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 Three

Look what I found!! 
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 Three - Sunday January 20th

Shopping on Sheung Wan Road
We woke up late and headed down for a light breakfast at the Malacca Grill restaurant in the Jen Hotel - fruits and cereal this time given the prospect of a large champagne lunch ahead. 

Pretty much all got on the bus in timely fashion, though I seem to recall two of our Doctors were a bit delayed. The bus took us for a ten minute drive to a shopping street laden with traders all selling various types of delicacy that sets the Chinese hearts a quivering - lap cheong, sea cucumber, century eggs, and all being sold cheek by jowl by stores competing next door to each other. This was the Sheung Wan Road which would be the formal start of the Jolly. Quite how one differentiates between one seller's wares and another's eludes me, but clearly there is a process by which one store's products are selected over another and the bargaining begins. The Money previously advised to follow the nose to determine the best. Didn't work for me - all the shops smelled pretty much the same; that porky fatty waxy earthy salty smell that all the dried goods seem to collectively exude. Same with the Chinese Medicine shops - that herbal, chewy, bitter gourdy stink that seem to characterise them the world over. Total assault on the nose from this stinky but quite fun street. Some great photos of the Jolliers selecting and buying up all the delicacies ahead of Chinese New Year. 

The Doctor enticing Lenglui to chew a Century Egg
Group We-Fie on the Sheung Wan Road
The Money and The Lenglui
We were all due to meet at the end of the street for a short uphill walk to a private tasting of XO sauce at a place of apparent legend, Mrs So XO Sauce. Story goes that Mrs So once worked at an embassy and would prepare her special sauce for the visiting dignitaries. They liked it so much that they would ask her to prepare some to take back to the home country. Business boomed and she opened the store and seems to do a good trade on the tourist trap trail. 
A Mrs So Box Set. Pigs are extra.
All thirty nine (well almost - we had managed to lose Mossie somewhere along the way, though he would eventually turn up) of the Jolliers crammed themselves into the smallish store and scoffed down some specially prepared bites to pair with the various sauces on sale. I didn't feel the need to partake, especially ahead of the large lunch in prospect, and headed off up the street to explore. Actually I was looking for one of those small sundry shops to see if they had any of those magnetic insoles that you can slip into your shoes. Used to be an abundance of them in KL but now all have disappeared [NB eventually found some at Mr DIY in Malaysia - brilliant store, got everything]. Age and diabetes seem to be kicking in and the toes and heel are starting to pain up with some shooting pains along the side of the foot. Google says it is tendonitis, but I do recall previous foot issues being resolved by the plastic magnetic insoles. Didn't find any, but I did find the bus parked up and ready to transport us to lunch. Though the driver seemed to have disappeared. Never mind, plenty of time. Saw a cafe named "Winston's" which was pointed out with much hilarity to one of our Jolliers bearing the same name. 

Doc George with Dato Tony and Dato Jeremy
Headed back to Mrs So where the Jolliers were in full swing flashing credit cards and snapping up the sauces and scarfing down the tidbit bites and generally having a jolly time of it all. I fought my way to the bathroom, more because now I never pass up an opportunity when one is available and take advantage of somewhere to wash the hands. Then we were all quickly back on the bus and off to our lunch destination. 

Lunch at Tycoon Tann
Lunch was to be at the Tycoon Tann restaurant and would be free flow Champagne with unlimited Dim Sum delights and would prove a hugely pleasant way to spend a Sunday lunchtime. We were split across two floors and ended up competing with each other as to which floor was drinking the most wine. Tycoon Tann has 30 varieties of dim sum and classic mains and including the Peking Duck and all of which would be available for unlimited re-order. There would also be unlimited G H Mumm bubbles throughout the lunch with a selection of white and red wine for those who needed the varietals. There was also a starting selection platter with three dishes and a signature Tycoon Tann Cocktail to kick things off. 

