Restaurant: Tai Sui [1, 2]
Location: 3219 North San Gabriel Boulevard, Rosemead, CA. (626) 307-0203
Date: March 22, 2015
Rating: Awesome meats!
We Hedonists are never ones to shy away from the exotic, and Tai Sui, a Cambodian hole in the wall in the San Gabriel Valley surely fits the bill.
NV Egly-Ouriet Champagne Brut Tradition Grand Cru. Burgound 91. The last time this cuvée was reviewed (disgorgement in 2006) it was noticeably toastier and a bit less elegant than this version, if a bit more complex. The hallmark toastiness of the Egly house style is certainly present though as I note, to a lesser extent. The pinot fruit is evident on both the nose and the palate with good effervescence to the attractively intense, crisp and vibrant flavors that possess fine finishing punch on the moderately dry finish. This could be enjoyed now though I would personally opt to hold it for 2 to 3 years first.
The decor is oh so sophisticated, but the food is fabulous.
From my cellar: 2004 Morey-Blanc Meursault 1er Cru Bouchères. Burgound 92. This is a good deal riper with exotic aromas of mango, melon and dried apricots that lead to textured, dense and mouth coating full-bodied flavors that are beautifully complex and despite the weight, the marked acidity keeps everything focused and well-balanced. An impressive showing for a wine that I often find to be a bit top-heavy.
agavin: lots of reduction, and still a good bit of vanilla oak. Nice acidity though and a quite nice 1re.
Spring rolls. Not sure what was in these, but they were yummy.
2012 Domaine / Maison Vincent Girardin Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Pucelles. Burghound 93. A ripe but airy and beautifully well-layered nose features notes of honeysuckle, citrus, apricot and soft spice nuances. The palate feel of the medium-bodied flavors is also highly seductive and opulent as the abundant dry extract confers an almost oily texture to the powerful finish. This could easily be an overly heavy wine yet the bright citrus-infused acidity saves the balance and I would make the same observation here in that this is far from a classic Pucelles yet it manages to work all the same. Note that this should drink well almost immediately.
agavin: bright, acidic, and drinking very nicely for such a young big White Burg
You wrap them with noodles, herbs, and some fish sauce. It’s all about the sauce.
2012 Henri Boillot Puligny-Montrachet. Burgound 89. Here too there is enough reduction to push what appears to be ripe fruit to the background. The pure and well-detailed middle weight flavors possess a highly seductive mouth feel along with lovely balance and excellent persistence for a villages level wine. The class of a fine Puligny is very much in evidence and this is worth your attention.
Spring rolls. The less fried variety. Not quiet as tasty.
2012 Peter Michael Chardonnay Ma Belle-Fille. VM 93. Green-tinged yellow. Vibrant aromas of lime, anise, chalky minerals and honeysuckle show impressive clarity and a hint of iodine. Firm, tightly focused and dry, offering mineral-driven citrus and orchard fruit flavors and complicating ginger and quinine nuances. Finishes racy and pure, with strong, clinging mineral and citrus zest flavors.
agavin: all oak and malo with no acid
Fried frog. This light tempura-style batter was the perfect complement to a little amphibian fun. Piping hot and full of moist flavor.
2012 Dönnhoff Oberhäuser Leistenberg Riesling Kabinett. VM 87. Nectarine, pine nuts and lemon oil on the nose. Delicate tropical fruit flavors are brightened by a salty twang. Refreshing acidity gives a feminine character to the finish. Nicely balanced.
agavin: solid easy drinking Riesling
Shrimp salad with pig ear. This dish was absolutely fabulous. Not only was there the nice textural play of soft and crunchy, but the bright citrus, sour, fish saucy flavor was amazing. And then as added zest there was a bit of shaved pig ear thrown in. Seriously, what more could you ask for?
From my cellar: 1990 Robert Ampeau & Fils Volnay 1er Cru Santenots. 92 points. An earthy medium-to-heavy weight Burgundy, with tastes packed with tar, tobacco, forest floor, mushroom and dark cherry. The fruitiness has mostly disappeared, and is replaced by a solid backbone redolent of the grape’s mother soil. Worth drinking to experience the capabilities of a well-aged burgundy. Shipped directly from Domaine Ampeau’s cellars.
agavin: a little bretty at first, then blew off and opened up to be very nice, if not fully resolved.
French style venison. Deer cooked in a sort of black pepper, wine, soy reduction. Lots of flavor. perhaps a touch chewy.
1999 Haut Bailly. Parker 88. This wine is light to medium-bodied, with sweet currant and smoke-infused flavors and some oak in the background, but plenty of red fruits, vanilla, and dried herbs. This is a soft, well-balanced wine to drink now and over the next 12-15 years.
Fried smelts. Super salty but full of umami flavor.
