|Tea with tall "smelling" cup|
|Amuse bouche - cabbage wrapped around mango|
The story goes that the "cuisine" was created by a man named Tan, who was from Nanhai, Guangdong (represent! My dad's family has roots in Nanhai). He was a Qing Dynasty official and as he made it up the imperial ladder, he had to move to Beijing. Being a bit of a foodie, or maybe even a food nerd, he started to experiment with fusing flavours and techniques from regions all around China.**
Tan hosted private dinners at home using his new recipes and they turned out to be a huge hit, appealing to everyone's tastebuds (as was the intention). I suppose he was pretty high ranking, so many of the dishes for which he came to be famous include traditionally expensive ingredients like fish maw, birds' nest, sea cucumber and abalone.
His cuisine was passed on through his apprentices and spread thereon. Beijing Hotel (in, um, Beijing) is reportedly a good place to try it if you find yourself up north. (I'm writing this now in Beijing, and I did find a few dishes that referred to Tan on menus around town.)
|Fish maw with crab claw|
The fish maw and crab claw we had was, to me, more about the amazing soup/sauce that gives the dish its central flavour. It's made from boiling down duck and chicken broth to this slightly sticky, viscous, golden liquid. We were told that it wasn't thickened by flours or powders of any kind. If you love poultry like I do, or just appreciate a good chicken soup, this sauce is like some sort of heavenly elixir. It has the meaty richness of gravy, but has bright, clear flavours of the juices that run from a delicious, just-roasted chicken.
I should mention that the tea service here is pretty exemplary. While the world is trying its best to pair Western wines with Chinese food (with varying results), I feel like they're getting us back on track here with the extensive tea options. We ended up getting the same oolong as we were given as our "welcome drink". It was light with a long, slightly sweet finish that sort of echoed and filled my mouth long after I had drunk it. I'm no tea expert, but I enjoyed it and it went well with the rest of our dishes, which ranged from stir-fried greens to Kung Pao chicken.
|Kung Pao chicken|
|Stir-fried venison with cumin|
|Prawn two ways|
|Petit four - mung bean powder cake and plum "tea"|
*You might already know that I usually don't blog about places that I was invited to, on the basis that it's not a normal person's experience. I must say, some PR people are really getting quite creative (and I mean that in the best way) with the anonymity thing. That said, please do keep the fact of the invitation in mind.
**China is a vast country (duh) and just like anywhere else, climate affects ingredient availability, flavour preferences and even cooking techniques. It isn't strange, for example, for someone from Shanghai to find Cantonese cuisine bland, because Shanghainese food typically sees the addition of more sugar, soy sauce, vinegar and the like. The Cantonese are known for their love of fresh ingredients, and cooking in ways that bring out or retain the "original" flavour - say, steamed fish with nothing more than soy, ginger and spring onion.
Wynn Macau (entrances both inside the casino and out - in case you're with minors)
Rua Cidade de Sintra
+853 8986 3663
Nb. From what I could gather, photos of the restaurant are not allowed (perhaps for the privacy of other guests?). Originally we were told that we could only take pictures of the food if we took it with our food - ie. there has to be a person posing for the picture (?!), but afterwards we were told it's ok to take pictures of the food you ordered. Best to ask when you book, if you're a picture-taker.
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