FESTIVE INDULGENCES at FEAST VILLAGE, Starhill Gallery, Kuala Lumpur

Feast Village @ Starhill Gallery is so aptly named – it really is a food lover’s paradise in the ultimate sense. It’s so difficult to decide which restaurant to dine in, amongst so many fine establishments within that labyrinth of good food. During this festive season, every one of those restaurants is offering joyous spreads of gourmet specialities to appease even the most finicky diner.

 

When one is undecided on what to eat, SHOOK! is the answer. Well known for its huge variety of sumptuous food on the buffet counters, Shook’s Christmas Eve Golden Starry Night Buffet is something not to be missed. There are more than 50 items of signature dishes to tempt diners – roast turkey, prime ribs with Yorkshire pudding, live lobster risotto, grilled seafood, steaks, fresh sushi, sashimi, dim sum, Italian delights and a bit assortment of festive desserts jostle for space on the counters. Oh, don’t forget those freshly shucked oysters too! This buffet will be served on 24 December from 7pm till 10.30pm and priced at RM228 nett per person.

Live Lobster Rissotto

Fresh Mushroom Soup

On New Year’s Eve, there will be the “Big Balloon Drop” Celebratory Dinner Buffet & Toast from 7pm till 11pm, priced at RM298 nett per person. Rest assured that there will be a sumptuous spread of specially curated Asian, Pan-Latin and European specialities in the buffet.

Sirloin Steak

French Onion Soup

Sumptuous desserts!

 

If you are looking for a seafood feast at Starhill Gallery, head on over to FISHERMAN’S COVE. I love the rustic ambience of the place with the tanks of live seafood and comfortable bamboo-clad furniture. On Christmas Eve, there is the Oyster & Alaskan King Crab Set Dinner (RM238 nett per person) and for New Year Eve, enjoy the Seafood Boat Dinner at RM188 nett per person.

Seafood Boat

Seafood Soup

Gratin Pacific Rock Oysters & Alaskan King Crab

Besides Gratin Pacific Rock Oysters and Alaskan King Crab, there’s seafood soup, braised wagyu cheek as well as lime crème brûlée.

Braised Wagyu Cheek

Crème Caramel

The Seafood Boat Dinner comprises crispy white bait & tiger prawns skewers, hirata rice buns, fresh oysters, prawns, crabs, mussels served on a boat, spicy onion rings, crispy potato wedges and their signature crème caramel for dessert.

 

Come Christmas Day, why not have brunch at SENTIDOS GASTROBAR? Their Felice Navida Tex Mex Mexican Brunch features a whole bunch of delicious savoury appetisers like oven-baked herb mushrooms, patatas bravas, roast garlic chilli chicken, garlic prawns together with mains like chicken burrito, smoked salmon quesadillas and churros Mexicanos. The Christmas Day Brunch is RM88 nett per person from 12.00pm till 3.00pm.

Signature Nachos

Roast Garlic Chilli Chicken

Garlic Prawns

Seafood Paella

At Sentidos, the feasting continues on New Year’s Eve – check out the Viva La Vida Fiesta Dinner Buffet at RM188 nett per person. Starting off with some Prosecco sparkling wine, get on to enjoy their roasted Australian striploin, roasted whole chicken, lamb chops, seabass fillet, smoked salmon and various cold cuts and desserts. The buffet comes with free-flow beer, house-pouring wines, sangria and soft drinks. What a great way to welcome the New Year!

Grilled Lamb Chops

Churros Mexicanos

 

So, head on to Feast Village for the coming festive celebration – make your reservations at +603-2782-3875.

FEAST VILLAGE STARHILL GALLERY
At JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur
181 Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur

Website: www.feastvillage.com

Fried Chicken & Champagne @ MONTE’S, Bangsar Shopping Centre

The next time you have a reason to celebrate and are not sure how to celebrate it – well, let’s keep it simple, shall we? How about just some scrumptious fried chicken and champagne? It’s really not as incongruous as you may think! Look, almost everyone loves fried chicken, right? That’s such a universal love, no? It’s comfort food and when done well, it’s da bomb!

