Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Boxing Day Lunch

Sometimes going to the same restaurant within a short span meant one gotta end up with some repeated dishes, but “no problem” at The Chairman this time when I went back for lunch 2 weeks after another dinner there. With the new menu system we were able to pick from a list of dishes so I was able to choose something different (mostly) and still got some of their signatures. 

While we do western meal on Chinese New Year to avoid the crowd, it makes perfect sense to do Chinese during Christmas season, and this time, on Boxing Day with a few friends at this restaurant known to be impossible to book. And yes, I went through the normal channel of sitting in front of the computer at 9am sharp on the first day when the reservation opens up and got the booking, so there’s sweat and toil that went into it. 

I really like their dining room during the day-time, with light beaming from outside through the window giving the place a warm and fuzzy feel (and perfect for pictures too – that’s also very important these days). Nine dishes were picked ahead of time with all but two being different than my last visit. We began with the deep-fried crab meat and mushroom dumplings – still solid after all these years, served with the sweet vinaigrette on the side. The freshwater crab roes must be one of the best I had here, in sumptuous quantity and salivating bright orange color loaded with umami flavor, served on top of the braised pomelo skin and winter melon, both taken up all the flavor from the superior broth and crab roes. Of course, one really can’t leave the place without the thick-cut char siu, and I felt the slab has been roasted fresh and brought to the table almost immediately – tender, juicy with the perfect crust and glaze. 

Then it’s the steamed flower crab with Shaoxing wine that needs no introduction, with the flat rice noodles soaking up the flavor from the sauce. The rice porridge cooked with fish broth and shrimp roes was comforting with the slices of geoduck clams lovely cooked with a bit of a bite and plenty of umami flavor. 

A bit mystified that we ended up with only half a goose for the six of us, but the bird was nicely done with plenty of smoky flavor. An unfortunate mishap in the rice casserole dish (with dried fish and smoked threadfin) meant they sent us a second starch dish of “three prawn” fried rice which I haven’t had for a while. Both were delicious and definitely up to par. 

Three wines opened and consumed over a casual meal, all Bordeaux. And all opened at just the perfect time. A bit irritated that they seem to grow into the habit of serving dishes out of order as they please – while sometimes this could be forgivable if the dishes required longer preparation or cooking, or that we arrived late or the restaurant was unexpectedly busy – but certainly not the case here. Hope it’s not complacency that got to them. Anyway, short of being spectacular if I have to be honest, but definitely a solid meal this time. 

More photos here:

When? December 26 2022
Where? The Chairman, 3rd Floor, The Wellington , 198 Wellington Street, Central
Menu Highlights? Steamed Flower Crab with Shaoxing Wine, Chicken Oil and Flat Rice Noodles
2000 Chateau Laforge St Emilion Grand Cru
2008 Cos d’Estournel St Estephe
2016 Blanc de Lynch-Bages Chateau Lync-Bages Pauillac

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