Weve had prior discussions on this board about some of the inconsistencies at R&G Lounge in San Francisco Chinatown. A couple recent banquets have turned up some more hits, and a couple misses for the record. Im not sure of the exact terms used for these dishes on the menu, but the server should be able to figure out what you mean.
Dry-fried whole live shrimp When the tanks are teeming with live shrimp, you gotta order some. Weve had them steamed, served sushi style followed by the deep-fried salt and pepper-style heads, and now dry-fried whole in the shell with a bit of garlic and scallions. Youll need to peel off the shells but do this with your teeth so that you can enjoy all the flavor thats collected in the shells and legs. Theyre so incredibly sweet and succulent, and of course, you must suck the heads to enjoy every bit of deliciousness.
Filets of flounder Our pocketbooks protested the price gouging for steamed live fish during Chinese New Years celebrations, so our waiter suggested this for our fish dish instead. A real winner - meltingly tender slices of brilliantly fresh flounder that somehow dont fall apart on the plate. These are bathed in a subtly seasoned sauce on a bed of juicy hearts of mustard greens.
Eggplant with garlic sauce For our vegetarian friends, we asked for the meatless version. Tender and sweet light-skinned Chinese eggplant slices braised to a state of utter unctuousness. The sauce was dark and dusky with lots of garlic and shreds of tree ear fungus and bamboo shoots.
Large pea shoots with garlic Towards the tail end of the season for the small variety (tough and wiry now), the large type of pea shoots offers the same flavor but with more substance and juicier stems. Cooked with a little chopped garlic and pan juices to a turn, the leaves were oh so silky and the stems retained a bit of crunch.
On the house herbal soup Weve always skipped over the complimentary soup, going for something more up-market or trading the room in our stomachs for more sumptuous dish. But our friend from Taipei insisted and were glad she did. Very Cantonese to start the meal with a cup of broth to aid digestion, or as our waiter said, its good for your intestine. This is the liquid essence of countless chickens, ducks, pigs, cows and savory herbs. Just drink the broth and leave behind the spent remains of bark, twigs, bone shards and boiled-out pieces of fatty meat in the bottom of the tureen.
Steak kow and sugar peas with XO sauce Usually I specify rib eye for this dish, but this time we went with the standard. As reported by someone else on this board, the steak kow can be pretty chewy. The standard cut of beef was tenderized with baking powder and pounded with some extra exotic spices, so the flavor of the dish was altered as well. The texture was reminiscent of chicken-fried steak but the hunky cubes of meat were almost too big to bite into. The sugar pea pods were very high quality - small and sparkling fresh - and the XO sauce was on form. Be sure to ask for rib eye steak when you order this.
Water spinach with fermented bean curd (foo yee ong choi) This was great a year ago, but for our most recent dinner, it was overcooked. Too tough and stringy.
Our love affair with German Riesling for the Cantonese banquet continues with Alsatian white wines offering occasional diversion. Of the following list of wines from our last two outings at R&G Lounge, only the Hermitage blanc couldnt find a marriage partner at the table. To the gentleman at Mustards Grill who was recently trying to convince me that Asian/Fusion cuisine kills wines, I say, read em and weep.
1971 J. J. Prüm Graacher Himmelreich Auslese
1983 J. J. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese
1998 J. J. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Long Gold Cap Auslese
1997 Prinz Hallengartner Jungfer Kabinett
1999 Reinhold Haart Piesporter Goldtröpchen Kabinett
1999 von Schubert Maximiner Grünhaus Abtsberg Auslese (Single Fuder)
1992 Gunderloch Nackenheimer Rothenberg Beerenauslese
1998 Zind-Humbrecht Clos Windsbuhl Pinot Gris
1994 Ernst Burn Goldert Grand Cru Clos St. Immer Cuvée de la Chapelle Gewurztraminer
1989 Albert Boxler Brand Grand Cru Gewurztraminer Vendage Tardive
1996 Zind-Humbrecht Clos Jebsal Pinot Gris Selection de Grains Noble
1983 Chave Hermitage Blanc
1989 Huët Le Haut Lieu Moelleux Vouvray
1993 Domaine Tempier La Tourtine Bandol
1997 Husch Vineyards Anderson Valley Gewurztraminer
1997 Dehlinger Unfiltered Estate Russian River Valley Chardonnay
1999 Joseph Swan Vineyards Cuvée de Trois Russian River Valley Pinot Noir