A bucket of amazing love!

The folks at Monte’s in Bangsar Shopping Centre has got it just right. Using only the juiciest parts of the chicken – thighs and drumsticks only, their fried chicken here is served nicely propped up in a bucket. Coated in a light batter brimming with secret spices, the crispy golden skin is irresistible, trust me. Beneath that, juicy tender meat, just the way how good fried chicken should be!

Of course we had the Cheesy Wedges too!

And to accompany this delightful fried chicken meal – none other than some sparkling Moët champagne! I can’t even begin to tell you how good that chilled champagne tasted. It’s a perfect combo, fried chicken and champagne, I tell you.

Oh you can also choose to have either some salad or cheesy wedges to go with the chicken and champagne set.  There are 2 sets for you to choose from, depending on the size and appetite of your party:

VIP Chicks Package @ RM568+
1 bottle Moët et Chandon
1 bucket Monte’s Fried Chicken (12pcs)
Salad or Cheesy Wedges

or

VVIP Party Package @ RM888+
2 bottles Moët et Chandon
1 supersize bucket Monte’s Fried Chicken (18pcs)
Salad or Cheesy Wedges

You can also order just the fried chicken on its own, without opting for the champagne – I mean, if it’s a small celebration, hehe! 3 pieces Fried Chicken go for RM18.

Monte’s at BSC has been around for more than 10 years and is very popular in the neighbourhood. For such a long-serving establishment, there are quite a number of signature dishes that have been on the menu since day 1.

 

Fresh Oxtail Soup

The thick and savoury Fresh Oxtail Soup (RM23) is one of their top dishes and I can understand why. The soup is amazing, served piping hot and with well-balanced robust flavours. Eaten with some crusty bread, it makes an immensely satisfying meal on its own.

Escargots baked in garlic & chablis sauce

Then there’s Monte’s signature escargots baked in creamy chablis and garlic sauce to tantalise your taste buds. At RM28 for half dozen, this traditional French starter is sure to please.

Recently the culinary team at Monte’s has come up with some new dishes to add more variety to the dining experience here. Just take a look at these…

Corned Beef Scotch Egg

Corned Beef Scotch Egg (RM28+) with salad and gravy

Slow braised Beef Tendons with fettuccini and melted cheese! (RM38+)

Cheesebomb Fish Burger in tumeric cream and French fries (RM35)

Waffle Beef Burger with Cheese Wedges (RM38)

As for desserts, do check out their cakes of the day and if you see these two cakes available, grab some! At RM18 a slice, I totally loved the Salted Caramel Cake – my favourite!

Nutella Chocolate Cake 

Salted Caramel Cake

It’s always advisable to go with hungry stomachs as portions are hearty and because everything looks good, there’s a tendency to over-order too.  Now, here’s to the next celebration in Monte’s!

 

MONTE’S Bistro
Lot 112 Level 1 West Wing
Bangsar Shopping Centre
Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2094-1112
www.montesrestaurant.com.my

DIM SUM DELIGHTS at SHANG PALACE, Shangri-la Hotel Kuala Lumpur

Brunch on Saturdays has never been better, not since I found out that now you can indulge in quality dim sum in a posh restaurant in an even posher hotel. Oh, it’s also available for Friday lunch and the place is … the Shang Palace at the Shangri-la Hotel in Kuala Lumpur!

From now until 26 August 2017, you can indulge in an Eat-All-You-Can dim sum experience with over 40 choices of dainty dishes at the Dim Sum Delights promotion happening at the Shang Palace. This amazing feast of steamed, deep-fried and baked dim sum along with rice flour rolls, noodles, rice, vegetables and desserts is served every Friday (between 12 noon to 2.30pm) and Saturday (from 10.30am to 2.30pm).

And the best thing is…it’s RM88 nett per person! Given the quality of the food, the classy ambience and the faultless service, I’d say this is quite a steal! Go on a Saturday – you have 4 solid hours to indulge and that can come to some really good dim sum damage!