1995 Henschke Shiraz Hill of Grace. Parker 91. Deep garnet-brick in color, the 1995 Hill of Grace has a slightly leathered, dried fruit nose that is a little tired though highlighted by notes of sandalwood, tree bark and earth, hints of leather and meat. There’s a touch of barnyard on the palate and it is a bit past its peak, fading slightly with crisp acid and firm, chewy tannins through a long finish.
agavin: This was the best of the strong reds, particularly with the food.
Clams in spicy sauce. The sauce was amazing over rice.
2005 Saxum Syrah Broken Stones. Parker 94+. The 2005 Broken Stones, a blend of 74% Syrah, 24% Grenache, and the rest Mourvedre, is a beauty. Notes of licorice, forest floor, pepper, spice box, and loads of black and red fruits jump from the glass as well as saturate the palate. This full-bodied, opulent wine has crisp acidity, some heady alcohol, and loads of flavor, depth, and richness. It is a savory wine to drink now and over the next 7-10 years.
2008 Saxum Syrah Broken Stones. Parker 94. The 2008 Broken Stones (79% Syrah, 13% Grenache, and the rest Mourvedre) has a bluish purple color to the rim, with the classic nose of camphor, charcoal, black currant, and blackberry with hints of licorice and smoke. This intense wine displays great fruit, some structure, and a beautifully seamless texture. It is more evolved and open than the 2007 was at the same time, and just slightly less profound. It should drink nicely for at least a decade.
Mixed fried rice. This awesome rice was totally made by the bits of sweet/savory Chinese sausage.
2012 L’Aventure Optimus. 93 points. Absolutely stunning. Drank with dry aged rib eyes and seared foie gras. Dark, rich fruit. Sweet oak, hints of pepper and smoke on the nose to go with the dark fruit. Even better on day 2 poured back into bottle and gassed overnight. Such a great deal on a unique blend.
2007 Brown Estate Zinfandel Westside. 88 points. Spicy, berry nose. Jammy, full and long on the palate.
Goat stew. The gamey goat meat was super tender, and the wontons lent some nice texture, but the real winner hear was the broth which was out of this world. Very South East Asian, like a Pho broth.
Vegetable. This was intended to be briefly cooked in the soup and was very savory that way. It’s some kind of chrysanthemum. The staff only described it as “vegetable.”
2010 Cayuse Syrah Cailloux Vineyard. Tanzer 95. Good deep red. Raspberry, bacon fat and black olive on the nose. Silky, fleshy and sweet, with a peppery topnote to the sweet raspberry and beef jerky flavors. Finishes classically dry and extremely long, with noble, fine-grained tannins. This very concentrated and utterly captivating syrah called to mind a Cote-Rotie from the legendary Marius Gentaz.
Garlic fried squab. Small but tasty little game birds.
2005 K Vintners Charles Smith Old Bones Syrah. Parker 99. The 2005 Syrah Old Bones is a blend of The Heart and The Skull but aged in 500-liter barrels. It is more complex, opulent, and totally hedonistic. It will be at its best from 2017 to 2035.
Roast quail with rice. This bird was even better. Like Thai BBQ chicken, but more gamey.
1999 Sunstone Syrah. Parker 88. I would have guessed the 1999 Syrah was from Australia. While it sports an unjustifiable price, it is a delicious, New World Syrah with tons of oaky vanilla scents intermixed with pepper, licorice, and blackberry/cassis fruit. Medium to full-bodied and plush, with low acidity, it will drink well for 6-7 years.
2003 Mitolo Shiraz Savitar. Parker 94-7. The 2003 Shiraz Savitar is a prodigious offering. Made from 30- to 50-year-old Shiraz vines in the Willunga district of McLaren Vale, it was aged 18 months in 100% new French barrels and small foudres. This elegant Shiraz boasts an opaque purple color along with sumptuous blueberry, blackberry, and cassis notes intermixed with touches of white flowers, licorice, camphor, and graphite. A compellingly textured, rich, super-endowed red, it combines power with finesse.
Fried pork chop and egg. Seems simple, but this breakfast-like combo of fried pork chop and egg was absolutely amazing together. Super tender.
1994 Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris Rotenberg Vendange Tardive. Parker 98. The 1994 Tokay-Pinot Gris Rotenberg V.T. is a medium dark golden-colored wine, with high levels of botrytis and alcohol, awesome richness and thickness, and a chewy, unctuous palate that finishes with slight to moderate sweetness. It needs 4-5 years of cellaring, but it should keep for 25-30.
agavin: one of my favorites of the night, as I love a good sticky. Plus it went well with the curry.
Goat curry. A nice yellow curry with tender goat meat. Great again over rice.
Overall, a total deal ($42 or similar all in) and some really tasty meats. Yeah, some folks were too quail to really enjoy all the slightly odd meats, but this place packs a lot of flavor.
Wine wise, it was a bit of a mixed bag. We had a whole bunch of decent Chards, then my one Pinot, and then way too many muscle wines which didn’t really complement well. Still, we made the “best” of it and had a roaring good time with a lot of drunken antics (see below).
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