Baked Black Cod and Another Birthday at R&G Lounge (SF)
My sister enjoyed the banquet and especially the smoked black cod for our uncle's 80th so much, we were back at R&G Lounge on Monday for her own birthday. Only five of us at the table, so this was a much smaller affair. We ordered ala carte, other than the black cod (sablefish) that had been reserved ahead.
Here's what we ordered:
Say mei house soup - Sure there are fancier soups, yet the complimentary tonic-like, long-cooked house soups at R&G are some of my favorites anywhere. Four flavors or say mei on Monday had a pile of pork neck bones on the bottom of the tureen, cloudy stock, and more than four different kinds of herbal ingredients.
Steak cubes and sugar snap peas in XO sauce - After annoying our waiter and kicking it up to the attention of assistant manager, Angel, we learned that it's no longer possible to pay a supplement to specify filet mignon or ribeye steak for this dish. Just one unidentified cut is used. Angel asked the kitchen to make it rare to ensure tenderness for our parents. Whatever cut of beef it was, it turned out delicious and soft enough in this prep with sweet and crunchy pea pods in tasty XO sauce. Well-seared with a distinct grain and some gamey/liverish tones, my mother thought it might be hanger steak.
Baked black cod - The object of my sister's affections is priced at a lofty gasping-for-air $30 and takes 30 minutes to prepare. Angel said the Chinese name for this dish is guk shuet yu or slow baked cod. On other restaurant menus it may be called smoked black cod. One of the advantages of ordering this in advance is that it's fired as soon as you check in, saving time and gaps in service. As wonderful as the enormous filet was at Uncle Ben's banquet, I think this smaller piece was even better due the higher surface to volume ratio for more crusty edges and greater penetration of the seasonings. Earlier there's been a question about whether this was sablefish or Chilean sea bass. We tried to get a reading on this from the taste, texture, and patterning on the skin, and it seemed like sablefish to us.
Gai lan with salted fish - This dish had good flavor combining salted fish and tender diamonds of ginger with Chinese broccoli. But the gai lan and the bits of fish was a shade too hard. Also, gai lan quality will be better as the weather turns cool and wet, so best to hold off on this for now.
Long life yee fu mein with pork and double mushrooms - This version of yee fu noodles with richer and meatier flavors from the pork was much tastier than the abalone-sauced noodles we'd had at the banquet. Also the noodles were longer and not as soft, and an excellent ending to this dinner.
With steamed rice, tax and tip this dinner set us back $85. I added a little extra for demanding the supervisor's attention. I'm very happy to be eating well at R&G again.
Uncle Ben's Birthday Banquet at R&G (September 2006) -
i just had the baked black cod the other night for a birthday dinner, and i thought it rivaled the s&p crab for top billing at this meal. tender, pleasantly rich and fatty, the flesh smooth and giving with superb sweet and savory notes. i thought it tasted more like a japanese style prep than cantonese, like nobu styled miso glazed cod. my friends were scraping the flesh away from the skin, for which i went back to covet and eat. rich, fatty and tasty. this is now a new must have for me.
also tasty were the freshly steamed (formerly) live prawns, steaming hot and sweet, with their juicy heads to suck on.
i can't wait to go back when our local crabs are in season.
For my sister's birthday, I just called a couple hours beforehand to make a res. When I set up a special banquet, I work with Angel, the asst. manager. The website has several fixed price banquets to choose from, and you can negotiate substitutions if something doesn't suit you.