Monday, December 30, 2013

K Ginseng Launch

I've always been rather fascinated by Ginseng.  I don't know much about it, apart from the fact that it can be expensive, and cheap, much like wine, depending on quality and grade.  At the back of my mind, it's in the same category as Chinese medicines, with healing properties that can heal myriad ailments, and actually, looking at those complex root structures, it's totally believable, because that's what I imagine a healing root to look like.

Intrigue took over, and my curiosity was piqued, when old friend Angeline Mah invited me to the launch of K-Ginseng, in the newly opened Pullman Hotel, which I didn't even know existed, in Pantai Baru, next to the TM Tower.  Two firsts in a row was just too much to resist.

Fortunately, I bumped into a familiar face, our dear Makan Fairy Godmother, (Marian Eu Hooi Khaw), which at least ensured I had palatable company for the night.

There were two types of K-Ginseng drink being circulated around, the White Ginseng Vitality Drink, 120ml, retailing at RM10.90, (drat, should have drank more).  I like that ginseng bitter aftertaste, but I found the drink generally too sweet.  The high amount of sugar almost negates the benefits, in my mind, but I suppose the general populace do tend to favour sweetness over bitterness, much like life.  The other variety was the Red Ginseng G at RM7.90 for 100ml.  I cannot tell the difference, to be honest.

At the rate I was chugging the K-Ginseng drinks, (sweet as they were), I was beginning to worry that they had aphrodisiac properties....Some people swore they were feeling hot after drinking a few bottles.

These lovely bits of red ginseng candied jelly were actually rather nice.

A closer view of the Vitality Drink.  Someone asked if  ginseng was the Korean equivalent of Tongkat Ali, but no one ventured a proper reply.

In our party packs, there was this generous  bottle of Red Ginseng Extract Tonic, priced at RM249 per unit. One of the K-Ginseng gentlemen was going around from table to table, demonstrating how a sachet of the red ginseng extract powder, when put into a bottle of unadulterated korean wine, (23% proof) would allow the drinker to drink with merriment without the effects of a hangover.  Now this is music to my ears.

The demo of the Red Ginseng Extract in the Korean Rice Wine.  He animatedly tells us that the wine contains 23% alcohol, which for a wine, is quite a lot.

He pours in a sachet of the red powder, which almost resembles paprika.

Shake shake shake...and a hangover free bottle of 23% proof alcohol.  How wonderful.

I didn't really get to test the theory to see if it works, but I do intend to do so soon.  Perhaps this NY Eve.

Anyway, K-Ginseng is launched in Malaysia  by  The Korea Gyeonggi Government Agricultural Cooperative Federation and its local distributor, Caldbeck MacGregor (M) Sdn Bhd's Health & Wellness division, on Thursday and is halal-certified.

The dinner fare on the menu showed the standard hotel banquet type dinner, which surprised us, because we were expecting Ginseng laced culinary offerings.

However, there were some bonus authentic Korean dishes prepared by Korean Chef Mrs Hae Young Nam, who has over 35 years of ginseng cooking under her belt.

Above is a ginseng beef wrap, which must be very authentically Korean.  Totally new to me.  I like the bitter flavours of the ginseng, and the crunch, paired with the tender beef.

Ginseng Spice Seasoned Kimchi, a rather delicious salad, with  a tangy spicy sauce, with a coriander like leafy vegetable, with chunks of ginseng.

A ginseng salad of sorts, with julienned vegetables, walnuts, dried persimmon, which was actually a rather good combination, of sweet, slightly savoury (from the nuts), and that powerful zing from the ginseng.

Tempura Ginseng.  Not a dish for everyone, I'm sure.  I personally found it alright, though the batter could have been lighter and crispier.

Like all launches, the opening ceremony, which entailed pulling a lever, to reveal the range of K-Ginseng Products.

The lovely Sharon Lee explaining to us how the ginseng for K-Ginseng is farmed, and how the ginseng roots are best after 7 years, and harvested accordingly.  The lands in which the ginseng is farmed is also ideal for its cultivation, hence making it one of the best in the world, if not the best.

The night's events were filled with performances ala Psy, (Gangnam Style), which I guess these days, is impossible to escape, especially for a Korean event, some traditional Korean dance, and a rather entertaining songstress.