I happened to take a look at our location and Google Maps showed that the legendary Yung Kee Restaurant was a mere 50 yards up the road on the same side as the Tycoon Tann. Much of the previous day had been taken up with discussion as to how to procure the Goose Liver Lap Cheong and the Century eggs for transport back to the homeland to please the Duchess. I shared this info with Lenglui who immediately rose and commanded me to show her the way. Within five minutes we were at the place and ordering up a storm of Chinese Sausages and Century Eggs and making the lady behind the counter very happy. 

Molly and Lenglui
Located on Wellington Street in Central, Hong Kong, Yung Kee is a Chinese restaurant most famous for its roast goose. Yung Kee once held a star in the Michelin Guide 2009 but was redesignated to the "Bib Gourmand" section in the 2012 edition.

Lenglui, Dr jag and Kit
History holds that in 1938, one Kam Shui-fai began selling siu mai on Kwong Yuen West Street, near the old Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Pier. He opened a restaurant in 1942 at 32 Wing Lok Street which was destroyed during a Japanese air raid in WW2. It was resurrected in 1944 on Pottinger Street and twenty years later moved into its current premises on Wellington Street. Following the acquisition of neighbouring properties, the entire plot was rebuilt in 1978 as the Yung Kee Building and is now owned by Yung Kee Holdings Ltd. 

Dim Sum at Tycoon Tann
Kam Shui-fai passed in 2004 and the company shares were divided among Kam's children, though there seems some dispute as to the exact allocations. Whatever, continual disputes between brothers Kam Kin-sing (or "Kinsen Kam Kwan-sing") and second son Ronald Kam Kwan-lai as to management strategies ultimately led to the BVI holding company being wound up by court order. Net assets were stated to be HK$2 billion ($256 million) in 2012.

More Dim Sum at the Tycoon Tann
Yung Kee is most famous for its roast goose, and reportedly serves as many as 300 whole birds per day.  But it is not cheap - a half bird serving six is around HK$240. The late founder Kam was nicknamed "Roast Goose Fai". Further, boxes of roast goose and preserved ("century") eggs can be bought at the restaurant for takeaway by locals and tourists alike. 

Paul and Molly
Even more dim Sum at the Tycoon Tann
Yung Kee Restaurant
G/F 32 - 40 Wellington Street
Hong Kong
Tel +852 2522 1624

Suitably laden with bags of unquestionable treasure, we ambled back up the hill to our lunch where we found the Jolliers getting stuck right into the bubbles and plates and bowls of food coming out from the kitchens. I remember lots of cheering and clinking of flutes and quaffing of Champagne, and some well tasty bites of various dim sum delights, and then it was over and we were all packing up our bits and heading back to the bus and hotel to recharge the batteries ahead of the final onslaught at the Tosca. I think I slept for an hour. Be happy to come back to the Tycoon Tann. 

Tycoon Tann
74 Wellington Street
Central, Hong Kong
Tel +852 3125 3228
Mob +852 9861 4718
email info@tycoontann.com

Dinner - Tosca Restaurant with Roberta Picco from Ethica Wines
View from atop Ritz Carlton on Kowloon
Kit and Hans
All were spiffingly ready in suits and ties and evening frocks and IWFS Medallions and pretty much on time for the bus and following a fifteen minute vroom under the Causeway we were alighting at the Ritz Carlton and embarking on a two lift trip up to the 108th floor and magnificent sunsetting views across the Causeway to the Island. It is hugely pretty; twinkling lights and darkening skies make for a fairytale landscape, and one that would have been rarely viewed before. The Jolliers naturally selfied and we-fied with the cameras and phones whilst some fruity and somewhat citric liquid sherbet stuff in a glass got distributed. I drank it more for the booze content than the taste - when the fire in the throat needs slaking, anything alcoholic will do. I start to understand the sterno bums and cheap booze sucking old street tramps of my city youth. Once the booze gets a real hold, it's a hard master to crack. There's a little tick in the brain telling me to keep an eye on the brute; getting to be more of a need rather than an indulgence. Raises a question, when does that line get crossed? Presume it's different degrees for different folks. I still feel in control, though perhaps that is the signal - feeling in control when in fact you're no longer the master of the bottle. This is some grim thinking here for what is supposed to be a Jolly. To be meditated upon at a later date. 

