Traditions are hard to break when it comes to Chinese New Year but Chef Wong Pak Seng and his team have no intention of putting the cart before the horse when it comes to dishing up festive specialities.
The Xin team left no stone unturned in setting the pace and giving us a galloping start to the Wooden Horse Year, starting with the ubiquitous yee sang (raw fish salad). With six variations available (RM68++ to RM198++ depending on serving size), the Prosperity Salmon Yee Sang is a perennial fave with the restaurant's die-hard regulars and CNY revellers.
Freshly shredded vegetables, frisky tangy pickles, frilly jellyfish and crispy flour crackers go into this terrific toss-up of a salad that is neither too dry or moist even after the dressing has been added. We give it our full stomp of approval.
Although I'm not the 'chicken soup for soul' kinda person, I'm akin to the proverbial horse that's led to water, to drink from the heartwarming bowl of Double-boiled Chicken Soup with Wolfberries. Clear and delicately sweet, I daresay soup fiends will lap up this up with gusto to the very last drop.
Upping the ante on this year's festive feast race, the Xin team jockeys for top position with a stunning show-stopper - Roast Goose with Special Sauce. Mildly gamey yet lusciously juicy, the firm, tender goose has us chomping on the bit. Surprisingly it wasn't fatty at all and we relish every delectable mouthful.
A huge, tissue-thin egg-based pouch ringed by broccoli florets impresses from the get-go. The fillings turn out to be a gastronome's dream: a braised hodge-podge of sumptuous sea cucumber, plump black mushrooms and alluring abalones. Aptly listed as Bountiful Abalones in Golden Pouch, this is a dish that grabs the limelight the minute the eggy pouch is cut open to reveal its deluxe contents.
According to chef Wong, there are a handful of new creations to mark the CNY but timeless classics such as Steamed Pomfret with Soya Sauce & Garlic Oil will never fall out of favour. The fish flesh is fine and smooth and barely needs much tricking up so trusty condiments like superior soya sauce, aromatic garlic oil, freshly chopped Chinese parsley and spring onion are preferred to jazz it up.
Horsing around with fruits resulted in a tempting creation of Wok-fried Prawns with Fresh Fruits & Sesame Sauce. A boon for those too lazy to bother with prawn shells, the crustaceans slicked with creamy, nutty sesame sauce are sublime; their bouncy texture likely to put a spring in your step after devouring them.
Another consistent best-seller for the Lunar New Year period is the 'xin-ful' treat of Waxed Meat Rice in Claypot. Most chefs have their own closely guarded trade tricks to ensure this cherished offering command a loyal following year after year and Xin's has remained consistently sought-after since the restaurant opened. Suffice to say the rice tastes so good that one bowl is never enough.
To sweeten up the celebrations, diners will find tong sui (dessert broth) such as Double-boiled Honeydew to wrap up their meal nicely.
There's no horse play when it comes to rustling up new nian gao (steamed sweet glutinous rice cake) dessert. This year, they turn to the dark side of chocolate...boldly blending bewitching cacao with earthy green tea for the Chocolate Paste Green Tea Nian Gao.
Our vote goes to the Deep-fried Hazelnut Paste Nian Gao which has sticky nian gao crusted with a crumbly, toasty batter coating and stuffed with some nutella-flavoured paste. Subtly sweet, the chewy cake releases the distinct hazelnut fragrance the longer one chews on it.
Special CNY dishes from the a la carte festive menu are priced from RM13++ to RM318++ per order. Families and groups of friends may prefer the Prosperity Set Menus that start from RM1,388++ to RM1,588++ per table of 10 persons.
Xin Cuisine, Concorde Hotel Kuala Lumpur, 2 Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 03 2144 8750