Saturday, December 31, 2022

Some Celebration

Sun Hon Kee in Fanling was often touted as the hidden gem in the New Territories, partly because of its distant location to most of us, but this time, not only our friend P helped to make a booking for dinner at the restaurant and pre-ordered some of the dishes, she even chartered a tour bus to take us in directly from town one Friday evening. 

I don’t remember when our last visit was but definitely before they moved to the current location on the ground floor of an apartment complex in Luen Wo Hui, one of the neighborhoods in Fanling. Many have sung praises to Chef Hon’s seafood dishes including Cantonese steamed fish or crabs, but for me, it’s always the traditional Hakka dishes that were the most impressive. We got to the restaurant slightly late – being held back by traffic on a rainy night – so we settled quickly and let Chef Hon took care of the menu for our group of 12 while the wine bottles were chilled and opened. 

The dishes just kept coming along without any specific order, and they were excellent. The young cucumber was interesting, sauteed with the blossom (like zuchini flower) and I like the nice crunchy texture. Beef brisket was sliced with the deckle attached and done with the chili oil – remind me of the Sichuan style but slightly less spicy.

Pork is the key ingredient in any Hakka cooking, and we has a few of those. Pork tendon is such a simple dish but one of the restaurant’s signature – just poached and served with the dipping sauce but this alone was worth the detour for. The tendons were tender with bouncy bite and got this mild but meaty flavor. The pork ribs were done with shrimp paste for the nice pungent flavor. Normally I am not a fan of pork intestines, but this one was very enjoyable sauteed “Three Cup” style in Thai basil, sesame oil, soy sauce and rice wine (“three cup” each, hence the name) Cuttlefish and pork stew was another delicious dish – the ingredient combination may sound a bit random but it’s common in both Shanghainese and Hakka cuisines for this "surf n turf" mix. The pork was not as fatty as I expected but nonetheless infused with the nice flavor of sweet soy sauce and oyster sauce in the stew. Later we ordered yet another pork dish with the classic sweet and sour pork. 

Cuttlefish balls were another popular dish at the restaurant, made in-house, poached and served with vegetables and soy sauce. They were good, but I liked the deep-fried version better with the patty of mashed cuttlefish coated with batter and fried for the nice bouncy texture. We did manage a few seafood dishes – including razor clams, crab, prawns and marble goby fish (筍殼魚) - and they were all decent. The sauteed baby squid was the one that stood out with nice flavor and fresh and tender squid cooked whole. Deep-fried Oysters was another dish I love, done with a “fluffy” batter and came in very decent size. 

We kept asking for more food to go with our wines so they brought out the noodles with goose web. The egg noodles were tossed with goose fat and shrimp roes so they were extra delicious and smooth. We also got to try the steamed duck liver sausage which was not listed on the menu but came right at this time of year when the winter northward wind started. The complimentary dessert was enjoyable too, with the mashed sweet potato puff served hot and coated with sesame with the soft texture inside. Another dessert was the birthday cake we brought in. 

Went “light” with wines this time with less than a bottle per person – I blame it on we started to eat and drink late. The fancy bottle of Dom Perignon (Lady Gaga Edition) kicked off the evening of celebration, with the wine approaching its prime with bright citrus notes and nice acidity. The Barolo was the one I brought, knowing it will go well with the pork dishes and it did. Not as full-bodied as I anticipated with the 17-year-old Barolo Cannubi Boschis but I like the smooth tannins and good black cherry, plum and a hint of wood at the back. The Ulysses was well-decanted before we took our first sip on that - full on with plenty of red fruits and some hint of  tobacco and I love the gripping tannins. Always like the South African Vin de Constance so I was happy to end our night with a sip of this sweet wine with a nice perfume-like aroma and ripe stone fruits on the palate.

When? December 16 2022
Where? Sun Hon Kee, Shop G01 Commune Modern, 28 Wo Fung Street, Luen Wo Hui, Fanling
Menu Highlights? Poached Pork Tendon (白烚豬前腿筋)
Champagne Billecart Salmon Brut Nature NV
2010 Champagne Dom Perignon (Lady Gaga Edition)
2016 Domaine du Cellier aux Moines Clos du Cellier aux Moines Givry Premier Cru
Kokuryu "Shizuku" Daiginjo, Kokuryo Shuzo, Fukui Prefecture
黒龍 しずく ⼤吟醸 - 福井県黒龍酒造
2005 Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape (en Magnum)
2017 Ulysses Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2005 Luciano Sandrone Barolo Cannubi Boschis "Sibi Et Paucis"
2007 Klein Constantia Vin de Constance, Constantia, South Africa

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