IWFS KL President May Peng and IWFS Hong Kong President Karen
Once the sun had set and the strange tasting drinks been despatched, we all headed back down a couple of floors to the Tosca. Actually, I detoured to the bathroom and was rewarded with a brilliant view of the Ocean side of the hotel. An earlier visit would have merited a photo but now in the dark it was somehow not enough to warrant a shot. 

Ambience at the Tosca
Lenglui and Lake. Leng....
We all mingled around the dining area and tables sipping the most welcome fizz after that strange cocktail and most Jolliers kept taking photos of the magnificent vista stretched out below. The fizz seemed never ending and pourings were hugely generous. Could be a long night. We were joined by IWFS Hong Kong President Karen who I was told had been hugely helpful in securing some of the venues on the Jolly. Eventually we fell into our allotted seats and things got underway with a short speech from President May and a somewhat longer one from the Ethica Wines representative and part sponsor of the evening's wines Ms Roberta Picco to explain the wines. I seem to recall meeting Ms Roberta at a wine dinner in the Publika a couple of years previously (late 2016 perhaps - I remember wheeling the Lenglui to the dinner, she having broken her foot and it was around this time) with some other wines for that night (which we bought). This evening would see a range of Italian delights presented for our delectation with the offerings from Tosca and the team. 

Kalsom, Kit and Ajmal
Ethica Wines Roberta Picco
Once again, I had opted against written notes and figured to try talking to my phone to record my thoughts. Ultimately this proved quite effective though actually more unacceptable as dictation took the place of conversation and I got a scolding for doing it. Fair enough. Table guests should come first. I'll dine alone next time…

The first wine came across as very floral on the nose, with a hint of Turkish Delight which would mark it as a Gewurtztraminer, though mouthfeel wise suggested a blend given the textural firmness. Couldn't find any info on the varietals on the website. It just talked about complexity and "sophisticated aroma of peaches and apples and textured on the palate with mineral tones." Whatever, the table noted it as very nice. I got rich and full in the mouth, pleasant acidity, and should be good with the scallop.

Which probably would have been the case had the scallop been a shade less spongy. Not sure what happened here - whether a bit long in the pan or the fridge, they lacked that crunchy bite that mark the little puppies as absolutely magnifico. In contrast, the truffle slice was hard and chewy and didn't really have much taste to it. However, the food did manage to take the edge off the acidity and revealed a beautiful silky texture and fruit sparkle. Got a sweet yet sharpish tang tickle on the tonsils, lovely mouthfeel and a lingering finish. Me like. Would happily buy this one. Ultimately, the scallop needed some carbo to undercut the sponge - the bread came to the rescue.

Scallop and Truffle. Needed bread. And butter. 
Wine number two (the Petra Hebo) felt very much like a Bordeaux but way more light in texture. Ms Roberta had earlier said that this one was a Super Tuscan blend (one webbie says 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 10% Sangiovese). Petra is a 300 hectare estate, created by the Moretti family of Bellavista, and situated in Suvereto in the Val di Cornia, south east of Bolgheri. The name Petra is derived from the Latin for stone, or ‘pietra’ in Italian. One webbie says the winery is "in the process of organic conversion and the winery has been designed to use the force of gravity during vinification, reducing stress on the skins and saving energy."

On the nose it has full, rich and sweet cherries, light forest, berry fruits, slight hint of damson. Sweet cherries dominate the mouth (cinnamon note) with a light bordeaux texture and feel. Think Ribena Light texture with underlying booze. Firm tannins, good medium finish. Could maybe use a couple of years but drinking nicely now. Also can buy this one. 

Gnocci and Ossobucco Saffron Sauce. Quite hearty.
The Gnocchi has a nice smooth texture, though initially the Ossobucco and Saffron sauce seemed to lack fire. Not unpleasant or inedible but seeming to lack vim. However, once the knife had separated the beef and let the juices run free it all came together. The meat and sauce with the gnocchi complemented each other beautifully and the wine started to shine - good mouthfeel, lots of cherry berries, hint of wood spice, cinnamon, finish on the back of the cheeks is beautiful and long lingering finish. Mmmm… very happy with this wine. Excellent match with the food. 

