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Saturday, February 06, 2016

JOURNEY TO GOOD CNY EATS




Braised goose webs ain’t a mainstream dish one finds in KL especially during Chinese New Year (CNY). So it was a mind-blowing moment when I bit into the Braised 20 Head Green Lip Abalone with Goose Web & Sea Cucumber and Superior Brown Sauce at Celestial Court.

Granted, goose web like duck’s tongue is kinda bizarre to eat but heck, I’m Chinese so I consider them real delicacies. Frankly, I was more smitten by the fall-of-the-bone tender goose web skin at dinner compared to the abalone. The rich brown sauce was par excellence too.
 
The show-stealer was one of the many dishes we sampled when Sheraton Imperial KL hosted us to a preview of their CNY specialities. Earlier, we had a rousing start, creating much astir with Boston Lobster Yu Sheng with Banana and Chinese Pear (RM250 half portion, RM500 for full portion).


Executive Chinese Chef Vincent Loo and Dim Sum Chef Ken Liew pulled out the stops, creating an array of festive dishes including seven types of Yu Sheng. Quirky as it may seem, the addition of banana works unexpectedly well with the colourful salad.

Seafood also dominated most of the night’s menu but nobody minded. We lapped up every drop of the Thick Broth with Baby Lobster Meat, Shredded Jade Abalone, Dried Scallop & Sea Cucumber although I personally found it too salty for my liking. Apart from that minor grouse, the strips of seafood in the soup were welcomed by all and sundry.

The Braised Superior Bird’s Nest Broth with Assorted Seafood & Spinach fared better, colour and taste-wise. Having bird’s nest in savoury soup was a novel albeit agreeable idea as the pricey ingredient brought a touch of luxe to the meal.

Red-hot chilli heat singed our tongues lightly as we delved into the plate of Sautéed Fresh Scallops and Sliced Cuttlefish with Flower Fungus and Garden Greens in Spicy Beijing Sauce. A rave-worthy dish with delightful textural contrasts and light but assertive accents.

Similarly, the Dual Combination of Tiger King Prawns: Deep-fried with Spicy Chilli Salt and Sautéed Sichuanese Style left an indelible impression. Springy to the bite, the prawns retained their natural sweetness amidst the strongly flavoured seasoning. Crunchy snow peas were the vegetable du jour to lessen the guilt factor.

Much as we enjoyed the Braised Ee Fu Noodles with Seafood, Dried Oysters and Beansprout in Abalone Sauce, the metallic fishy overtone of the dried oysters tasted at odds with the overall flavour palette which was subtler and more delicate.

Still, the premium dessert of Double-boiled Bird’s Nest with Red Dates, Sweet Pear, White Ginseng & Snow Fungus more than made up for the minor hiccup. The faintly bittersweet herbal nuance was amply tempered by other sweeter niceties so everyone left happily ever after.
The dishes sampled were a concise selection from Celestial Court’s CNY set menus priced at RM1,988, RM2,088, RM2,288 and RM2,688 nett per table of 10 persons.

For reservations, please call Celestial Court, tel: 03-2717 9900 x 6933. Address: Level 3, Sheraton Imperial KL, Jalan Sultan Ismail,

Thursday, February 04, 2016

TEN SHIOK-ING CNY DISHES AT XIN



Toss Up Stirring Prosperity 
Try the Smoked Salmon Yee Sang for your customary lou sang if you’re squeamish about eating raw fish and the risk associated with it. This version has everything going for it in terms of colour, texture and flavour: some fresh ingredients alongside pickles, crisps, ground nuts, sesame seeds, etc.

Xin Cuisine offers six variants: Sliced Abalone, Norwegian Salmon, Bud Mushroom & Scallop, Jellyfish, Shredded Duck & Jackfruit Thai Style or Vegetarian with Snow Pear (from RM79 onwards for regular to RM265 large) to tempt you.

A Serving of Triple Liveliness 
The Chinese maxim sang sang mang mang comes to mind when I saw the platter of Abundant Three Hot Combination. I have always love this dish even from those old school wedding dinners which invariably featured this or the quartet of hot & cold combo.

