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Ward 48 dinner at Ming Kee

June 26, 2009

w48 @ Ming Kee June 2009 (2)Time flies, and, once again, we settled down to another one of the famous ward 48 dinners for the HOs and MOs. We returned to Ming Kee, which is an absolute gem located along MacPherson Rd. Where else can one locate a air-conditioned Chinese restaurant, with polite and attentive uniformed staff, that serves superb dishes at prices that are most reasonable (if you feel that SGD671 for a full-course dinner for two tables, including a gigantic crab each, is expensive, you don’t belong to this planet) without any service charge, GST, nor corkage for unlimited usage of tall Mikasa glasses?? The Prime Minister obviously knew better, for a framed photograph of him and the restaurant’s chefs lined the wall at the entrance. Ang Mohs are known to frequent this place with cartons of wine. I strongly suggest you look up this place before the owners wise up. Advance bookings are essential.

The senior staff table began the evening’s proceedings with a pair of Aussie whites: 2007 Moss Wood chardonnay and 2004 Leeuwin Estate Art Series chardonnay. Both hail from the Margaret River wine region, and both were pale lemon yellow in color, with initial notes of citrus, lime, and minerals (more with the Leeuwin). The Moss Wood seemed to lack sufficent depth and body initially, compared with the Leeuwin, which was immediately fuller, showing great balance between fruit and acidity. But with time, the Moss Wood opened up, gaining in weight and intensity, with lifted creamy, floral notes tinged with honey. In fact, over time, both these wines became very similar on the nose, with the Moss Wood eventually edging ahead, slightly, on the palate. However, both fell way short off the mark in comparison to the previous night’s Giaconda and Talbott (see below).

We paired the meat dishes with two Bordeaux reds and two Aussie reds. The 1999 Grand Puy Lacoste, already brownish-red, threw off a strong sweet note of glycerin. However, the wine came across as lacking in quality fruit and rather four-square, with the wood and alcohol being quite evident. Disjointed. Somewhat symptomatic of the vintage, although I remembered a bottle 2 years ago at KP’s place showed much better. The 2000 Grand Mayne, much darker red in color, also smelt of sweet glycerin. This wine, on the other hand, was huge, dense and monolithic. Yet to develop secondary flavours. This will last many more years, although I’m afraid it’s not my preference – just too extracted, a wine that tries too hard.

The pair of Aussies actually fared better. The 2003 D’Arenberg Dead Arm, impenetrable red in color, gave off unmistakable flavours of aged shiraz. Still huge, with prominent notes of liquorice, plum, and loads of alcohol (much heavier than my previous bottle with the Mayo endocrinologists in Feb 2009), the whole package coming across as being rather predictable and four-square. I’d say the previous bottle was better. I can’t say I enjoyed it.

w48 @ Ming Kee June 2009The 2001 Cyril Henschke (Kieron) was easily the wine of the night. A blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot, it hit the right notes from the start: huge nose of lifted, ripe warm fruit, with a hint of medicinal notes on the finish. Full, mouth-saturating, yet leaves you still wanting for more. Richer and more sophisticated in its handling of wood, alcohol and fruit than the Dead Arm. Excellent stuff, but I think one really needs a robust steak to go with it.

The MOs thoroughly enjoyed themselves, polishing off 4 bottles (2000 D’Arenberg Dead Arm, 1996 Haut-Bages-Liberal, Penfolds Bin 407 (vintage?), as well as a German riesling) and becoming totally disinhibited in the process. They even went further to order another house plonk. This is, by far, the best showing from the HOs and MOs, and I can imagine ourselves returning to Ming Kee regularly.

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