Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Dinner at Yong Fu

I had a chance to visit Yong Fu for dinner about a month ago to check out their latest menu. Since our last visit (over at lunch back in January this year), they have made some subtle changes including trimming down the menu, introducing some new dishes with seasonal ingredients, and even with a new set of uniform for their staff. 

And overall I enjoyed this dinner as much as I did last time, and with more people in the group this time around, we managed to try more dishes too. We began with their signature marinated swimming crabs, served raw after flash-frozen and cured with Chinese rice wine with mashed ginger and coriander garnishes. The swimming crab, 梭子蟹 in Chinese, is a Ningbo specialty ingredient caught off the near-coast waters, and each bite was filled with the creamy and umami-rich crab roes on top. 

A few cold appetizers were then served in quick succession. Surprisingly my favorite was a few meatless dishes including the pickled cauliflower stems (crunchy and arranged nicely on a small plate), shredded spicy celtuce cut into thin threads, and the sauteed wheat gluten done in the most traditional manner with the right amount of soy sauce flavor. The hot dishes came next, starting with the hearty bowl of Yellow Croaker soup in bright orange color with a touch of acidity from the tomatoes and vinegar that went into the soup base. The "sturgeon tendon" was amazing, with the piece coming from the back soft bone of a giant sturgeon fish coated the fluffy batter and deep-fried with a touch of pepper paste on top. I love the bouncy texture. The whole silver pomfret was done in the traditional Ningbo style with braised preserved vegetables and bamboo shoots – if I am being totally honest, I very much prefer fish done in Cantonese style of steaming with ginger and scallions and  splash of oil and soy sauce. 

The crispy chicken is one of the new dish on the menu (and required pre-ordering). The whole “Three Yellow Chicken” (coming from local farm) was fried in oil until the skin was crisped and meat cooked through; it was then caved in “Peking Duck” style, first with the skin, then the meat shredded by hand, served with sauces and garnishes on the side. The skin was perfectly done, delicately crisp and the meat was tender and juicy – think of this as a combination of Cantonese crispy chicken and Northern-style Peking Duck. Our second crab dish was another new course inspired by local flavor, with mud crabs sauteed with bamboo shoots and pickled mustard cabbage. The mud crab was of bigger size than the one we had earlier. It’s meatier and has a much richer flavor with the dried mustard cabbage on top. 

After the beef dish (sauteed with braised white radishes which I enjoyed even more than the meat), we had another soupy stew, this time a tofu stew with French “black trumpet mushrooms”, ham, and seafood with an octopus soup served in a large casserole. The tofu came with a hint of aged, fermented flavor and worked well with the earthy mushrooms. After that it’s another signature dish of theirs called “捨得” (which roughly meant “willing to give up”). Only the best, most tender part of the Shanghainese bok choy was kept to create this dish after sauteing in oil – hence the name. 

The rice course with Chinese celery and beef reminded me of Japanese Kamameshi, with all ingredients cooked in a earthenware casserole and the rice absorbing all the flavor. The homemade dumplings looked simple but perfectly done, with the filling of seasonal Shepherd's Purse 薺菜. Same can be said of the sweet dumpling which was one of our dessert courses, with the delicate, slightly bouncy glutinous rice dumpling with sesame filling and a hint of osmanthus. 

The meal was by invitation. More photos here: 

When? October 24 2022
Where? Yong Fu, Shop 2 20-24 Lockhart Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Swimming Crabs with Mashed Ginger and Coriander
Drinks? 2018 Domaine Louis Latour Marsannay Blanc

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