Thursday, June 8, 2023

Over the Moon (Again)

"It's actually my birthday today..." Chef Andre shared with us this in a timid manner as he dropped by our table at the beginning of the dinner at Sichuan Moon. Probably not exactly his choice but we are happy to spend the evening with him on this special day - hahaha.  

I met Chef Andre and ate at the restaurant only a couple months ago during my last Macau trip and was very impressed with our dining experience then. So less of a surprise factor this time with a similar menu but I was still blown away by the perfect execution of the team led by him and Chef Wilson Fam in the kitchen.

The warm and soothing pu-erh flower buds tea brewed by water from the snowy mountain of Sichuan awaited as we assembled at the restaurant, which was booked out for the evening for the media tasting arranged by the Wynn PR team. After a quick introduction of the culinary concept and the menu by Chef Andre, we began with the amazing display of pickles done in traditional Sichuan styles using seasonal ingredients. 

A few dishes made a "repeat appearance" from our last time here, including the welcome snack of caviar tart, and the colorful presentation of "Zhong dumpling" 鍾水餃, a deconstructed rendition of a common Sichuan street snack which was still my favorite dish of the night with such complex flavors from the sauces of different colors. The "Ji Dou Hua" 雞豆花 was another one, combining the traditional French classic consomme with the soft Sichuan chicken mousse for the intense chicken flavor and delicate texture.

Then there are a number of dishes that I tried for the first time. Half of the "88 Fortune Treasures" mini courses are new, including the "Red on Red" with pickled chili and gambero rosso, the kegani crab (horsehair crab) open-faced "dumpling" with chili oil 麵筋毛蟹抄手, and Patridge "Chuan Chuan" 鷓鴣串串, with grilled rabbit with cumin chili 炭烤孜然兔肉, all with punchy flavor contrasting well with the main ingredients. 

The Northern-style Mung Bean Jelly was presented in a ceremonious manner, with the thick threads of chewy mung bean jelly carefully cut from a cold bloc and served with thick chicken soup, spicy minced pork sauce and grated bottarga. 

The Abalone Wellington is another east-meets-west dish, with a piece of braised abalone wrapped with spinach and minced shrimp "farce" and baked in a crispy puff pastry crust. I also like the aromatic Sichuan pepper sauce served on the side, giving this a refreshing, tingling flavor. 

"Suan Cai Yu" 酸菜魚 was another signature Sichuan dish having a makeover in Chef Andre's hands. The freshwater bream fish 邊魚 was filleted (with only the belly cut used), boiled then served in a roll in a milky white fish broth with pickles for that sea umami flavor and a touch of acidity. On the side was a quenelle of tapenade with roasted shallots and black olives to the extra flavor. This is certainly a fancier version of what we used to have. Our main meat course was served in the form of chicken wing stuffed with wagyu beef and vegetables, roasted then smoked and served in the Sichuan "Gwai Wei" 怪味汁 sauce which literally meant "weird flavor" in which a number of contrasting flavor was presented for the perfect balance. Weird in a good sense, I suppose. 

Moving onto the dessert courses, I have the repeat of Bing Fen 冰粉 served with Japanese Shizuoka melon juice with the refreshing summer flavor, then the rich beehive cake served with Wuliangye (五糧液 a famous Chinese baijiu liquor from Sichuan made with grains) ice-cream, and the gummy candy on a stick capturing the four different flavors "Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy" in a single bite. 

We were treated quite a fun flight of wine and tea as the evening progressed. The Keller Riesling and the Rioja Blanco pairings were no-brainer to go with the rich and complex Sichuan dishes, but I also liked the sake from a boutique Taiwanese brewery with clean floral note and on the sweet side, balancing the spicy flavor just well. The Golden Tip Zang Tea (金針藏茶) is the traditional Tibetan black tea with leaves and stalks compressed in brick-like shape and fermented - quite similar to the Pu-erh tea but with a lighter, fruity note which worked quite smoothly with food. Two bottles of reds were also served – both full bodied with low tannins, working well with some of the dishes with bolder flavor, including the “Abalone Wellington” and “Beef and Chicken Wing” courses. 

Chef Andre, sorry to have spoiled your birthday celebration a little bit having stuck with us for most of the evening, but we sure had a great time enjoying the food you and your team have prepared. 

(Much) more photos here: 

When? April 27 2023
Where? Sichuan Moon, Wynn Palace, Cotai, Macau
Menu Highlights? Abalone Wellington with Fresh Pepper Sauce 川椒威靈頓鮑魚
2020 Weingut Keller Dalsheimer Hubacker Riesling Grosses Gewachs
2011 R. Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Rioja Reserva Blanco DOCa
2016 Bodega Lanzaga Tabuerniga Rioja DOCa
2013 Domaine du Pegau Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Laurence
2018 Kelin Constantia Vin de Constance, Constantia, South Africa

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