CHEF FRANCISCO ARAYA showcases Modern European Cuisine at THE LIBRARY, RITZ-CARLTON KUALA LUMPUR

For just 5 short days, you can get a taste of Chef Francisco Araya’s delicate creations at The Library at the Ritz-Carlton Kuala Lumpur. This award-winning Chilean chef has just kicked-off the highly-anticipated Guest Chef Dinner Series 2018 at this 5-star hotel.

 

From 6 – 10 March 2018, Chef Francisco will be delighting diners with his specially-curated 7-course dinner of modern European cuisine showcasing a fine selection of seafood dishes.

Chef Francisco flew in from Shanghai where he’s currently based at the fine-dining restaurant NAPA Wine Bar & Kitchen as its Executive Chef, to give diners here of his remarkable prowess with seafood. Having earned a Michelin Star for 81 Restaurant in Tokyo for casual fine dining borderless cuisine marrying Latin American, European and Asian elements and influences, Chef Francisco is all set to share his culinary passion with diners at the Ritz-Carlton Kuala Lumpur this week.

Chef Francisco Araya

His attention to details and meticulous presentation in the 7 courses we savoured are truly commendable. The fancy amuse-bouche served was like an artist’s palette where form, colour and texture area carefully considered.

Amuse bouche of Crispy Scallop & Herbs, Smoked Cereliac Hen Egg, Shrimp with Tomato & Watermelon and Beetroot Tartelette
Paired with San Feletto Prosecco Brut

The 2nd course had us swooning over a tender plump naked oyster cushioned in light cauliflower mousse and topped with some sexy briney caviar.

Oyster, Caviar & Cauliflower
Paired with Vionta Albarino Blanca

While sipping the refreshingly crisp Vionta Albarino Blanca, we helped ourselves to the 3rd course of Scallop Ceviche perfumed by ginger and cilantro.

Scallop Ceviche
Paired with Ventisquero Reserva Sauvignon Blanc

We’re not so much of a risotto fan so the Arroz Verde was just OK for us. Personally I felt the rice grains were a bit too under-cooked even though I appreciate that Arborio rice should remain al dente.  Nevertheless, the flavours from the Carabinero Shrimp and spinach were memorable.

Arroz Verde – Carabinero Shrimp, Arborio Rice and Spinach
Paired with Vina Muriel Reserva Blanco Viura

Our two favourite dishes of the meal were the Shrimp on Yuba and the Japanese Orange Sea Bream. The delicate sweetness of the firm shrimp was balanced well with the smooth silky yuba and accompanying herbs.

Likewise, we totally loved the Japanese orange sea bream fillet, grilled perfectly and served with calamari, a zucchini blossom stuffed with minced prawns and a delightful sauce made from squid ink and plums!

Shrimp on Yuba, Caramelised Onion and Dill
Paired with Vina Muriel Reserva Blanco Viura

Japanese Orange Sea Bream with calamari, zucchini blossom
Paired with Ventisquero Reserva Chardonnay

Chef Francisco’s luscious dessert was a total hit! Using fresh local pandanus leaves to flavour his financier and ice cream, every spoonful was a treat. To balance the sweetness, Chef Francisco added bits of crispy raspberries and jelly made with the fruity Late Harvest Viognier.

Pandan Financier with Pandan Ice-cream, late harvest
Paired with Roustabout Late Harvest Viognier

Freshly brewed Coffee or Tea

 

This special degustation dinner is available from now till 10 March from 7pm until 11pm. The 7-course dinner is priced at RM350 nett per person with an option of wine pairing at RM500 nett per person.

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

Dining at THE ST REGIS LANGKAWI

Located at the southern tip of Langkawi, the St Regis Langkawi sparkles like a cluster of blue-studded jewels fronting the glimmering Andaman Sea. Needing no introduction, the St Regis is known worldwide for its “luxury” branding and here in Langkawi, it’s all about sophisticated island living the moment you step through the impressive entrance.

