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, February 25, 2019

IWFS Kuala Lumpur Hong Kong Jolly January 2019 Day Two

Lenglui outsde the Ying Jee Club
IWFS Kuala Lumpur Hong Kong Jolly January 18 - 22 2019 - A recollection of Five Days of Food and Wine in Hong Kong, and how I became a Lap Cheong mule

Day Two - Saturday January 19th 
Everyone raved about the breakfast here at Hotel Jen, basically I think because it was a Malaysian menu - nasi lemak, curry laksa, roti canai and other homespun delights from the, er, homeland. I can't normally face the Malaysian cuisine first thing after a skinful - well, after anything really; too much oil and spice - so I opted for the Western style. Very salty and overprocessed bacon but the scrambled egg and beans were excellent with a round of bread and butter. I did try some roti but it was too hard and chewy and got quickly expectorated back on to the plate. The Coffee was that creamy style powdery tasting gunk from a machine - bit grim for me. I tried the black with some hot milk that also failed - the milk had curdled into a thick glob of alien looking life-form that tumbled into the cup and floated there, seemingly waiting to jump up and attach itself to my face. Yuck. I gave up and had brown tea. Had sadly forgotten to bring the reliable packets of instant Cafe 21 and spent part of the day unsuccessfully looking to find some. Bum. 

Inside the Ying Jee Club
We were basically free for the whole day and had a lunch planned with Lenglui daughter Lorraine at some place in Central called the Ying Jee Club (a two star Michelin) and would be joined on this gastro venture by the Money. Lenglui wanted to do the tram but we eventually plumped for the Underground since the station was right behind the hotel and there were elevators going down. The hotel desk advised that it would be three stops and to look for the A signage which would bring us out onto the appropriate road (De Veaux, I thought I saw, but the address said Connaught) and to look for Nike, since the restaurant was in the same building (called the Nexus). 

This was where the RoamingMan modem started to prove its worth, telling me which way to walk and naturally sending me down a wrong road just as we had passed the place. It told us to turn right but I think it thought we were on the other side of the road (the correct one, as it would turn out). We about turned, crossed the road as it told us and then it wanted to take us back to the other side of the road. I have now learned that when it does this you are pretty close to the destination. We were actually standing outside the Nike and never saw it until I saw a sign saying Nexxus Building - hiding in plain sight and we just could not see it. The Ying Jee Club is on the upper level of the Nexxus and as we were a shade early and the door was barred against the world, Lenglui naturally went shoe shopping. There was a Jason's Supermarket on the lower level to which I headed and told an incoming Lorraine where mother could be found. I think she would have been able to have guessed.

Sichuan Dumplings - massive tasty
I do enjoy roaming around supermarkets overseas. I find it fun comparing and seeing what is the same and what is different. Jason's has outlets in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur and many of the brands on display were indeed similar (though perhaps a shade higher in price). Only real difference was in the fresh fruit and meat sections so nothing much different to comment on and nothing to buy. Still, always good to recce and see how. I continued my perpetual hunt for Onion sauce granules and again came up empty handed. Guess it is not made anymore. Bum. 

Char Siew - wicked sweet and spiceously fiery
Went back upstairs to find the Lenglui surprisingly unsuccessful in making a purchase and off we all trotted to the now welcoming arms of the Ying Jee Club staff. We got ushered to a table for four but quickly relocated to a table for five when The Money turned up with The Bank. Sipping some very pleasant and delicate Chinese Tea, there seemed a communal opt out against having wine with the lunch. It somehow felt more correct and better fit the sense of the occasion. Anyway, the wines were fiercely expensive and we would be drinking ourselves silly come the evening.  

Can't remember, but dam tasty
The Ying Jee Club webbie offers punters to "Enjoy a Michelin-starred Experience (of) Exquisite Cantonese Cuisine". It goes on: "Nestled in the latest food hub, Nexxus Building in Central, Michelin Two-star Ying Jee Club epitomises the highest standard of excellence in Cantonese cuisine. The name, Ying Jee Club, symbolises prosperity, success and business in Chinese. The elegant restaurant is spearheaded by Executive Chef Siu Hin Chi, who has garnered 18 Michelin stars for the past ten years, a legend within the industry."

