Following the Family WineMakers Fall Tasting (see the link below), my brother and I joined a few friends for a feast at Kirin on Geary. He's been hearing me rave about the shad salad at Bow Hun for months now and has been anxious to try it. I mentioned this to Melanie and she said "Auntie Evelyn prefers Kirin's version-let's go try it".
The wine tasting was a zoo, but brother led me to the good stuff (he was the wine buyer at North Berkeley Wines in the late 80's): Flowers 1999 Chardonnay, Edmeades Mendocino Ridge Zinfandel, Murphy-Goode 1999 Pinot Noir (and a secret bottle of their Zinfandel that Dennis Murphy poured with a wink and a smile), and the 1995 J Reserve Sparkling Wine.
I have to admit this now: I overindulged a wee bit at the wine tasting ("What, spit OUT the wine?"), so I am copying our dinner notes from Melanie, who organized this extravaganza and pre-ordered the special salad and a stuffed chicken.
We were ravenous and started with Jelly fish with pressed pork hock cold plate ($8.50) while waiting for the remainder of our group. The jelly fish was delightfully chewy without being rubbery and had a lovely sesame marinade.
As soon as the final guests arrived, on to the Rainbow raw fish salad, ($40 for the large plate), which came as a mountainous riot of color; red chili rings, cilantro, toasted peanuts, pickled shallots, crispy wonton "chips" and the iridescent shad itself. Very fresh and clean tasting, but I admit I do love the addition of pepper corns and lemon rind in Bow Hun's salad.
We moved on to Minced squab with lettuce cup($26), an excellent version with very tender morsels of squab, Winter melon soup ($7.50), Frog with straw mushroom, sugar peas and yellow chives, ($15) the only disappointing dish of the evening, which smelled great and the veggies were nice but the frog itself was overly tough. Shredded pork and preserved turnip with soft bean cake ($6.95 )was the surprise of the night - super dish! Melanie says she would never have suggested it for our crowd, but glad Robert was intrigued by it. We had Sugar pea sprouts with garlic sauce ($10) for the vegetable entry. I was expecting the tiny pea shoots but pleasantly surprised by the much larger sprouts; crunchy and sweet and complemented well by the garlic sauce. Kirin's take on the Stuffed chicken with sweet rice($30) may not be as good as R & G's but I was hooked; sticky rice (and maybe some sausage?) encased by golden crispy chicken skin. I didn't get to try the Clams with black bean sauce ($7.50), but my friend Sarah went back for seconds - nice rendition, a little sweet,
very fresh and plump clams.
Total with tax, tip and corkage = $220 for 7 people and lots of leftovers.
And the wines Melanie shared:
1998 Copia Carneros Chardonnay (Beaulieu Private Reserve)
1996 J. Strub Niersteiner Pettenthal Riesling Kabinett (Rheinhessen)
1985 Joseph Phelps Backus Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (the leftovers of which helped get me out of the doghouse for being late!)
6135 Geary Blvd.