not over-dry, and the meat has the perfect balance of fat. Char Siu was another excellent dish from their roast kitchen with either their regular version or premium version made using Iberico pork shoulder. Both served in thick cut with honey glaze on top with the slightly charred crust and I love the candied soybeans served on the side as well. 

“Gold Coin Chicken” was another signature dish here and need to be pre-ordered. Not many places got this on the menu these days and it’s served in no holds barred fashion, using the fattiest pork and thickest piece of chicken liver on top of a piece of wo-ba (crispy rice puff). I prefer the more traditional version of using the soft steamed bun instead but with this cholesterol bomb, I ain’t that picky and thought this is outstanding. Plus I like the touch of a piece of pickled ginger on top for balance of flavor. Shrimp Toast was another nostalgic dish they have, with the mashed shrimp paste stuffed on top of a piece of bread and deep-fried. Served straight away hot from the deep-fryer for another decadent bite. 

Normally I am not a fan of lamb/mutton dishes but I did dig into the seasonal braised mutton brisket casserole dish and enjoyed it very much. The brisket was tender with a mildly gamey flavor and the right amount of fat, and it’s served with fresh tofu skin, garland chrysanthemum leaves and water chestnuts in the bubbling casserole. 

Soup was served in individual portion having double-boiled for a few hours to release the flavor. The soup, prepared with pork and chicken as base, along with other ingredients such as Agarius mushrooms (姬松茸) and abalones, was said to help reinforce the digestive and immune system. Medicinal values aside, I love the soothing and delicate flavor, with the abalones done soft with a bouncy bite. 

We finished with another signature dish of theirs, the goose fried rice served in the earthenware casserole. Unlike the traditional fried rice done with eggs and meat and finished in the wok, this has more the texture of a risotto, prepared with the meat jus from the roast goose and mixed with bits of goose meat from the loose cut. The rice took in all the rich flavor from the oil dripping from the goose and we got the extra pieces of goose liver sausage served on the side as something off-menu for the double whammy of goose flavor too. 

Went through a few bottles for the evening. Of the pair of natural wines from Domaine Ganevat, I like the Poulprix slightly more this time, with the mild earthy nose (which faded a little after opening for a while) played along well with the mutton casserole. Medium bodied, low tannins, some strawberries with the surprisingly controlled acidity. 

Not as much gossip as we normally got – probably because we went with a smaller group and didn’t have quite enough wines - but still, plenty of great food and drinks, as we always do. 

When? November 24 2020
Where? Renren Heping Restaurant, 8 Fort Street, North Point, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Roast Whole Goose 
Champagne Boizel Brut Reserve NV
2018 Anne et Jean-Francois Ganevat Poulprix
2018 Anne et Jean-Francois Ganevat De Toute Beaute

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