The Main Lobby

Luxurious accommodation aside, the St Regis Langkawi is also famed for its exquisite dining experiences. There are 6 dining venues listed in the resort but I’d like to share my experiences in 3 of the main venues. So, look out – this post is all about nothing else but foodporn!

 

BREAKFAST @ L’ORANGERIE
Let’s start with the king of meals – breakfast!
And what better place to enjoy a royal breakfast than at the stunning L’Orangerie! With its floor-to-ceiling glass windows, gilded wall deco, impressionistic art pieces and that striking citrus tree at the entrance, I can’t help but feel like I’m in some aristocratic palatial mansion.

That gorgeous citrus tree!

This gastronomic Garden of Eden is made all the more appealing with the exquisite aromas wafting from various food stations in the venue. Fresh fruits, juices, salads, cereals, yoghurts, cheeses and just-out-from-oven breads fill several counters while more counters hold the savoury local and western fares. Chefs and assistants are busy at the live cooking stations, dishing out guests’ requests.

My breakfast – round 1!

Besides helping themselves at the sumptuous buffet spreads, guests can also order special breakfast items from the a la carte menu. I am totally spoiled by dishes like steak & eggs, lobster omelette, foie gras on toast and special Eggs Benedict… just take a look…

Lobster Omelette

Foie Gras on Toasted Brioche

Eggs Benedict

Pancakes

And they serve one of the best Cokodok at breakfast!

 

AFTERNOON TEA @ THE DRAWING ROOM
The Drawing Room is part of the opulent lobby – you can’t miss the deep comfortable chairs and sofas set against stately columns showcasing various art deco items. There’s plenty sunlight streaming in through the tall windows and glass door which opens out onto a courtyard and the blue Andaman Sea beyond. This is where arriving guests sit and enjoy their welcome drinks when they check-in.

On Saturdays and Sundays, from 3.00pm till 5.00pm, there’s Afternoon Tea to be enjoyed in this refined space. It’s the perfect venue to indulge in private tête-à-tête, supplemented by delicious delicate pastries and an exceptional variety of tea, gourmet coffee and champagnes!

Macarons

Love the churros here!

So, if you are in the neighbourhood, why not withdraw into the Drawing Room, sink into those inviting chairs and while away a languid afternoon in the cradle of luxury, pampering yourself (like you so deserve to) on delicate bites of pastries in between sips of TWG…

 

DINNER @ KAYU PUTI

Kayu Puti oh Kayu Puti, what can I say about you?

This is the signature and crown jewel of The St Regis Langkawi. If you look at the photos, you’ll understand why. This over-water restaurant and bar with live jazz music in the evening is an experiential dining haven. Presiding resplendently over the Andaman with uninterrupted views at every corner, this lofty dining sanctuary is like none other.

It’s all above water!

Relax in the al fresco lounge before dinner

Cheers!

The elegant plush interior is accentuated in white and neutral tones emanating classy exclusivity. The choice of unique furniture (I love the high-feathered chairs!) and discerningly tasteful deco collections proclaim its distinctive identity.

Can you spot those feathers?

 

Food-wise, Kayu Puti’s Asian-influenced haute cuisine leans towards East-meets-West fusion with the chefs reinventing Asian food traditions with contemporary trends and techniques.

Bread to start off dinner!

Amuse bouche

Such prettiness!

Hokkaido Scallops

Spiced thin slices of Stanbroke Wagyu Beef

Duck in Langkawi Black Bee Honey

Dessert: Langkamisu – Langkawi coconut & coffee pannacotta meringue, gel, coconut foam & Tonka coconut sorbet

Need a place to celebrate something special? Consider a dining date at The St Regis Langkawi.

 

THE ST REGIS LANGKAWI
Jalan Pantai Beringin
07000 Langkawi
Tel: +604-960-6666
website: www.stregislangkawi.com

LUANG PRABANG, LAOS: What to do for 4D 3N stay?

