Monday, September 16, 2019


The curtain-raiser of Truffle Radish Puff with Twin Purple Sweet Potatoes from Elegant Inn Hong Kong Cuisine’s Unique Vegetarian Set looks almost too pretty to be eaten.

An artistic creation featuring crisp, deep-fried purple sweet potato slices arranged around a flaky domed puff stuffed with truffle oil-scented radish and carrot julienne, the pastry’s outer layer is similar to that of a traditional Teochew mooncake crust: delightfully feather-light and crisp to the bite.
It’s one of the many inventive specialities showcased in the restaurant’s special set menu to commemorate Gau Wong Yeh – the Nine Emperor Gods Festival, a major Toaist religious celebration held on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month. Devotees usually observe a strict vegetarian diet with many flocking to the Nine Emperor Gods temples in Ampang, Selangor and Butterworth, Penang for prayers.
Elegant Inn HK Cuisine is one of the rare Chinese restaurants in the city to offer a specially composed vegetarian set menu to mark the said festival. According to proprietress Jeanette Han, “our vegetarian menu is increasingly popular with diners who adhere to vegetarianism during the Nine Emperor Gods Festival. Since I’m not fond of greens, I challenge my chefs to create unique vegetarian dishes for this period.”
Her culinary team deftly rises to the occasion with that opening volley. The subsequent soup course proves equally show-stopping; a masterful demonstration of nifty knife skills that has beancurd ‘blooming’ into an  otherworldly blossom with fine, wavy tendrils in the Double Boiled Soup of Tofu Blossom with Fresh Beetroot & Carrot.
True to the Cantonese preference for clear, uncomplicated flavours, Han says she prefers to serve soups with a natural, delicate sweetness culled from the ingredients used; through 4-6 hours of double-boiling. Hence one sip of the dark yet beguiling broth is enough to suffuse the palate with the inherent sweetness of beetroot, carrot and wolfberries chosen for its preparation.

Another clever masterstroke comes in the form of Trio Treasures Stuffed with Organic Beancurd & Quinoa. A more refined vegetarian version of ‘yong tau foo’, the pan-fried wedges of brinjal, bittergourd and red capsicum come stuffed with mashed organic beancurd with quinoa instead of fish paste. The slightly nutty and appealing stuffing is further enlivened by a tantalising dressing concocted using lychee vinegar and sesame sauce.
Crunchy like asparagus, plump groundnut sprouts is a new ingredient that rouses much interest among our dining party. The sweet subtlties of the Groundnut Sprouts Wok Fried with Sweet Peas & Premium Cordycep Flowers make it a noteworthy dish.
Springy hand-made noodles are stir-fried with porcini mushrooms and leafy greens result in a tempting serving of Premium Wild Porcini Noodles. Touched with truffle oil, the noodles leave us happily satisfied without feeling bloated.
Such hazy weather calls for a soothing dessert broth and the Double Boiled Snow Pear with Chuan Bei and Citrus Peel is roundly welcomed as chuan bei mu or fritillaria bulbs is known for its lung-soothing efficacy in traditional Chinese medicine herb.

The mildly fruity-sweet broth is also cooling for the body, making it a nice panacea for the hot, smoggy weather. Complementing it is Yan Xi Lotus Bloom Pastry – a flaky, multiple layer flower-shape pastry with sweet lotus seed paste centre. We learned the artful creation was inspired by the hit Chinese drama series, Yan Xi Palace.
Priced at RM138++ per person (minimum 2 diners per table), the Nine Emperor Gods Festival Unique Vegetarian Set from Elegant Inn Hong Kong Cuisine is available from September 29 to October 7, 2019.
For reservations, please call Elegant Inn HK Cuisine, tel: 03-2070 9399. Address: 2.01, 2nd Floor, Podium Block, Menara Hap Seng, Jalan P Ramlee, KL.

Monday, September 09, 2019


Apart from Chinese New Year, Mid-Autumn Festival has to be one of the most anticipated tai yat ji – a major festival in the Chinese lunar calendar. Such a significant occasion calls for a showstopping main course and Elegant Inn HK Cuisine, as usual, rises to the occasion with its South African Abalone Treasure Bowl Feast.
A most befitting headliner of the restaurant’s Mid-Autumn Bliss menu available now until 30 September 2019, I feel privileged to be able to savour the sumptuous treasures from that mini poon choi.


