Thursday, November 06, 2014


“Let’s do the twist” is the clarion call that Shook!’s executive chef Matthew Ona plans to send out for this year’s A Journey Through Time at Starhill Gallery Kuala Lumpur. The premier watch and jewellery exhibition returning for the eighth year will showcase rare private collections, first-in-market editions and exquisite timepieces from over 125 luxury brands, 20 of which are debuting in Malaysia.
Gala nights from 21 – 28 November will see guests relishing scrumptious creations by Chef Matthew Ona and his team at Shook! based on the Twisted Malaysian Fair theme. With the minutes ticking away after we arrived, samplings of what’s in store came fast but not too furious. Dainty rolls of Brown Sugar Smoked Pacific Salmon with Cucumber Yogurt Tzatziki and Salmon Roe quelled our rumbling tummies. Slick and succulent, one could polish off quite a few of them at one go.
Expectations were heightened and met by the Chilled Prawn Salad with Avocado, Cilantro and Toasted Cumin. Cusped in little buttery pastry tart cases, the subtly spiced accent lent an apt touch to the delicate morsels. Rustic and rich with coy tinges of garlic and chives, it’s best to go easy on the Braised Wild Mushroom Vol Au Vent with Roasted Garlic Cream & Spring Chives. These wickedly decadent offerings primed our tastebuds adequately for the upcoming preview dishes.
Chef Ona who hails from Minneapolis, Minnesota, started his culinary journey at the age of 14. From the U.S. to the Bahamas and onwards to Tokyo and Shanghai, Ona was previously the Executive Chef of Shook! in Shanghai before his current KL stint. Wise to the ways of us Asians and our love for strong flavours, the chef soon proved his mettle in pleasing discerning foodies. Veering from West to East, Ona’s time-travelling selection would have the well-heeled crowd savouring every culinary moment during the week-long A Journey Through Time galas
The classic French Salad Nicoise appeared in new guise with Ona serving of Yellow Tuna Carpaccio Nicoise-Style, adorning the lightly seared squares of fatty fish with tiny quarters of sun-dried tomato, Kalamata olive, green beans and organic egg. Fresh herbs and lemon dressing lent finishing touches to the bright, summery salad.
Next we were whisked away to Land of the Smiles where the Thai-inspired Spicy Lemongrass Broth sparked riotous flavours on our tongues. Lightly creamy on the palate, the inherent sweetness of shellfish was discernible, melding seamlessly with the broth’s briny-punchy-tangy accents whilst shrimps and seasonal mushroom added bouncy, tender textures.
The main course of Rusuk Rendang Puncak Mahligai brought us back to familiar home ground; emphasising Malaysia’s culinary heritage with beef short ribs grilled and then painstakingly braised like rendang. We love the clean, orderly presentation that makes this perennial delicacy so haute; the buttery meat set atop a pool of smooth unctuous spiced gravy, accompanied by a pair of turmeric-poached shallot, crisp slivers of fried ginger and kaffir lime leaf, crowned with a whole red bird’s eye chilli.
Using local fruits and herbs to great effect, the Malaysia Flavour 2014 dessert was a mind-boggling platter; a future-forward creation that looks like a UFO. The stunning ensemble is something that I think the Demon Chef aka Alvin Leung would approve of…we went wild over the cornucopia of lemongrass jelly, coconut mousse, pandan sponge, mangosteen sorbet, peanut gianduja crème and gula Melaka sago pearls. Like pieces of a puzzle, the different components somehow fitted perfectly and caused time to stand still.

For details on A Journey Through Time, visit or call
SHOOK! for reservations: +603 2782 3875. Address: Feast Village at Starhill Gallery,
Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur

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