Friday, February 15, 2013

FEASTS AHOY!

Abundance from the Sea...a succulent Sea Cucumber overflowing with delicious stuffing
Never mind if you don't have sea legs...Restoran Extra Super Tanker will ensure us landlubbers remain on course for a slap-up meal the minute we set foot on deck.

The CNY period is especially hectic for this Chinese restaurant with the resident chef who's fondly known as Ah Wah Kor storming the galley with a flood of hearty, unpretentious but irresistible and auspicious specialities that is guaranteed to make waves.

For a prosperous start to the Lunar New Year, reap Abundance from the Sea (Moon Joi Yue Qwai) - Sea Cucumber Stuffed with Diced Scallops, Mushroom, Water Chestnut, Celery, Carrot & Garlic (RM200). Thick, slightly gelatinous yet bouncy smooth, every mouthful of the 'jee poh sum', delicately accented stuffing and delightful amalgamation of textures left us at sea on how to describe its deep-seated, earthy deliciousness.

Turbot in Two Styles goes swimmingly well with a glass of crisp white wine
Enjoy Smooth Sailing All The Way (Yat Farn Fung Su'un) with the chef's sublime creation of 2 Styles Icelandic Turbot (RM12.80/100g; each fish usually weighs about 1-1.3kg). It was the show-stealer at our preview...fried to crisp, golden perfection we literally fought over the crunchy bones even as we were reeled in by sweet, tender pieces of Shao Xing wine-suffused fish and crunchy, wavy whorls of wood ear's fungus.

Nice change...Yee Sang with Crispy Whitebait
Another bait that should lure hordes of festive revellers is the evergreen Yee Sang (RM68 - half portion, RM88 - full portion) despite its less flamboyant colour palette. Not only is Ah Wah Kor adamant that only freshly shredded vegetables and fruits: cucumber, radish, mango, pomelo sacs, Chinese parsley, ginger, jelly fish, carrot, lotus root and kaffir lime leaves are used, he decided to go against the flow by adding deep-fried crispy Japanese white bait just before serving in place of the usual raw fish slices. The result? A refreshingly light fruity ensemble that boasts an edgy textural dimension that was sorely missing from other versions in the market.

Fit for a mandarin...Superior Bird's Nest & Fresh Crab Meat Soup
Instead of wading into controversial waters with servings of shark fin's soup, the chef charted a different course by offering Superior Bird's Nest Soup with Bird's Nest & Fresh Crab Meat Soup (RM48 per individual bowl) in its place. Unctuous and generously laden with thick strands of bird's nest, chunks of hand-extracted crab meat and roe, the bowl of Kou Kun Hei Yin or A Mandarin's Ascending Flight to Success tasted so exceptional that I daresay the thickened, flavourful broth took all the wind out of our sails!

Airy-light mashed yam basket that's overflowing with edible goodies
A well-loved staple of many Chinese restaurants, the ubiquitous yam basket (popularly known as fatt putt in Cantonese) is reinterpreted slightly. Filled with abundant goodies: scallops, snow peas, carrot slices, cashews, waterchestnuts, straw and black mushrooms, the aptly named Treasure Trove Yam Basket (RM48-medium, RM58-large) is fashioned out of thinner but no less scrumptious, melt-in-the-mouth mashed yam to prevent it from being overly cloying. With a poetic Chinese name, Phoon Moon Phutt Moon which means overflowing basin of abundance to boot, what's not to love?

Spiced prawns...such piquant pleasures
Fancy laughing all the way to the bank? Then you can't go wrong with a serving or two of Tiger Prawns with Chef's Special Sauce (RM10/100g minimum of 300g per order) - a dish that not only will evoke cheery smiles all around but also Hee Har Dai Siu or happy, rapturous laughter thanks to the splendid pairing of crustaceans and Ah Wah Kor's trademark sauce blend that has superior soya sauce, 'tau parn cheong' (spicy bean sauce), garlic and ginger in it.

A hearty delight that bowled us over
Adding further merriment to the extravagant CNY line-up is Hei Heng Yong Yong or Auspicious Happiness, a superbly rustic speciality of Braised Lamb Pot (RM80 for 12 pcs). You either give the gamey and rather gristly chunks a wide berth or push the boat out by picking the bones clean. Spiked with Chinese wine and ginger, us gluttons had no qualms wiping out the whole pot within minutes. I find the rib-sticking, voluptuous flavour good enough on its own though the side dip of 'fu yue' or fermented bean curd gives the meat a deeper, brinier and more pronounced dimension that tends to sear itself into the gustatory memory bank.

Waxed meat rice to woo the palate
If there's one dish that gets everyone into the same boat, it has to be Lap Mei Farn or Waxed Meat Rice (RM70 per pot for 4-6 persons, RM95 for 8-12 persons). Pork and liver sausages, belly pork and duck come together to bestow their big, bold and unabashed overtones onto claypot-cooked rice; its simple yet unpretentious goodness remain an irresistible allure come every Lunar New Year. At Extra Super Tanker, you'd find the unexpected but welcomed addition of 'nga ku' (arrowheads) to this treat.

