Tuesday, July 25, 2017

GO THE WHOLE HOG AT ORIENTAL PAVILION



The aromatic dry rub recipe used for the Oriental Group of Restaurants’ house speciality of Macau-style Roast Suckling Pig is such a closely guarded secret that only Group Executive Chef Justin Hor and the roast master chef know the actual ingredients. According to Emily Chiam who heads the marketing division, the prized concoction has industry competitors trying valiantly to replicate it but to no avail.
My guess is it’s a cohesive combination of Asian spices with Continental herbs but instead of dwelling on this trade secret, I rather focus on the deliciousness of the Roast Suckling Pig. With a week to go, do make haste to Oriental Pavilion in PJ and savour the delectable speciality before the piggy promotion ends on 31 July.
Available at the promo price of RM238++ each (regular price RM350++), the Roast Suckling Pig can be enjoyed in three distinct preparations: finest Macau style, BBQ with foie gras sauce or BBQ with glutinous rice.
When it comes to the fine art of roasting, Chinese chefs win hands down. It doesn’t take a genius to realise just how tricky it is to achieve that unbelievably even and lacquer-like sheen of a whole suckling pig. Comparable to an edible work of art, the crisp, crackling skin is such a joy to behold and an even greater gastronomic delight to ingest.
Tucked underneath the crispy skin is a beguiling layer of well-seasoned, juicy meat; each delicious piece can be enjoyed on its own or wrapped up in a fresh cos lettuce leaf and cherry tomato. Chilled glasses of fresh citrus juice are served to cleanse the palate afterwards.
The BBQ Suckling Pig with Glutinous Rice is more substantial as it comes with a layer of flavourful glutinous rice underneath. Taste-wise, this speciality is subtler on the palate but proffers more textural contrasts. Again the slices of crispy suckling pig can be eaten with the classic accompaniments of spring onion florets and sweet bean sauce or the newer combo of fresh lettuce and cherry tomato.
Also hogging the limelight this July is Charcoal Grilled Iberico Pork Ribs Spanish Style. Available at the promo price of RM138++ per rack (regular price RM198++), the hefty slab of Iberico ribs proves on-point and ticks all the right boxes in terms of flavour and texture.
Gnawing on the bone to tear off strips of that tender meat, our tastebuds grasped the full extent of the Spanish-influenced marinade – a splendid amalgamation of delicately sweet, warm spice and fresh, grassy herb nuances reminiscent of sunny Espana. You’d pick the bones clean off this signature dish for sure.

For reservations, call Oriental Pavilion restaurant, tel: 03-7956 9288. More information can be found at www.orientalrestaurants.com.my

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

PORCO MACAU'S PORKYLICIOUS GOOD!



Pork chop bun is one of the ‘must eat’ items on every visitor’s list when they set foot in Macao.

Although Tai Lei Loi Kei – the eatery from Macao famed for its pork chop buns - has shuttered in Malaysia, new homegrown entity Porco Macau Pork Chop Bun is holding its own at Lot 10 Hutong.

Head chef Fong Phooi Yoke has twigged the pork chop marinade recipe with her own mixture of brandy, Chinese wine, garlic, onion, white pepper and Bo Bo soya sauce; imbuing winsome flavours to the signature speciality of Macau Pork Chop Bun (a la carte RM13.90, set meal with a drink RM15.90).

The hefty slab of tender pork chop sandwiched in a crusty bun tastes delectable; the meat pleasantly suffused with just the right degree of marinade. Delicious enough on its own without the need for tomato or chilli sauce, diners can opt to trick up the pork chop bun with a sunny side up egg and a slice of cheddar cheese at extra charge.


 
According to Chef Fong who’s fondly known as Yoke Cheh (sister Yoke), the secret of such scrumptious pork chops is due to the quality ingredients and hours of meticulous preparation. Firstly, the pork chops (each T-bone chop weighs about 300g) are pounded with a mallet. 


“This is painstaking and labour-intensive as we have to flatten it evenly to the desired thickness. After the meat goes into a special ‘tumbler’ machine to the marinade coats each piece thoroughly, the pork shops are pressure-cooked for about half an hour to tenderise it. Each piece of pork chop is only fried on the spot upon order, to ensure its best eating quality.”


Much to our delight, the eatery also serves Pork Chop Noodles (a la carte RM13.90, set meal with a drink RM15.90) and Pork Chop Rice with Egg (a la carte RM14.90).

I’m partial to the springy eggy wantan noodles, served korn lou-style with a generous slab of pork chop. Yoke Cheh confides that the noodles are made the traditional bamboo-pressed technique hence its toothsome springiness. Lightly tossed in dark and light soya sauce with aromatic fried shallot and sesame oil, the dish’s comforting simplicity already drew me back for repeat visits.

For die-hard rice eaters, equal satisfaction is guaranteed when they go for the Pork Chop Rice with Egg. Should you find it a tad dry, I suggest ordering a portion of Curry Fish Balls (RM6.90) as accompaniment.