First and foremost, Appetisers to rouse your palate!

From the extensive Dim Sum Delights menu, there are 13 varieties of steamed dim sum such as fresh shrimp dumplings, chicken dumplings with fresh scallops, fish balls with garden greens, fresh scallops and mushroom dumplings, glutinous rice with chicken and mushroom (“loh mai kai”), beef balls, chicken claws with spicy Szechuan chilli sauce, steamed chicken wings with black bean sauce, steamed barbecue chicken buns, salted egg custard cream buns, vegetarian yam cake, bean curd rolls with assorted vegetables and chicken porridge. And that’s only the steamed dim sum list!

Fresh Shrimps Dumplings (“Har Kow”)

Chicken Dumplings with Fresh Scallops 

Steamed Chicken Wings with Black Beans Sauce

Steamed Chicken Claws with Spicy Szechuan Sauce

Fluffy Steamed BBQ Chicken Pau

 

Coming to the deep-fried and baked dim sum selections, check out the spring rolls with vegetables, fish balls, mashed yam dumplings with minced chicken meat (“wu kok”), baked barbecue chicken pastries, pan-fried Cantonese radish cakes, “Hakka’ stuffed bean curd with chicken and prawn filling, fish cakes with prawn paste, prawn dumplings served with mayonnaise, prawn balls coated with cornflakes, wok-fried radish cakes, sesame prawn rolls, baked mini egg tarts and sesame balls.

Pan-fried Cantonese Radish Cakes

Hakka Stuffed Bean Curd Puffs

BBQ Chicken Baked Pastries

Mashed Yam Dumplings (“Wu Kok”)

Fish Cakes with Prawn Paste

Sesame Prawn Rolls

Fried Bean Curd Rolls

 

I never miss my “chee cheong fun” in a dim sum meal and at the Shang Palace, the steamed riceflour rolls are prepared in four styles: steamed with shrimp, with vegetarian filling, with minced barbecue chicken and Chinese parsley and pan-fried with dried shrimps and supreme spicy sauce.

Steamed Rice Rolls with Fresh Shrimps

Besides dim sum and if you can still spare tummy space, there are also noodles, rice and vegetables on the Dim Sum Delights menu. The Stewed Hong Kong Noodles we tried were deliciously comforting – smooth slippery noodles cooked with mushrooms and chicken slices, simple and satisfying. We also had a huge plate of greens (HK kai lan) for good measure!

Stewed Hong Kong Noodles

HK Kai Lan

Desserts should never be skipped and we had a hard time choosing from the 8 varieties of desserts on the menu. My favourites were the house-made sweet bean curd and chilled lemongrass jelly with lime sorbet. Other choices are chilled mango pudding, red bean cream with lotus seeds, chilled Chinese herbal jelly, black sesame seed dumplings in ginger soup, chilled mango puree with sago and pomelo and chilled water chestnut cakes with osmanthus – pick your favourites!

Chilled Mango Pudding

Crunchy and chewy Sesame Balls

The man behind the deliciousness: Dim Sum Chef Chai Chee Yuan

 

The Eat-All-You-Can Dim Sum Delights promotion at the Shang Palace is priced at RM88nett per person. This promotion is valid for dine-in only and all guests seated at the same table must order from the Dim Sum Delights menu. Hurry – the promotion is until 26 August 2017 only!

For more information and reservations, please call 03-2074-3900, email restaurantreservations.slkl@shangri-la.com or visit www.shangri-la-specials.com.

 

 

SHANG PALACE
Shangri-La Hotel
Jalan Sultan Ismail
Kuala Lumpur
Tel: (60 3) 2032 2388
Fax: (60 3) 2031 4927
Website: www.shangri-la.com/kualalumpur

*Pork-free

 

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CHEF JUSTIN QUEK’S FRANCO-ASIAN DINNER AT THE LIBRARY, THE RITZ-CARLTON KUALA LUMPUR

For the next few evenings, until 15 July 2017, Singapore’s celebrated culinary maestro, Chef Justin Quek will be delighting guests at The Library, at The Ritz-Carlton Kuala Lumpur. During this time, we Malaysians do not need to cross the causeway over to Singapore to savour Chef Justin’s Franco-Asian cuisine.

