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, June 15, 2015

Extra Super Tanker - extra darn good!!

Quick report on a dinner we had at the Supertanker on Sunday 14th June (or the Extra Super Tanker Restaurant to give its full name). One of our serious wine afficionado friends had been inviting Lenglui and I over muliple occacions to come and drink his wine at some tasty restaurant but the scheduling fates had been continually against us. Holidays and other dinners seemed to have a way of getting in the, er, way. Finally the schedules aligned and so it was that nine of ended up at the Supertanker in Damansara Kim. Four and a half fairly serious winers, the others happy with a glass or two to taste. One of the group arrived forty minutes late, claiming that dinner was 7.30pm. Whatsapp proved that 7pm was correct. We said nothing, having arrived at 7.20pm though we did text ahead to say we were delayed. 

Supertanker interior - pic from their website
This is about the third time I have been to the Supertanker in Damansara. It has been operating since 2004 and now has two outlets, the other being located in a club in Bandar Utama (where I have attended a couple of big wedding banquets - food was fair, and reasonably well praised by table guests, though it is unfair to try and judge quality when the kitchen is just getting food through the doors to feed the masses). For my first time at the Damansara outlet, I remember it had tried a bit too hard to impress with a fusion style Chinese menu as requested of Chef by a birthday boy. This didn't quite come off for me, though I do remember guzzling bottles of tasty white and Chateau Soleil magnums. Second time was more traditional Chinese fare which I can't quite remember much about. Don't seem to have written about it. This third time would prove to be the charm - total memory of brilliant food, wines and people around a table and having a rare old time of things. We need to savour these moments when we can get together with friends and laugh and joke and sing and leave at the end of it with a lighter heart and a full belly. I feel we sometimes take it all so much for granted that we have the means and the faculties to do these things. And that is a mistake - many out there cannot even dream of the lives we live and experience, and for me I try to relish and extract the entire atomic essence of each and every moment and squeeze it, savour it, sip it, suck it, guzzle and chew and swallow it. Breathe and live every moment of lightness and love with whom or whatever it is that brings joy to this life. It could all end tomorrow, even more so as the years rack up. 

Supertanker interior - pic from website
But I digress. Winewise, we had a Leth 2014 Gruner Veltliner that we had brought back from our Austria trip, and a Giesen August Brothers 1888 Sauvignon Blanc 2011 from New Zealand. We started with the Leth, which proved a delightful aperitif being all light honey and peach pear and crisp finish. Light, crisp but with enough heft to tickle the palate interest, it proved a hit all around the table. Well tasty wine.

Sad thing was I didn't get to try it with the food, which proved a lot late in getting to the table. We had fully whacked the bottle, though I seemed to be the only one with no Leth - the others clearly possess much more self discipline. I have a weakness for crisp tasty wine. Our host was getting animated and following a "get up from the table and verbal whack the captain" it all came at once - the fish, the duck, the omelete, with the ribs and taufoo only five minutes behind. 

It would prove worth the wait - the brother of new friend TB at the table (ex TV producer, great stories about Formula One at Monte Carlo) had bought a 2.5kg Ikan Kelah that morning in Pahang and had delivered it to TB earlier in the day, presumably driving all the way. Our friend had kept it alive all day before emptying the tank and wrapping Ikan in an old T-Shirt for delivery to the restaurant kitchen for cleaning and steaming by Chef and his team.

Known as the "King" of the river, and "Emperau" in Sarawak (where it is also apparently the National Fish), Ikan Kelah remains THE top fish that all anglers want to catch. Having the capacity to grow as large as a human being, it can fetch up to RM800 to RM1,200 per kilo live weight. It is also known as the Malaysian Mahseer and the Greater Brook Carp. The fish has proven difficult to breed and farm due to an apparent inability to find the right diet for it to thrive in captivity. In the fast and clean rivers that are its natural habitat, Ikan Kelah can happily feed on both river fruits and shelled fish that it comes across on the river bed. No one has yet been able to replicate this. In the wild, it is both elusive and increasingly scarce as a result of deforestation and environmental degradation. In this, Sarawak and Sabah have implemented a system (known as "Tagal") where the villagers themselves guard and protect these fish and their rivers. As a result, the fish population has recovered.

