Monday, April 24, 2017

FOOD & FUN AT SAMA-SAMA FOOD FIESTA

Guests were treated to food and fun in a carnival atmosphere recently at Sama-Sama Hotels KL International Airport from 19 to 23 April. Besides the wide variety of tempting dishes served, the event featured fun fair type games, a roving clown and screening of movies and cartoons for children. A Beer Garden was also included to cater to the international clientele.
A battalion of 21 chefs from Sama-Sama Hotel KLIA, Sama-Sama Express KLIA and Sama-Sama Express klia2 teamed up to present popular local, Western and Lebanese food at the different stalls set up at the sprawling Rooftop Garden of KLIA.


Although we were spoiled for choice with 21 stalls to choose from, we zoomed in for Sama-Sama Signature Mee Rebus. The tasty serving came with thick, sweetish gravy smothering yellow noodles, slices of fried beancurd, a wedge of hardboiled egg and crispy fritters.
I also enjoyed Laksa Kedah, tantalising rice noodles in tamarind and flaked fish gravy. Fresh cucumber strips, onion and thick gooey prawn paste were the accompaniments for this offering. The delightfully sour broth was surprisingly zingy on the palate but that added to its irresistible appeal.
Family-friendly fare which proved popular with the young ones was the pretty Sushi Rolls served at the Japanese stall. Both traditional and reverse rice rolls with assorted fillings were attractively presented so many diners made a beeline for them.
Rice fiends had a gala time sampling Nasi Dalcha Daging Rendang Mamak. The aromatic rice was redolent with fragrant spices and really hit the spot when eaten with chunks of tender beef rendang, veggie pickles and crackers.
Noodles seemed to dominate our favourite eats list that evening we were there. The Char Kuay Teow had plenty of wok hei, that splendid smoky accent few cooks managed to imbue into this tricky dish. Chives, egg and beansprouts lent textural dimension although the tiny cockles were nothing to shout about.
Heh, our penchant for Penang fare was obvious as we followed up with a serving of Pasembor Penang after that. While it wasn't the best, we agreed the version was decent enough to pass muster.
 
If you like watching chefs in action, stop by the Curry Puff and Apam Balik stalls. These local snacks deserved equal standing with foreign imports like waffles and pies...in my opinion ours taste way better and are much cheaper!
Thumbs up for the Apam Balik which came in normal and pandan variants. The pancake was crisp and crunchy; the thickness too was spot on.
Colourful and rich, the variety of Malay Kuih left us in a sweetly jovial mood. Washed down with a cup of hot Teh Tarik, we couldn't cope with much more food. How we wish we had tummy space for Hainanese Chicken Rice, Rojak Sotong, Ikan Bakar or Chef Ammar's signature rice and curry specialities but alas, it was futile for us to fit anything else in.
If you missed this Food Fiesta, fear not. Sama-Sama Hotels may organise similar events in future and possibly for the fasting month so keep your eyes and ears open for upcoming news. 
 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

