Yesterday, on February 29th, 2020 (aka Leap Day), a triplet of intrepid FTCers decided to undertake their own Custom Created Tasting Menu, drawing from some FTC board favorites and newcomers.
@moonboy403, @PorkyBelly, and I decided we would check out a couple newer places as well as some old favorites to compare some new food, chow on repeat favorites, and discuss esoteric issues such as where to go for fried chicken when you don’t want to wait for Howlin Ray’s, or the QPR of Mori’s Sushi. We also had to discuss mundane logistical details such as where to take bathroom breaks (only 2 of the 5 have bathroom facilities!) and how to pace ourselves to make it through the evening.
1ST COURSE (5PM) - NEEDLE LA
Arriving here for our first stop, there was some debate about what to order in addition to the char siu. We were tempted by the stewed beef with lobok (daikon) but opted to get the white cut chicken and pea shoots with herbal broth. It was jointly decided that we would forgo ordering rice so as preserve precious belly capacity.
White cut chicken - the skin was really well done, with the perfect gelatinous texture; some of the breast meat pieces were a tad dry; the sauce was a fantastic accompaniment
Pea shoots - really nice fresh, bright tasting veggies with an herbal broth; no overly oily sensation like at many Chinese restaurants
Char siu - this was a bit restrained but tasty; could use more glaze, though the glaze itself had a great balanced sweetness
2ND COURSE (6 PM) - PRD
We split a JPB (Macau pork chop bun), Combo Char Siu Pork Neck + Ribs combo with noodles, and tried to order the Hakka mui choy kau yuk. They were out though, so we got the shrimp silky egg scramble instead.
The Ju Pa Bao
Yes, PRD was gracious enough to split it into three pieces for us (No we did not each consume a whole one - sorry to disappoint y’all). Yes, I got flak from the PRD IG account for this. Yes, it was still damn tasty (and was @PorkyBelly’s first try with this! Thus we gave him the piece with the bone) This was as decadent as I remembered and was a highlight
Shrimp silky scramble
Combo Char Siu Pork Neck and Ribs with Noodle
This was also a highlight; the pork neck was dialed in and, if I may speak for both @moonboy403 and @PorkyBelly, it seemed to be a huge improvement over their previous experiences with this. The pork neck was chewy and meaty with a robust flavor, yet marbled with chunks of fat throughout. Really tasty. The glaze was more tart than at Needle, but there was a lot more of it. The noodles were tasty enough that leftovers were bagged to go home.
3RD COURSE (7PM) - SUPERFINE
It was decided that we would order whole pizzas, since a couple of us had only ordered by the slice. We ordered a half-half pepperoni with margherita + added sausage, and a half-half honey + pea tendrils and Mushroom. One thing to note is that you can order half-half’s with the same base (e.g., tomato sauce on both, or white pizza on both) but cannot combine them.
The tomato pie, especially, was a bit soggy in the middle - we mused whether by-the-slice might be a better way to go, since post reheat, even the inside tips of the pizza would be more crispy. Really as good as we all remember, and the pizza reheats quite well the next day (speaking from experience right now, ahem).
3RD COURSE (8PM) - HOLBOX
Ok, we got here slightly before 8pm and just barely made it before they closed. Unfortunately, the seafood stew was no longer in season, and they were out of one of the scallops and the spot prawns, but we still made a meal of it (literally, not figuratively). This was my first time ever at Holbox, so I deferred to the other two gentlemen to order. Big thumbs up from me!
Trio of tacos - octopus, grilled fish, and scallop
We only split each taco in half, yet were able to devise a method to harmoniously and equitably split the tacos amongst the three of us. The octopus was a bit overcooked and rubbery, but the grilled fish was outstanding and a highlights
Uni and scallop ceviche
The scallop and acidic marinade overwhelmed the uni, to be honest, but this dish sure is photogenic
Delicious - this was sweetened by some OJ, and the sweetness really balanced out well with the heat.
Aguachiles - tiger shrimp and spot prawn
They had run out of spot prawn, but the chef magically found an extra one because he took pity on us. Also really delicious. The spice and the long tart finish was a nice respite from the heaviness of all the other dishes we had eaten during the night. A highlight
We saw another customer order this, and the chef pulled a boisterous lobster out of the tank, so we had to order one as well. The lobster was overcooked and rubbery, and we were not enamored with this.
At this point, someone warily asked - “So, how we feelin’? Should we hit Tire Shop?” Response - “Feeling ok, let’s do it!” - perhaps more out of bravado than anything else
5TH COURSE (9PM) - TIRE SHOP TAQUERIA
This was also @PorkyBelly’s first time here, which meant that we had to sample both the carne asada and the chorizo!
I’d been here once, and the heat in the salsa was more than I recalled. There were some perspired brows after we finished the dish. Also, our carne aside tacos came with chorizo - I don’t recall this being SOP, but I might be wrong. This “dessert” was a fitting end to the day.
At the end of the night, as we were chatting about the day’s activities, a certain someone who shall remain nameless (but whose username starts with a “P” and ends with a “Y”) confessed that, when he suggested all 5 (actually it was 6, but another one wasn’t open yesterday) restaurants, he was only partially serious, and he figured we would narrow it down to one. I told him I had replied with an enthusiastic affirmative only because I figured that’s how he and @moonboy403 had rolled previously! As we sat there, bellies completely full, we agreed that It might have been more sensible to do ONE restaurant. Perhaps a multiple restaurant jaunt like this could be repeated once every leap year.
What were the high and lowlights?
@moonboy403 Highlights were the PRD char siu neck and the tiger aguachiles. Lowlight was the overcooked lobster.
@PorkyBelly Highlights were the PRD JPB and the grilled fish taco. Lowlight was the lobster.
Yours Truly - Highlights were the PRD char siu neck and fish taco. Lowlights were: @PorkyBelly not busting out the rice cooker nor the uni sushi prop; also the lobster.
Which places have bathrooms?
PRD (Far East Plaza) and Holbox (Mercado La Paloma).
Did you really finish all that food?
Yes, except for the pizza, and just barely. Thus the to-go boxes for the pizza.
Thanks for reading this far!