The classy set-up of The Library

In this collaboration with The Ritz-Carlton, Chef Justin will be showcasing his skills in reinventing Asian favourites with some unique French twists. With more than 30 years of culinary experience under his belt, Chef Justin’s stints in Michelin-starred restaurants have stood him in good stead. Using premium ingredients, skilful techniques and his brand of passion, Chef Justin has curated a remarkable 4-course dinner.

Chef Justin Quek

We’re fortunate to get a taste of this delightful dinner where we were quite bowled over by the chef’s creativity. Chef Justin is quite the wine connoisseur and he has personally selected the wines to be paired with this dinner. Here’s what’s in store for you – a memorable dinner indeed …

Amuse Bouche of crunchy house-made Seaweed Cracker using rice paper, followed by a superb foamy eggy broth of lobster emulsion. This elegant and light appetiser had us wanting more.

Next came Chef Justin’s signature starters of Duck Foie Gras Xiao Long Bao, Cauliflower Purée with Oscietra Caviar & White Chocolate and followed by a glass of Mushroom Cappuccino. The xiao long bao was divine, every drop of broth luxuriously laden with foie gras – I could do with another couple of these! The all-vegetarian mushroom cappuccino was crazy good, made from button mushrooms and ceps cream.

Duck Foie Gras Xiao Long Bao, Mushroom Cappuccino

Cauliflower Purée with Oscietra Caviar & White Chocolate

Paired with Canard-Duchêne Cuvée Léonie Brut

My favourite dish has to be the Duo of Maine Lobster with Wild Mushrooms in Shao Xing Cream. With fresh, sweet bouncy texture, the lobster was really to-die-for and the cubes of tasty earthy mushrooms in fragrant shao xing wine & cream hit every spot on the palate. The sauce was so good that we mopped up every bit of it with bread from the basket.

Paired with J. Moreau & Fils Fourchaume, Chablis Premier Cru

There are 2 choices for the Mains – Crispy Scale Blue Cod Fillet in Clam & Herb Fondue or Asian-braised Angus Beef & Seared Wagyu Beef with Oriental Greens.

The cod fillet was served with scales intact but fried to a nice crunch, leaving the fillet flakily tender – mad skills at work here. I loved the umami clam fondue which had crunchy fresh cordyceps worked into the sauce.

Paired with Dr Loosen Bernkasteler Lay Riesling Kabinett

Beef lovers would be wow’ed by the winsome beef cheeks braised in 2 types of fermented beancurd (“fu yue” and “nam yue”) which resulted in fork-tender meat embalmed with deep flavours tinged with some nutty sweetness from chestnuts added. The crowning glory were several slices of juicy seared Wagyu beef.

Paired with Knappstein Shiraz Clare Valley

Dessert is a dreamy Chocolate & Mint Floating Island topped with Caramelised Crispy Rice. This is one of those rare occasions when I could finish a whole dessert all by myself with great vigour simply because this dessert is so light and delicious!

Paired with Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry

To conclude, there’s freshly-brewed coffee or tea served with salted almond tuile.

This 4-course dinner is priced at RM300 nett per person and if wine-pairing is included, it’s RM450 nett per person.

Hurry – this special dinner by Chef Justin will be available till 15 July 2017!

For reservations and enquiries, please call +603-2142-8000 or
email: dining@ritzcarlton.com.my

 

THE LIBRARY
The Ritz-Carlton Kuala Lumpur
168 Jalan Imbi
55100 Kuala Lumpur

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A Taste of Dubai in NOBU KUALA LUMPUR with CHEF HERVÉ COURTOT

For just one week – actually, until this Friday 7 July 2017 only, Chef de Cuisine of Nobu Dubai, Chef Hervé Courtot is delighting diners with his signature dishes at Nobu Kuala Lumpur. During this short period, Chef Courtot will be curating a customised menu featuring the popular items from Nobu Dubai.