JUADAH DESA RULES AT LATEST RECIPE



Tradition still rules at Latest Recipe when it comes to the fasting month this year. Chef Budiman Bistari and his team will pull out the stops for Serambi Juadah Warisan Desa, evoking the culinary heritage of Malay villages from different nooks and crannies of the nation for berbuka puasa.
Apart from the customary dates to break fast with, a piping hot bowl of spiced Bubur Lambuk Mikerhani should help to restore one’s equilibrium. Aromatic and lightly enriched with coconut cream and spices, the Malay-style congee hit the spot for us.
Fresh assorted ulam and kerabu were part of the healthy starters available. Acar, Pecal, Kerabu Mangga, Kerabu Kerang & Betik Muda and Salted Fish Acar from chef’s mom Hajjah Ramlah comprised some of the choice picks to whet the appetite.
The hot centrepiece of a buka puasa buffet, whole Roast Lamb will make a comeback too. Marinated with fennel, cumin, coriander seeds, cardamom, cloves, star anise, ginger, lemongrass and other aromatics, few diners could ever resist passing up on this meaty offering.
A newer and notable contender I’d recommend highly is Chilli-Garlic Glaze Chicken Drumsticks with Croutons & Lemon Zest. The lush, caramelised flavour from the moist, juicy meat was so palate-pleasing you’d be returning for repeat helpings. 
Thumbs-up choices also included Kuah Lemak Kepiting Bunga Kantan (crabs in turmeric curry scented with torch ginger), Gulai Lemak Merah (red beef curry), Banana, Yam and Sweet Potato Fritters and Ikan Bakar Air Asam among others.
Perennial faves everyone makes a beeline for range from Biryani Hyderabadi and Murtabak, to the expansive Japanese section proffering Teppanyaki Seafood, Tempura, Sashimi and Sushi, and the Chilled Seafood selection.
Remember to keep ample tummy space for traditional sweets and modern ones too. Nostalgic bites of Putu Piring, Serawa Durian and Kuihs fought for attention with prettily frosted Cakes, Tartlets, Sliced Fruits, Chocolate Fountains, and Cookies. You’d be hard-pressed to restrain yourself at the overwhelming array.
Available from 27 May to 24 June 2017, the Serambi Juadah Warisan Desa buffet dinner is priced at RM180 nett per adult and RM90 nett per child.
Early bird vouchers sold now at RM130 nett per adult and RM65 nett per child until 20 May. Complimentary flow of Date Juice, Sirap Bandung, Sugar Cane Juice, Iced Lemon Tea and Teh Tarik inclusive in the buffet. 

 For reservations, call Latest Recipe, tel: 03-2263 7434. More details from www.lemeridien.com/kualalupur



Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A JOURNEY OF FLAVOURS AT MARCO



Malaysia deserves better. It is this personal belief that spurs chef cum restaurateur Daren Leong to return from Singapore and make his mark back on home turf. After grabbing a
piece of the F&B pie with Miam Miam and Franco, Leong is once again turning the local resto scene on its head with his newly opened Marco Creative Cuisine in the same premises.

Before naysayers jump into the fray to rain on his parade, remember this plucky and enterprising chef-restaurateur has gone where eagles fear to tread. Now, instead of queuing up for Miam Miam's soufflé and thick French-toast, people are now being pulled towards Marco to gawp, zombie-like, at the translucent sea creatures floating around in the tank at the resto entrance.



We love the modern Tiffany-blue chairs and banquette seats amidst Marco's all-white interior, discreetly crisscrossed with burnished gold trims. According to Daren, the name Marco refers to his son and also to legendary traveller Marco Polo. “Marco Creative Cuisine embodies the same sense of adventure, imbuing excitement into the culinary adventure awaiting diners at this dining outpost.
Fascinated by how memory and personal experiences influence the way we taste food, Daren invites diners to experience and discover A Journey of Flavours. Daren says each delicious creation at Marco Creative Cuisine represents a culmination of his own personal food journey. "Every dish is made from scratch using fresh, locally source ingredients as much as possible."

