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.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Noble Mansion - great wines, mostly good tasting food

July 28th 2016

For the July event, the IWFS decided to revisit an old friend of a restaurant, the Noble Mansion in Petaling Jaya. We last visited the place almost three years ago to the day and had a great night of excellent food and wine, with some lovely dishes and booze on show - click here for that report.  This time would see the pairing of the restaurant’s Shunde Cuisine with some equally excellent wines from the Baron de Rothschild selection. Vice President May Peng has been the spearhead for organizing this dinner in conjunction with the visit of the Asia Pacific Export Manager for Baron Edmond de Rothschild, one Florent Mougin who would present the wines at the dinner. 

Short version is that the wines were stellar, which helped make the company have a lot of boozy fun. The service was swift and efficient. Only downside was the later dishes - my tenderloin felt like it had been tendered by a three wood, and my lamb tasted like it had been drenched in the same sauce in which the tenderloin had been soaked. Seems the battered crispy pork rib was the better choice. A frisky fruity dessert made up for things though most people were locked into the vertical by this point.

Dr Rajan, Stephanie, Eric and Ebbie
May be repeating myself here from the previous visit, but no matter - Noble Mansion is an eatery within the Oriental Group of Restaurants, and first its constituent restaurants. The Noble Mansion focuses on the Shunde style from Guangzhou Province, which aspires to be finer than the more traditional fare one finds elsewhere. Shunde has long been widely regarded as the basis for exquisite Cantonese cuisine. While the cuisine of Guangzhou has been historically very minimalist in the use of flavorings, food from Shunde is celebrated for its liberal use of ingredients such as sun dried tangerine peel and dates, resulting in simple but powerful flavours.

As said, IWFS KL was last at Noble Mansion about three years ago to the day and on that occasion got forty to pitch up. So we were somewhat surprised when 60 said they would turn out for this one. Traditionally, the IWFS KL finds Chinese cuisine dinners a tough sell to the Rakyat. The story seems to be that they cannot see the price being justified when they can go to their favourite twin fan and burner eaterie and get better food for a third of the price. Fair enough. But you don't get the ambience of a Mansion House, or the glassware, or the efficient (though somewhat serious faced) pouring of top class wine. I think that this was the kicker - May had struck a deal with Michelle at AsiaEuro to snag some Magnums of an under known Chateau at a sparkling price and get the whole night for under three hundred ring per pax. The Magnums were also in vertical - 2006 to 2008 and we could get to compare them on the table. 

Dato Jeremy Diamond and Lenglui - everyone loved the outfit. Hers, not his...
In my role as IWFS Secretary and emailing of the dinner notice, I had asked attendees to deck out in their best Chinois finery, and Lenglui made sure I came resplendent in Black Silk and Gold. Haven't had so many comments on what I was wearing in my life. It is a very nice jacket though - black silk with dragons embroidered on both breasts. Very Jackie Chan. 

Mingling around the tables with a glass of Rimapere SB and nibbling on some salty mushroom and money bag things. Well, had I been earlier I would have - when I got to the plates it was mostly crumb and crisp. But tasty enough to tame the low acidity and ease one's way into the evening. 

First course of Prawn Cake had a lovely lemongrass hit on what felt like nitrogen frozen and sugar frosted Basil (though it may just have been parked in the freezer for a couple of hours) and other veggie bits. The whole thing was parked in a de-stemmed cocktail glass sitting on a bubbling bowl of dry ice. The Prawn Cake was fresh, soft and crunchy, with salt hits that made it magnificent and close to being the dish of the night. It paired nicely with the light and fruity Rimapere - bit low on the acidity but in excellent blend making for a friendly dash of easy drinking and perfect with the salty prawn cake.

Pan Fried Prawn Cake with Long Beans and Icy Vegetable Shunde style
The soup had a mix of shell fish bits in a nicely seasoned and creamy broth that felt totally devoid of any oil. It also felt reminiscent in texture of a Heinz mushroom soup but way more refined and ticklish in the mouth. Wonderful texture. The shellfish was okay, but lost a lot of taste in the broth. 

Double Boiled Scallop, Razorback Clams and Crab Meat in Superior Crab Soup
It was paired with the Baroness Nadine Chardonnay which had been billed as similar to the Pulignys of Montrachet. The nose certainly promised much with its clean oaky butter, and the body was firm in the mouth and finish. Got spritzy lemon and mango banana in the mouth. Neither soup nor wine did much for each other, but I have had worse matches - at least neither killed the other on this pairing. I did throw some of the remains of the aperitif crackers that were still on the table into the broth for the sake of experimentation. Didn't work - too much oil and salt in the cracker which clashed fiercely with the cream in the soup. Add the oaky butter in the wine and pffffftttt… more damp squib than firecracker.