Together with Chef Philip Leong, Chef Hervé will be holding a Chef’s Table dining experience – a first at Nobu Kuala Lumpur. Guests get to meet both the chefs before the meal to discuss preferences and then curate their own 8-course dinner with the chefs. This is truly customisation at a very personal level, paving the way for an amazing culinary experience as your meal is prepared just for you by the talented chefs (subject to ingredients availability, of course).

Chef Hervé Courtot and Chef Philip Leong

 

Well, we actually made it very easy for the Chef Hervé and Chef Philip because we told them “we eat just about everything, we don’t have any food allergy and we absolutely adore Japanese food!” See, that just spells “endless possibilities” for them!

 

We nibbled on some insanely delicious Truffled Edamame while waiting for the dishes to be served. First to arrive: scallops covered with “yuba” (local beancurd topskin) and deep-fried. The yuba has puffed up obediently rendering a coating of crispy “skin” encasing the sweet succulent scallops.

Scallops with Yuba

Then we had some tacos made from konbu holding up chopped beef seasoned with dry miso and studded with ikura. The beef was a tad salty though, for me.

Konbu Tacos with Beef Dry Miso & Ikura

Chef Hérve’s lightly seared foie gras – slices that practically melted in the mouth and when eaten with some crispy pumpkin chips drizzled with mustard miso, the whole experience was really close-to-orgasmic. Eyes closed, we tried to outlast each other to savour these amazing bites.

Foie Gras Pumpkin Chips with Mustard Miso

Glistening slices of the freshest air-flown salmon in bright orange hues sitting on a pool of black sesame dressing – the contrasting colours were a stunning feast in itself. Topped with jalapeno jelly and caviar, each slice of salmon popped into the mouth was nothing short of superb. I particularly loved the distinct aroma of jalapeno in the clear jelly which enhanced the fresh salmon flavours.

Salmon Tataki with Black Sesame Dressing & Jalapeno Jelly

 

To slow the pace a bit, we had a bowl of fresh spinach , sprinkled generously with dry miso and yuba croutons.

Spinach Salad with Dry Miso & Yuba Croutons

We had to try some sushi – the Salmon Nu-Style and the Yellowtail Jalapeno. Both were faultless and so darn good.

Salmon Nu-Style Sushi

Yellowtail Jalapeno Sushi

The Chilean Seabass with Yuzu & White Chocolate Sauce didn’t quite hit it with me though. The creamy white chocolate sauce was a bit too rich for me and I didn’t really fancy that with fish or seafood.

Chilean Seabass with Yuzu & White Chocolate Sauce

 

Next came the popular Wagyu Hobayaki with Anticucho den Miso served on a beautiful smoky magnolia leaf. The luscious wagyu slices, served with pumpkin puree by the side, were bursting with sweet juices – easily our favourite dish of the meal!

Wagyu Hobayaki with Anticucho den Miso

 

If you are in the mood for some indulgence, have some caviar with potato wasabi, encased in a very pretty Swarovski-studded case!

Nobu’s Caviar with Potato Wasabi (the wasabi potato mash is beneath that mass of caviar!)

Chef Hervé has a good repertoire of desserts, most of which are delightful concoctions of fusionistic sweets with subtle Japanese nuances. For example, the Yuzu Lemon Tart is a playful rendition of the regular lemon tart. Presented in a unique form, pieces of crunchy buttery cookies sandwich some tangy yuzu custard in the centre and decorated with pieces of meringue crisps. To give it that special Japanese tweak, Chef Hervé added globules of shiso jelly all around, giving it a refreshing twist.

Yuzu Lemon Tart with Shiso Jelly

Using premium Peruvian chocolate, the velvety mousse-like Gunaja with Pineapple Tartar was sublime.

Gunaja Pineapple Tartar with Coconut Lime Szechuan

 

Zinzli Banana Passion – Chef Hervé’s playful rendition of various techniques using mouth-watering ingredients like dwarf bananas, passionfruit and buttery almond crumble.

