Thursday, July 28, 2016

NEW CHEF'S SIGNATURE DISHES AT FAVOLA


Pasta is integral part of Italian cuisine and one can never be sure exactly how types of pasta there are as there's such a wide range. My current fave is Trofie (RM58), toothsome spiral twisted pasta from the north-western coast of Liguria. Traditionally, trofie is tossed in pesto but Favola's new Chef de Cuisine Domenico Piras has the twisty noodles coated in lush, chunky tomato sauce accompanied by scrumptious prawns, scallops and squid.
Born in Milan, Chef Piras called Sardinia home many years before he forayed to Asia. The chef has a memory like an elephant too as he instantly recognised my other half upon introduction. After a brief chat, we realised we had met him years ago at the Sutera Harbour Resort in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
The Italian in him came to the fore as he unleashed his signature repertoire on us. One of the headliners to score with us was Tuna Tartare (RM52). Starring luscious dices of first grade maguro stacked atop diced cantaloupe and watermelon, sweet and mild Italian taggiasca olives, this droolworthy masterpiece came with mint salad and a scattering of black and white sesame seeds.
Sharing in the spotlight was Salmon & Seabass Carpaccio (RM56) - a delicate composition of sliced raw salmon and seabass decorated with micro cress salad, dollops of lumpfish and salmon roe, Hawaiian salt, toasted pine nuts, parsley sauce and extra virgin olive oil. Ethereally light with riffs of the sea, we were drawn to the dish's deluge of rich, sunshiny flavours and velvety textures.
Burrata, shaved black truffle and fig paste formed a tempting partnership with Air-Dried Beef Bresaola (RM68), wrapped around chunks of sweet cantaloupe. Such a wickedly simple ensemble is guaranteed to make you go weak in the knees and beg for more.
For an apt throwback to his beloved Sardinia, Chef Piras plied us with a hearty serving of Sardinian Malloreddus (RM47). These dainty handmade shell pasta enrobed in rich, meaty sauce of slow-cooked lamb shoulder evoked the true essence of Italian cooking; bursting with deep-seated rustic accents of evergreen comfort food.
The sterling showcase was augmented by plump, tender Seared Scallops (RM79) enlivened with cauliflower and potato cream, tomato confit, shaved black truffle and roasted pistachios. Such a cohesive combination of sensuous textures and well-balanced flavours left no room for complaint.
  
Granted, the chef is justifiably proud of his Risotto in Pumpkin Cream & Squid Ink with Premium Tiger Prawns (RM80) too. Creamy with just that barest hint of nuttiness, the mound of dual hued short grain rice was a sight to behold and a pleasure to savour. A pair of artfully positioned tiger prawns served as the crowning glory and to imbue subtle sea-sweetness to the creation.
  


Sardinian Mixed Seafood (RM148, suitable for two diners) underscored the island's famed seafood bounty. Prepared with baby tomatoes and prime herb sauce, the 'Pingiadedda' & Fregula seafood stew introduced us to fregula - the Sardinian pasta made from semolina mixed with water. Hand-rubbed to form coarse pellets similar to lighter and finer couscous, the pasta is then dried and toasted to give it a wheaty-nutty nuance. According to the chef, fregula cooks quickly and easily; imparting the stew with a distinct chewy texture amidst the coterie of seafood.
Of course, if you rather stick with the tried and tested, we can vouch for the fabled Housemade Beef Lasagna (RM68). The generous slab of pasta, layered with savoury tomato and mince beef sauce, and finished with oozy melted cheese would please hearty eaters who seek familiar, comforting fare.
There's also winsome Pizza Rustica (RM47) which consisted of a thin, crunchy crust amply smothered with top-notch goodies: spiced lamb & chicken sausage, sliced onion, tomato and capsicum, cheese and chopped thyme. Robustly flavoured, it proved soul-satisfying.
 
Frankly speaking, I'm not big on Braised Beef Cheek (RM98) but this new menu entry, served with a choice of mashed potato or risotto, banished my trepidation. Its full-blown lushness, the attendant mushroom's woody scent and the heady umami sauce beguiled us into making short work of the dish.
 
Now, lest you think the Tiramisu (RM48) is ho-hum, this particular dessert was culled from Chef Piras' inherited 1956 recipe. Despite the absence of Marsala (Italian fortified wine), the sweet treat was delightfully light with a heavier than usual coffee profile.
 
For those who want it all, go with the Three Italian Delights (RM44) featuring triple layers of decadence comprising panna cotta, chocolate mousse and tiramisu. Sounds sinful but thankfully, the serving is mercifully manageable so the guilt factor is lessened.

Personally, I'd recommend Profiteroles (RM37), choux buns filled with sublime vanilla cream, chocolate sauce and cocoa tuile. Share these to halve the calories and go home happy like the cat that got the cream.

For reservation, call FAVOLA - tel: 03-2263 7434. Address: Le Meridien KL, Jalan Stesen Sentral, KL Sentral. 