Luang Prabang is located in the central north of Laos and the name means “Royal Buddha Image”. In 1995, it was listed as a World Heritage Site for the preservation of its unique architectural, religious and cultural heritage. The city maintains a balanced blend of urban and rural charm, retaining much of the French colonial influences in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Since November 2016, Air Asia flies direct to Luang Prabang from KLIA2 and because of this convenience (otherwise it will be necessary to connect from Vientiane, the capital city), I decided to make a short trip there recently, for a 3-night stay actually.

I think we were rather unlucky as our flight suffered an unprecedented 8-hour delay! The flight was scheduled for take-off at 0630 (we were at KLIA since 4.00am!) but finally only took off at 2.15pm. So we were really dead-tired when we arrived at Luang Prabang but we quickly perked up when we reached our hotel – read on to find out why.  However, that meant whatever we planned for Day 1 in Luang Prabang just got tanked.

The weather was beautifully cool in December with temperatures hovering around 20-22 degrees C. It dipped further at night so I think the best time to visit Luang Prabang is at year end/beginning of year!  So here’s a summary of the 6 things you can do in Luang Prabang on a short trip…

 

STAY IN A NICE HOTEL
Hotels are generally not all that expensive in Luang Prabang. From budget stays starting at USD10-15 per night, choose one which suits your budget. We chose a very decent boutique hotel called Maison Dalabua which cost about USD65 per night (room for 2 persons) with breakfast included! From the airport, it took about 30 minutes to reach the city and our hotel. The hotel is within walking distance to the riverfront (Mekong River) and the popular Night Market.

Freshly-baked breads for breakfast!

Maison Dalabua boasts several gorgeous lotus ponds, all Unesco-classified. The hotel’s two eateries are surrounded by these ponds filled with lotus blooms in various shades. Needless to say, our breakfast views were always invigorating.  Just look at those ponds!

 

CHILL BY THE MEKONG RIVER
As mentioned, our hotel was just minutes away from the riverfront and we walked around there every day. There are many guesthouses, boutique hotels, restaurants, cafes and al fresco stalls all along the roads by the river.

These deep-fried Mekong River fish were really good!

As the weather was cool, it was so relaxing strolling about this area around the Old Quarter and when tired, we just popped into a cafe for coffee and snacks before continuing our exploration. Our favourite haunts were the shops and restaurants between Manthatoulat Road and Sisavangvong Road.

Many of the buildings around this area reflect a charming blend of local and colonial French architecture. Many of the cafes and restaurants have maintained much of their quaint local Laotian character. There are picturesque traditional houses, colonial-style villas and Laotian Buddhist temples jostling with each other along the narrow streets.

 

VISIT WATS
Luang Prabang has 34 Unesco-protected wats, all located within the town centre. These wats are not merely temples for-show… they are actually working institutions where monks live and learn about ancient Buddhist studies. We saw quite a number of monk novices in the wats, going about their daily routine.

We managed to visit a couple of the more well-known wats. The most famous one is of course Wat Xieng Thong, considered the finest and one of the most important in Luang Prabang. The buildings are elegant and well-maintained, with beautifully crafted roofs, gilded facades and their famous “Tree of Life” mosaic walls.

Admission fee: 20,000 kip

The picturesque Haw Pha Bang in the grounds of the Royal Palace Museum

 

GO ON A RIVER CRUISE
All along the river bank, there are cruise operators beckoning visitors but we joined one from a tour operator recommended by our hotel. We were picked up from our hotel and taken to the riverbank where we walked down some steep steps and boarded the long cruise boats. The boats are sturdy and comfortable. The toilets were clean too!

Interior of the cruise boat

The weather was good and the boat ride was smooth. Passed by numerous villages where the kids would stand at the river edge and waved at every passing boat. Halfway into the ride, we stopped at a local liquor distillery. They call it a “whiskey distillery” but I’m not sure if the liquor they were making was indeed whiskey.

Jugs of fermenting alcohol at the “distillery”

Complimentary sampling of alcohol!

 

PAK OU CAVES
Further upstream, we stopped and climbed up into the Pak Ou Caves where about 4,000 figures of Buddha are kept. All varying in sizes and positions, the figurines of Buddha are kept in the caves. Visitors can donate in the donation boxes and even have your fortune told there.

