Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Fifty eaters in one room - Dynasty

Those claws enticing much? Well, the invitation to this dinner at Dynasty was, because a.) it's one of those fine Cantonese "classics" I hadn't been to, and b.) I hadn't been to any of the famous foodie meetup dinners organised by KC Gourmet before. There would be about 50 foodies in one room. Whoah.

These were the wines on our table. (Don't judge!) You can read Diary of a Growing Boy's notes about them, but may I point out the first bottle on the right - it's Chateau Dynasty, courtesy of Growing Boy, fitting for our dinner at the eponymous restaurant (but no, the winery and restaurant aren't related). It's a Michelin 1*, whatever that means in HK (as I've said too many times).

Mushroom marinated in oyster sauce, served cold
When I say served cold, I mean it - this was ice cold. In fact I think the dish name said it was rested on ice. I really liked the thickness and firm but smooth texture of this.

Roasted chicken livers
 "Honey-roasted", char siu style, with a sweet and even slightly crisp edge. As I would find at a later dinner at Hoi King Heen (another 'high-level' hotel Cantonese restaurant), the fine creaminess of this liver was not to be taken for granted. Very enjoyable.

Char siu
Decent, but for a restaurant that calls char siu their signature dish, it was probably a bit too sweet. A nice, tender cut of meat was used, but I like mine a little drier and charcoal-y on the outside, with a less syrupy marinade. But people seem to like sweet, moist ones, a la Fu Sing, so maybe it's just me.

Marinated pig's trotters, served cold
Lovely sinewy bits to chew on, with a good stretchy skin. Collagen ftw! (Sorry, Asian in the house). Soy flavours went right into the cartilage too.

Crab claws steamed in egg white
The claws are set into the egg white and steamed. The difficulty in this is that the claws and egg have to cook through at the same time (with neither being over or undercooked - I wonder if the crab claws were pre-cooked a little before going into the egg white? It's not a fault or criticism, just curious), so what you're really eating here is technique (which can be said of so many other Cantonese dishes - pomelo skin et al.). This was perfectly cooked - the egg white was silky and wobbly, and the crab retained its juices and fresh flavours. The flavours are undoubtedly delicate and subtly balanced, and I would say, typically Cantonese.

Frogs' legs with fish maw in garlic and spring onion claypot
There was a small discussion at our table about frogs. They're prone to taste "fishy" (even though they're not even fish), like fish gone bad, or carry an unpleasantness that's a bit like damp bread left beside a sewer, and is hence often cooked with ginger, scallions and so on, to get rid of that flavour. I felt there was still a weeny twang of that "dampness", despite the shallow frying, ginger and all, but the flesh was plump and relatively juicy. It was ok.

Fried chicken
This was pretty good, but the quality of the chicken itself didn't excite me. I couldn't be sure if it was fresh chicken - the flesh was a little bland and left me unconvinced. I maintain that the best I've had was still at T'ang Court and Spring Moon.

Sweet and sour pork
When I'm out with non-Chinese friends and I order this, they think I'm just ordering it because it's the typical gwailo (foreigner) thing to have. I actually happen to like it a lot, and it's a good test of the chef's skills - the sauce, for example, shouldn't make the deep-fried crust soggy. It's also interesting to see which cut of meat is chosen, and/or how they cut it. This was probably short rib, but instead of mahjong-tile chunks, they were in thick slices. This made it less "meaty" to the bite, but gave more crunch, so... each to their own. I'm a bit of a crunch slut so I preferred this one. (Have I ever told you about my Doritos addiction?) The worst ones, in my opinion, are those with excessive fat. Deep fried fat slathered in sauce might sound dirty-good, but in sweet and sour pork, it ends up being a hot explosion of sweetness and dilutes all other flavours, which really isn't the point of this dish. It needs to be sweet and sour, yes, but also savoury. With too much runny fat, all you'll taste is batter and sugar.

Minced pork, egg and crab roe bake
Rich, but in a comforting, satisfying way. This and a bowl of rice or thick congee on a cold winter's day and I'd be pretty happy.

Braised pomelo in abalone sauce
What's wrong with sauce that's not :abalone"? Oh well. I like pomelo skin, but this one was too mushy (yet fibrous) and again, I don't get why they had to make it taste like dried seafood. It was fine, but not my thing.

Minced beef and rice in parsley (?) egg soup
A nice way to end a banquet, rather than the usual 'dry' rice/noodle combo. (Note to self: must remember this when I'm working out banquet menus in future!)

Desserts were all served piping hot, in true, good Canto style. The mala ("Malay") sponge was pretty good, with a bit of glutinous stretch; the steamed buns were interesting in that the filling was made of white sesame and not the usual lotus seed paste - a little less "gloopy" and cloyingly sweet - a nice surprise, and the fried sesame balls were filled with a super runny (hello lard!) black sesame filling - it's never been my thing, but it was fine.

Overall a pretty decent Cantonese restaurant, but I don't get why it's seen as the tycoon's hangout. Aside from the barbecued livers there were no real standouts, but then again, what's not to like about all-round above-averageness, hey.

KC mentioned in his post that they charged us some kind of special "banquet" supplement in addition to the normal menu prices, which is kind of cheeky, and so 80s tycoon-style (cos they'd just pay whatever for "face" and stuff)...

3/F, Renaissance Harbour View Hotel
1 Harbour Road
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
+852 2584 6971

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  1. You're such a gweipo! Sweet and sour pork... XD

  2. oh, "goo lo yook" sounds like "gwailo yook" hahaha

  3. Everything looks amazing!! Must have been a great feast with great company. :)

    nice meeting/seeing you yesterday.

  4. nice meeing you too! eat well in Van & hope to see you (and eat? hehe) soon :)

  5. Nice post; love the 'hello lard!' note, typical Canto ;-)
    ...and yes, I love koo Lo yuk just like you described it too!

  6. thanks Gregoire! haha our love for lard and fatty pork is a little unhealthy