Signature Salt Skin Chicken - ho seck hor...
"His impeccably presented dishes bring fresh spins on traditional Cantonese favourites, all dedicated to ignite the senses of discerning palate. Complementing the masterfully crafted culinary experience, is an eclectic wine list for over 300 bottles from around the world. Savour deliciously vibrant cocktails on the ground floor cocktail bar, is the best prelude for an exquisite meal. 

Duck. Darned. Good. Yes. 
"Overlooking the central business district on Connaught Road, the stylish, two-storey Ying Jee Club, is sculpted by renowned interior architect designer Steve Leung and design director Janet Choy. The graceful setting is accentuated by an emerald green backdrop, exuding a calming energy. This jewel tone is paired together with recurrent golden highlights, further creating a stunning contrast with the subtle wooden panel floor and orchestrating a wonderful ambience. Ying Jee Club seats 104 guests, with four private rooms, perfect for business meetings and intimate family gatherings."

A dessert. I think.
The Michelin Guide standard of English grammar feels occasionally a bit questionable and in need of a good proofread - feels to be something wrong with "our most comfortable places" and "Michelin Guide's Point of View". The actual verbatim review is "Rather than gimmicky promotions, the owner prefer (sic) diverting more energy and resources to the freshest ingredients and refining the chef's cooking techniques. Diners are greeted by an elegant and contemporary dining hall adorned by marble tables, velvet seats and metallic trims. The menu is traditionally Cantonese with a touch of finesse. Their signature crispy salted chicken is silky and tender without being overly oily." Which is a very accurate and brilliantly condensed description of what you get. 

Rosemary Bread Roll. Lovely bite
The reviews of the Ying Jee have not been kind to the place (HK Tatler, SCMP and Time Out) though they all focused on dinner whereas we were having dim sum. And speak as I find, this felt like an excellent Dim Sum lunch, though the menu suggests that it would not have been cheap. Menu is saying Dim Sum dishes range from HKD70 to HKD120 to which one needs to add the tea. Lorraine got the bill for everyone so we did not see it. The individual dishes I had were total yum, with special mention going to the signature Salt Skin Chicken and the sticky sweet but absolutely delicious Char Siew. There felt a whack to the dishes that somehow is missing from the standard Dim Sum you get at lunch elsewhere - it felt definitely elevated in taste terms. And I think I know a bit about Dim Sum, having consumed many lunches over the years. Can see why the Michelin stars get awarded.  Ambience was modern corporate, with a minimalist feel across the place which gave an efficient feel to the place and admirably underlined by swift and swish service from the staff. Light, bright and brisk. Can't remember what else we had, but the photos tell the story. Lenglui would sing the praises of the Ying Jee to the rest of the Jolliers for the rest of the trip, sharing photos and business card via the Whatsapp. It was excellent. Would happily go back. Though preferably on someone else's ticket. 

Ying Jee Club
Shop G05, 107 - 108, Nexxus Building
41 Connaught Road
Central, Hong Kong
Tel 2801 6882
email reservation@yingjeeclub.hk

Lunch finished and I followed the Money and the Bank to opposite the Princes Building which was where they would get their shuttle bus that would take them back up the Peak to their home in the clouds. Lenglui and daughter had gone for a quick shop and leaving me to my own devices before rejoining for a 4pm snifter at a rooftop bar in the same building. So I spent a pleasant two hours plus wandering around the Princes and nosing in and out of the stores. Spent a good amount of time in Oliver's Supermarket and its excellent range of fine foodstuffs and wines. They were not dissimilar to the things we increasingly find in Jason's and Cold Storage here in KL so I suspect similar owners and suppliers exist in the background. And joy of joys I found some packets of Onion Sauce mix! They are total magic with a tub of Sour Cream and makes for a wickedly tasty dip full of fire and vim. Used to be made by McCormicks, but now no more on the KL shelves and no know why. This dip would turn out a shade mild but still tasty and perfect with sliced celery and carrot and potato chips. Have to organise the Money to pick up some for import. 