Other Products Available:
Red Ginseng Root 300g / 150g RM1190 (300g)/ RM609 (150g) per unit

Red Ginseng Extract Gold 240g / 120g RM919 (240g) / RM469 (120g) per unit

Red Ginseng Extract Tonic 720ml  RM249 per unit

Honey Red Ginseng Slice 20g X 5’s RM195 per set

White Ginseng Root 300g / 150g RM569 (300g) / RM299 (150g) per unit

The full range of K-Ginseng products will soon be available in all Chinese Medical Halls (Traditional Chinese Herb shops) and also major supermarkets such as Aeon Jusco & Isetan. Enquiries can be directed to Caldbeck Macgregor Sdn Bhd's general line (Attn Health & Wellness Division) should there be any enquiries.

T: 03-5569 2283
F: 03-5569 2383

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Reality Bites, Elegantology & Martell

Foday, actually, on 10th December, at 9pm, AFC will premiere REALITY BITES: RISE ABOVE WITH STYLE, featuring AFC Celebrity Chefs, Sherson Lian & Johnny Fua, (of "Great Dinners of the World" fame).

The six part series is set in the trendy restaurant gallery, ELEGANTOLOGY GALLERY & RESTAURANT, which house a couture gallery featuring exlcusive men's fahsion and lifestyle collections created by reputable local designers.  So fashion and food find their partnership in this eclectic locale, under the patronage of cognac house, Martell.

Now, if that bit about couture and fashion sounded like it was plagiarized off a press release, it's because it was, and the reason being, asking me to comment or write  about fashion is like asking Muhyiddin Yassin to talk about education.  But fortunately, this post is not about Fashion, although I did get to meet the glamorous Beatrice Looi, do women walk in those heels??? But yet cannot execute the easiest of tasks like waving a hand in thanks while driving?

I had unfortunately missed the previous event at Elegantology to which I was invited, because I was meeting some whale sharks in the Philippines, (show off? naaahhhh), to my regret, as I heard the food was stunning.  So I was extremely pleased to be invited again, without knowing what to expect, really, because the launch of a premiere of a food show does NOT necessarily entail a meal.

And truth be told, before this, I can't really say I've heard of these two fellas, Sherson Lian and Johnny Fuah.  But I now believe that names ARE important, because it would appear that uniqueness of names do seem to pave the way to stardom, and I suppose looks do help too. With a name like Sherson, it was inevitable that the guy wasn't going to grow up your run of the mill John, or James (as apostolic as those names are)...  And Johnny Fuah is an exclamation all by itself.

These two blokes did turn out to be genuinely rather entertaining, with a natural screen presence, which should make Malaysia proud to have such home grown talent.

I check out the scene, and it's rather happening at Publika Square, where a large marquee had been set up for the event, and huge Martell posters adorned the place like Christmas ornaments on a huge tree.  Only the visually challenged would have missed it.  I bump into delightful company, Ciki and KY, and that hot chick from AFC who is my namesake.  Canapes float around, accompanied by cocktails made from the nectar that is Martell...I am in two minds about this, whilst it makes cognac more palatable for those who do not like its natural taste, it totally adulterates the cognac for those who DO like it.

We sit through the premiere with a light buzz, from all the cocktails.  The program is called, I reiterate, REALITY BITES: RISE ABOVE WITH STYLE.  It showed a somewhat dramatized version of the scenes behind the kitchen, with one particular kitchen staff (I'd use the word minion, but that word is now associated with cute yellow imaginary things) who comes across as very amusing.  Will not put any spoilers here, but the deadpan-ness of that particular person was rather hilarious.  To be honest, a few of the scenes and banter between the two protagonists seemed a bit contrived, but it was entertaining nevertheless, which achieves its objective, no doubt.

The Q&A session featuring the two stars, Beatrice Looi, Cheah Chee Keong, Head of Content, Creative & Marketing at Scripps Networks Interactive, Asia Pacific.

And the long awaited moment, dinner! Starting with Elegantology's baker's choices, Truffle Butter florets, Paprika Chickpeas Hummus and EVOO (I'm guessing its something something Olive Oil).  Give me butter with my bread any day, none of this healthy olive oil business.  Those florets totally floored me.

The black bamboo charcoal bun....oddly enough, in the post before this, I commented on their strange popularity.

Nothing warms the heart, ...and chest, like a good swig of cognac!!!!

