Tuesday, January 14, 2014

FESTIVE TASTES OF PARADISE

It's the hottest Chinese dining hot spot in Bangsar right now. With its classically rustic yet opulently furnished interior reminiscent of the dynastic Chinese era, Paradise Dynasty is drawing the crowd as the CNY shopping frenzy reaches feverish pitch.
To herald the upcoming festive celebrations, the new restaurant has introduced its Paradise Fortune Pot (poon choi) that's available in two sizes, priced at RM388++ (4-6 persons) and RM688++ (8-10 persons).
This speciality is a feast in itself with 16 ingredients crammed into a huge claypot. Starting at the top layer, you'd find gourmet goodies such as abalone, prawns, fresh scallops, goose webs and sea cucumber. Delve a little deeper and up pops black and eringi mushrooms, slices of streaky belly pork, chopped chicken, beancurd puffs stuffed with dried oyster and black seamoss, broccoli florets and baby Chinese cabbage. Braised in a special abalone broth, the delectable ingredients have a nice sheen to them and lush, voluptuous flavour.
A basket of its signature Eight Flavours Xiao Long Bao (RM25.80++) is a 'must have' when dining at Paradise Dynasty. There is a little card on every table to guide diners on how to eat these dainty dumplings to avoid scalding one's mouth and why the ma la (tongue-numbing Sichuanese fieriness) variant should be saved for last. Slightly chewy, the xiao long bao skin is thin yet sturdy enough to hold the broth while the filling is tasty enough on its own without the usual vinegar and shredded ginger dip.
For the uninitiated, the restaurant takes great pride in its varied menu of Shanghainese and Sichuanese specialities such as Hot & Sour Soup. Admittedly it is one of the better ones I have tried; a tantalising blend of sour, salty and spicy accents that unleashes staccato bursts of explosive heat with each spoonful of thick, smooth broth.
Scrambled Egg White with Scallop & Fish is inspired by Chinese legendary folklore. Word has it that the dish was created for Empress Cixi who demanded for crabs. Since it was an off-season, one of the imperial cooks resorted to whipping up a mixture of fluffy egg whites with fish and scallops. When a whole egg yolk was gently stirred in, the whole ensemble resembled that of crabmeat and thus, the day was saved. You too will feel like a king once the velvety smooth egg white curds slicked with runny yolk caress your tastebuds.
Tiny bombshells...Close-up view of Sichuan peppercorns
Other regal treats that await include Sichuanese Diced Chicken and Salted Egg Yolk Prawns. Both dishes will wreak havoc on your palate with their riotous flavours and distinct textures.
CNY Festive Menus are available throughout the celebratory period, starting from RM388++ (4 persons) to RM1,088++ (10 persons) alongside ubiquitous servings of Yee Sang (RM48++ to RM88++).

For reservations, call Paradise Dynasty, tel: 03-2201 7022 (Level 2, Bangsar Village 2, KL) or 03-7887 5022 (Level 1, Paradigm Mall, PJ).  The restaurants will be opened throughout the Chinese New Year.




This food tasting session was organised by HungryGoWhere Malaysia – Discover, Eat, Share today! (URL link HungryGoWhere Malaysia to http://bit.ly/HungryGoWhereMY)

Paradise Dynasty

Monday, January 13, 2014

HOMEGROWN FLAVOURS



Private Kitchen is a homely haven for urban foodies

Shredded chicken and crunchy cucumber salad redolent with appetising tangy-spicy nuances

Everyone knows home is where the heart is and the way to our hearts is through the stomach. That's the feeling arises when you dine at Private Kitchen - the food has that unmistakably homeliness to it; a heartwarming reflection of the chef/owner's TLC.
The inviting private dining space upstairs at Private Kitchen

Just like any Chinese restaurant worth its salt, Private Kitchen is offering two special menus to celebrate the upcoming CNY festivities. Priced at RM398+ for 5-7 pax and at RM698+ for 8-10 pax, urbanites can very well afford to treat out-of-town relatives and friends here when they come a-calling.
Dark and delectable...chicken stuffed with assorted mushrooms