 

BUY LOCAL STUFF – NIGHT MARKET
At around 5pm, stalls are set up along Sisavangvong Road for the daily night market. There are several hundred stalls selling all kinds of household items, souvenirs, hand-woven shawls, bedspreads, wooden bowls, clothings, shoes and many more! We went there every night and always ended up buying something each evening!

If you are looking for a rustic few days away from the maddening crowds, this city in northern Laos is worth considering.  It’s relatively economical and not too long a flight away.  Just chill and relax!

Catch the COCO-CATAPLANA at NANDO’S now!

Have you tried Nando’s latest offering called Coco-Cataplana? Just introduced recently, Coco-Cataplana is curated specially for us Malaysians as it is only available here in our tanahair and nowhere else in the world!

So what is this strange-sounding dish? It’s Nando’s famous flame-grilled PERi-PERi Chicken, a quarter chicken slathered in a unique Coconut & PERi-PERi mix, served on a bed of mediterranean rice with a special Cataplana sauce, grilled vegetables, lime and coriander garnish. Oh, you can also have your favourite Nando’s sauce (Lemon & Herb, Mango & Lime, Mild, Hot & Extra Hot) drizzled on top.

A serving of Coco-Cataplana is only RM29.90 and I can tell you it’s really very filling and satisfying. Personally I find the Mango & Lime sauce goes extremely well with the “lemak” spicy flavours as the tangy nuances balance out the richness. It’s one happy mix of South Africa, Portuguese and Malaysian essence in a pretty harmonious blend.

Ever tried this?

The Coco-Cataplana is available for dine-in in all Nando’s restaurants throughout the country – go catch some now!

Coco-Cataplana with Mango Lime Sauce (RM29.90)

The best drink to go with Coco-Cataplana is the Citrus Iced Tea. Yes, that has just become my favourite drink in Nando’s! I truly dig this thirst-quencher bursting with zesty flavours – it’s elderflower infused with lemon tea and Sprite!

Citrus Iced Tea (RM9.90)

 

My other favourite dishes at Nando’s are…

Algarve Salad with Chicken

Algarve Salad with Chicken (RM22.90) medley of greens, rocket, mixed peppers, roasted cashew nuts, marinated sun-dried tomatoes & feta cheese

3 Chicken Wings, Peri-peri Crusted (RM14.90) – tender, spicy, juicy

Sweet Potato Chips with PERinaise dip (RM10.90)

Portobello Mushrooms

Espetada (RM24.90) with 2 sides: Tender marinated chicken thighs and fresh peppers, skewered

Have you ever tried the desserts at Nando’s? I think most people are always too stuffed with their mains for any sweets but there are actually some pretty good desserts there. I tried two – the Caramel Cheesecake and PERi-PERi Brownie and I really liked them!

Scrumptious Caramel Cheesecake!

The rich and creamy caramel slathering the muscovado sugar cheesecake was really good, not overly sweet at all and with all the right aromas.

Brownies

The 2 pieces of brownie looked ordinary but actually made more interesting with some chilli flakes and infused with PERi-PERi sauce!

For more information, check out www.nandos.my

GUESS WHAT – have a totally affordable authentic Vietnamese feast!

There are several reasons why I love Vietnamese food. Their flavours are clear and distinctive, mostly from fresh ingredients and cooked with very little dairy or oil. The abundant use of fresh herbs and raw vegetables is refreshing – I absolutely adore the Vietnamese mint, coriander leaves, Thai basil, lemongrass, lime and bird’s eye chillies served liberally with almost every dish. And the fish sauce, too, for that extra oomph. Wholesome and flavoursome, it’s no surprise that Vietnamese cuisine is considered one of the healthiest in the world.

Guess What? I found a new eatery in Kota Damansara serving up a whole range of Vietnamese favourites at very affordable prices and it’s called Guess What ☺ I guess the owner just wanted a quirky and fun name for this restaurant, something that would make people pause and think about!

You can’t miss this signage!

