Sunday, December 25, 2022


Felt like it wasn't that long ago before I last had dinner at Yong Fu but I was there again in mid-December with another group of friends, and this time with an even longer menu and certainly a longer drink list.

And I thought the menu was well-chosen this time with a few new courses that were particularly suitable in winter time. The impressive line-up of starter dishes kicked start our evening. Apart from their signature marinated raw crabs (which was so good that we ordered a second dish right after), this time we also had a second chilled seafood dish of cockles (澆汁寧蚶). The cockles farmed off the coast of East China Sea were at its best during autumn/winter season. They were "slightly cooked" with pouring of hot water over and served on their shells seasoned with "vinaigrette" with yellow rice wine, soy sauce and dark vinegar, plus garlic and scallion brunoise as garnishes. The blood color cockles were full of fresh mineral flavor with the seasonings just highlighted the intensity of the umami taste. 

The beltfish terrine (拖拉網帶魚凍) was another interesting dish making use of one of the famous seafood ingredients from Ningbo region, with the fish broth cooked and cooled into a set terrine texture (because of the natural gelatin present in the fish skin and bones) and served with beltfish fillet on top. A bit of acquired taste and too heavy for me to be honest, but I appreciate the rich flavor with a small slice I managed to try. 

We also learned a new ingredient this time in "Er Cai" (兒菜), or ball mustard. They were quick blanched and served in thick slices. There's a hint of mustard green (since they were relatives to each other) but Er Cai got a crunchier texture and more delicate taste. 

Then we moved on to the hot dishes. The deep-fried Bombay Duck fillets (脆皮水潺) was the dish that won the most praises, with the thick slices of the fish, known for its unique slimy, soft texture battered and deep-fried in oil with dipping sauce served on the side. We joked that the dish could be served at any pub as Fish n Chips anywhere and became an instant classic. They need some explaining to what's inside the soup course as we were not too familiar with the ingredient written as "Wu Lang Xiang" (烏狼鯗which literally means "Black Wolf Fish") - turned out it's dried blowfish which was an indigenous ingredient in Ningbo region. Not much of a taste from the blowfish but the chicken-based soup was rich and hearty. 

I loved the sweet potato starch noodles (豆麵) during my previous visit and this time we got an upgraded version with shirako (cod milt) finished with a soupy sour sauce. The combination of creamy texture of the milt plus the bouncy noodles worked well with the rich and tangy sauce with a hint of fermented vegetables. Later we also ordered a second course of the sweet potato starch noodles in the regular version with clams.

Soft-shell turtle was another winter delicacy we enjoyed this evening with the whole piece braised and served in a “red soup” with a more gravy-like consistency (紅湯甲魚) We thought the “soup” was a tad bit salty but other than that, I like the texture of the meaty soft-shell turtle and the soft collagen-rich “skirt” attached to the meat. The “golden chicken” was a repeat from last time, roasted using the local “Three Yellow Chicken” and served Peking Duck style with the crispy chicken skin and steamed pancakes. To complete the lineup of the hot dishes, we got a few more home-style dishes such as braised assorted fish with more than generous portion, the poached winter bamboo shoots and pickled vegetables, dried pork and potatoes,  and poached seasonal vegetables. 

And we found out that’s not quite all with four more savory dishes that arrived after. I kept saying I was done with Hairy Crabs this season but it seems like the season never ended with yet another one, this time with the sumptuous hairy crab roes done with “tatsoi” (塔菜) and Shanghainese rice cake. The bowl of yellow croaker noodles was comforting with the small yellow croaker fillets soft and tender but with amazing delicate flavor served in a milky-white fish broth with thin noodles and pickled cabbage. Then there were two outstanding dishes that I was having an encore from my visit a few weeks ago – including the rice casserole with Chinese celery and wagyu beef, and the steamed dumplings with shepherd’s purse. And I was more than delighted to find out they finally served their sweet dumpling with a sweet soup as dessert, instead of just hot water infused with osmanthus. The syrupy soup was prepared with jiuniang (sweet fermented rice 酒釀) and candied osmanthus – good on its own, great with the perfectly-made dumplings which I thought was the best in town. 

It’s not wrong to say we overloaded ourselves with wines and alcohol, averaging one bottle per person with some exquisite selection curated by our friend C. Lost track of the sheer amount of different bottles we managed to pour, from a few sakes to a pair of Super Tuscan and finished with a fine sauternes, but a few did stand out. The Myoka Rangyoku Grande Cuvee is still my favorite with this one bottled this year, with nice aroma after decanting for 3 hours prior (with specific instruction from the host to the restaurant on when the bottle be opened and decanted) And this time we had the privilege of doing a horizontal tasting with the special edition Tamayori Gozen Kikyo (玉依御前龜鏡), made using the “sacred water” from Koyasan and aged slightly longer than usual, made by the same brewery as Myoka Rangyoku and as an offering to the Sanboin Temple every year. Of the three bottles of Juyondai sake we had, I liked the bottle of Junmai Muroka Nakadori the most this time, retaining the enticing melon aroma and refreshing flavor. Then the beautiful 1996 Chateau d’Yquem was just the perfect bottle to go with the sweet dumplings, pairing the floral aroma and honey and dried stone fruit on the palate nicely with the osmanthus in the dessert.  

A bit overindulging maybe, but I wouldn’t be complaining if done once in a while. 

Here's more photos in my Flickr album:

When? December 14 2022
Where? Yong Fu, Shop 2 20-24 Lockhart Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Deep-fried Bombay Duck fillets (脆皮水潺)
Juyondai Nakadori Muroka Junmai – Takagi Shuzo, Yamagata Prefecture
十四代 中取り 無濾過 純米酒 - 山形県 高木酒造
Kikuhime Kurogin Daiginjo – Kikuhime Goushigaisha, Ishikawa Prefecture
菊姫黒吟 大吟醸 - 石川県菊姫合資会社
Daishichi Myoka Rangyoku Grande Cuvee Junmai Daiginjo - Daishichi Sake Brewery, Fukoshima Prefecture (Bottled 2022)
大七妙花闌曲グランド・キュヴェ生酛純米大吟釀雫原酒 - 福島県大七酒造
Daishichi Tamayori Gozen Kikyo Junmai Daiginjo Daishichi Sake Brewery, Fukoshima Prefecture (2016BY, Bottled 2022)
大七 玉依御前 亀鏡 生酛純米大吟醸雫原酒
Kamonishiki Brilliance Bizen Yamanishiki Junmai Daiginjo Genshu - Kamonishiki Shuzo, Niigata Prefecture
加茂錦BRILLIANCE 備前山田錦純米大吟醸 - 新潟県 加茂錦酒造
Kokuryu Junmai Daiginjo - Kokuryu Brewery, Fukui Prefecture
黒龍 純米⼤吟醸 福井県黒龍酒造
Mutsuhassen Hassenblage – Hachinohe Shuzo, Aomori Prefecture
八户 Hassenblage青森県八户酒造
Juyondai Nakadori Junmai Daiginjo – Takagi Shuzo, Yamagata Prefecture
十四代 中取り ⼤吟醸- 山形県 高木酒造
Juyondai Chotokusen Banshu Yamadanishiki Junmai Daiginjo
十四代 超特撰 播州山田錦 純米⼤吟醸
2007 Marchesi Antinori "Solaia" Toscana IGT
1996 Chateau d'Yquem, Sauternes


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