From our recent sampling of some key dishes from both menus, the conversation-stopper is undoubtedly the Special Stuffed Chicken with Assorted Mushrooms. A whole chicken stuffed with diced assorted mushrooms, minced pork and other goodies, it mimics that classic Chinese eight-treasure duck dish that was once all the rage for grand banquets.
Carved open...the chicken spillis over with scrumptious stuffing

Bathed in a bewitchingly dark, glistening sauce, the chicken is tender and thoroughly suffused with the rusticity of its fungi stuffing. It's wickedly delicious and you'd find it hard to stop at just one piece.
Gold ingots of beancurd to herald the Horse Year

Shaped like ancient gold ingots, the golden brown Wok-fried Homemade Tofu with Minced Meat in Abalone Sauce would be a shoo-in with the young and young-at-heart. The beancurd's soft texture is combined with minced pork to give it better mouthfeel. To boost the flavour quotient, the chef opts for a mildly briny abalone sauce.
 
Prawns to evoke happy laughter for CNY

Another festive crowd pleaser would be Deep-fried Prawns coated with Honey Sauce & Longans. A dead ringer for the evergreen sweet & sour dishes, the twist lies in the inclusion of juicy sweet longans. While the crustaceans are great on their own, it's a dish that will taste even better with plain rice.
Get hooked on this sumptuous fish drenched in a robust sauce

Malaysians are partial to strong, piquant sauces and the chef's Steamed Tiger Garoupa in Special Sauce bears testament to this. Our dining party wish there had been less of the robust sauce but alas, the fish's delicate sweetness was completely swamped except for a small piece that escaped the saucy tirade. I sampled that and found it utterly sublime.
Pork for thought in a pot

It would take you Herculean effort not to order bowls of rice to fully relish the Braised Belly Pork in Casserole. Scented and tinged with aromatic cinnamon sticks, ginger and dried chilli, the chunky pieces of belly pork and beancurd puffs call to mind the hearty braised pork in soy sauce that many of us grew up with. Simple, uncomplicated yet satisfyingly good.
Fried rice brimming over with deliciousness

If there's one good reason why you should restrain from gorging on too much on the earlier plethora, it would be the need to save space for Fried Rice with Preserved Meat and Mushrooms. These are not ordinary waxed delicacies mind you but imported ones from Hong Kong - the chef's home base. The heat doesn't dissipate as quickly from the claypot so the fluffy rice stays warm far longer.


Even the dessert harks back to hearth and home - classic tong sui (sweet broth) of Red Bean Cream with Lotus Seeds that nobody ever grow tired of eating. Its subtle sweetness is bound to evoke a sense of happy contentment that stems from being thoroughly well-fed.

For reservations at Private Kitchen, call tel: 03-7728-8399, The outlet is located at 103, Jalan SS21/37, Damansara Utama, Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

Private Kitchen

Sunday, January 12, 2014

EXTRA SUPER SPECIAL CNY




After 11 years in the business, Extra Super Tanker restaurant recently embarked on a renovation programme of sorts; refurbishing its private dining space upstairs in preparation for the CNY feasting period.

Brightly lit and clad dominantly in wood, painted in jade green and firecracker red hues, the rejuvenated premise evokes a welcoming rustic ambiance; reminiscent of yesteryear Chinese restaurants that you would either gush effusively over or gasp in dismay. The long, wide passageway is spacious enough for standing cocktails and can double up as an exhibition space if required. Also sliding doors that divide each of the private rooms mean a larger banquet space can be created as and when the need arises. 

Now what else is new? With the Year of the Horse galloping up around the corner, veteran chef Chin aka Ah Wah Kor (brother Wah) has rustled up several delectable dishes in conjunction with the CNY celebrations.


