Showing posts with label cantonese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cantonese. Show all posts

Friday, June 09, 2023


Attention to the tiniest details is restaurateur Jeannette Han's maxim. Still going strong after 15 years at Menara Hap Seng, the understated Elegant Inn Hong Kong Cuisine restaurant remains a firm favourite among discerning Chinese food lovers in the city.

Executive Chef Wesley Ng who cut his teeth in the restaurant scene at the tender age of 19, joined Elegant Inn (E.I.) in 2002. Previously attached to an established Chinese restaurant in Klang, the chef has helmed the E.I. team since then.
A lunch invitation from Jeannette to sample some of E.I.’s crowd-pleasers and signature dishes turned into a languorous and indulgent affair.
Right off the bat, we were spoiled with E.I.’s Happy Start platter comprising Salt & Pepper Hong Kong Silver Fish & Cuttlefish (RM32.80 – Silver Fish, Cuttlefish – RM39.80), Steamed Silky Egg with Pan-seared Hokkaido Scallops & Crab Roe Sauce, and Special Chilled Spoon Delight with Fresh Salmon and Crabmeat.

The steamed egg topped with creamy crab roe was sensuously smooth. Its deliciousness was rivalled by the scrumptious servings of raw salmon strips and crabmeat atop silky noodles; our palate tingled from the appetiser’s tantalising lime dressing.
We also relished the light-as-air batter-coated silver fish and cuttlefish, flecked with salt and pepper. A fine sprinkling of fried and raw garlic bestowed fleeting bursts of sweet and sharp accents as we munched our way through the delectable morsels.
Nothing warms the soul like a hearty tureen of Traditional Double Boiled Soup of Pig Stomach, Peppercorn and Salted Vegetable (RM148.80). Aside from a whole pig’s stomach, salted vegetables and Sarawakian white peppercorns, the salubrious broth suffused our palate with a cacophony of sublime flavours thanks to the bountiful ingredients in it: chicken feet for a touch of viscousness, Yunnan ham for that umami nuance, and free-range kampung chicken and pork ribs for delicate sweetness.

According to Han, the soup should taste clear and sweet on the palate, with a perceptible peppery finish coming through. Kudos to the E.I. team for ensuring it was on-point.

We also sampled several Dim Sum items: Crispy Vegetable Rice Rolls (RM5.20 per pc, min 4 pcs), Steamed Hokkaido Scallop Dumplings (RM) and Steamed Radish Cake with Hong Kong Prawn and Tung Choi (preserved vegetable).
As expected, the dumplings went down a treat; the scallop-prawn filling’s fresh sweetness raveworthy. E.I. also levelled up the Hong Kong-style ‘jar leong’ – flat rice rolls with fried Chinese crullers – by stuffing its silky rice rolls with crispy Vietnamese rice paper, shredded carrot and jicama for better textural interest.
Served with a mildly sweet-salty soy sauce, the rice rolls were a joy to eat. The intermingling textures complemented by the house concocted sauce transformed it into a memorable speciality.
Instead of the tried-and-tested pan-fried radish cake, E.I. steamed theirs. Each mouthful yielded fine radish strips amidst the tender pieces, accentuated with the complex flavours of caramelised Hong Kong dried prawns and preserved vegetable (specially sourced ingredients lugged back by Jeannette from Hong Kong).

After that came a surfeit of fish dishes: Steamed Sea Garoupa Slices on Rice Noodles with Fresh Lemon & Chinese Black Olives (seasonal price), Steamed Atlantic Cod with Fiery Garlic Black Bean Sauce (RM44.80 per 100 g), Golden Fried Atlantic Cod with Chinese Leek Topping (RM44.80 per 100 g) and Ichiyaboshi Threadfin to float our boat.

Suffice to say each fish dish had something distinct going for it. The refreshing lemon tanginess coupled with Chinese black olives gave the superbly fresh and sweet garoupa extra allure; the fish jus soaked up by the ribbons of flat rice noodles so each mouthful was heavenly to savour.
We also fell hook, line and sinker for the smooth and rich cod enhanced with fiery garlic-black bean sauce. Strands of glass noodles were included, to absorb the sweet jus for maximum enjoyment.
The fried version was no less stellar; the fish’s natural richness enlivened by sautéed Chinese leeks, chilli, garlic and light soy sauce.

Our interest was piqued by the ichiya-boshi (literally meaning overnight-dried) method of preparing the threadfin. This preservation technique is also popular in Korea as bountiful catches such as pollack are gutted, butterflied (cut lengthwise and split at the belly), then dipped in sea water before being set out to dry to extend their shelf life and concentrate their flavour. In modern kitchens and eateries, the fish is more likely to be doused with salty solution before it’s laid out to dry in front of fans or a well-ventilated space.

The threadfin we tried was moist and slightly briny. It was a novel experience, sampling the fish accompanied by rolled slices of asam boi-pickled celtuce (asparagus lettuce) and housemade chilli dip.
Reminiscent of a classic Chinese banquet dish, the Golden Boneless Stuffed Chicken with Chicken Tomato Salad (RM113.80 half chicken, RM226.80 whole chicken) proved to be an all-round winner. Who could resist crunching into crackle-crisp chicken skin layered with toothsomely QQ prawn paste?
The chicken meat, shredded and piled atop tomato wedges drizzled with balsamic vinegar, acted as the perfect counterpoint. An outstanding dish guaranteed to delight both young and old.

To cleanse our palate and alleviate all the indulgent food we had partaken, the Signature Fried Bitter Melon with Salted Vegetables (RM36.80) was more than welcome to tickle the tastebuds; the astringent bitter melon contrasting nicely with the salted vegetable’s subtle brininess.

Moreish and soul-satisfying, we couldn’t pass up the chance to partake the Signature Fried Rice (RM43.80). Full of wok hei (that wonderful smokiness only a ultra-hot wok and a skillful chef can produce), every grain vanished in the blink of an eye.

Somehow, we managed to find tummy room for the scrumptious Rice Noodles with Australian M9 Wagyu Beef in Egg Sauce (RM188). The supremely tender beef combined with the noodles in rich eggy sauce garnered praises all round.
Jeannette splurged on four desserts to wrap up our gathering: Golden Custard Cake (RM5 per pc, min 4 pcs), House Made Jujube Cake with Grated Coconut, Teochew Style Tau Suan with Crunchy Sea Cucumber and Double Boiled Hasma In Fresh Almond Cream.

The irresistible offerings are featured in Elegant Inn’s Parents’ Day celebratory menus priced at RM248 per person (min.2 persons) and RM968 for 4 persons and RM1,368 for 6 persons.
Interestingly, the unusual inclusion of sea cucumber caught our fancy in the old-school Teochew tau suan (sweet broth of mung beans). Following our host’s instructions to stir in the sea cucumber pieces but refrain from letting them soak too long in the dessert broth, we found the distinctive taste likeable.
Both the golden custard cake and jujube cake also hit the spot with their enticing softness and discrete sweetness. I was partial to the almond cream with hasma – a timeless choice one cannot go wrong with nor fault.
For reservations at Elegant Inn HK Cuisine, call tel: 03-2070 9399. Address: 2.01, 2nd Floor, Podium Block, Menara Hap Seng, Jalan P. Ramlee, Kuala Lumpur. 

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.

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