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.
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.”
(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.