In a blink of an eye, almost exactly 2 years to the day, Providence smiled upon me again, when once again, Eu Hooi Khaw, that iconic food writer and makan fairy godmother, extended me an invite to once again dine at ELEGANT INN, in Menara Hap Seng. Checking out my previous post on Elegant Inn was very deja vu. Almost scary, to realise that two years had zipped by just like that.
Well, the main cast look no worse for wear, the proprietess, Jeannette Han, looks younger, and that handsome young chef, looks exactly the same. (if he looked any younger he'd have to don on a white shirt and olive green pants with a school badge). And of course, us, the guest, and Hooi Khaw, have been preserved in a time warp, and have not added a single wrinkle.
Jeannette had just gotten off the plane from an ingredient buying spree in Hong Kong, and regales us with culinary capers that make us salivate. I must have forgotten to take a picture of the peanuts, but she says there was once, the peanut supply was so inconsistent, her staff had to hand pick each nut, with a 60% rejection rate. Yes, she is THAT particular about the quality of food. So it is no surprise that our first Yee Sang of the year was perfect. No need to have the conundrum of jelly fish, abalone or ocean trout sashimi. She gives us all three, explaining that the jelly fish gives the crunch, the abalone gives that marine flavour, and the fish ...well, it isn't called YEE sang for nothing. No artificially colored artificial vegetables.
A high toss, encapsulating our dreams and aspirations for the coming year. Good health, good food, good fortune....good business.
Decadence takes on the form of pan seared foie gras with eggy goodness, a double dose of cholesterol, but so worth it.
Prawns signify the sound of laughter, Siew Ha Ha....gorgeous sea prawns fried "simply" in garlic, but SO good. Oh, the theme for the night according to Jeannette was "simple". I guess it's time to redefine words in my vocabulary, for nothing struck me as simple.
Chinese Sandwich. As opposed to a Gwai Lou sandwich I guess. Soft mantaus wrapping a piece of deep fried chicken skin, a piece of beancurd with prawn mash and hoi sin sauce. Lovely finger food.
My favourite for the night. Braised pork shoulder...actually it was a very unique cut, with bits of cartilage on, and utterly melt in the mouth, in a lovely gravy that has simmered with all the chinese new year good stuff, like oysters, etc.
See, I told you everyone still looks so good.
Traditional sweet and sour pork, but oh so good. I daresay this is the best non-iberico version I've ever tasted. The pork is crispy but moist, and Jeannette explains that she likes them in strips, not rolled, like some places.
The piece de resistance, the LAP MEI FAN, that pot of sheer utter goodness and decadence, the definite herald of Chinese new year. A hodge podge of waxed meats, with the juices melded into the fluffy rice. Anti Carbo Ciki abstained from the rice.
The token vegetable for the night, called Wa Wa choy.
To end the fabulous meal, nian gao, from Hong Kong. Different from ours, not so sticky, and this was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, almost dodol-ly, (which is a compliment).
Tong Yuen in red bean paste. I love red bean paste, and this one had hints of black glutinous rice, of course sourced from the very best source, ie, the black market.
And as a special treat, Malai kou, (Malay kueh).... soft, fluffy egg based steamed cake with egg custard. Yummy.
The good news is, Elegant Inn is opened throughout the Chinese New Year period. Do call them to check out the various set dinners available. A Warning though, the lap mei fan is NOT, I repeat, NOT available on New Year's Eve, ....I think that's what she said.
Thanks Jeannette once again for a fantastic meal! And of course to our Makan Fairy Godmother for the invite.
Menara Hap Seng
Jalan P Ramlee
Tel: 03-2070 9399