Wednesday, April 26, 2017

BEST OF BEIJING'S CANTONESE FARE AT TOH YUEN



 


Meet guest chef Vincent Zhang from Hilton Beijing whose mettle in whipping up Beijing's finest Cantonese cuisine takes centrestage at Toh Yuen, Hilton Petaling Jaya from now until 30 April 2017. 


Chef Zhang artfully fuses the traditional and contemporary, resulting in Beijing fare with distinct Cantonese influences. According to the youthful Zhang, Beijing folks enjoy whetting their appetite with a wide assortment of cold appetisers and this is evident from the starters he has selected for us, to appeal to the Malaysian palate.
We were greatly tickled by the show-stealing khou sui ji (); its tongue-in-cheek tag means drool-worthy chicken. Indeed, the succulent pieces of Poached Chicken with Spicy Sauce certainly ruled the roost once we had a sampling. 


Smothered in fiery-red chilli oil, the chook's deliciousness was discernible. Also the gritty chilli on top wasn't tongue-searing hot as we had anticipated but faintly smoky-sweet. 
Served on crushed ice, the paper-thin strips of Fruit Juice Infused Bitter Melon Salad proved on-point too. If you balk at eating this bitter vegetable, I urge you to try it. Instead of the usual astringent bitterness, each crunchy strip tasted mildly fruity as the chef has infused the bitter melon strips with guava juice (sometimes apple juice is used).




Taking a leaf from a classic 300 year-old Chinese appetiser recipe, Zhang reinterpreted Marinated Chinese Cabbage with Mustard his way. The 1.5" Chinese cabbage rolls which resembled siew mai dumplings were pliantly soft, zapping the tastebuds with bright mustardy zinginess once we bit into them.
The Jellyfish Flower in Aged Vinegar with Leek and Ginger Dressing served up a flourish of toothsome crunchiness and piquant flavours. We relished every mouthful of this simple, no-frills offering.

Both the Double Boiled Black Chicken Soup with American Ginseng, Goji Berries & Red Dates and 'Surfing' Fine Slices of Whole Live Abalone with Kombu Seaweed in Superior Broth stayed true to the Cantonese ching theem (clear and sweet) approach. Suffice to say, the delicate, unadulterated accents of the two soups warmed our hearts at first sip.
A hodge-podge of aromatics had gone into marinating the cod overnight before it was deftly transformed by Zhang into Beijing Famous Pan Fried Cod with Mustard Mayo. Paired with plump asparagus spears and a smear of palate-prickling wasabi mayo, this fish exuded such winsome panache we swiftly wiped everything clean.
Zhang then raised the bar with Beef Fillet with Golden Garlic Crisps, a signature dish at Hilton Beijing. Laden with enticing aroma and nuance from golden brown confetti of garlic crisps, the meat's scrumptious mouthfeel invariably scored top marks.
Sha jiang or sand ginger (Kaempferia galanga) was integral to the chef's marinade for the delectable Crispy Roast Chicken with Salt & Pepper, lending muted camphorous peppery hints to the perennial crowd-pleaser. In fact, the crisp skin and juicy, moist flesh made the side dip of chilli sauce almost redundant.
Equal parts of egg and bean milk went into the making of the yellowish Beancurd with Seared Foie Gras, Scallops & Mushroom Sauce. Never mind its amusing Scotch Brite appearance, the eggy beancurd topped with chopped spinach worked like a charm. The beancurd's light sponginess was a match made in culinary heaven with the attendant ingredients.
Ethereally soft and bouncy textures converged with delicately sweet and clear seafood accents in the dish of Prawn Fritters with Asparagus, Pumpkin & Lily Bulbs; an admirable testament of the chef's flair for his craft.
He even presented a Chinese fusion of Taiwan's famed 'three cup' chicken speciality, resulting in Cantonese Stir-fried Chicken with Trio of Sauces. Whilst basil plays an assertive role in the Taiwanese version, the convergence of savoury-sweet-herbaceous nuances was no less voluptuous on the palate. Garlic, ginger and shallot also added a tinge of warm spiciness.

Mindful of our hot, tropical weather, Zhang proffers Hot Green Bean & Mandarin Peel Broth as one of the dessert options. Known for its cooling property, the green bean purée was pleasantly smooth and slightly unctuous.
Another cooling dessert broth which should prove popular is Snow Pear with Red Dates & Sweet White Fungus, served hot or cold. A timeless not too sweet treat that's both nutritious and wholesome after a hearty meal.
Dishes for the Beijing's Finest Cantonese Cuisine by Chef Vincent Zhang are priced from RM35 onwards. 

For reservations, call Toh Yuen, tel: 03-7955 9122 extn. 4073/74 or check www.zestpj.com for more details.






