Tuesday, March 20, 2018

6 Specialty Chefs at The Lemon Garden, Shangri-la Kuala Lumpur

The Lemon Garden buffet has always been in my mind one of the best buffets in town, and I find that with age, one becomes more discerning, and zeroes in on more select items.  In that respect, the spread here has certainly quite a lot of items worth zeroing in.  The venue itself has been a venue for many a memorable event, from Chinese New Year dinners with family, to birthdays.

To showcase which dishes you SHOULD concentrate on this is wide variety of dishes, their six distinguished speciality chefs have come up with their signature creation, and to the IT savvy eaters, the experience is taken up a notch, whereby tent cards containing the name of the dishes and special QR codes will direct the aforementioned IT Savvy eaters to web pages with exclusive information such as chef's profile and, most interestingly, THE RECIPE!!

We started with the Dessert (who says one cannot start with desserts, which ironically I recently discovered is STRESSED spelt backwards), with Chef Goh Ti Cheong and his durian CROQUEMBOUCHE.  It comes from the French phrase croque en bouche meaning "something that crunches in the mouth".  In layman terms, it's a crispy cream puff filled with durian cream.  The crunch comes form the peanuts coating the choux pastry.

The Western Kitchen is helmed by Executive Chef Olivier Pistre, and features my personal favourite, Cheese Raclette, served with small potatoes, gherkins, pickled onions, though I was quite happy to have it on its own, Tortellini and Calzone.

Calzone filled with beef sausage, mozarella, ricotta and pecorino cheese. 

Raclette which I just couldn't get enough of.

Next was the outstanding Murgh Kasumethri, by Indian Station Chef Devender Singh.

The Murgh Kasurmethi, inspired by his mother's cooking, is made with fenugreek leaves, and secret spices... (so I'm not sure if the recipe provided will yield the same result), and was really delicious, for want of a better word.  Anyway, since I posted this on instagram and FB, one of my friends promised to cook it for me.

From the Malay Kitchen, Chef Mustafa Kamal's Rendang Tok Perak.  There's rendang and there's RENDANG.  One of my favourite versions of rendang is the rendang tok, originating from Perak, which is usually darker, and has a distinct flavour about it.

Just look at that cacophony of flavours.  It's on of those recipes whereby you look at the list of ingredients and think, ooooooooooh kay, let's just go out and eat....a rough count revealed over 20 items.

Chef Au Yong Guan may look like he has the easiest job, afterall, how hard can it be to make soup right?  Wrong. There is a high possibility with the lack of this skill, your soup can end up vapid as dishwater.  The double boiled soup section of the buffet is also one of my favourites, although one wonders if it is wise to fill one's stomach with such volume.

Japanese Executive Chef Nao Tak with his Seafood Big Roll or Good Luck Roll in Japan.  This highly qualified Chef has more than 20 years experience in Japanese Cuisine with the 180 Year old historical "Nadaman" Restaurant group.

Apart from the highlighted dishes, I always have a bowl of curry mee, and since no curry mee is complete without see hum (cockles), and since there is no see hum in Lemon Garden, I have no choice but to use its distant cousin as a substitute, the plump oysters from the seafood buffet.

The seafood buffet section at Lemon Garden never fails to impress.

Desserts are a plenty ....the middle cake is another of their signature creations, durian cake. 

Prices for the buffet are:

LUNCH (per head)

RM135 nett (Mon - Fri)
RM155 nett (Sat & Public Holiday)
RM175 nett (Sunday)

DINNER (per head)
RM165 nett (Sunday - Thurs)
RM218 nett (Fri & Sat)

For reservations, call
Lemon Garden, Shangri-la Hotel Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-20723900

Visit also https://www.shangri-la-specials.com/promotions/promo110.aspx for the recipes and videos of the signature dishes.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Saro Lounge, Pavilion Elite

It's been awhile since I've roamed the streets of the city, and a pleasant MRT ride from Damansara Heights to Bukit Bintang obviated the stress of traffic, so I could stop to smell the roses and see the sights.  So many buildings seem to have popped up in the Bukit Bintang area, including Pavilion Elite which seems to have sprung forth like a mushroom after the rain.