In keeping with the spirit of the traditional dish originally from New Territories in Hong Kong where villagers collectively pool their supply of food in big wooden or ceramic washbasins to celebrate key festivals and special occasions, Elegant Inn’s version comprises 9-head South African abalones, roast duck, plump shiitake mushrooms, sea prawns and broccoli.

Considered one of the best in the world, the frilly edge South African abalones taste divine; their smooth succulence gently seguing into chewier toothsomeness the more we bite into them. The resultant marine savoury-sweetness is sublime when mingled with the thick, almost gelatinous braising sauce of the base of pork trotter. Every morsel of the entire casserole is equally scrumptious: from the juicy roast duck and delectable prawns to the chunks of radish, broccoli and Chinese cabbage. We unhesitantly slurp up the deeply flavourful sauce too.

The opening salvo for the Mid-Autumn Bliss menu showcases an inventive appetiser of Silky Egg White with Bird's Nest paired with Seared Pork Tongue. A ‘bird’s nest’ fashioned from deep-fried rice vermicelli (meehoon) holds clumps of delicate bird’s nest complemented by a little cocktail spear of pan-seared pork tongue.
Marinated with a milieu of condiments including superior soya sauce and five spice powder, the deliciously tender tongue has a nice QQ crunch to it. According to restaurant proprietress Jeanette Han, only the centre – the tenderest part – of the pork tongue is used. For textural contrast, it’s accompanied by some snow fungus and Japanese cucumber.
Elegant Inn HK Cuisine's balcony is shaded and ideal for pre-dinner cocktails. There's a herb garden in the far-flung corner too where garden-fresh herbs are harvested for the resto's use.

Han, who firmly believes serving good food is a vocation for the conscientious, says “My team of 18 chefs have with Elegant Inn HK Cuisine for over 10 years. They are the stalwarts who understand my high expectations and have strived to meet my exacting standards.”
True to her credit, I cannot recall any occasion when the food at Elegant Inn has failed to impress. After 11 years in the business, Han still sources and buys most of the ingredients especially premium dried seafood and certain products like Chinese sausages herself from Hong Kong – it’s a form of quality control she steadfastly adheres to. “Great ingredients speak for themselves and their quality will shine through with the simplest preparation.”

A notable testament to that philosophy is the Double Boiled Soup of Deer Tendon, Dried Conch, Black Chicken and Murrill Mushroom (agaricus blazei Murrill or himematsutake in Japanese). In Han’s book, soup has to be ching teem i.e. clear and sweet; well-balanced without being too ‘heavy’ or cloying with any residual aftertaste.
Having undergone 4-6 hours of double boiling, the resultant bowl of restorative broth is lush and redolent with complex marine sweetness, slightly gelatinous and gamey from the various goodies in it. You can swap the deer tendon to fish maw (just add RM10+ per person) or luxe up the soup with superior shark’s fin (add RM38+ per person). It’s a heartwarming, nutritious offering to relish slowly.
The penultimate serving of Claypot Rice with Garoupa Fillet, Hong Kong Dried Prawns and Tung Choy proves a nice counterpoint to the succession of indulgent specialities thus far. Simple and appealing, it’s reminiscent of cooking from the hearth and home.
Teochew Style Tau Suan with Crunchy Sea Cucumber and Black Gold Custard Bun ensure a blissfully sweet ending to the celebratory menu. A traditional dessert of the Teochew community, the mildly sweet split mung bean broth is given an unexpected twist, with little pieces of crunchy jelly-like sea cucumber as accompaniment.

Again, the playful textures are paired off with a pillowy-soft charcoal bao filled with molten custard. This is one Mid-Autumn festival selection that will leave everyone abuzz long after the meal is over.
The Mid-Autumn Bliss Menu is priced at RM888 for 4 persons, RM1,288 for 6 persons and RM2,138 for 10 persons (subject to 6% SST).

For reservations, please call Elegant Inn HK Cuisine, tel: 03-2070 9399. Address: 2.01, 2nd Floor, Podium Block, Menara Hap Seng, Jalan P Ramlee, KL.