Sunday, April 23, 2017

FOOD & FUN AT SAMA-SAMA FOOD FIESTA

Guests were treated to food and fun in a carnival atmosphere recently at Sama-Sama Hotels KL International Airport from 19 to 23 April. Besides the wide variety of tempting dishes served, the event featured fun fair type games, a roving clown and screening of movies and cartoons for children. A Beer Garden was also included to cater to the international clientele.
A battalion of 21 chefs from Sama-Sama Hotel KLIA, Sama-Sama Express KLIA and Sama-Sama Express klia2 teamed up to present popular local, Western and Lebanese food at the different stalls set up at the sprawling Rooftop Garden of KLIA.
Although we were spoiled for choice with 21 stalls to choose from, we zoomed in for Sama-Sama Signature Mee Rebus. The tasty serving came with thick, sweetish gravy smothering yellow noodles, slices of fried beancurd, a wedge of hardboiled egg and crispy fritters.
I also enjoyed Laksa Kedah, tantalising rice noodles in tamarind and flaked fish gravy. Fresh cucumber strips, onion and thick gooey prawn paste were the accompaniments for this offering. The delightfully sour broth was surprisingly zingy on the palate but that added to its irresistible appeal.
Family-friendly fare which proved popular with the young ones was the pretty Sushi Rolls served at the Japanese stall. Both traditional and reverse rice rolls with assorted fillings were attractively presented so many diners made a beeline for them.
Rice fiends had a gala time sampling Nasi Dalcha Daging Rendang Mamak. The aromatic rice was redolent with fragrant spices and really hit the spot when eaten with chunks of tender beef rendang, veggie pickles and crackers.
Noodles seemed to dominate our favourite eats list that evening we were there. The Char Kuay Teow had plenty of wok hei, that splendid smoky accent few cooks managed to imbue into this tricky dish. Chives, egg and beansprouts lent textural dimension although the tiny cockles were nothing to shout about.
Heh, our penchant for Penang fare was obvious as we followed up with a serving of Pasembor Penang after that. While it wasn't the best, we agreed the version was decent enough to pass muster.
 
If you like watching chefs in action, stop by the Curry Puff and Apam Balik stalls. These local snacks deserved equal standing with foreign imports like waffles and pies...in my opinion ours taste way better and are much cheaper!
Thumbs up for the Apam Balik which came in normal and pandan variants. The pancake was crisp and crunchy; the thickness too was spot on.
Colourful and rich, the variety of Malay Kuih left us in a sweetly jovial mood. Washed down with a cup of hot Teh Tarik, we couldn't cope with much more food. How we wish we had tummy space for Hainanese Chicken Rice, Rojak Sotong, Ikan Bakar or Chef Ammar's signature rice and curry specialities but alas, it was futile for us to fit anything else in.
If you missed this Food Fiesta, fear not. Sama-Sama Hotels may organise similar events in future and possibly for the fasting month so keep your eyes and ears open for upcoming news. 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

JUADAH DESA RULES AT LATEST RECIPE



Tradition still rules at Latest Recipe when it comes to the fasting month this year. Chef Budiman Bistari and his team will pull out the stops for Serambi Juadah Warisan Desa, evoking the culinary heritage of Malay villages from different nooks and crannies of the nation for berbuka puasa.
Apart from the customary dates to break fast with, a piping hot bowl of spiced Bubur Lambuk Mikerhani should help to restore one’s equilibrium. Aromatic and lightly enriched with coconut cream and spices, the Malay-style congee hit the spot for us.
Fresh assorted ulam and kerabu were part of the healthy starters available. Acar, Pecal, Kerabu Mangga, Kerabu Kerang & Betik Muda and Salted Fish Acar from chef’s mom Hajjah Ramlah comprised some of the choice picks to whet the appetite.
The hot centrepiece of a buka puasa buffet, whole Roast Lamb will make a comeback too. Marinated with fennel, cumin, coriander seeds, cardamom, cloves, star anise, ginger, lemongrass and other aromatics, few diners could ever resist passing up on this meaty offering.
A newer and notable contender I’d recommend highly is Chilli-Garlic Glaze Chicken Drumsticks with Croutons & Lemon Zest. The lush, caramelised flavour from the moist, juicy meat was so palate-pleasing you’d be returning for repeat helpings. 
Thumbs-up choices also included Kuah Lemak Kepiting Bunga Kantan (crabs in turmeric curry scented with torch ginger), Gulai Lemak Merah (red beef curry), Banana, Yam and Sweet Potato Fritters and Ikan Bakar Air Asam among others.
Perennial faves everyone makes a beeline for range from Biryani Hyderabadi and Murtabak, to the expansive Japanese section proffering Teppanyaki Seafood, Tempura, Sashimi and Sushi, and the Chilled Seafood selection.
Remember to keep ample tummy space for traditional sweets and modern ones too. Nostalgic bites of Putu Piring, Serawa Durian and Kuihs fought for attention with prettily frosted Cakes, Tartlets, Sliced Fruits, Chocolate Fountains, and Cookies. You’d be hard-pressed to restrain yourself at the overwhelming array.
Available from 27 May to 24 June 2017, the Serambi Juadah Warisan Desa buffet dinner is priced at RM180 nett per adult and RM90 nett per child.
Early bird vouchers sold now at RM130 nett per adult and RM65 nett per child until 20 May. Complimentary flow of Date Juice, Sirap Bandung, Sugar Cane Juice, Iced Lemon Tea and Teh Tarik inclusive in the buffet. 

 For reservations, call Latest Recipe, tel: 03-2263 7434. More details from www.lemeridien.com/kualalupur