Mission: To respond thoughtfully and responsibly to my experiences of drinking and dining at restaurants with regard to the quality, service, preparation, presentation and overall experience received thereat. The standpoint is one who respects the crafts of the chef and sommelier and who seeks to understand their choices in the kitchen and cellar and grow in knowledge. In this, I will seek to be fair, reasoned, direct and constructive and aim to keep my ego in check on our mutual journeys through the worlds of food and wine.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Tasty Cantonese Creations - IWFS Noble Mansion July 2013

Wines waiting to get uncorked
Umnnnngg  fuzzy head. Bleugh. Where's the plinkplink fizz when you need it?

Belter of a night with the IWFS last night. Everyone seemed in the mood to party and whoooo, that was what everyone seemed to do.

The Noble Mansion is the latest addition to the Oriental Group of Restaurants. Opened in January 2013, Noble Mansion showcases the latest creations of Executive Chef Justin Hor. As the name suggests, the restaurant is a modern interpretation of a Chinese traditional mansion. It is divided into a number of sections: The Lantern, The Bamboo Courtyard, The Terracota Rooms and The Grand Hall.

The Cuisine of Noble Mansion is inspired by that found in the renowned food province of Shunde in Guangzhou, China.  Shunde cuisine has a reputation for being regarded as providing the foundation for fine Cantonese cuisine. While the cuisine of Guangzhou has been Traditionally very minimalist in its use of flavors and seasoning, Shunde cuisine is noted for being generous in the delicate sweet side of things, using ingredients like tangerine peel and dates. Though occasionaly rustic and homely in appearance, these belie the preparation and expertise of chefs creating dishes that offer pleasant and delicate blends of texture and taste.

Let's raise a glass...
I seem to have got lumbered with organising the event.  A stab at a committee tasting died with only myself and Lenglui meeting with restaurant manager Jason and finalising the menu with the budget I was given. Possible matching wines within the drinking window at the IWFS Cellar all seemed to be French and quite attractive, so that  sorted itself. 

Always a bit apprehensive with organising a Chinese cuisine dinner for the members. They don't usually get too much support. Still, the Noble Mansion was a new place in a part of town generally free from traffic jams and with easy parking so it offered potential. And not a bad turnout at the end with 42 stumping up the RM250. 

Notwithstanding a couple of service hiccups at the start with staff feeling a bit uncertain as to how to serve the wines (and getting pressganged into serving food as well - a bit overworked they were) there did not seem to be too many complaints about anything. Well, except for the fact that more wine was wanted than was available. Both the whites got downed at a scarily rapid rate ahead of the food coming out. Equally, the burgundy barely survived to get matched with the duck. The Bordeaux appeared to have an easier time of things, with the assembled having seemingly become more civlised in their drinking by this time. 

Oops - forgot to photo... remains of the Crab
Lots of good comments about the food, with the starter Crab and Asparagus and the Razorclam coming in for very special mention. The starter was indeed quite delightful - crab meat with a crunchy cucumber and what felt like an asparagus pate. The whole was a sourish bracing freshness around the mouth with the crab offering the soft sweetmeat to complement. The pairing Aligote had good spice and clean balance with a slight pepper mouth. Remniscent of a Gewurtz withouth the lychee and sugar. Nice and clean and a shade oily but good oily rather than kerosene you occasionally get with fierce Sauvignon Blanc and the cheap stuff. The prawn was big and fresh, though maybe slightly overcooked, and as said the Razorclam was stellar - garlic and glass noodle and clam in vinegar sauce had the table in paroxysms of tongue tickling ecstacy. Indeed, it was tasty and long in finish with afternotes still being tasted way after the plates got cleared. It paired nicely with the Chablis, though it soared with the Aligote - the oil cutting through the chewy meat and the spice giving the garlic and vinegar a good run for the tasting money. On its own, the Chablis was massive - complex, smoky butterscotch with a long clean finish.