Ceviche Scallop, Paw Paw Kerabu, Nam Pla Influenced Ponzu Sesame Drizzle.  Excellent, the scallops, probably cooked in the acidity of the sauce, is far better than anything seared actually.  Without a hint of marine fishiness, and freshness that helps it glide down the throat effortlessly.  I could eat more of this.

Foie Gras Cube, Olive Lemon Soil, Soy Bean Milk Braised Shimeiji Mushroom.  It was good, but I personally prefer foie gras in its original state.  But very creative and innovative indeed.  Olive lemon soil, ...what is it with modern chefs and the penchant for "soil?"  Perhaps it's to bring them back down to earth.

A lovely oxtail broth with brandied sea cucumber.  Beautiful consomme, with elegant bits of deboned oxtail, so that one doesnt have to inelegantly manoeuvre through that huge hock bone and choke over the glass of Martell.

Tomato Sake Granita, Sour Plum Shaved.  I love the way they marry ingredients from across the cultures, it's like a Bloody Mary meets Kut Chai Sheen Mui (Kalamansi sour plum).   A rather apt palate cleanser, the tang from the tomato and sour plum totally gives your palate a "clean slate" to continue.

Kobe (no, it does not rhyme with Lobe, it's "KO BAY") beef skewer with Miso Pineapple Bearnaise.  I HAVE NOT LIVED!!! Move aside, Wagyu, I've found a new beefy love in Kobe.  Melt in mouth, really quite a scintillating sensation.  It was REALLY good.  What more can I say?

My virginal kobe experience.  Or at least I think it is.

Everyone loves their meat on a stick!!!

Barramundi, Smoked Muscovy Duck Glutinous Rice.  I can't understand people, especially Chinese, who say "sek gwai lou chan mm bao".. (eat Western dinner sure not full).  Actually although the portions look dainty, by the time the barramundi came, I was stuffed to the brim.  Which is a pity, because when you're stuffed to the brim, it's hard to appreciate food.  The barramundi was fresh, and cooked well, and that pile of rice was delicious, but way too filling towards the finishing line.

Replated Black Forrest Gateau... (hmmm, I'm not sure if the double Fs are a typo in the menu).. Well, you can't really go wrong with cherries, chocolate and cream, BUT I have to say, I did not think much of that stray sponge, which resembled a dry loofah.  Spongeless, the dish would have been perfect.

A fabulous meal and a wonderful evening, with great thanks to the hosts, and organizers and to Jade for the invitation.  

Christmas & New Year At Sheraton Imperial

In the blink of an eye, another year has zoomed by. It's almost bittersweet when one contemplates the year that was, and that haunting melody from Fiddler on the Roof always plays like an earworm during this period:

Sunrise, sunset (x2),
Swiftly fly the years,
One season following another,
Laden with happiness and tears.

December onwards is also a time of dietary disaster, for from now until Chinese New Year, the eating will be continuous.  Obviously, it's also a time when F&B establishments hop on to the binge wagon, with their yuletide offerings.  The first of such was at Villa Danielli in Sheraton Imperial.  Actually, I thought the invitation was for us to check out the transformation of Villa Danielli into a Christmas wonderland, and I wasn't expecting a full fledged, bursting to the brim type dinner.

To start with, canapes.  I just love the word canape, (pronounce ken-a-pay..or probably keen a pi if you're Australian), these dainty finger food thingies that deludes you into thinking you're very ladidah, especially with a glass of bubbly in hand, flitting around from table to table.

Duck Foie Gras Lollipop with Crunchy Pistachio and Pineapple Sauce
Tandoori Fish Bruschetta with Mint
Seafood Pasta Aglio Olio
Pasta Arabiata
Wild Mushroom with Lamb, Grilled Leek and Yellow Tomato (Promotion: Christmas Eve Buffet Dinner at Essence).  We were served elegant tasting portions, which made it possible for us to sample the entire spread.  But that still didn't ensure we were not stuffed like chinese rice dumplings by the end of the meal.

Bread rolls, which sadly, no one touched, because there was soooooo much food on the table. Black colored buns seem to be the in thing these days.

Octopus Pickles, Soft Bean Curd and Wakame with Ponzu Dressing (Promotion: New Year Day Brunch at Essence)
Dill and Peppered Ahi Tuna with Capellini Pasta Salad and Grilled Baby Fennel (Promotion: Christmas Brunch at Essence) The Ahi was seared perfectly, maintaining it's gorgeous pink rawness in the centre.