Our dining party has nothing but effusive praises for the bouncy fish balls doused in piquant curry gravy. We love the garlicky-oniony sweetness amplified by the mild creaminess of coconut milk, juxtaposed against aromatic ground spices and the muted tanginess of tomato sauce.

The proof of the great pork chops is definitely in the eating as queues are often seen in front of Porco Macau Pork Chop Buns at Lot 10 Hutong now. Go on, don't miss out on such good pork for thought.
For information and enquiries, please call tel: 03-2782 3500. PORCO MACAU PORK CHOP BUN is located at Lower Ground Floor, Lot 10 Hutong, Lot 10 Shopping Centre, Jalan Bukit Bintang, KL.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

JUSTIN QUEK SHINES AT THE LIBRARY



As the Principal Chef of Sky on 57 − the stunning 240-seater fine-dining restaurant on level 57 of Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, celebrated Chef Justin Quek needs to introduction to gourmands in the know.
His impeccable culinary pedigree spans over three decades: his skills and culinary techniques honed in Europe’s Michelin-star restaurants then cemented in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Shanghai. By now, Chef Justin is renowned for his trademark Franco-Asian cooking style as he marries South East Asian ingredients with European influences with aplomb.
 


A household name in Singapore and roundly lauded around the world, Chef Justin Quek is also consultant chef to Hainan Airlines (yes, the airline that unveiled its designer cabin crew uniforms at Paris Couture Week) and has his hands full with different projects, from spearheading a new restaurant, JQ Mon Asia at Marina Bay Sands to promoting his range of JQ sauces, wines and cookbooks.




But for now until this Saturday (15 July), Chef Justin Quek is pulling out the stops for his guest chef stint at The Library of The Ritz Carlton KL. An exclusive media preview saw us lucky few treated to his signature specialities which showcased the chef’s dexterity in harmonising Asian dishes with modern French techniques.

The opening volley of three hors d’oeuvres curated by Chef Justin Quek began with a dainty cup of foamy Cauliflower Purée with Oscietra Caviar, White Chocolate. Although I
found the offering was a tad too salty for my liking, the choice of champagne, Canard-Duchêne Cuvée Léonie Brut with its sparkling apple-pear fruitiness helped to blunt it.

We were instructed to devour the delicate pouch of Duck Foie Gras Xiao Long Bao before downing the irrestibly musky Mushroom Cappuccino with Ceps Cream. A wise move as the little soup-filled dumpling’s delicate lushness should rightly be allowed to shine before the more assertive and creamy soup hit one's tastebuds. Again, the bubbly’s crisp, zingy acidity saved the appetisers from the brink of cloying richness.

Chef Justin’s Duo of Maine Lobster with Wild Mushroom, Shao Xing Cream was a definite show-stopper. The dream ensemble of sweet, tender lobster meat with a light but luscious cream sauce perfumed with Shao Xing wine left us asking for more. In fact, the moreish sauce was so sublime that most of us mopped up every drop of it with bread. The elegant dish was aptly paired with J. Moreau & Fils Fourchaume Chablis Premier Cru, a French white with buttery almond and fruity notes.

Eating fish with crisp-fried fish scales intact was a first of its kind experience for us but the talented chef blew us away with his distinctive creation of Crispy Scale Blue Cod Fillet with Clam & Herb Fondue. It was an impressive testament to Chef Justin’s three decade-old experience and expertise in ensuring the fish remained flaky sweet whilst the skin turned out crunchy crisp.
 


We also wish there was more of that salubrious sauce which complemented the dish. The subtly sweet and bright acidity of Dr. Loosen Bernkasteler Lay Riesling Kabinett was chosen to partner this masterpiece. 
Nam yue and fu yue, two fermented condiment used in Chinese cuisine, were central in the Asian Braised Angus Beef. Both lent deep-seated savoury flavour to the dish, touched by a whisper of delicate chestnut sweetness.

Its fork-tender, soft texture stood out in contrast against the more toothsome texture of Seared Wagyu Beef with Oriental Greens. The supple red-dark cherries and spice notes of the chosen Australian red, Knappstein Shiraz Clare Valley was a good match for it.

The uplifting, fresh scent of mint was noticeable when we savoured the feather-light Chocolate & Mint Floating Island with Caramelised Crispy Rice. We sampled this confection accompanied with Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry, a sweet and slightly nutty dessert tipple with hints of spicy oak and toffee in it.

Freshly baked shards of Salted Almond Tuile with Coffee/Tea wrapped up our sumptuous luncheon before we bid a fond farewell to Franco-Asian maestro Justin Quek.

Catch award-winning Chef Justin Quek’s culinary mastery in a specially crafted Franco-Asian menu from July 12 to 15. The sumptuous four-course dinner is priced from MYR 300 per person. For more information and reservations, please call 03-2142 8000 or email: dining@ritzcarlto