Chef De Cuisine Valmurugan Subramaniam is not one to rest on his laurels. The veteran chef decided to shake up and rework the menu for Samplings on the Fourteenth two months ago. Focusing on using the freshest ingredients available and marrying them with refined cooking techniques, Chef Val showed his prowess from the get-go during an exclusive media preview organised by Abel Nelson Nang, Berjaya Hotels & Resorts' perfect host for all occasions.
The opening act belonged to succulent poached sea scallops dotted with salmon caviar, some 25 years aged balsamic vinegar on a bed of chipotle tomato and spinach puree. Amply supported by a hearty yet rustic grilled Portobello mushroom salad, it left a ravishing impression.
Next came Caesar salad – the resto’s evergreen fave which is prep at table-side. Nobody can fault the jumble of fresh romaine lettuce, shards of parmesan and diced croutons after it was tossed with a creamy concoction of runny yolk, Worcestershire sauce and other seasoning.
We didn’t mind being in the soup after the lush cream of Jerusalem artichoke with boursin-garlic cheese hit our palate. Who knew the knobbly root veg could wield such gastronomic clout? Its delicate sweet nuttiness with a faintly astringent overtone was a perfect canvas for the French cheese’s bodacious brininess and pungency to shine.
For mains, each of us were asked to pick from salmon Napoleon or braised Australian wagyu beef cheek or roasted spring chicken. My choice of spring chicken rubbed with chermoula paste was enlivened with a marinade-like condiment whipped up using spices (cumin, cloves, paprika), herbs (flat leaf parsley, coriander), garlic, onion, olive oil and lemon juice. Served atop gratin potato and onion gravy, the moist, tender meat left me replete.
One of my dining companions waxed lyrical about the melt-in-the-mouth beef cheek served with blue cheese polenta and spring vegetable. She generously offered me a bite and I was floored by the big flavours emanating from that single mouthful.
The salmon fillet also garnered thumbs up. Layered with Portobello mushroom and spinach, the rich fish was complemented by green and red pepper coulis, angel hair pasta and spring vegetable.
By now most of us were almost fit to burst but there was still dessert to contend with. Pastry Chef John Wong outdid himself with the giandulotto terrine. We felt bad managing to scoff down only half of the wickedly decadent chocolate hazelnut mousse. Fresh summer berries, raspberry sauce and sesame tuille finished the luscious creation, leaving us on a sweet chocolatey high.
Of course, dinner with Abel and his A-team were never ho-hum or boring. From the minute we stepped into the venue to the time we left, media members were plied with good food, drinks and games to keep us amused. The opening gambit was a dish of creme brulee with our names written on it (see above pix).
Also music throughout the night was a compilation of songs selected by us invitees. Those celebrating their birthdays were also feted with personalised cakes (including each celebrant's fave flavour!).
For reservations at Samplings on the Fourteenth, call tel: 03-2117 8000 x 8131. Biz hours: Mon-Sat 6.30pm-10.30pm