Prince's Building
Tel 28107710

Mooched around the Bookazine bookstore browsing a few things and finally buying the Hong Kong Tatler with its 50 Best Hong Kong Restaurants, hoping to read up ahead of the three that had been lined up for the Jolliers. Didn't get the chance to read it. Still haven't got round to reading it. There you go. 

View from Sevva Rooftop
Sevva Entrance
As said, we had arranged a rendezvous at the rooftop bar for a swiftie and a view over the harbour and causeway to Kowloon. But I had forgotten the name and was not sure of how to get there. There was free wifi at the Prince's and I tried whatsapping the others to find the name of the place where we all would be meeting. Didn't get a response. Finally figured out that if I did a search for Prince's and Rooftop I might get a result. And I did - Sevva. One of the doormen showed me where I could get the lift and as I stepped out of one, Lenglui Lorraine and Kit stepped out of the other! 

We enjoyed a chilly but visually brilliant forty minutes on top of the world, cheek by jowl with some impressive neighbours and having the space to overlook some of the old Hong Kong buildings dwarfed by their neighbours. It was naturally expensive (wines by the glass were HKD170-200 whilst Cappuccino was HKD75) but a worthwhile splurge. The place had those vertical flamethrowers for heat, but you have to find that Goldilocks distance where you stay warm but don't get scorched. Some nice decorative touches on the inside where some punters were enjoying afternoon tea. Of course. 

Prince's Building
25th Floor, 10 Chater Road
Central, Hong Kong
Tel 2537 1388

Lap Cheong at the West Villa
Figuring there was still time ahead of dinner, it was determined that we would all go shopping for lap cheong, that full fat and meaty Chinese wax sausage. It had been had on good authority that some of the best lap cheong on the planet came from a restaurant in the Lee Garden building name of West Villa. Well, and okay -  our intelligence was that the traditional mecca for this delicacy is the legendary Yung Kee in Central. This is the place where one of Lenglui's friends (we call her the Duchess) and her entourage insist on visiting every time they are in the town and embark on going and buying up the entire shop's lap cheong and century eggs. And she will brook no contradiction on the point - she is a Duchess, after all. And a Duchess must insist on only the best Chinese sausage. O yes. But this West Villa also had a name whereby a different Duchess and one who really knows her food swears by West Villa. So. I sensed a taste off at some future date if we could keep from eating the things before our return home (we could). Lenglui, Lorraine and Kit pretty much bought the entire stock in the West Villa and left the place loaded with plastic bags full of pork and goose liver waxed sausage. I think there was some goose feet in there somewhere as well. The lady cutting the strings and packing the booty looked very happy. I couldn't understand a word during the entire transaction, but the others seemed able to converse well enough. I just carried the bags and said "ho seck" a few times (means "very tasty"). It usually gets a smile.

Getting the skinny on the Lap Cheong from the Restaurant Manager
West Villa Restaurant
5/F, Lee Gardens One, 33 Hysan Avenue, 
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

We also found the Wine Shop where the Money had sealed some wine deals for the Jolly. I recalled the previous evening at their gaff on The Peak the name Enoteca on some of the boxes of booze in their apartment. I saw the name advertised in the elevator that we had taken up to the West Villa and suggested we make a stop on the way back down for research purposes. And Lo and behold, here it was two floors beneath the Lap Cheong mecca and it would indeed prove a profitable though costly visit. There were some delectable lovelies on display and at fair to excellent prices. Mostly high end Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Italian with a smattering of very collectable New World. Lorraine saw a couple of screaming buys and on confirming with homebase snapped up a couple of Lynch Bages and Conseillante Pomerols. I also secured two of the discounted Conseillante 2002 along with some other nice Frenchies - three bottles of 2016 Domaine Leflaive Macon Verze and a 2013 Troplong Mondot for drinking with buddies with whom we spent a most memorable outdoor lunch at the winery in April of that same year. We also were able to get discount as a result of the Money having an account there and she gained points as a result of our purchases. Everybody wins. Perfect. 

