Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Monday Night at The Chairman

I felt like this is becoming our routine monthly dinner gathering of sorts when we returned to The Chairman for dinner on a Monday night. With the skyrocketing popularity at the heel of the restaurant’s Michelin and Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant success (plus the strict rules related to COVID) such routine is getting more and more difficult and few and far between.

Yet we continue to do this while we can. With 12 people in our party this time that means we had to take up 3 separate tables of 4 each on one side of the dining area upstairs, with a 9-course menu that we arranged ahead of time plus one dish we ordered in the middle of our meal. No complaint about our starter dishes of pickled ginger root and deep-fried crab and mushroom dumplings, both as good as we had before. The flat deep-fried dumpling was delivered straight from the kitchen so they were piping hot with the perfect crispy wrapper skin, and the dipping sauce (with vinegar and fish sauce) was salivating. 

We ordered the stinky tofu from their a la carte menu so they were presented in a larger portion, and I love the soft texture from the bigger blob of over-fermented tofu mixed with bits of salted fish before it’s battered and deep-fried. Not the most pungent one I have tried but it has nice flavor. I loved the pig tail dish we had a few months back, and I felt they have subtly improved in this version, with a juicier texture and a more balanced soy and plum glaze. 

The BBQ Lamb Char Siu was the dish I most anticipated this time, since this was one of the two new dishes we tried for the first time. It bore just slight resemblance to the more traditional version made with pork, with a charred crust and a tint of red color (from the red tofu marinate) but rather than using the fatty, tender cut, they opted for the more chewy tendon area giving this more of a bite. At first I was curious how the gamey flavor from the lamb will crash with the rich char-siu marinate, but turned out I like the chemistry between the two. Didn’t make sense to draw head-to-head comparison between the two but I enjoyed eating the lamb version. 

The two seafood courses were great. The razor clam came in good size though I thought it was a tad bit overcooked this time, but I love the addition of bits of aged salted lemon zest giving a hint of acidity. And of course there was the steamed flower crab with shao xing wine, which we finished the whole portion in no time – that and every bit of the sauce which we fought over among us for the last drop. 

We specifically requested the wood-smoked goose this time since it’s been a few months since we last had. I thought this one was a bit fat, which I love, and every bite was full of flavor from that of the goose itself and of the wood fire and smoke.

The steamed sticky rice was another new dish we had just as we finished up. It’s of the perfect texture, soft but not mushy, cooked in the lotus leaf wrap and picked crab meat, baby freshwater crab roes and dried baby Sakura shrimps provided the triple dose of umami flavor. It’s a pity I couldn’t finish my portion of rice and had to pack some home. And to finish, the dessert trio plus the birthday cake we brought in. 

Went light on wines this time given it’s a weeknight. Started with a Blanc de Noir from a new grower champagne house – dry, rich and creamy. We quickly followed by another white – from Bordeaux this time. Almost as full as the champagne but more on the exotic fruits and minerality which I thought went perfectly well with Cantonese seafood dishes. And a pair of Italian red (Barolo and Super Tuscan) completed our flight, with port and whisky as digestif. 

More photos here:

When? May 24 2021
Where? The Chairman, 18 Kau U Fong, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Soya sauce slow-cooked pork tail with Plum Sauce
Champagne Clandestin “Les Semblades” Brut Nature (R16, disgorged 2018)
2017 Ygrec by Chateau d’Yquem, Bordeaux AOC
2009 G.B. Burlotto “Acclivi” Barolo DOCG
2016 Tenuta San Guido “Guidalberto” Toscana IGT
1970 Taylor’s Very Old Single Harvest Port

No comments :