Don’t you just love the vibrant colours?

 

Anyway, like I’ve mentioned, the food prices here are incredibly affordable – the most expensive item on the menu is at RM17.90 and for that, you get a steaming bowl of Vietnamese pho with tender Australian Ribeye. The beef broth for noodles has been boiled for hours, resulting in a robust broth brimming with sweet natural meaty goodness. Good quality Australian beef is used, hence the beef noodles are priced at RM12.90 & above per bowl.

Pork, chicken and clam noodles are just at RM8.90 a bowl – what a steal!

Australian Beef Pho (RM13.90 regular beef), RM17.90 for Ribeye

Beef Tripe Pho (RM12.90)

Handmade Beef Balls Pho (RM13.90)

Pork Noodles (RM8.90)

Chicken Noodles (RM8.90) free range chicken + poached egg

Clams Noodles (RM8.90)

Fish Fillet Noodles (RM12.90) with sweet toman fish fillet

Besides soupy noodles, Guess What also serves dry-style noodles, if that rocks your boat…

Lemongrass Chicken Vermicelli (RM11.90)

Stir-fried Australian Beef Vermicelli (RM12.90)


Pork Chop Noodles (RM9.90)

If you can’t do without rice, then check out their Rice Dishes. Priced between RM9.90 and RM16.90, the rice sets are pretty substantial and filling.

Beef Stew (RM15.50)

Heritage Coconut Soup (RM16.50)

Vietnamese Pork Chop Rice (RM12.90)

Vietnamese Chicken Chop Rice (RM12.90)

Lemongrass Chicken Rice (RM9.90)

If you are there for lighter meals, have their bahnmi. At only RM7.90, you can choose main fillings of either pork, chicken, beef or tuna. The French batards with crunchy crusts and pillowy centres are really good.

Bahnmi (RM7.90) – pork, chicken, beef, tuna

Small bites of Starters are all priced at RM6.90 per plate and I enjoyed all of them! Take a look…

Summer Rolls

Deep-Fried Summer Rolls

Fish Sauce Chicken Wings 


Mango Papaya Pork Salad

Oh what a feast!

Guess What is currently not big on desserts and if you really must have it, then there’s only the Durian Chendol available. Me? I’d go for their Vietnamese coffee any time – it’s so darn addictive!


Durian Chendol (RM11.50)

Phat Hai Vietnamese Coffee – cold (RM6.50), hot (RM5.50)

 

So make a beeline to Guess What soon, especially if you want some healthier lighter meals which are no less scrumptious!

 

GUESS WHAT Vietnamese Restaurant
12A-1 Jalan PJU 5/7
Kota Damansara
47810 Petaling Jaya
Tel: 017-229-5005
Open: 11.00am till 9.30pm daily
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Luxurious Oriental Feasts @ TAO Chinese Cuisine, The InterContinental Kuala Lumpur

Tao Chinese Cuisine, located on Level 1 of The InterContinental Kuala Lumpur is an elegant restaurant echoing the peach blossoms theme as befitting its name, “Tao” means peach in Mandarin. Lovely pale pink peach blossoms are the signature motif and this can be seen all over the restaurant. Additionally, the hundreds of ornate Chinese teapots displayed in Tao never fail to impress.

With the Chinese New Year just round the corner, the chefs at Tao have crafted some special set menus for the festive gatherings. There are 3 of these luxurious oriental menus – Harmony (RM1,988 nett), Prosperity (RM2,388 nett) and Longevity (RM2,688 nett). The prices indicated are for a table of 10 pax and available till 2 March 2018.

The prosperity toss or Yee Sang at Tao comes with various toppings such as abalones, tuna & salmon roe, soft shell crabs and fresh Atlantic salmon.

We tried various dishes from the 3 festive sets and were really happy with the quality and portions of food served. Our favourites were Tao’s double-boiled nutritious soup, steamed king tiger garoupa and couldn’t have enough of the incredibly tasty roast duck with Chinese herbs. The duck was really marinated well with “tong kwai” (angelica) and was tender, juicy and so aromatic!