An invite to the launch of SARO LOUNGE (Italian for "I WILL") was the reason for this jaunt into the city.  Us unhappening people stick to neighbourhood pubs and sip the cup from the dull humdrum lives, so what a treat it was to be where the pulse is.  Who would imagine that smack in the middle of Pavilion, this swanky lounge exists.  Plush leather sofas, a very elegant setting, and a well stocked bar with very adept mixologists at the helm, it looked like a promising night.  The word sophisticated does come to mind, and one of the highLIGHTS, literally, is the High Lights which is a state of the art feature, integrated into the ceiling, with the ability to change to suit any mood.  There is also a private room which will be open from 27th March.

I'm not sure which particular demographic Saro is targetting, but it seems like a great place to chill after work, especially if you work in the area.  The furnishing and ambiance seem to appeal to the more mature crowd, (like me), but then again, these days age is but a number.

Our vision for Saro Lounge is to offer Malaysians a hideout within the city that isn’t just about the food and drinks, but the entire experience. An exquisite cocktail paired with flavourful dishes, complemented by eclectic tunes and a comfortable setting for you and your friends – it’s about offering a combination that elevates all five senses,” commented Kesavan Purusotman, one of the partners behind Saro Lounge.

After the speeches came the highlight (apart from the High Ceiling Lights) of the evening, the cocktails.  Prior to that we had been plied with mocktails....so we were all screaming out for a real drink.

It was quite a treat to watch the mixologist whip up their signature cocktails, namely the Signature Monkey 47 Sloe Gin, The Saro Sour, the Rum Negroni, The Frank Zacapa

With a collection fit for any discerning drinker, the bar offers a delectable range of cocktails made of the freshest ingredients and inspired by Asian flavours. Saro’s signature cocktails bring their own unique twist on the classics, with drinks such as the Saro Sour and the Rum Negroni. A refreshing favourite is the Signature Monkey 47, which combines fresh and floral flavours into a simple yet flavourful cocktail.

Cocktails from left, Cypress Hill, Frank Zacapa, Rum Negroni, Saro Sour and Monkey 47 Gin Tonic, all conceptualized by Mixologist Jonathan Zarsadias.

There's something very soothing about watching mixologists at work, almost like a chemistry experiment.

They use very good tonics (Fever tree I think they used this time) for their gin and tonic...definitely not your Schweppes or F&N...

The cypress hill contains tequila, so that's a no no for me...

The Saro Sour is so complicated, it takes forever to make,  The condiments are torched with a blow torch, the glass is then smoked with the smoke from that procedure, and then only the cocktail is made.

Having said that, at the end of the day, this remained my favourite, uncomplicated but yet subtle, and very elegant.

Head Chef Nopporn Nutto and Chef Faizal have created a variety of small plates and main course dishes. We had  Saro’s Signature Shells, 6 bite-sized pieces of Crispy Fillo pastry topped with different toppings consisting of Beef, Chicken, Tomato, Mushroom, Avocado and Smoked Salmon.  Actually they were surprisingly good, especially the avocado one.

For the mains there's a choice of pasta sautéed in Saro’s homemade Fusion Pesto sauce served with either Chicken or Soft Shell Crab, The Grilled Australian Beef on Skewers marinated with Garlic, Pepper and Capsicum, served with a bowl of Garlic Fried Rice.  That green sauce next to the skewers was amazing!!!

Prices, considering the quality and location of the place, is pretty okay if you ask me.

Apart from offering an impeccable combination of delicious food, decadent cocktails and eclectic music on a daily basis, Saro Lounge is an ideal venue for hosting private parties and events. Equipped with a quality sound system and LCD screens upon request, the lounge is able to accommodate events for about 130 – 150 pax.

Saro Lounge is open on Sunday – Monday from 4:00pm to 1:00am, and Tuesday – Saturday from 4:00pm to 3:00am. For more information on Saro Lounge, visit http://sarolounge.com/ or follow the Saro Lounge Facebook page (Saro Lounge). For reservations, call +603 2110 4080.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

A Pre CNY Meating at Meatology

In the chaos and mayhem approaching Chinese New Year, I complacently thought that my back log of yee sang posts had been completed, and that I had seen the last of those tossy posts behind me for now...Until I saw these two books on my desk this morning, and thought to myself, SACRE BLEU!!! I forgot to post about this place!!!!