Pan Fried South African Fresh Abalone Shunde Style
I found the pan fried South African Abalone a darn tough beast to carve and eat. I have had these in Tokyo and they were belter, all firm bite and tender chew. Tonight's felt more like biting into a Springbok rugby player than a shelled seacrawler. Not sure if others felt the same or whether I had just drawn the tough one - no one said anything negative, so maybe I was just unlucky. Also not sure where the Shunde style crept into the preparation, though my notes say it tasted the same as the prawn, a salty crunch and zip on the lips and mouth. Tasty, but darn chewy. Having said all this, the Baroness started to sing with the Abalone. There were flowers on the nose and in the mouth, the fruit softened from citrus to tropical yet it retained great acidity which clung to the cheeks like a frost on a winter car windscreen. Still citrussy, crisp and fresh, in lovely balance and nicely elegant from start to finish. Clean, crisp, clear and cutting - a cracker of a wine drinking wonderfully on the night.

Andy, Jaya and David
We were now on to the main event - the vertical magnums of Chateau Clarke from 2006 to 2008 which would all be paired with the beef, the lamb (or pork) and the fried rice. They were all poured one after the other so all stood on the table waiting to be judged by the assembled. 

It made sense to try each of them one by one and then go on to try them with the dishes as and when they made the table.

The 2008 felt tight and lean and taut, with the forward tannins tending to upend the balance and tilt the wine toward a somewhat reedy feel. Felt like it needed more time, though one for the austerity fans rather than the fruit bomb lovers.

The 2007 had better fruit and came over rich and bold. Big friendly nose of forest berries, clean firm and fresh with a lot of cassis in the mouth and on the finish. Excellent drinker, very friendly.

The 2006 had a firm nose, and initially felt a bit claggy and sour on the throat as if there were some elements that were a bit off. Got a hint of cat-pee on the nose and mouth with pretty forward tannins, suggesting a need for a good few more years for its austerity to come fully to the fore. Perhaps one for the purists - lean, mean and a little bit green.

The Beef Tenderloin came out smothered in what was billed as Foie Gras sauce and with a quail's egg. Mine must have been a darn big quail, was almost the size of half a golf ball. Also seemed a good waste of what might have been decent Foie Gras - felt a bit like the restaurant was being opulent for the sake of being opulent. But kudos for the experiment. Perhaps if it had been hotter it might have made a difference. The meat was…  no, on reflection I didn't really like it. As said earlier, well over tenderised and having so been beaten thunderously with the hammer of Thor it tasted like something out of the Fray Bentos factory. No bite or chew, like biting through processed spam. And it was cold. Fail. 

Pan Fried Beef Tenderloin with Foie Gras Sauce and Fried Quail Egg
The lamb was an improvement, and quite nicely done but the sauce remained way too sweet. It was like lamb chop toffee apple, all sweet caramel with a hit of cinnamon. The sauce might be belter on a pork rib but I don't get why it needs to be almost constantly paired with all other meats. Apparently the Pork Rib was very good. And strangely without sauce...

Grilled Lamb Cutlet with Green Garden Salad
The fried rice tended toward the salty but the texture had a good vegetal crunch to it thanks to what felt like celery chips thrown into the mix. Might have accounted for the salty feel on the thing.

Deep Fried Pork Ribs with Ginger Shunde Style
Dessert was cute - traditional bits of ginkgo, bean and iced jelly in syrup but served in an apple hollowed out to take the mix. This gave it a refreshingly green crisp chilled cider twist that made for a very pleasant and tasty closer. 

Chilled Sweetened Fuji Apple with Snow Jelly
So… overall not stunned by the food - the first few courses were good, but the beef having been mashed with a three wood rather than tenderised took all the texture out of the thing. Also, not sure how Shunde the food was. Dr Gan would probably have said not even close. Ah, Dr Gan…  still missed.

Lovely wines all through the night - soft Sauvignon Blanc, full on Chardonnay and an excellent Bordeaux vertical. Don't get this too often and kudos to May for getting this excellent evening together. Great food and wine service and the applause felt quite genuine when the staff came out to take a bow. 

The aircon initially felt a bit cool, but evened out as the food got to the table. Very pleasant ambience helped immensely by members who had got into the spirit and dressed up for the night. 

Didn't get much in the way of complaint from the assembled, who were all happily guzzling the remains of the Clarke. All were happy with the food and the friendly cost of the evening (RM298 for members) and AsiaEuro made everyone happier by saying the wines would be available at special price to everyone. 

Oh, so drama one...
David asked me to get up and give an opinion on which of the vertical was the best. Yes. I managed to turn it around by asking everyone what they thought a) of the wines on their own and b) did that opinion change when drunk with the food. There seemed a consensus that the 2007 was the better on its own because of the fruit but that the 2006 sang with food. Some people preferred the 2008 over everything which only goes to prove the truth that we all taste things differently and from a different expectation perspective. All booze is good, and only experience and preference born from hard time served swilling it will tell us which for us is better. Yes. What?