Raising the festive spirit with White Bait Yee Sang - that ubiquitous salad platter given a different twist topped with deep-fried white bait instead of raw fish slices. Oh, the usual suspects: salmon or jelly fish are still available of course but these crispy lil fishies are way better for that extra crunch. If there's one thing we wanna nitpick on is the rather lacklustre, colourless salad. While it's great to omit any preserved or artificially tainted ingredients and only shredded fresh vegetables are used, some fruits and veges: carrot, purple cabbage, mango and pumpkin can go a long way in jazzing up the platter further.


Next go soup's up with a moreish Double Boiled Soup with Morel, Soft Bone Ribs, Fish Maw & Dried Scallops (RM48++ per individual bowl). At least a day's notice is required for this salubrious broth to be available so remember to call ahead and book if you want to slurp up the sweet, smooth  broth filled with soft boned pork ribs, spongy morels, a slice of velvet-smooth fish maw and a whole Japanese dried scallop. Enjoy the ingredients' sensuous textural variations and the soup's delicately sweet nuances.


In recent years, poon choi (big feast bowl) has been all the rage but suffice to say not all are created equal. Ah Wah Kor's Poon Choi (RM688++ for 10 persons) breaches the par excellence benchmark and get this - throughout the CNY period, only five tables of lucky diners (10 to a table) will have a chance to savour this classic treat each day. It's all about the chef's strict quality control and believe me, no amount of top dollar would make the chef go beyond his daily threshold of five pots.


This speciality definitely impresses at first sight; the top layer filled to the brim with pricey premium ingredients: abalone, prawns, sea cucumber, goose webs, black seamoss, mushroom and Japanese dried scallops. How can anyone pass up on these extravagant stuff? In our books, they are the bees' knees but wait, dig a little further down and you'd uncover stuffed dried oysters, deer tendons, soft boned pork ribs and chunks of roast duck. 

 It's akin to a mini treasure hunt where numerous goodies are craftily hidden away. The suckerpunch comes from the bottom - a pool of big, hearty and stupendously sublime flavours amidst carrot and pumpkin wedges, red dates and Chinese cabbage leaves. It is too easy to go potty over the voluptuous flavours and riotous textures that veer between  rubbery smooth to powdery-soft and tender succulence.


The Steamed Hybrid Tiger Garoupa Fillet Rolls Stuffed with Minced Pork and Prawn Paste (RM228++ per fish) is what my mom would call 'kung fu tau'; her term for an ultra-labourious dish. Yet it doesn't faze the chef one bit to whip up this stunning masterpiece that pleases the eyes and tummy. Take your time to savour those soft but tender fish rolls that come that distinctly springy-chewy stuffing. Enhanced with clumps of aromatic fried minced garlic and ebikko, this dish is definitely an exquisite show-stopper.


Regulars at this restaurant have always raved about the Iberico Pork Ribs but now the porcine bar has been raised even higher with the introduction of Iberico Char Siew (RM35, RM80). Sheathed in a dark and viscous, lacquer-like sheen, the streaky Iberico pork is juicy to the bite; its caramelised sweetness tasting faintly smoky on the palate. Again very limited quantities of this speciality is available so it's best to call ahead and reserve your share in case demand exceeds supply.


The final dish that rises to the occasion is Waxed Meat Rice (RM60 - serving for 6 persons, RM80 - serving for 10 persons). What makes it different? Scrumptious Hong Kong goose liver sausages that's what. Normally I'd eat a slice or two of liver sausages but golly, this is so exceptional that I found myself eating more than my usual ration. The other waxed delicacies: belly pork, duck and pork sausages are up to par too; their irresistible aroma and mildly winey flavour infusing the fragrant jasmine rice. Don't miss the crunchy, charred rice crusts at the bottom - ample proof that the rice is cooked in the claypot and not served in the pot for presentation purpose. 


Ah, the proof of the pudding is in its eating and Extra Super Tanker proves that its food remains in top ship-shape form. CNY Set Menus are available at RM838++, RM998++ and RM1488++ per table of 10 persons.


Extra Super Tanker, 48, SS20/10, Damansara Kim, Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Tel: +603-7726 7768
Restaurant Extra Super Tanker