 

Chef Hervé’s experience in various Nobu franchises in Riyadh, Monte Carlo, Moscow, Cape Town, Doha, Marbella and Ibiza has stood him in good stead. There are many more delicious tricks up his sleeve and if you’d like to check out some of those, you have to make a beeline to Nobu Kuala Lumpur by this Friday, 7 July 2017!

The Chef’s Table is priced at RM695++ per person from 2-7 July 2017 and comes in 8 courses, completely customized for each table. For inquiries or to make reservations, please call 03-2164-5084 or Whatsapp 019-389-5085.

 
NOBU Kuala Lumpur
Level 56, Menara 3 Petronas
Persiaran KLCC
Kuala Lumpur City Centre
50088 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2164-5084
Open: 12.00noon-2.00pm; 6.00pm-10.30pm

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BABE: Putting the Unconventional in to Familiar Favourites

What is it about Babe and Chef Jeff Ramsey that makes you hold your breath a bit, even at the very first encounter?  Well, first of all, when you walk in to Babe Restaurant on the 11th Floor of  Work@Clearwater  just as dusk is approaching, wouldn’t you hold your breath at this view?

Stunning view, no?

Next, in walks Chef Jeff Ramsey in his very hip skinny pants and very American sneakers and he proceeds to regale you with his modernist cooking philosophy on “Japas Dining”, you will catch your breath at things like his “Dinosaur Egg”, “Manga Crab” and “Roast Kabayaki Ikan Keli”, among others.  As the first and still the only American chef (he hails from Washington D.C.) outside of the US to help his establishment (in Japan) earn a Michelin Star, Chef Ramsey’s eclectic culinary background stands him in good stead as he shapes Babe’s distinctive menu.

Chef Jeff Ramsey

Look out for the Welcome Drinks which are mischievously and aptly named “Down The Rabbit Hole” – you’ll never guess what you’ll be drinking, from those innocently-looking tubes!

 

As you may have deduced, from the uniquely coined “Japas Dining”, it’s all about serving up Japanese-accented tapas in Babe.  Recognizing that a bit of localization always helps, the latest menu in Babe has now incorporated some familiar Malaysian flavours.  Additionally, the recently-introduced festive menu, available until 30 June 2017, is a good change from the usual offerings around town.  My “fun dining” experience in Babe started with…

Foie Gras and Jackfruit – crispy shell with roasted halal foie gras, jackfruit and spiced chocolate kabayaki.  This has to be eaten in one big bite to fully savour all the contrasting flavours!  Who would have thought foie gras, jackfruit and chocolate can go together?

Onsen Chowder – potato mousse with smoked coconut, 63oC egg and chives.  This was a firm favourite with my dining companions.  It’s such a warm, comforting nutritious item and pretty filling on the tummy too.

Laksa Injection Canape – style injection tube of laksa with prawn.  This was such a fun contraption!  Strict instructions came with the serving of this: place entire prawn inside the mouth before squirting the laksa sauce from the tube!

Mango & Curry Sphere – Spherification of sweet & sour mango with curry powder.  Loved the explosion of tangy spicy juices flooding the mouth from these pretty spheres!

Crispy Chicken Terrine – layers of crispily-rendered chicken skin & cha siu sauce.  This was so decadently good that for a moment I was speechless – the layers of gorgeous chicken skin tasted exactly like porky cha siu!  Forgive the comparison if you are sensitive that way but this was really amazing.

Marinated Roasted Kabayaki Ikan Keli – minced ikan keli with avocado and pink peppercorn.  Another excellent rendition from Chef Ramsey in this “imitation bak kwa” which, to the uninitiated, would have thought that this was the real thing (read: porky bak kwa).  I honestly could not detect any “fishiness” in those slices and could have sworn they were made from pork!

Prawn & Curry Leaf Ice Cream – ice cream in cones with a savoury aromatic twist.  The curry leaf aroma was a bit understated here – I would have preferred a stronger nuance but those deep-fried shrimps were the bomb! They brought such a fun “umami-ness” to the ice-cream in those petite crispy cones.

