I was invited to dinner at Mr Chow Beverly Hills this week to taste some wines from Terlato Winery. Mr John Terlato, a third generation vintner presented seven of his wines during the meal. As Mr Terlato says, “Chinese food is difficult to pair with wines, and we are here, together, to taste and decide which of these wines will best accompany this meal.”
This is my first visit to Mr Chow, a restaurant with a four decade-long history. I have no expectations, in fact, I’m am slightly skeptical whenever I eat Chinese food in southern California because I tend to be disappointed more often than not. However, I am astonishingly pleased when I see through the glass window leading into the kitchen, that it is manned by an all-Chinese crew. I am also tickled by the white outfits don by the servers. It reminds me of my childhood at The Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong where staff wear similar uniforms, a symbol of class and exceptional service.
We settle into our seats at the round table, the only thing missing is a lazy Susan to complete this rather traditional Chinese dinner. This evening, we have three white wines on the table to accompany the first part of our meal.
We begin with Corn & Crabmeat Soup ($16), a light and silky concoction which doesn’t overpower the palate in any way. With this, we sip on the Terlato 2014 Friuli Pinot Grigio, a crisp and light wine which I will come to find, pairs easily with every single dish.
Chimney Rock 2013 Elevage Blanc is a sauvignon blanc and sauvignon gris blend, a lot more complex in flavor. It works well with the Squab with Lettuce Wrap ($10.50) adding a hint of sweetness from the hoisin sauce, mellowing out the wine on the palate. This dish also pairs well with the third white wine — Terlato 2013 Chardonnay — which happens to be a rather difficult pairing for me. I only like it with the squab, nothing else, not even on its own. I am not a fan of oak and this particular wine is rather wood-heavy.
Salt & Pepper Prawns ($22) is absolutely delicious! Perfectly crispy on the outside with the salt and pepper enveloping the shell so you are able to eat it in its entirety, shell and all. This dish is wonderful with the first two wine selections.
Moving on to the second portion of our meal, we are poured four reds. Sanford 2012 Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills is the first. It is delightful with hints of berries and very smooth on the palate. It is also perfection with Ma Mignon ($44), a Mr Chow classic. Tender filet mignon with a crispy crust is not only medium rare pink, but it is also tender and well-seasoned. I take sips of the Pinot Noir, but also, mindful about the next wine, Rutherford Hill 2012 Merlot. It is excellent with the flavorful beef.
Next comes Lamb Shank ($38), the only disappointing dish out of the meal. Though seasoned well, the lamb is extremely dry and verges towards jerky status. Still, its flavors are not lost, and we are able to find that it is a good fit for all the red wines including Rutherford Hill 2011 Barrel Select, possibly my favorite of the night. It is a tad spicy with bright hints of cherry and plum.
Sauteed Brown Rice with Mushrooms is a must when you dine here. The rice possesses a nutty taste, and while I am not able to detect any more mushrooms other than the ones on top as garnish, I do taste it in the rice, which I’m guessing is prepared with mushroom stock.
At this point, the piece de resistance — Beijing Duck ($68/available as part of a 3-course dinner/ minimum 3 guests) — is brought to the table. We mutter ooos and ahhs before they swiftly carve table-side. Plates of thin flour pancakes and another of julienned scallions and cucumber arrive. I am so happy to see proper condiments for Peking duck.
Traditionally, thin flour pancakes are served with Peking duck. However, there are a ton of restaurants here which serve buns as accompaniment. This is wrong! Peking duck is always eaten rolled in flour pancakes, not buns. Camphor duck is eaten with buns, but I don’t think I’ve seen this on any menus here. The final wine of the evening, Chimney Rock 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon. It is rich, robust and full bodied.
Our meal is stellar to say the least, made even better by the wines John Terlato presented. If you’re dining at Mr Chow, know that they carry Terlato wines in their repertoire. A highly enjoyable evening with great food, incredible wines, and perfect company.
344 N Camden Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210