As full as we were, towards the end of the meal when the steamed glutinous rice was served, we didn’t think we could eat another mouthful. However, that delicious rice parcel – the rice & condiments were wrapped in individual lotus leaves, changed our minds. The 8 treasures (dried seafood & Chinese herbs) really did a good job with the rice!

Yee Sang with Tuna & Salmon Roe

Yee Sang with Fresh Atlantic Salmon

 

Double-boiled Fish Maw, Mushroom & “Xia Men” Dried Scallop Soup

Crispy Roast Chicken with Spicy Sesame Vinegar Sauce

Steamed King Tiger Garoupa with Golden Garlic

Wok-fried Tiger Prawns with Mongolian Butter Sauce

Roast Duck with Chinese Herbs

Stewed Sea Cucumber, Mushrooms, Dried Oysters Sea Moss Roll with Farm Greens

Steamed 8-Treasure Glutinous Rice

Deep-fried Sweet Potato “Ninko” with Chilled Aloe Vera, Peach & Osmanthus Oolong Tea Syrup

Ninko shaped as cute little tangerines

Besides the set menus, the special dishes are also available on the à la carte menu.

For reservations/more info, please call 03-2782-6000/6128 or email foodandbeverage@intercontinental-kl.com.my

 

TAO Chinese Cuisine
Level 1
Intercontinental Kuala Lumpur
165 Jalan Ampang
50450 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2782-6000

*Pork-free

Chinese New Year Celebration at FIVE SEN5ES, The Westin Kuala Lumpur

Five Sen5es at The Westin Kuala Lumpur is all geared up to give diners a once-a-year experience with their specially-crafted festive menus. This year, to welcome the Year of the Dog, their award-winning Chinese Chef de Cuisine, Chef Tan Tzaan Liing and his team have curated 3 exquisite menus for the celebration. The set menus – “Happiness Reunion”, “Blessings Reunion” and “Abundance Reunion” are priced at RM1,888 nett, RM1,988 nett and RM2,288 nett respectively. Besides these festive set menus, diners can also choose from the enhanced à la carte menu.

Yee Sang is of course a must-have item during the Chinese New Year and at Five Sen5es, there are several selections to savour from the vegetarian mango & crystal pear to Norwegian salmon and abalone choices.

Choose your topping for your Yee Sang!

We recently checked out selected dishes from the 3 festive menus and I must say the chefs have done a good job as every one of the dishes did not disappoint. In fact, we found many favourites in that delicious line-up!

Fresh Norwegian Salmon for our Yee Sang!

What were outstanding? Well, our personal favourites were the Braised Duck with Red Yeast Rice & Peanuts, Honey Glazed Baked Black Codfish and the incomparable Double-boiled Soup of Dried Scallops, Morel Mushroom & Baby Cabbage.

We also loved their Nian Gau, steamed and then rolled in fresh coconut shavings and peanuts!

Norwegian Salmon Yee Sang (RM98 nett-standard portion)

Double-boiled Dried Scallops, Morel Mushroom & Baby Cabbage Soup (RM68 nett/portion)

Braised Duck with Red Yeast Rice & Peanuts (RM78 nett Half Duck/RM138 nett Whole Duck)

Honey Glazed Baked Black Codfish (RM168 nett/portion)

Pan-fried Scallops with Minced Chicken topped with Citron Salsa (RM88 nett/portion)

Deep-fried Prawns with Hawthorn Sauce topped with Osmanthus (RM88 nett/portion)

Stewed Baby White Cabbage with Dried Scallops & Garlic (RM48 nett/portion)

Fried Rice with Sesame Oil, Diced Chicken & Chopped Young Ginger (RM58 nett/portion)

Chinese New Year “Nian Gau” (RM18 nett/portion)

Chilled Pumpkin Cream with Black Glutinous Rice & Ice Cream (RM16 nett/portion)

For reservations, please call 03-2773-8338 or email westindining@westin.com

 

FIVE SEN5ES
The Westin Kuala Lumpur
199 Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur

*Pork-free