Manga Crab – an edible cartoon of softshell crabs and coriander sauce.  Just look at that meticulous drawing of lines on the slate – it’s hand-drawn for every single serving and that slash in the middle depicts a sword cutting the crab into two.  See how the 2 halves of the crab are placed as such? Such whimsical presentation

Snow Crab Donburi with Sambal – Japanese crab rice bowl with homemade sambal and dashi jelly.  The tangy spicy sambal from Chef Ramsey was his local touch to this popular Japanese rice dish.  Personally I thought the sambal was a bit overwhelming and overshadowed the sweetness of the snow crab.

Smoked Chicken Percik – 4 hour smoke, percik glaze, charred vegetables.  Beautifully flavoured and roasted spring chicken – it’s good enough even without the percik sauce.

Stanbroke Farms Striploin with Japanese Sambal – cubes of beef on a charcoal grill with yuzu kosho sambal.  This was another big hit – faultless execution of the striploin.  With “medium” done-ness, every piece of the beef was superbly tender and juicy.

Dinosaur Egg – daun kadok, yoghurt, tropical fruits on a nutty “bird’s nest”.  A signature item from Chef Ramsey, it was an appropriate finale to the dinner.  It’s a conversation-stopping piece, for sure!

 

Check out their Torch Ginger Ale – it’s so refreshingly good!

 

Seriously this tasting menu has been one of the most fun and enjoyable experiences I’ve had for a long time.  I love the creative ways Chef Ramsey twisted the dishes, some whimsical, some just pure fun in the modernistic approaches he took, elevating them to a most interesting experience.

This 12-course Tasting Menu is priced at RM300++ per person, available till 30 June 2017 and that’s a real good deal, if you ask me.  Portions are very adequate, diners get to taste 12 very different representations of the chef’s creativity – it’s time well spent to savour, compare and contrast the variety of flavours in every one of the well-executed dishes.  Definitely a fun and unique meal to relish!

Besides the Tasting Menu, there are also a la carte items in the menu, offering exquisite mix of flavours and textures in true “Japas” style.

 

BABE RESTAURANT
11th Floor, Work@Clearwater
Jalan Changkat Semantan
Damansara Heights
50490 Kuala Lumpur

Tel: 03-2095-8599

Open Tuesday-Sunday: 6pm – 11pm
Closed on Monday

*Pork-free

website: www.babe.com.my

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COQUO @ Solaris Dutamas – where Delicious Wholesomeness rules!

Chef Toni Valero is boundless in his energy and passion – that’s my first impression of him as I observed him zipping around the open kitchen at Coquo.  If the name sounds familiar, that’s probably because you have heard of this talented chef who used to helm the culinary team in Ohla at The Intermark.  Chef Toni has since moved on to Coquo at Solaris Dutamas where he’s a co-owner and happily showcasing his masterful creations to delighted diners.

The L-shaped seating facing the open kitchen in Coquo allows diners to interact closely with the chef while the meal is being prepared and that brings the dining experience notches above any ordinary meal.  But then again, having a meal prepared by Chef Toni is never just ordinary.  And not because this talented chef has worked in world-class restaurants that other chefs only dream about (read: 3-Michelin-Stars El Celler de Can Roca and 2-Michelin-stars Mugaritz).  It’s all about how Chef Toni presents his creations – dishes that make sense, where fresh authentic ingredients are allowed to shine and not be crowded by too many elements.

Far from being the typical snooty fine-dining establishment, the cosy intimate ambience of Coquo is just the perfect accessible place to enjoy a meal prepared with fine techniques and precise execution – traits that are second-to-none where Chef Toni is concerned.  The dishes served looked deceptively simple but I do know the amount of time, work and skills, of course, that went into that bowl of Mixed Salad, for example.