I'm referring to the the Meatology Book and the Her World Cookbook,..not the drinks menu which I certainly do not have on my desk right now.  A brief intro, Yenni is one of the authors of the Masterclass by MPH series, which also includes the likes of luminaries like Sapna Anand, Marinah Mustapha, etc etc... But for some reason, the title of that book made me think it was an Atkins or Keto kind of anti carb book, and so I never even bothered to open it.  Talk about judging a book by its cover.  Anyway, when Makan Fairy Godmother (hereinafter referred to as MFG) invited me to sample their unique yee sang, I was quite fascinated.  Unbeknownst to me Meatology is the former Boathouse, in TTDI.

It was with eager anticipation that I visited, because I also was excited to meet famous instagrammer and blogger, Foodgazer, whom MFG described as a "most earnest person".  Yenni and partner were busy initially, as the restaurant was rather packed, which is always a good sign.

Yee Sang, a rather different take, and the most outstanding and interesting difference was the "crispy" choi pok pok stuff that adds the crunch to the dish.  In this case, it was choi Pork Pork...unbelievably light and crispy pork crackling.  The overall dish was more of a salad rather than your traditional yee sang, and looking at Yenni's svelte figure, you'd swear she was trying to health you up with a healthy yee sang salad.

The Yee Sang is priced at RM32.80, which is mighty reasonable considering it has tuna sashimi, octopus, jelly fish..

MFG's Pink Margarita...

The flaming crabmeat soup was delicious, truly... with Xiamen Mushrooms.  Flambed with brandy, I liked it already even before tasting it. Priced at RM29.80, I would actually label this as value for money soup.  Now we learnt something interesting about the huge xiamen mushrooms.  Apparently farmers of this crop have to be pure in heart, or the entire harvest will turn black and fail.

Sea Treasures, a pot brimming with the fruits of poseidon, abalone, scallops, mussels, prawns, slipper lobster, squid, razor clams on a bed of glass noodles, over and above the crispy vermicelli.  Priced at RM88.80, I also concluded that this was a very reasonably priced dish.  The glass noodles, which had absorbed all the lovely flavours of the seafood, was so good.

Blue Eyed Cod Salted Egg Thermidor, RM118.90.  Well, I'll just have to return to try this again, because this particular rendition failed to impress.  The flesh seemed tough, almost like chicken breast, and overcooked.  Blue Eyed Cod is different from your black cod which is apparently almost impossible to overcook.  I also feel that for a good piece of fish, like steak, there shouldn't be too many supporting actors to outshine the main star...

In place of the traditional lap mei fan, an amazing smoked duck risotto.  RM43.80.  Not particularly a risotto fan, I actually quite enjoyed this dish, save for the bits of waxed duck that made me wonder if salt is free in some parts of the world.  But no matter, cos those small morsels of salt licks weren't significantly damaging to the entire dish, and the smoked duck was superb.

Not many places do crepe suzettes the old way, ie, making and flambeing the sauce in front of you.  The last memory of such an occurence was at the Chalet at Equatorial (now being reconstructed and rebuilt).

I think they use brandy here, instead of Grand Marnier or orange flavoured liqeurs, which is actually good, because some crepe suzettes seem to have that "cough mixture" kind of taste.

That's us, Makan Fairy Godmother, Foodgazer, See Ling, FBB and Yenni.  What a privilege it was to sit down and chat with them and listen to her stories.  Incidentally, I bought her books after I saw that there was another one about Rice, so clearly she was not an Atkins or Keto advocate in Meatology.

Address: 16 Lorong Rahim Kajai 14 Taman Tun Dr Ismail 60000 Kuala Lumpur
Phone: 03-7727 4426

Friday, February 09, 2018

Lou Sang No 3 at 5 Senses Restaurant, The Westin Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Chinese New Year 2018

Its been awhile since I've been to the Westin, the last time was a family dinner at Prego, and before that a daze of inebriation at the Champagne brunch at Prego, with some friends, who abandoned me and left me to take a cab home on a Sunday afternoon.  I don't remember if I've actually been to 5 senses, as that particular establishment has "changed" concepts many times, from EEST to West, and from porky to pork free.