Rolled Eggplant Cannelloni filled with Vegetable Caponata (Promotion: New Year’s Eve Buffet Dinner at Essence)

Gorgonzola and Pistachio Parfait with Apple, Celeriac and Raspberry salad, Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette and Warm Ricotta Cheese Croquette (Promotion: Christmas Eve 5-course set menu at Villa Danieli)

An impressive array of soups and more starters that went straight from the lip to the hip.  I swear I must have put on 2kgs from this meal alone.

From Top Left, Clockwise
Cream of Spinach with Salmon Flake (Promotion: Christmas Brunch at Essence)
Roma Tomato Soup with Pesto (Promotion: New Year Day Brunch at Essence)
Potato and Fontina Cheese Ravioli with Sautéed Spinach and Parmesan Cream (Promotion: Christmas Eve 5-course set menu at Villa Danieli)
Creamed Cod Squid Ink Ravioli with Thyme, Tomato Fillet and Prawns in Tomato Coulisse Sauce (Promotion: New Year’s Eve 5-course set menu at Villa Danieli)

Not in Photo:
Watercress and Soya Milk Soup with Sundried Tomato Nougat (Promotion: Christmas Eve Buffet Dinner at Essence)
Prawn Bisque (Promotion: New Year’s Eve Buffet Dinner at Essence)

With long time bloggers and friends, KgBoy&Citygal, and Ivy Aiwei.  Such youthful vigour they possess...while the old man drools on his shirt...(as is evidenced by that patch of moisture)

Pan Seared Snow Fish Medallion, Leeks Puree and White Asparagus, Sprouts and Ash Sauce (Promotion: New Year’s Eve 5-course set menu at Villa Danieli)

Seared Duck Breast with Grilled Pineapple and Berries Balsamic Sauce (Promotion: New Year Day Brunch at Essence)

Crusted White Pepper Beef Tenderloin with Buche de Chevre Gratin, Pear Compote and Celeriac Mille Foille (Promotion: Christmas Eve 5-course set menu at Villa Danieli)

Pan Seared Cod with Crusted Coconut Chili and Citrus Cinnamon Reduction (Promotion: Christmas Eve Buffet Dinner at Essence)

Also available in the menu are Skewered Salmon Medallion with Apricot-Olive Couscous and Sautéed Baby Greens (Promotion: Christmas Brunch at Essence) & 
Harissa Marinated Chicken Roulade with Mushroom Stew (Promotion: New Year’s Eve Buffet Dinner at Essence
White Chocolate Parfait and White Chocolate Mousse, Pistachio and Raspberry, Orange Gelatin Sheet (Promotion: Christmas Eve 5-course set menu at Villa Danieli)

Litchi and Raspberry Mousse Yule Log (Promotion: Christmas Eve Buffet Dinner at Essence)

Caramel Fudge Chantilly with Apple Crepes (Promotion: Christmas Brunch at Essence)
Berries Millie Feuillie with Gingerbread Patisier (Promotion: New Year Day Brunch at Essence)

Raspberry Panna Cotta with Crispy Almonds and Lemon Mousse (Promotion: New Year’s Eve 5-course set menu at Villa Danieli)

Also available: Poached Cinnamon Pear William Sabayon with White Cranberry Shaving (Promotion: New Year’s Eve Buffet Dinner at Essence)
The Christmas brunch is priced at RM188++ per person (food only) and RM368++ per person for those who would like to enjoy bottomless sparkling wine, draughts beers, white wine and red wine. (that would be me) Enjoy this at Pavilions Lounge from 11am to 12pm and Essence from 12pm to 3pm on 25 December 2013. Alternatively, usher in the New Year’s Day  on 1 January 2014 with the same offer.

New Year’s Eve dinner buffet at Essence will be served from 6.30pm to 10.30pm and is priced at RM118++ per person (food only) and RM158++ per person (inclusive of free flow of house wines or 3 bottles of beer).

Villa Danieli , 5-course set dinner is only available on 31 December 2013 and is priced at RM220++ per person.Wine pairing for an additional of RM120++ per person.

For further enquiries or table reservations, please contact Villa Danieli at 03-2717 9900 or email or visit to find out more.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas, may your heart be light, and your stomach heavy.