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.
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.
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.
Wednesday, January 08, 2020
If there’s a dish to soup up the upcoming Chinese New Year celebration, the excellent Shunde Style Traditional Shredded Fish Soup by Le Mei’s Chinese Executive Chef Lim Kian Meng will be the hottest choice.
Similar to a hearty bisque, the creamy white broth enhanced with fine slivers of wood ear fungus, snake gourd and carrot is to-die-for. Shredded seabass amps up its lush sweetness with crumbs of the deepfried fish give it a subtle crunchy finish.
This stellar speciality is one of the many show-stoppers featured in Le Mei’s three CNY menus: Wealth & Fortune Set RM3,388, Everlasting Prosperity Set RM2,388 and Spring & Happiness Set RM1,688 per table of 10 persons; available now until February 8.
|Pix courtesy of Chasingfooddreams.com|
Chef Lim’s two decades of culinary experience from past stints in Macao, Russia and locally stands him in good stead. Gastronomic proof of his culinary prowess is apparent when you savour the Stewed Sea Cucumber with Free Range Chicken and Black Truffle in Claypot.
His judicious inclusion of black truffle paste prior to serving transforms a downhome offering into a raveworthy speciality. The discernibly musky scent of truffle coupled with the milieu of big, robust flavours from the toothsome, juicy chicken and plump mushrooms make this a divine dish to remember.
Wok-fried Scallops with Asparagus and Fresh Mushroom in XO Sauce maintains the impressive streak. Sweet and tender, the scallops imbued with a dash of the zingy house XO sauce will surely tantalise the tastebuds and get the thumbs up.
Inspired by Hong Kong’s famed pei fung thong (typhoon shelter) style of preparation, the Fried Lamb Racks with Crispy Garlic and Chilli follow a similar approach. According to Chef Lim, the lamb is marinated with herb juice prior to being battered for frying. We find the blush pink lamb deliciously juicy; the crisp fried garlic and chilli bits setting the palate alight with bursts of flavourful piquancy.
Dense and firm, the meat of the Sabah Giant Grouper Steamed with Premium Soy Sauce is a winsome, classic way to ensure the pricey fish (loong da'rn in Chinese) fulfills the sumptuous and auspicious quotient for the festive table.
Mindful of today’s health-conscious clientele, Le Mei serves Fried Organic Brown Rice with Seafood and Tobiko. Tiny Hong Kong dried shrimps, dices of fish, prawns and a generous topping of tobiko make the fried mixture of brown and white rice a surefire crowd-pleaser.
The sweet-ender of Pan-fried Glutinous Rice Cake is not your average nian gao. Dim sum chef Yau Fong Peng uses pheen thong (flat brown blocks of unrefined cane sugar) to ensure the festive CNY cake is lighter, less sweet and sticky. Each slice is seared to give it a brown crust and amplify the caramel flavour. You can’t ask for a better way to welcome the Year of the Rat in 2020.
|Picture courtesy of Le Meridien Putrajaya|
For reservations, please call LE MEI, tel: 03-8689 6888/6847/6868. Address: Lobby Level, Le Meridien Putrajaya, Lebuh IRC, IOI Resort City, Putrajaya, Sepang
A more accessible location with expansive views of the verdant KLCC park and water fountain heralds the ‘homecoming’ of Nobu Kuala Lumpur to...
If you're like me who has no idea how to renew your Malaysian passport online, let's shake hands and say a prayer for what we are ...
Prawning or prawn fishing looks deceptively easy but it’s trickier than it seems. A stone’s throw away from 1 Utama Shopping Centre, Prawnin...