Determined to encourage local diners to try his new multi-course menu concept but minus the high price, Marco's sumptuous 7-course meal only cost RM78 (GST inclusive but not service charge) per person. Right from the get-go, his frothy palate cleanser of Velvety Matcha-Lime Shooter awakened our tastebuds to its intense yet fleeting citrusy notes.
Playfully light on the palate, the dainty appetiser of Savoury Éclair won us over thanks to the crisp, airy Choux topped with squiggles of Gruyère flavoured Pâté, Aubergine Caviar, Green Chilli Pesto and Tomato Confit. The cornucopia of dense and ethereal textures interspersed with bursts of lush creaminess, zingy freshness and smoky-fruity flavours sent our expectations soaring for the other courses to come.
Don't let the plain Jane look of the Truffled Mushroom Soup fool you. A spoonful of it soon convinced us of its voluptuous earthiness was merely waiting to be unleashed, to flood our tastebuds with gusto. One of the show-stoppers of the night this.
While my choice of French Onion Soup was no less flavourful, the thick broth's rusticity somehow lack the dramatic finesse of my dining partner's offering. Served with two thick-cut French toast points, we soon warmed up to the rich, caramelised yellow onion accent of the soup.
Cold soups aren't common in Malaysia but Daren feels our year-long tropical summer weather calls for a chilled broth similar to the Spanish gazpacho. Instead of tomatoes, he combines Cameron Highlands strawberries with capsicum, onion, cucumber and peppermint to create his signature Strawberry Gazpacho. The resultant pink soup was indeed light and fresh; a harmonious blend of delicate fruit and vegetal nuances. A perfect counterpoint to the dense and decadent Chicken Liver Parfait.
A sheath of crackly brûlée top gave the densely creamy Chicken Liver Parfait a sugary overtone. Spread onto toast triangles with dehydrated apple crisps, I personally couldn't decide if I'm for or against such savoury-sweet pairings. Apparently, this is trending right now around the world so you'd have to try it and make up your own mind. For me, the jury's still out there.
I'd rather return for the simple yet distinct entrée of Savoury Ice Cream Salad. It was like a precursor to spring, this pretty cluster of Assorted Baby Leaves, Heirloom Tomato, Seasonal Microgreens and edible Violets. A swirl of olive oil and a quenelle of sea salt-flavoured ice cream somehow managed to sync everything together.
Reworked from the classic Cantonese roast duck, the chef chose to inject classical French flavours of Valrhona Dark Chocolate, Roasted Beetroot and Orange Purée to the house speciality of Duck Breast. The result yielded a captivating trinity of sour, bitter and sweet notes in the sous vide then pan-seared duck.
Daren paid tribute to his Hainanese grandfather's culinary legacy through his creation of Chicken Roulade with Brussels Sprouts. Fond memories of holidays spent at his grandparents' bungalow in Fraser's Hill and feasting on chicken chop, roast turkey and mince pies had been translated into a crispy skinned roulade made using juicy chicken thigh. Special mention must be made of the stellar supporting cast comprising slightly charred Brussels sprouts and sweetcorn nibs, and concentrated chicken jus.
Squid ink hollandaise lent a dark, edgy tinge to the crisp yet tender-pink Salmon with Jet Black Hollandaise. Garnished with Pickled Beetroot, Green Chilli Pesto and Tobikko, this main caught our imagination and tastebuds too.
After the slew of inventive offerings, we found the Pomodoro Cream Seafood Pasta far too stoic and stodgy. Was this dish of penne with baby squid, clams and mussels a throwback to the chef's Miam Miam days or included as a pragmatic kid-friendly option?
 
Like a child in a candy store, I derived great delight from my Deconstructed Lemon Meringue Pie. It reminded me of world-renowned Chef Alvin Leung's crazy dessert in a good way once I savoured the yummy Lemon Curd with Italian Meringue. Dots of Passion Fruit Gel, a quenelle of White Chocolate Sherbet and some buttery pastry 'soil' heightened the palate-pleasing experience.
The much-touted Raspberry Decadence came in a close second. It was a prettily plated dessert with the winsome pink Raspberry Cheesecake taking centrestage. Accompanied by Lemon Meringue Kisses and Passionfruit Gel, it was as close as you'd get to a guilt-free finale.
Spoiled by all that earlier razzmatazz, it was almost discomfiting to find something as mundane as Crème Brûlée with White Chocolate Sherbet in the menu. Still, I suppose some diners like to find comfort from the tried and tested egg custard baked with a caramelised top.

A choice of French Press Coffee, Loose Leaves Tea or Sparkling Iced Berry Drink concluded our culinary journey. Do take note the list of dishes reviewed here went beyond seven courses as our dining party of six shared and sampled each other's selection of courses throughout. 

A La Carte orders available with Soup/Entrée at RM18+ per serving, Main at RM35+ per serving (add RM10+ for Duck Breast) and Dessert at RM20+ per serving. Lunch is served from 12 noon to 3 pm while Dinner is from 6pm to 10pm daily.

For enquiries or information, call Marco Creative Cuisine, tel: 03-7731 8293. Reservations is recommended. Address: Lot G146, Ground Floor (Old Wing),
1 Utama Shopping Centre, 1, Lebuh Bandar Utama, Petaling Jaya, Selangor.