Hello Duckie...
At this point, I started to notice the sound levels creeping up, and meditated on the fact as to how a wine dinner evening develops. It is aways a bit quiet to start with, but once the Jolliers have had a glass or three of the white and the red then all the noise starts to increase. Malaysian wine dinners are so much fun. To hear the buzz and the jolly is always really, really good. Most happy meditation. I also noticed that the white wine pourings had not been ungenerous but got a slight feeling of a shade on the thin side with the reds. But then again it is a refined dinner at a two star Michelin restaurant in Hong Kong rather than our usual chug it down gangbusters affairs, so I get the need for a shade more decorum. But only a shade. Eventually, I found that all I had to do was ask for a tad more of the reds and they were quickly forthcoming. Sometimes all it takes is the thick face to be a bit bold. Om. Also can note that the service is very professional, with staff waiting for tables to stop eating and asking to clear, all dressed in dark suits, white shirts, black ties. Saw the Chef prowling around like a tiger keeping an eye on things. Or perhaps also keen for the punters to cast an eye on him. Tall and lengjai and disgustingly handsome. I sought to combat this self esteem misery by sucking down more Barolo. Seemed to work - can't remember what he looked like now...

The Barolo nose was O Dear Lord massive, massive black cherries. Hint of Turkish perfume on the nose similar to the earlier Alto Adige. Fragrant rose petals, quite floral and feminine. On the mouth, though, it was pretty tannic, drying out the tongue and cheeks, and a bit acidic on the finish. Even after a decant. This one has at least a decade and probably more. I probably have one, if I am lucky. Seem to be a lot of 60 year olds kicking the bucket in the news. Can't take a single day for granted...

Sea Bass. Lenglui felt was a bit overcooked
I had the Duck Breast whilst Lenglui had the Fish (originally it was the other way round but we exchanged on Lenglui tasting the duck and pronouncing it "ducky"). As it would happen, Lenglui would find the fish overcooked, so it was a no-win; I had a taste and thought it was okay but not great. In fairness, she is the fish expert so I defer here. She stayed with the Fish. The Duck did indeed feel a bit "ducky" in the mouth, (strong-ish purines), though maybe because it was full and firm and there was unusually a lot of meat. Most duck in my life has lacked much in terms of meat volume; this boy was generous. The crisp and smoked skin went well with the tannic and young Barolo but another five years would definitely have helped. Good match with the food. 

Cheese Platter
Next out were the cheese plate and dessert. The hard cheeses were very tasty, though I found the soft ones a bit iffy. The Sicilian wine didn't quite pair it for me. I understand that cheese can often make a bad wine taste good; all these seemed to do was douse the Sicilian fire. Could perhaps have used some grapes or citrus to cut the cheese goo and gunk and crunk.

Dessert. Pretty, yes?
Dessert wasn't bad, a kind of peachy looking thing (which turned out to be pumpkin) with some biscuit thingy, and a white chocolate strip across the top of some white ice-creamy stuff (presumably the almond milk). It was pleasant, though it seemed to lack intensity and power; it all became some crumbly kind of biscuit cream mix and also quite on the sweet side. I found the matching Moscato too sweet for personal taste, though somehow managed to end up with half a bottle of it and being told to sneak it out of the Tosca. I didn't really want it but the urgings of (nameless) prompted a kind of duty. As it would happen, no one else wanted it either - ultimately it got left in the hotel room. 

Paul and Molly with Handsome Chef
I had managed unusually to have remnants of all the wines in glasses on the table and went through re-tasting them at the end. I found the second still worked well, and the Barolo started to open up fantastically. The Sicilian is full of fire, vim, blood and everything - very tasty. We have forest berries nose, firm tannins, good fruit. Nice, rich full fire on the mouth, good pepper, bit of cherry, bit of damson. 