The business card says Enoteca also have outlets in the ifc mall and also on the Kowloon side and in the New Territories. Most impressed with the wine selection and the prices and the service setup. They also apparently do tastings, though they did not seem overly committed to letting us taste some booze that others there seemed to be happily sniftering. So it goes, and perhaps no bad thing - as said, there would be a lot of booze forthcoming at the Chairman dinner. 

No 307-308, 3/F Lee Gardens One
33 Hysan Avenue, 
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Tel 2887 8270

The Chairman restaurant
I hung around for a while whilst Lenglui and Kit mooched around the shops. Could not find a seat at the Starbucks so I sauntered downstairs to where another small coffee outlet was located and parked awhile with the purchased booze and the Lap Cheong. We all met back up and figured it was time to take a taxi back to Central to where our dinner restaurant The Chairman was located. The taxi stand at Lee Garden One initially confused me - there were people standing both sides of the taxi stand post and I had to confirm with one couple whether they were waiting for a cab. The taxis seem pretty plentiful (it was not raining) and five minutes brought our saviour and his trusty steed to take us to dinner.

Our Jolly blurb had told us that The Chairman "has been making waves with their efforts to promote forgotten Cantonese cuisine, connecting with chefs from the Foshan area to bring new inspiration and recapture techniques and ingredients from history. Thus following the "farm to plate" approach adopted by many seeking an edge in this industry. It is also in the Hong Kong Michelin Guide for 2018 and in the Top 20 Best Restaurants as voted by Hong Kong Tatler. 

Michelin gives it a plate and two forks (which seems to mean good standard and good cooking) and says the restaurant "looks to small suppliers and local fishermen for its ingredients and much of the produce used is also organic. Showing respect for the provenance of ingredients and using them in homemade sauces and flavoursome dishes - such as steamed crab with aged Shaoxing, crispy chicken stuffed with shrimp paste and almond sweet soup - has attracted a loyal following. The restaurant is divided into four different sections and service is pleasant and reassuringly experienced."

Waiting for the Chairman to serve
We pulled up at some seedy looking backstreet dominated by what looked liked an opium den from the outside - all red and black and dim lighting. I waited in the cab pending confirmation by the Lenglui and Kit that this indeed was the place. It would indeed turn out to be so - we saw The Money coming down the stairs on some mission and we swept into the place and upstairs to where our dinner would be held. There were three tables split across two rooms and it did look quite cramped. We dumped our bags and lap cheong booty at what looked like spare table space and stood around whilst the staff under supervision of The Money started cracking the bubbles. 

Our booze for the night - none left at the end - we can get thirsty
Can't remember much about this dinner, except for the fact that we were all pretty cramped and occasionally cracking elbows in our jostling for the food. Had to occasionally fight for refills as I had somehow become seated furthest from the bottles and was occasionally on the verge of gagging and passing out from thirst due to such deprivation. I enjoyed all of the food at the time, though little memory of individual tastes remain. Again, no written notes made - would not have been possible given the lack of space on the table for a notebook - and not much in the way of food photos from me or seemingly anyone in the Jolly. All were in a very jolly mood and more keen to take photos of each other (or selfies with others) and share them on the Whatsapp. I started with a couple of songs and this time managed to get some of the Jolliers to join in - got the Governess to do a rendition of Bee Gees "To Love Somebody" and Ajmal Jolly to belt out "Stand By Me". Definite Party mood. My camera seems to be slowly dying - I put what I think are freshly charged batteries in it and it refuses to spring to life, I increasingly need to massage the batteries and thump the camera into sparking life. Though this time, the batteries seemed to be indeed dead. No amount of delicate closing the battery latch nor rescussitation seemed able to generate contact between power and device. But it still takes great coloured snaps when it is on form. Maybe just use Lenglui's iPhone. And remember to bring a charger. 

