Thursday, June 3, 2021

Five Guys Dinner

I came to eat at Man Ho a few times already this year, but this time our friend KC worked out with Chef Jayson for a customized dinner menu showcasing a few signature dishes plus some that’s off-menu. And we got the private room for the five of us for our “Peanut Group” meetup.

We started with the appetizer trio served together. The char-siu was delicious, with the loin cut having the nice fat balance and roasted with a slightly charred crust and finished with honey glaze on top. I also like the baby cuttlefish marinated in chiu-chow style and stuffed with pickled vegetables for a crunchy bite. The eel dish was one off-menu with strips of freshwater eel folded into a ball and deep-fried with a rich honey-black pepper glaze. I love its savory-sweet taste. 

Our next course of poached egg with chanterelle mushrooms looked like it’s coming from the repertoire of western cuisine, with the soft-poached eggs (there’s a debate at the table whether it’s cooked at 63-degree or 63.5) served with chanterelle mushroom “soup” and topped with scallions, ham and a “potato chip” in the shape of leaf. Not something revolutionary per se but I like the attempt of bringing something new on the menu using simple ingredients. The egg dish was quickly followed by the proper soup course. I greatly enjoyed Chef Jayson’s fish broth in my previous visits, and this time it’s an upgrade to that version, with the same soup base with the richest fish flavor served with picked meat from the fish head, shredded fungus and julienned bean curd strips, all of which added to the texture of the already hearty soup with great flavor to show forth. 

More seafood dishes came our way. The mantis shrimp from local waters was cooked simply with warm oil in the wok. Giving it a delicate texture and served “typhoon shelter” style, showering with crispy garlic and chili on top. Chef Jayson presented his own version of the popular Sichuan Suan Cai Yu (Fish with chilies and pickled vegetables) with a piece of silver pomfret fillet with one-side pan-fried with oil and served with the classic sauce made with fish broth, pickled vegetables and the tongue-tangling Sichuan peppercorns.

We all had our fair share of fish maw dishes before, given the ingredient is considered one of the delicacies in Cantonese cuisine, but I couldn’t recall having this pan-fried like the one we had this time. The large piece, with the slightly crispy crust from the pan-frying was served on top of the sweet and crunchy Lanzhou lily bulb petals in a creamy sauce made with almond and chicken superior broth. It’s so rich that this could be a main course of its own. The sauteed eel was an item ordered specifically for our eel-loving friend G, done similar to the traditional Shanghainese style with chives and bean sprouts but finished with a milder sauce, with sizzling oil poured on top when the dish was presented at the table. Unlike the traditional ones usually overwhelmed by the sweet soy sauce, this one I could actually taste the different layers of flavors from various ingredients. 

Our last two savory dishes were meat courses, first the baked lamb belly seasoned with cumin and black sesame rub. Can’t go wrong with the combination of the gamey meat flavor (with the skin on for the extra texture) with the rich spices. That’s followed by the classic sauteed beef noodles, except this time, chef switched the thin rice noodles with the thick but thinner ones, and used the thick slices of beef chuck for the better taste and texture. It’s often said the skills of a Cantonese chef can be easily judged simply by looking at how one prepared the sauteed beef noodles, and let’s just say this one was a textbook example of one that would get a distinction grade.  

Our wine snob friend P contributed half of our wine flight this time with two older bottles. I love the 30-year-old Alsace Riesling showing good energy with full body and nice structure, slight botrytis taste on the palate and some earthy flavor. Dessert was something of an afterthought this time given the amount of food we had, but I like the pistachio cream served chilled with salted milk foam on top, a play of the popular street drink of “nai gai” (milky cap) with an interesting savory-sweet combo. 

When? May 4 2021
Where? Man Ho Chinese Restaurant, JW Marriott Hong Kong, 88 Queensway, Admiralty
Menu Highlights? Pan-fried Silver Pompfret Fillet with Preserved Vegetables
Vin de France Poulprix Anne et Jean Francois Ganevat NV
2014 Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte Blanc de Blancs
1989 Maison F.E. Trimbach "Cuvée Frédéric Emile" Riesling Vendages Tardives, Alsace, France
1997 Chateau Montelena The Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley, USA

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