Pear with me...

To soothe and sweeten the palate after the array of savoury specials, it's best to sit back and sip languidly on a whole Double-boiled Snow Pear with Hasma (RM16 per person). Don't cringe or balk at the thought of downing the snow frogs' opaque, subtly gelatinous glands as they're beneficial for replenishing one's vital essence in the lungs, kidneys, and improving skin complexion.

Stick with me pumpkin

Seal your feast with some deep-fried sliced Nin Koh with Pumpkin (RM4 per pc, minimum of 4 pcs) - a rewarding solace for fervent hopes that upwardly progress and success shall be yours once the golden pieces of batter-coated sweet glutinous rice cakes and sliced pumpkin are down the hatch.

In order not to miss the boat on these titanic temptations, it pays to call at least a day ahead and inform the restaurant that you'd like to sample all or some of the culinary masterpieces featured here. Bear in mind that with CNY still in full swing, it's best to put your oars in asap!

Extra Super Tanker Restaurant, 48, SS20/10, Damansara Kim, Petaling Jaya.
Tel: 03-77267768 / 03-77267769

Friday, February 08, 2013

LET'S GO POTTY




Di Wei doled out a potted feast of goodies for its CNY preview recently and we were among the lucky few who got a generous sampling of it.

The piece de resistance that took centrestage was Poon Choy. Literally translated, it means basin of goodies in Cantonese. Legend has it that this treasure trove of a feast was created to honour a Chinese emperor who sought shelter from a storm in a remote fishing village. Despite the rural folks'  own hardship, they managed to pool together their scant bounty in a wooden basin which resulted in an unexpected luxe offering that befitted their royal guest.

This hearty dish started to gain a local following during the CNY period a few years ago, with different chefs  lending his own touches to the speciality. Of course the presentation nowadays is more refined; the multiple layers yielding a veritable range of seafood, meat and vegetable items.
Chef Thian Taik Yong sets out to impress by placing premium seafood such as Australian abalone, dried scallops, sea cucumber, semi dried oysters, fish maw and prawns on the upper most layer. These sumptuous treats are sublime and hit the spot well; their deep-seated oceanic sweetness and cornucopia of slippery, bouncy and chewy textures soul-satisfying good.
 

Working our way through to the other layers underneath was like going on a treasure hunt ...every scoop elicited squeals of delight as we took turns digging into the huge bubbling pot. We found bamboo pith, fish cakes, mushrooms, pork knuckle, roast duck, roast pork, chicken, waxed meat, seamoss, tau kan, yam and radish. With so many ingredients thrown in, the gravy tasted out of this world. Priced from RM388++ onwards (available in two sizes), you'd need to give the restaurant a day's advance notice to order the Poon Choy for eat-in or takeaway. 



Earlier we had a boisterous round of loh sang to stir up hopeful wishes for prosperity, luck and fortune with a plate of Di Wei's Yee Sang. Featuring 18 ingredients and a special sauce concocted from green apple puree, we discerned hints of warming ginger and sweetness of snow pear amidst the hodge-podge of pickles, crisps and fresh julienne of vegetables.


Leaving nothing to chance, Carol Chin who's the Empire Hotel's marcomm lady ensured our lunch included a big claypot of Waxed Meat Rice - a customary delight that no rice-loving Malaysians can resist. Especially when it comes laden with waxed meat, liver and pork sausages and waxed duck. Laced with a fragrant concoction of soya sauce, you can scarfed down bowls of it in one sitting.


For the sweet toothed, CNY is the season for Nin Koh - the sticky sweet glutinous rice cakes that are sliced and either steamed and served with grated coconut or fried after being lightly dipped in egg batter. The chef opted to embellish rectangular pieces of the festive sweet with dessicated coconut and crushed peanuts while another serving came coated with sesame seeds.


To accompany this traditional delicacy, we were plied with Red Bean Soup with Glutinous Rice Ball (its centre has a liquidy filling of black sesame paste). A perfect round-off to our prosperous feast!

The above dishes were taken from Di Wei's CNY menus which are for 4 - 10 persons at RM388++ to RM1688++ until February 25. For reservations, call tel: 03-5565 1288.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

AMA-XIN-G FEAST


Behold, the X-Men cometh...Xin Cuisine's culinary trio all prepared to cook up a storm this CNY

It's all hands on deck for the peak CNY period with master chefs Wong Pak Seng, Ng Meng Loong and new kid on the block, Lok Meng Pak ready to unleash their culinary force for the rounds of festive feasting ahead.

We got a taste of the trio's prowess at a special CNY preview hosted by the Concorde KL starting with a vivid kaleidoscope of colours, flavours and textures in the Mini Octopus Yee Sang.