The Money, The Bank, and The Doctor

The Governor and Governess. And The Doctor.
Jolly Party People!!

More Jolly Party People
Hans and The Lenglui

Mossie, Dr Jag, Winston and The Money
"Got booze?" "Got..."
Doc Bachan, Suzuki, and Allie
Dato' Tony and Vanessa
Chairman Menu
Dato' Jeremy and Datin Kalsom
First Course - individually served
Smoked Baby Pigeon with Longjing Tea and Chrysanthemum
Wild Clams Stir Fried with Chili Jam and Basil
Henriot, Blanc de Blancs, champagne Magnum (Reims)

Second Course
Crispy Taro Cake with Smoked Duck
Roasted Lamb Belly, Caramelised Onion with Chinese Buns
Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion 2012 Les Hauts de Larrivet (Pessac-Leognan)

Third Course
Soup of the Day

Fourth Course
Steamed Fresh Flowery Crab with Aged ShaoXing Wine 
Fragrant Chicken Oil and Flat Rice Noodles
Olivier Leflaive Chassagne-Montrachet 2015 (Beaune)

Fifth Course
Sauteed Prawns with Shrimp Roes (XO Sauce)
Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion 2012 Les Hauts de Larrivet (Pessac-Leognan)

Sixth Course
Oxtail Stew with Port and Dried Mandarin Peel
Chateau Pontet-Canet 2008 (Pauillac)

Seventh Course
Steamed Kai Lan with Pickled Chinese Vegetables
Chateau Pontet-Canet 2008 (Pauillac)

Eighth Course
Fried Rice with Prawns Trio - Fresh Prawns, Sund-Dried Prawns and Shrimp Paste
Chateau Pontet-Canet 2008 (Pauillac)

Desserts of the Day
Duo of Osmanthus and Wolfberry Ice Cream and Sweet Almond Cream

Ajmal and Mubina
Chairman Wines
Henriot, Blanc de Blancs, champagne Magnum (Reims)
Light yellow, The nose shows immense finesse with almond and hazelnut notes blending with a very elegant touch of toast. Deliciously silky, creamy texture on the palate. A Blanc de Blancs that is lush yet elegant, expressive yet racy. 

Olivier Leflaive Chassagne-Montrachet 2015 (Beaune)
A rich and powerful wine with a remarkable persistence and a nose dominated by aromas of acacia, sweet spices and white flesh ripe fruits. This fleshy wine offers peach, apple, lemon, honey and spice flavours. A fine structure lends support, providing balance and driving the lingering finish of citrus and baking spices.

Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion 2012 Les Hauts de Larrivet (Pessac-Leognan)
This is a big and juicy wine full of blackberry and dark-plum flavours. The second wine of Larrivet Haut Brion, it is fruity with dominant Merlot and round and perfumed Cabernet. 

Chateau Pontet-Canet 2008 (Pauillac)
A candidate for "wine of the vintage", Pontet- Canet's 2008 boasts an opaque purple colour as well as copious aromas of sweet blueberries, blackberries and blackcurrant fruit intertwined with lead pencil shavings, subtle barbecue smoke and a hint of forest floor. Full bodied, with fabulous richness, texture and tremendous freshness, this first growth-like effort is more developed than the uber powerful 2010. 

wine notes provided by organiser

The Chairman
18 Kau U Fong
Hong Kong
Tel 852 255 2202

Don't remember much about the ride back to the hotel, except that there was one. Pretty pooped and ready for bed, we crawled straight under the covers. A good day. Hopefully would be another one tomorrow. Zzzzzzz....

Click here for Day Three of the Jolly>>>

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