Mixed Salad, duck ham, pickle radish & anise vinaigrette

The said Mixed Salad is part of Coquo’s Special Menu that’s available until 9 June 2017 only.  The 4-course meal including an aperitif is priced at RM188++ per person.  It’s really pretty good value, considering the fine food trademarked to Chef Toni.  The duck ham in the salad has been dried and smoked in the chef’s favourite Josper oven before being left to cure in the refrigerator for a month.  Using organic radish from A Little Farm On The Hill, the radish has been pickled for a fortnight in a marination of various herbs and spices before being tossed into the salad with lashings of star anise vinaigrette.  Now, wouldn’t you totally appreciate the meticulous efforts behind this salad?

The following course of Roasted Eggplant topped with smoke dry fish sitting on a bed of crisp baby spinach leaves and drizzled with sambal oil isn’t any less easy.  As we all know, the eggplant is pretty bland on its own and Chef Toni does a good job of infusing flavours onto it without compromising its natural form.  The eggplant is roasted and smoked in the Josper oven for about 40 minutes and then topped with homemade smoked and dry fish from Pulau Ketam.  This whole ensemble is further smoked at tableside and what I got to taste was a well-flavoured dish enhanced with wafts of enticing smokiness.

Roasted Eggplant, smoked dry fish, garlic baby spinach leaves & sambal oil

The main course is a fillet of Seabream in lemongrass bouillabaisse and topped with caviar with Sarawak laksa flavours.  Using molecular techniques like spherification, the intense spicy flavours of the laksa are cleverly encased in gel globules which burst in the mouth for that surprising twist.

Seabream, lemongrass bouillabaisse & laksa caviar

When you dine in Coquo, do have an ice-cream.  Simply because Chef Toni makes all the ice-cream inhouse using fresh ingredients with no added sugar.  The Roasted Pumpkin Ice-cream is ridiculously smooth with light natural sweetness, caramelized from the roasting in the Josper.  The delicate velvety ice-cream pairs well with colourful tropical Macedonia from tropical fruit juice frozen and transformed into cute little round icicles using liquid nitrogen at -19oC! To bind all this wizardry together, Chef Toni spoons in some house-made goat milk yoghurt.

Roasted Pumpkin Ice Cream, tropical fruit macedonia & homemade goat milk yogurt

 

Besides the Special Menu, I also checked out a few a la carte dishes.  The Confit Mushrooms is an interesting dish.  What looked to me like a bowl of braised “fuchook” (beancurd sheets) is actually milk skin cocooning fragrant mushroom duxelles cooked for hours using the sous vide method.  Topped with dry mushrooms, toasted pine nuts and pea sprouts, it’s unique and nourishing.

Confit Mushrooms (RM27)

Using fresh shrimps from Pulau Ketam, Chef Toni’s Prawn Carpaccio is his reinterpretation of Sarawak laksa (yes, that’s his favourite noodles, in case you haven’t grasp that yet!).  By placing slivers of the fresh translucent prawns seeped in laksa spiced oil onto rice crackers seasoned with prawn powder and topping that with some laksa caviar, it’s eating Sarawak laksa in a whole different perspective!  The thing is, I need to share this platter with some friends because I find that this is one dish that cannot be over-indulged!

Prawn Carpaccio (RM38)

I have a thing about the good chef’s house-made ice cream and his Curry Leaves Ice Cream just proved the point again.  The intense red sliced stewed strawberries are laced with Szechuan pepper which leaves an amazing trail on the tongue.  You just have to taste it yourself.

Curry Leaves Ice Cream (RM22)

 

Chef Toni and Coquo are passionate about supporting local farmers and traders.  Not only does he believe in connecting to the community, Chef Toni is a staunch supporter of sustainable farming and firmly subscribes to using fresh local produce for quality which can rival imported ingredients.  He maintains that “if quality of local produce is equivalent to the imported stuff, why not use them as this also brings about affordable dining?”  So, there you have it – creating and cooking fine food with the best local produce in a accessible place without busting the wallet – go Coquo.

 

COQUO RESTAURANT & WINE BAR
D1-G4-6 Jalan Dutamas 1
Solaris Dutamas
50480 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603-6211-2822

email: reservations@coquokl.com
website: www.coquokl.com

*Porky (non-halal)

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