Friday, July 22, 2016

GHOSTBUSTERS ADVENTURE LIVE! AT SUNWAY LAGOON



Ghostbusters - one of the top 10 most iconic film franchises of all time – has just stormed into local cinemas, making it the perfect headline experience for The Ghostbusters Adventure-Live! attraction at Lynton V Harris Scream Park, Sunway Lagoon.
As part of the media entourage invited to the sneak preview experience, we enjoyed first dibs at the unveiling of Asia’s first live interactive Ghostbusters attraction; Sunway Lagoon's biggest annual investment todate since the Scream Park was launched some seven years ago.
Occupying the entire top level of Scream Park, The Ghostbusters Adventure-Live! journey takes visitors through a 15-minute spooky fun travail through the current movie’s replicated on-site locations. The thrills lie with the cast of live actors playing seasoned ‘Ghostbusters’ and ‘ghosts’, interacting sporadically with visitors at designated sections inside the park.
Lynton V. Harris, Chairman & CEO of The Sudden Impact! Entertainment Company said the choice to go with Ghostbusters was based on the movie franchise’s evergreen family-friendly appeal and sustained longevity. “The idea is to give the family-centric crowd an immersive scary experience with spooky, ghoulish fun elements minus the gory elements.”
Besides Ghostbusters, Sunway Lagoon’s successful partnership with Lynton V Harris &The Sudden Impact! Entertainment Company has seen past attractions such as Terminator, Night at The Museum, Prison Break LIVE! And World War Z headlining inside the Scream Park.
After the obligatory media photo opp to mark the Ghostbusters Adventure-Live! launch, we were herded in small groups to Slimer’s pad, filled with cool Ghostbusters memorabilia. At Aldridge Mansion – New York’s oldest private home and museum, we encountered the ‘ghostly appearance’ of Gertrude Aldridge.
Expect more sudden, heart-stopping scares and unexpected ghoulish ‘fiends’ stalkings as you detour through New York Subway’s Seward Street Station and Old Zhu’s Chinese Restaurant, the new headquarters of the new all-female Ghostbusters. 



Also on the agenda is Rowan’s basement followed by the infamous Mercado Hotel in New York’s iconic Times Square where guests will face a spooky, scary and slimy finale to their journey. Once you watch the movie, the different sets will seem familiar so make sure you don't miss out on both the cinematic experience along with The Ghostbusters Adventure -Live! thrills.
Calvin Ho, Senior General Manager of Sunway Theme Parks explained “The Ghostbusters Adventure-Live! provides park-goers and fans alike with a unique and interactive journey through the Ghostbusters world for the next three years. The re-creation of certain locations from the latest movie, brings a sense of realism to the whole experience.”
Guests (Malaysians who are 18 and above) who spend RM300 or above in one single receipt will stand a chance to drive away with a brand new Proton Iriz as part of Sunway Lagoon’s first ever ‘Spend and Win’ contest.
Ghostbusters at Lynton V. Harris Scream Park opens from 11am to 6pm daily. Enjoy Sunway Lagoon’s latest adventure with over 90 rides and attractions at RM150 per person (12 years and above), and RM120 (11 years old and below).

Who you gonna call for more information? Sunway Lagoon, tel: 03-5639 000 or visit www.sunwaylagoon.com.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

FULL STEAM AHEAD AT XIN CUISINE

Steamboat is Malaysia's equivalent to hot pot and shabu shabu. My first encounter with this heartwarming speciality was outside Stadium Negara where diners sat under the stars on a grassy verge, tending patiently to their charcoal-fuelled steamboat pots. Today, the experience can be as basic or as classy as you desire. If you prefer to enjoy this perennial offering in air-conditioned comfort with top quality ingredients, Xin Cuisine is just the place to go.
A choice of chicken or herbal soup or interestingly, curry gravy is available as the base stock upon which your steamboat affair can be built on. Priced at RM50 nett per person (minimum two persons per table) and served on Mon-Fri, the variety and quality standards of choice ingredients used are uncompromisingly high.

 
Now, this is no empty boast as I can assure you each and every time has came under the strict purview of the hotel General Manager, Gary Lee whose discerning, finicky tastebud is the final determining yardstick.
Hence the extensive selection veers from choice cuts of chicken and fish, paper-thin slices of pork streaked with some fat, crunchy jellyfish, spongy fish maw, sliced top shell and cuttlefish, and decent sized tiger prawns.
Instead of commercial, mass produced fish balls, the Xin culinary team proffers bouncy fish balls flecked with seamoss and plump sui kow dumplings stuffed with minced pork and prawns.
Lending balance to the meaty fare are smooth soft beancurd along with deep-fried beancurd skin (foochuk), button mushroom and greens: young cabbage, spinach, Chinese cabbage, lettuce in addition to some egg noodles and eggs.
 
Plain chicken stock is best should you wish to appreciate the natural sweetness and taste of the various ingredients. For additional 'oompph', try ramping up the flavour quotient with the house Chinese herbal broth. Xin also offers three sauce concoctions to enliven the cooked morsels. It was fun to experiment and dip different ingredients into them, to decide which had more appeal. 
 
Special mention must be made of the curry gravy. Granted, it is a somewhat unusual choice since curry has such a rich and robustly strong profile but in this case, Xin managed to strike a delicious balance. We found the curry gravy so irresistible that our dining party had no qualms tossing most of the ingredients into it. The resultant taste was raveworthy enough to entice us into slurping up bowls of that broth.

For reservations, please call Xin Cuisine, tel: 03-2144 8750 or 2144 2200 x 2338. Address: Lobby Level, Concorde Hotel KL, 2 Jalan Sultan Ismail, 50250 Kuala Lumpur