We decided to leave everyone to the boozing and slipped out, albeit with a reluctant glance back at the revelry that looked clearly to be heading toward the early hours. There you go - now at the age where pacing becomes important. There was no need for a marmite sandwich for supper, and the two panadol with the 6am pee mitigated the headbang of the morning after though it remained a very muzzy day. Maybe there's a blogpost in here somewhere - how to manage the morning after. Cheers!

Yam Seng!!

Noble Mansion
Level One, Plaza@Jaya 33
1 Jalan Semangat 
Section 13, Petaling Jaya
Phone:+603-7932 3288


Deep Fried Beancurd Skin Roll
Golden Crispy Shimeji Mushrooms
Crispy Prawn Cracker 
Rimapere Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013

1st Course
Pan Fried Prawn Cake with Long Beans & Icy Vegetable Shunde Style
2nd Course
Double Boiled Scallop, Razorback Clams & Crab Meat in Superior Crab Soup
3rd Course
Pan Fried South African Fresh Abalone Shunde Style
Baroness Nadine Chardonnay 2012

4th Course
Pan Fried Beef Tenderloin with Foie Gras Sauce & Fried Quail Egg
5th Course
Deep fried Pork Ribs with Ginger Shunde Style
Grilled Lamb Cutlet with Green Garden Salad
6th Course
Shunde Style Fried Rice

Chateau Clarke Baron Edmond de Rothschild 
Vertical of 2006, 2007 and 2008 vintages in Magnum

Chilled Sweetened Fuji Apple with Snow Jelly, Gingko, Fresh Lily and Red Date


Rimapere Sauvignon Blanc 2013 
Rimapere is a partnership between Chateau Clarke in Bordeaux Craggy Range in Marlborough NZ. The name means "five arrows" in Maori, these also being the emblem of the Rothschild family, symbolizing the five brothers and sons of Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744-1812, Frankfurt, Germany).

Rimapere grapes are carefully grown and the wine is made under the direction of the Craggy Range winemaking team. The cool climate of the Rapaura area in the heart of Marlborough is perfect to ripen high quality Sauvignon Blanc and give these grapes their classic lemon and grapefruit flavours and crisp acidity.

Pale yellow in colour with an intense nose of lemon, grapefruit together with mineral notes. This wine shows great balance and freshness thanks to a good acidity level. Well paired when chilled with white meat, grilled fish, or seafood.

Rupert & Rothschild Baroness Nadine 2012
100% Chardonnay.  The grapes were hand picked from end January to beginning March 2012 with an average yield of 7 tons per hectare. After whole cluster pressing only the free-run juice was used. 20% was fermented and matured in concrete tanks. The remainder was fermented in stainless steel tanks and thereafter matured in 300 liter French oak barrels for 11 months of which one third was new barrels.

A fusion of citrus blossom aromas with macadamia nougat and baguette crust on the palate. Soft, fine structure and a creamy roundness with an elegant, lingering lemon zest finish. Recommended with seared sesame crusted tuna or melon and prawn salad. 

Chateau Clarke Baron Edmond de Rothschild "Anglais" Listrac Medoc 2008, 2007, 2006
The origins of the Chateau Clarke estate date back to the 12th century when the Cistercian monks of the Vertheuil Abbey planted the first vines. The land was bought by the knight Tobie Clarke in 1818 (hence the name) and sold to the Baron Edmond de Rothschild in 1973. The neglected vineyard was completely recreated between 1974 and 1978 to attain a final wine producing area of 54 hectares.

Today the vines are planted on clay-limestone hilltops that enables the Merlot grape to express itself at its best, The ancient buildings have been restored and the techniques and equipment used in the winemaking process have been brought up to date. 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from 30yo vines are handpicked and meticulously sorted before vatting through simple gravity into  wooden vats for vinification. Pumping over and pigeage. Malolactic fermentation and maturation in new French Oak Barrels for between 14 and 18 months. 250,000 bottles produced.

2008 notes - super powerful, intense and complex nose, with mature red fruit. Notes of violets and spicy oak. The attack on the palate is dense and rich with tight tannins. Freshness and persistent flavours of fruit. Merlot makes a nice sweetness and is enhanced by beautiful spices that give a kind of "Margaux style". 

2007 notes - intense deep purpled red, complex nose, concentrated fresh blackcurrant fruit and smoke, full body, good depth, dense with a beautiful ripeness. Decanter 16.5.

2006 notes - minty, new wood aromas show this wine as modern and smooth in style. The tannins are a touch woody rather than fruity suggesting a need for time to integrate. Sweet plum, cassis, violets, dusty tobacco, fruit depth with vanilla spice and toasty oak. Good balance and texture.

No comments:

Post a Comment