I have to say I was more than pleasantly surprised by the Chinese New Year set menu, prepared by  award-winning Chinese Chef de Cuisine Tan Tzaan Liing and his team.

5 senses have 3 Set Menus for CNY, namely the Happiness Reunion Set Menu which starts at RM1,888 nett for 10, the Blessings Reunion Set Menu at RM1,988 nett and the Abundance Reunion Set at RM2,298 nett.  Considering the quality of the food, and the fact that it's in a 5 star hotel, I'd say it is rather reasonably priced.

To start with we had the mandatory Yee Sang toss, with the Norwegian Salmon Yee Sang, priced at RM168 nett for the large portion.  Please note that the usual portion comes with only one "Fish" (there are two "fish" in this display portion because of the numbers at lunch).

Despite the huge receptacle in which the yee sang was served, (to contain the abundance), we still managed to make a mess, also thanks to the numerous children present who were flicking and throwing the yee sang with their chopsticks with gay abandon.

One of the best soups ever, double boiled scallops, morel and baby cabbage.  The broth was sublime, with almost a homecooked goodness, and the morel were such a treat.  RM68 nett per portion.

Braised Duck with Red Yeast Rice and Peanuts, RM138 nett for a while bird.  This was really delicious, am most impressed with what the Chef has done with the Duck.  The red yeast rice is not particularly distinct in flavour but imparts a subtle difference from the normal sauces .

Honey Glazed Black Cod, at RM168 per portion, ...this here is around 2.5 portions, and would cost around RM500, but it was huge, and really, quite outstanding.  The flesh was cooked perfectly, flaky, and oozing with the taste of the honey glaze.  Thumbs up for this cod dish.

Deepfried Prawns with Hawthorn Sauce topped with Osmanthus.  I actually had to google to see what Hawthorn looks like, it's a little red berry, when you see it you'd know it.  The prawns, compared to the Cod was pedestrian, though no complaints about the freshness. RM88 per portion.

Pan Fried Scallops Mince Chicken with Citrus salsa, and interesting combination to say the least.  The citrus salsa was like an orange marmalade.  The sweet and salty combination works fairly well here.

Stewed white baby cabbage with dried scallop and silver garlic, Yen of Westin said it reminded her of her grandmother's dish which was similar.  It does have a very home cooked feel to it, and I suppose all sets do need the token vegetable dish.

Fried Rice with Sesame Oil with Diced Chicken and Chopped Young Ginger. I'm actually surprised the rice is fried, served in a steaming basket, I assumed it was steamed together with the meats and mushroom, and the juices seeped into the rice much like lap mei fan.  It was delicious though. RM58 nett per portion.

Almost everyone got this dish wrong, as I heard the fathers at the table tell their kids it was mango  and adzuki bean, when in actual fact, it's chilled  pumpkin and black  glutinous rice. which actually has a deep red adzuki bean hue to it. Lovely dessert actually, something different for a change.  RM16 nett per portion.

...and to end, the obligatory Nian Gao, which actually over the years has been evolving into a rather gourmet dessert, served in so many fancy styles.  The good thing about this evolution is the nian gaos are generally not overly sweet.

Yee Sang can be enjoyed by dining in or to be taken away Prices start from RM68 nett per standard serving and are available from 01 February to 02 March, 2018 as are the set menus.

SPG, Marriott Rewards and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards members enjoy special discounts on the above promotion for up to 8 persons
Beyond Dining and Club Marriott members enjoy 20% discount on the above promotion for up to 10 persons
Major bank cardholders enjoy 20% discounts on the above promotion for up to 10 persons

For reservations or more information, please contact Westin Dining at 603.2773.8338 or email westindining@westin.com. Please note that All-You-Can-Eat Dim Sum and Simply Dim Sum buffet will not be available from 16 February to 02 March, 2018.