The Ikan Kelah - wicked tasty
So we were pretty privileged to be having this freshwater finback. It was seriously priced and totally delightful  - all fish oil, firm flakes of solid fish meat, leaning toward the gooey but a wonderful mouthful of blissful taste. Full fish without being fishy, hugely dripping with omega three; a voluptuous, sweet, oily mess of meat. Nowhere near as light as a Soon Hock, it proved a change from the normal style of fish to which Lenglui is used. But I enjoyed it hugely. A sweet salt gungey suck for the most part and slipping down so smoothly. Little bit of soy and cilantro and we were done. Good job from the kitchen.

We also had Iberico pork ribs which were equally outstanding - with just a simple rub of salt and pepper and oil and probably slow roasted for hours, they proved delightfully tasty and dry on the outside but with loads of juice in the meat. A total taste of Spain but with a Chinese twist of raucous black pepper. Tender but with firm bite on the meat, we polished off two racks of them. We even got plastic gloves to eat the ribs with - became a greasy problem trying to pour wine after chewing on the rib. So it goes. 

Brilliantly tasty Iberico Pork Ribs - yum
Other dishes came and went (duck was tasty, also some egg foo yong style omelette fried thingy with spring onion and chives). But the ribs and fish made the night. 

The Giesen SB which we were drinking with the fish seemed to lean more toward the Smith Haut Lafitte style in terms of texture - more a rich Chablis in style than anything else - and although it should have been a belter with the fish, for me it did not quite come together. Perhaps it was the slightly oily texture of the wine competing wiht the oil in the fish that did it - not enough acidity in the wine to cut through and perhaps a bit too mellow given its time in the bottle. It was still a belter, though - rich, unctuous, honey and toffee apples and a long throat tickling finish. It was just …  well, I thought it would stun and it didn't - my expectations didn't pan out together. So it goes. Live and learn, eh?

For the reds, our friend had raided his cellar and totally delighted us all with a 1999 Conseillante and a 1999 Ornellaia. The Ornellaia was a real treat and had mellowed nicely for balance but still not so much that its character had been totally subsumed by bottle age - still a lot of life and fire in this one. Bold, and with a bit of sass, kind of like a Venetian gondolier hustling for an extra tip. Initially bold, it evened out down the bottle and ended up more like a priest from the local Tuscan church - friendly, full of life, but lots of depth to explore. Was a belter with the ribs. The Bordeaux Right Bank Conseillante was equally delightful though more complex - layers of fruit and spice and texture and all of which seemed to change as each sip progressed through the palate. Lovely, lovely wine and great balance across the component varietels. We drank it long into the evening, well after all the food had vanished. A stunning wine to end the evening, invoking lots of stories, jokes and laughter. Even got me singing the "Pang Yau", one of the three Chinese songs I seem to sing passably well enough. Prefer to stick with my Rock and Blues, though my Delilah remains a crowd favourite.

In all a great evening, on the strength of which I would happily return to the Supertanker. Now I think of it, the fish we had on my second visit was not bad, and seeing photos of the dishes on another blogsite have jogged the memory. Have to return to try them again. Parking is easy, but a bit dark and secluded at night, so maybe show some extra caution getting to and from the car? I think I heard that corkage was charged, but I didn't see the bill - our friend took it. Glasses were a bit ordinary if it was, though I seem to recall decanting is available. Be our turn next time. But our friend will still be more than welcome to bring his wines. We help him drink them. 

We also had a discussion about buying new wine for investment and I gave him my position that we were now only buying wine we would be able to drink - we don't have twenty years to wait before a wine becomes drinkable and we don't really want to buy just for other people to enjoy them. He said the investment cycle was marked by two events - BC and AC - Before China and After China. Prices skyrocketed when the Chinese came in to buy around 2003 and died in 2011 with the clampdown on Guanxi gifts. Now was difficult to predict - better to stick to the stock market.  Not wrong there. Cheers!

Extra Super Tanker Fine Chinese Restaurant
Damansara Main Branch
48 SS 20/10, Damansara Kim , 47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
TEL: 03-77267768 / 03-77267769, Fax: 03-7726 7782
website: http://estrestaurant.net/damansara.html

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