The Fresh Prawn
The Garoupa had been cut into pieces and deep fried in a batter that tasted of soft melon and lemons - sweet but not overpoweringly so with the result being crisp tasty morsels of sweet well cooked fish. We guess the Yin Yang was the crisp outside with the soft inside. A bit gwailo maybe (ie one for the white folks rather than the traditional purist Oriental foodie) but tasty nonetheless. Lovely with the Chablis as one would expect. 

The magnificent Razorclam in Garlic
The beancurd was….   beancurd. I mean, it's all texture and pretty tasteless, though the chef had a decent go with it, searing it in some peppery fat and serving it with a softer and less gooey sauce than is traditionally served with the beancurd. Lenglui liked this. Killed the Burgundy so I didn't eat too much of it on principle - nothing should get in the way of magnificent wine. 

Pairing of the night was the Duck with the Ile des Vergellesses. The Vergelless was initially a shade fierce but opened out in the glass after its temperature got raised to room. It had a clean, glass like sheen on the throat and layers - lots and lots of layers so soft that they created so much depth. I seemed to be the only one who thought the duck was champion. Notwithstanding its hacked appearance, it was so tasty - crisp smoky skin with good lemon salt and great textured meat. As said, brilliant with the Burgundy. 

Yin Yang Garoupa
The rice was fair and offered good carbo for the Bordeaux. I missed the coconut, preferring to quaff. There were five bottles of fizz that were left over from the start so it was decided to crack them to end the night. Also, no one really wanted to take any bottles back to the store. So. It's a fizzy fuzzy that the brain is labouring under at this time of first writing. The more sober reflection suggests next time we crack them at the start to save the white wine from getting guzzled. We live and learn. 

In all, a most successful evening of good food and lovely wines being enjoyed by members clearly in the mood to party. It was good that none of the dishes was bad, though perhaps the purists might say that none of them was particularly spectacular. The Shunde inspired cuisine certainly contrasted with traditional Cantonese styles, being way more delicate in content than more usual offerings. The Governor and The Boss clearly had a good night, telling all and sundry what a wonderful time they were having. Indeed, it was surprisingly successful - some lovely individual dishes and wines and some delightful pairings. The room favourite by vote was the L'Estang, being quite nicely approachable and a good quaffer. The Chablis got my vote - complex, full, chewy and a lovely lingering finish. And the Pinot was belter. Definitely a good night had by pretty much all. And I managed to get my Elvis on. Such a slut for the microphone and karaoke...
Emptying the Bottles
Text and photos Brian McIntyre
Additional photos kind courtesy Jeff Walmsley


Andrew Peace Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot 2011

1st Course
White Asparagus with White Truffle Oil and Crab Meat
2009 Domaine Taupenot Merme Bourgogne Aligote

2nd Course
Steamed Fresh Water Prawns
2009 Domaine Taupenot Merme Bourgogne Aligote

Course Three
Steamed Razorclam with garlic
2007 Domaine William Fevre Fourchaume, Chablis 1er Cru

Course Four
Yin Yang Star Garoupa
2007 Domaine William Fevre Fourchaume, Chablis 1er Cru

Course Five
Braised Beancurd with Spinach
2005 Pernand-Vergelesses Premier Cru Ile des Vergelesses

Course Six
Roasted Duck
2005 Pernand-Vergelesses Premier Cru Ile des Vergelesses

Course Seven
Fried Rice With Dried Scallop, Crab Meat and Egg White
2005 Chateau De L'Estang Cotes De Castillion

Course Eight
Summer Breeze Coconut Jelly.
2005 Chateau De L'Estang Cotes De Castillion

Table A
Table B

Table C
Table D  
Prakash, Yin How and Zul
Brian, Paul, Song and Edna
Dr Rajan, Dr Bachan and Ong Li Dong
Dr Stephen, Dr Rajan and See Cheng Siang

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