Kinda like French amuse bouche but more substantial. Choice of items would depend on the chef’s whims so you’d never know what to expect. The triple treats of deep-fried yam with prawns (equated with happy laughter), kataifi-wrapped scallops (big monetary prospects) and stir-fried lotus root, asparagus, macadamia and bunashimeji mushroom packed varied textural and taste contrasts that were palate-pleasing enough.

Be ‘Souper’ Prosperous
Dried scallops, bamboo pith, sliced black mushroom, crabmeat and other goodies form a viscous milieu in the Prosperity Thick Soup with Dried Seafood. This slurpilicious broth can be a harbinger of brimming riches for the coming CNY.


Go for The Whole Hog 
The Chinese loves the piggy as this domesticated animal symbolises bounty to them. Likewise, they enjoy eating Crispy Suckling Pig Hong Kong Style – a revered main banquet course for its sublime crisp, crackling skin – as a fervent wish for bountiful life, be it for wealth, offspring or work prospects. Needless to say, this dish was wiped clean in a twinkling at our review.


Fish for Abundance
Surplus, excess and abundance is associated with fish so no CNY feast is complete without it. Mindful of children and senior folks in multi-generational gatherings, Xin chefs are proffering Steamed Cod with Garlic Oil for easier eating. Superior soya sauce, aromatic garlic oil and fresh coriander with spring onion proved less is more for the sumptuous cod fillets we sampled.


Laugh with Happiness
Just the sight of the dark, luscious sheen of Baked Fresh Waterprawns with King Superior Soya Sauce would be enough to make you LOL with gleeful happiness. Nobody groused about getting their hands dirty as the big-headed crustaceans tasted really shiok; the shells slicked with that deep-seated savoury sauce.


Fly High with the Phoenix
Downhome accents reign in the six Waxed Meat specialities found in Xin’s festive menu. Should you crave for nostalgic retro-style eats, rustic offerings such as Braised Chicken with Three Varieties of Chinese Sausages should leave you crowing with delight. As another auspicious mainstay for CNY as the chook symbolises the celestial phoenix, we delved into the serving with hearty gusto whilst resisting the urge to ask for plain rice to go with it.


Wax Lyrical for Good Fortune
Lap mei farn is a popular staple for most Cantonese folks and this speciality of Waxed Meat Rice in Claypot has gained wide appeal over the years in most Chinese restaurants. Waxed meat and sausages are cherished by the Chinese as the fatty stuffing denotes good fortune and wealth. Come CNY, few patrons at Xin would pass up on the chance to relish this festive dish so we felt fortunate such ‘riches’ came our way already.


Sweeten The Year Ahead
Who can resist such a cool treat which looks like a golden pool? Subtly sweet, the refreshing Mango Puree with Pomelo & Sago drew praises all round. Juicy pomela sacs and tiny sago pearls added to the dessert broth’s mouthfeel. Simple but sweet to ensure a great Year of the Monkey ahead.
 
Uplifting Progress & Prospects
Increase your work and life prospects by eating Nian Gao or steamed glutinous cake. Again, Xin is renowned for its Chinese New Year Sweet Treats (RM12.80 per portion)  such as nian gao coated in sweet potato with macadamia nut, waxed meat nian gao with chicken floss and peanut nian gao with pistachio. Each tasty variant signals upward increases in your annual income, career or business prospects and high marks for upcoming exams as well as personal growth. Now huat more do you want?
Prosperity menus start from RM1,618 onwards per table of 10. Reservations are advisable. Call Xin Cuisine, tel: 03-2144 8750.

HOI NEEN WITH CONCORDE KL


True to tradition, Concorde Hotel KL ‘opens’ the Year of the Monkey with great aplomb. Join in the fun on the 2nd day of Chinese New Year (9 Feb) at the Hotel Lobby from 11am onwards.  Festive highlights include:
Image courtesy of Concorde Hotel KL
·         an awesome acrobatic lion dance by award-winning Kun Seng Keng
·         live Monkey King performance
·         Yee sang toss with the Hotel team
·         Entertaining Chinese acrobatic stunts
·         Photo session with JK & Shaki – two well-dressed monkeys