No CNY meal is complete without a platter of this delicacy to create a stir ...

Amidst boisterous stirring and tossing of this festive salad, we wasted no time in savouring the fine and delightfully tantalising mixture of shredded vegetables, pomelo, crackers, plum sauce and crushed peanuts. Definitely one of the better ones I had sampled thanks to its ample moistness and well-balanced nuances. You can also have it topped with abalone,  salmon, duck meat and wolf-herring in regular and large portions, priced between RM58.00++ and RM188.00++ per order.

Nah, these ain't franken-eyes but Xin's new dumplings with quail's eggs
Droves of diners will inevitably turn up on the 2nd day of CNY at Concorde KL for its stunning lion dance show featuring Malaysia's most titled champion troupe - Kun Seng Kheng no less! After that, they will pack Xin to the rafters and four Festive Dim Sum creations will make their celebratory yum cha all the brighter starting with the Prosperity Egg Dumplings.

It's basically siew mai (stuffed minced pork, prawns, seamoss and mushroom dumpling) turned on its head with the inclusion of a whole quail egg - needless to say we were sold at first bite!

Tasty clam-rolled dumplings to crave for

Next up was the Stuffed Diced Sea Cucumber with Sliced Clam - this luxurious treat really left us hankering for more...who in their right mind could pass up on pricey sea cucumber and clam fused together with smooth, springy fish paste? Not me!

Dream rolls of fish maw and succulent goodies

Our session continued on a roll with delectably spongy soft Dried Oyster Fish Maw Rolls that won us over with their clear, delicate accents and clever textural interplay.

Ready to have a ball?

If you're jaded by the usual woo kok (crispy yam puffs), the chef has a fresh solution to tempt you - Salted Egg Puffs! Cotton-light yet crisp to the bite, you'd have a real ball of a time devouring the mildly briny and scrumptious mashed yam puffs with bits of salted egg in them. Ho chiak!

A whopper to reel you in...

It's unthinkable not to eat fish for CNY right? After all, yue or fish symbolises abundance and excess wealth to us Chinese. Befittingly, you'd find a superb Steamed Garoupa with Soya Sauce in Xin's 9-course Prosperity Set Menus. We fell hook, line and sinker for the fish's marble-smooth flesh which was lightly bathed in soya sauce, chopped fresh spring onion and Chinese parsley.

Worth shelling out money for...stuffed dried oyster with broccoli and layered beancurd sheets

I finally found a dish of Stuffed Oyster, Mushroom & Sea Moss with Seasonal Vegetables that could rival my aunt's! For years, our family were lucky enough to feast on this treasured speciality but with her aging gracefully, the annual treat has since become a rarity. The chef did a fab job too...imaginatively half-stuffing the dried oysters with fish paste and seamoss so that they resemble sea shells! Crunchy blanched broccoli and braised tau kan (compressed layered of beancurd sheets) complete this masterpiece.

Rice so corny
I'm partial to corn and can never resist the whole cobs of sunny yellow kernels steamed or grilled with some butter. The loose kernels can also be added to stir-fries and to make Chinese style corn soup. Hence I was over the moon to find plenty of the sweet, crunchy kernels dotting the platter of Rice with Two Varieties of Chinese Sausage & Corn Kernels. The corn's natural sweetness is a nice counterpoint to the briny and winey lap cheong.


Sweet broth of mine

Chilled Seaweed Jelly, Osmanthus & Wolfberries brought our lavish dinner to a close. Subtly sweet but pleasant on the palate, it was a refreshing treat that went down a real treat.

Arise the king of fruits in this sweet sensation

The King of Fruits - durian made its presence felt the minute we caught a whiff of its intoxicating aroma when the generous plate of Chinese New Year Cake Selection was served. Still its cloying sweetness was thoroughly relished by one and all (we're Malaysians after all!) as paired with the nin koh, it wasn't too different from eating durian dodol!

I also enjoyed the sweet potato with crushed macadamia nuts enfolded in sticky layers of nin koh but didn't take to those that had the slightly tart pineapple filling with almond nibs. Here's to a sweet year ahead for 2013!


* Prosperity menus are priced at RM1,088.00++, RM1,288.00++, RM1,488.00++ per table of 10 persons
* Fortune Pot is sold for RM368.00++ (small) and RM648.00++ (large)
* The 4 New Year Four Dim Sum choices are available a la carte (promotion starts February 11 – 25, Chap Goh Mei)


For reservations or any menu, promotion enquiries, please call Xin Cuisine at 2144 8750, or email to fbkl@concorde.net *Xin Cuisine is closed on the first day of Chinese New Year.

Catch the World-Champion Lion Dancers from Kun Seng Keng on February 11, 10.30 am onwards (Hotel Lobby). Also witness fascinating acrobatic acts and yee sang toss where guests can also join in the fun! And special appearance by God of Prosperity (Choy San Yeh).


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