Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Lucky House Private Kitchen :: 陶然居私房菜

Celebrated the BFF's birthday proper (but belatedly) with a special dinner at Lucky House Cantonese Private Kitchen (陶然居). We had a full table, of course, and ordered many many dishes. Reservations are still hard to come by, so it was a treat to score one, and we hurriedly gathered a table and locked the date in everyone's calendar.

Chef Sam Wong and wife Lee Yee run the private kitchen. I don’t know how Chef Sam does it, but he’s all cheerful in spite of spending days to prep for dinners. He didn't mind me crashing into his kitchen to poke around his pots and take photos. We were a party of 16, and made so much noise. The private kitchen permits us to bring our own alcohol, and nicely allowed us to chill champagne in the fridge. There were bottles of wine, and I brought a bottle of Glenrothes Elders Reserve 18y.o. We brought our own glasses, and disposable cups. Much more convenient. No wait staff, so do keep the place clean.

Couldn't wait for the food to appear. I arrived at the venue early enough to see him clean the fish to prep it for steaming. I saw all the pots bubbling on the old-school charcoal stove. Chef Sam Wong lovingly brought out each dish to present it to us before serving. The black chicken soup was beautiful. I totally approved of it; I'll shamelessly say that I can do soups well, so I recognize quality when I taste it. This pot held no salt or sugar, and had been slow boiled for ten hours. Half of us loved it, and the other half was wondering where the heck were the salt and pepper, and thought that the soup was utterly tasteless. 😂

There was poultry. Two kinds. Chicken and duck. Woah. The birds would have been prepped and marinated two days before our dinner. The concubine chicken (貴妃雞) was out of this world. Chef Sam served it two ways- large chopped pieces andd shredded. I took a bite and realized that his supply lines are excellent, as are his cooking methods. The smoked roast duck has been touted to be fabulous, and indeed it is. We had two ducks. They were carefully sliced up, and both were magnificent.

The fish was so fresh, and so well steamed. A gorgeous red emperor snapper. It was exactly how I would do it at home. I hate ordering steamed fish at restaurants precisely because so few of them meet my standards. That’s not to say the rest of the food wasn’t good. They were delicious. We also had crayfish omelette, and braised beef brisket with beancurd skin. Apparently the entire pot of rice wasn't sufficient. Hahaha. Although it would have only been a 30-minute wait, nobody was keen or hungry enough to volunteer to wash another few cups of rice and put those into the electric cooker.

Good food like this can be found in many home kitchens. I grew up in happy kitchens like this. I know a number of fantastic home cooks. And some still have traditional outdoor kitchens like this, without the aid of modern grills or pressure cookers. The amount of effort that goes in to creating each dish is ridiculous. And that is something I appreciate- to have someone else cook good food with such love and care, using age-old methods that produce the best sort of broth and textures.

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