Wednesday, July 12, 2017

JUSTIN QUEK SHINES AT THE LIBRARY



As the Principal Chef of Sky on 57 − the stunning 240-seater fine-dining restaurant on level 57 of Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, celebrated Chef Justin Quek needs to introduction to gourmands in the know.
His impeccable culinary pedigree spans over three decades: his skills and culinary techniques honed in Europe’s Michelin-star restaurants then cemented in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Shanghai. By now, Chef Justin is renowned for his trademark Franco-Asian cooking style as he marries South East Asian ingredients with European influences with aplomb.
 


A household name in Singapore and roundly lauded around the world, Chef Justin Quek is also consultant chef to Hainan Airlines (yes, the airline that unveiled its designer cabin crew uniforms at Paris Couture Week) and has his hands full with different projects, from spearheading a new restaurant, JQ Mon Asia at Marina Bay Sands to promoting his range of JQ sauces, wines and cookbooks.




But for now until this Saturday (15 July), Chef Justin Quek is pulling out the stops for his guest chef stint at The Library of The Ritz Carlton KL. An exclusive media preview saw us lucky few treated to his signature specialities which showcased the chef’s dexterity in harmonising Asian dishes with modern French techniques.

The opening volley of three hors d’oeuvres curated by Chef Justin Quek began with a dainty cup of foamy Cauliflower Purée with Oscietra Caviar, White Chocolate. Although I
found the offering was a tad too salty for my liking, the choice of champagne, Canard-Duchêne Cuvée Léonie Brut with its sparkling apple-pear fruitiness helped to blunt it.

We were instructed to devour the delicate pouch of Duck Foie Gras Xiao Long Bao before downing the irrestibly musky Mushroom Cappuccino with Ceps Cream. A wise move as the little soup-filled dumpling’s delicate lushness should rightly be allowed to shine before the more assertive and creamy soup hit one's tastebuds. Again, the bubbly’s crisp, zingy acidity saved the appetisers from the brink of cloying richness.

Chef Justin’s Duo of Maine Lobster with Wild Mushroom, Shao Xing Cream was a definite show-stopper. The dream ensemble of sweet, tender lobster meat with a light but luscious cream sauce perfumed with Shao Xing wine left us asking for more. In fact, the moreish sauce was so sublime that most of us mopped up every drop of it with bread. The elegant dish was aptly paired with J. Moreau & Fils Fourchaume Chablis Premier Cru, a French white with buttery almond and fruity notes.

Eating fish with crisp-fried fish scales intact was a first of its kind experience for us but the talented chef blew us away with his distinctive creation of Crispy Scale Blue Cod Fillet with Clam & Herb Fondue. It was an impressive testament to Chef Justin’s three decade-old experience and expertise in ensuring the fish remained flaky sweet whilst the skin turned out crunchy crisp.
 


We also wish there was more of that salubrious sauce which complemented the dish. The subtly sweet and bright acidity of Dr. Loosen Bernkasteler Lay Riesling Kabinett was chosen to partner this masterpiece. 
Nam yue and fu yue, two fermented condiment used in Chinese cuisine, were central in the Asian Braised Angus Beef. Both lent deep-seated savoury flavour to the dish, touched by a whisper of delicate chestnut sweetness.

Its fork-tender, soft texture stood out in contrast against the more toothsome texture of Seared Wagyu Beef with Oriental Greens. The supple red-dark cherries and spice notes of the chosen Australian red, Knappstein Shiraz Clare Valley was a good match for it.

The uplifting, fresh scent of mint was noticeable when we savoured the feather-light Chocolate & Mint Floating Island with Caramelised Crispy Rice. We sampled this confection accompanied with Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry, a sweet and slightly nutty dessert tipple with hints of spicy oak and toffee in it.

Freshly baked shards of Salted Almond Tuile with Coffee/Tea wrapped up our sumptuous luncheon before we bid a fond farewell to Franco-Asian maestro Justin Quek.

Catch award-winning Chef Justin Quek’s culinary mastery in a specially crafted Franco-Asian menu from July 12 to 15. The sumptuous four-course dinner is priced from MYR 300 per person. For more information and reservations, please call 03-2142 8000 or email: dining@ritzcarlto


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