The Wines
Ultimately, Tosca promised much but for me and those I spoke to afterwards didn't feel to have fully delivered - we could not quite see where the two Michelin stars were. The Jolliers know their Stars and the standards and styles those starred places have established. The feeling seemed to be that these expectations were not quite met. Okay, factor in the fact that doing covers for the forty plus group that we were does not showcase the kitchen at its best, and the individual dishes will take a hit resulting from the extra time necessarily needed to get taken to get them from pan to table. Numbers always create delay. I don't recall if the plates were warm. Notwithstanding, there just did not seem to be quite enough "wow" in the food to match the setting. Though as said, not fair to judge the Tosca given the large group context. Have to come back and do the food in a more intimate gathering. 

End of the Evening
Dr Jag and Lenglui, er, crossdressing?
On reflection, for me it all felt a little "hotel" - I have come across this elsewhere in my foodie adventures in that hotel restaurant chefs appear to get intimidated by the corporate soul and back off from being bold and adventurous in case the good customers gripe to the management and the hotel loses return business. I get that hotels need to be all things to all people and this was very much all Italian cuisine to all the world. Don't get me wrong - the food was far from bad. It is just that whilst I concede that this approach engenders the necessary consistency in dish delivery, my experience is that it builds in an element of "bland" which detracts from adventure and the excellence that could result. And THIS is what I find I now prefer and which I like to seek and report on. So it goes. In sum, I would go back for the sunset and the wines, but would repair to either the Ying Jee Club or Kam's Kitchen (see Day Four report) for dinner. 

Ethica Wine Dinner at Tosca Restaurant HongKong

Welcome Canape
Eric, Dr Jag, Kit, Winston, me
Bellavista Alma Gran Cuvee NV Magnum, Franciacorta DOCG, Lombardy

Hokkaido Seared Scallops, Jerusalem Artichokes, Black Truffle
St Pauls Pinot Bianco Riserva Passion DOC 2015, Alto Adige

Potato Gnocchi, real "Ossobuco", Saffron Sauce
Petra Hebo, Suvereto DOCG 2015 Tuscany

L'Anatra Migrante
Duck Breast with Autumn Roots, Steamed Raviolo with Confit Duck Leg


Branzino in Crosta
Sea Bass in Celeriac Crust, "Cacciucco" Sauce, Sea Lettuce
Mirafiore Lazzarito Barolo DOCG 2010 Piedmont

I Formaggi di Tosca
Tosca's Cheese Selection
Cusumano Sagana Nero d'Avola, Sicilian DOC 2015 Sicily

Zucca e Mandorle
Pumpkin and Almonds
Saracco Moscato d'Asti DOP 2018 Piedmont

Level 102, International Commerce Centre (ICC), 
1 Austin Rd, West Kowloon, Hong Kong
Open today · 12–2:30pm, 6:30–10:30pm
Phone: +852 2263 2270

Roberta Picco
Resident Sales Manager Asia-Pacific
134A Hillview Avenue
669620 Singapore
Email roberta@ethicawines.com
website www.ethicawines.com
All The Jolly Jolliers!
We paused in the Hotel lobby to get some group photos and got whacked by the driver for the ten minutes that this took. The hotel could not let him park up for us so he had to keep driving around the forecourt. Fair enough. 

As said earlier, I tried to offload the souvenired Moscato but to no avail. Even tried singing a revised "It's Now Or Never" in an attempt to get it drunk. Didn't work. Think the words went something like 
"It's Now Or Never, 
Must drink this wine, 
It's very tasty, 
But out of time - 
The bottle, 
Is yours to drink, 
Or else it's going, 
Straight down the sink"

Back at the Hotel it was decided a nightcap was necessary so a few of us downed either coffee or beer in our individual attempts to get knocked out for bed. Was indeed a good solid knockout for two hours and then the usual fret and clockwatch for a couple of hours whilst the system processes the booze and eventually nod off for an hour or two before the dawn. So it goes. Tomorrow was lazy shopping and dinner so no desperate need to plan too much. Just roll with the day. And a good day it would indeed prove to be. It would also be the day I would get to become the mule. Read on...

Click here for Day Four of the Jolly>>>

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