Monday, May 25, 2015

Guest Chef Wang at Chynna, Hilton Kuala Lumpur - Hankering for Hunan?

Hunan, Yunnan, Henan, Hainan,  they all sound the same to me, these Chinese places.  But whilst Yunnan is famous for ham, Hainan for its chicken rice, Hunan is famous for it's chili and spicy dishes, amongst other things.

Chef Wang Cheng Chun, who hails from Changsha of the Xiang River region is China is collaborating with Hilton Kuala Lumpur's Executive Chef for Chynna, Lam Hock Hin, from 25th May to 7th June, to bring diners on a Hunanese culinary adventure.

Before dinner is served, we are served the welcome tea, by an artisan tea pourer who uses a plethora of acrobatic stances to shoot from his spout with precision aim into the cup.

To start, steeped white radish slice and stewed beef shank in chili sauce.  The pieces of white radish which had been marinated in oils, and chili, certainly have lost their whiteness, but retain their crunchiness and enhanced flavours with all the marinade.  The shank's taste is actually embellished by the sauces, and we were forewarned about the potency of the Hunan chillies, but whilst it did kick a pack, it really wasn't overly hot to the point of killing your tastebuds.

When Chef Lam removed his chef's toque, everyone gasped and remarked, wow, he looks like Chow Yuen Fatt.  Although this is not the first time I'm meeting Mr Chow, ..oops, Mr Lam, it is one of the rare occasions I've seen him without his headgear, and with a stretch of the imagination, yeah, I can see the resemblance, hence the shameless posing with the star.

Deep Fried Duck With White Sesame Seed, and Sauteed lamb shoulder with romaine lettuce.

The deep fried duck, a specialty dish, that is becoming rarer amongst young chefs due to the tedious cooking process, is a treat to the palate.  An interesting combination of textures and flavours.  The duck is seasoned, steamed, dried, coated with egg white, fried with sesame seeds, resulting in something rather unique that we do not often see.

Basically a lamb sang choy bao (lettuce wrap), except I am PRETTY sure it wasn't romaine lettuce as per the menu.  Iceberg la.  Anyway, I am usually not a lamb fan, but I honestly couldn't tell it was lamb, ...I thought it was beef.  Any lamby smell is masked by the strong flavoured vegetables, like capsicums, ionions, and of course, the chillies which seemed spicier in this dish.  I wolfed this down in two bites.

My favourite dish for the night, the Hunan Style Hot and Sour soup.  According to Chef Wang, the origins of hot sour soup are rather pedestrian, and it's meant to be a simple peasant soup, with the most basic of ingredients, like beancurd, a few strands of bamboo shoot, etc.  Of course it has evolved and certainly in a 5 star dining venue like Chynna, it's almost a meal by itself.  Mushrooms, Bamboo Shoots, Salted Vegetable, (cha choy), fried chicken, tofu, in a LAVALLY (since it was hot and spicy) broth, (credit to instagrammer friend for that inspired word).

We are accustomed to the Szechuan style of the namesake soup, which is oilier and hotter.  I prefer this Hunan version, which despite the heat, has a certain serenity in its clearness.  According to Chef Wang, the Hunan chillies are meant to enhance flavour, and open up the palate, rather than burning and numbing the senses.

 Steamed Turbot with Chilli Sauce.

Now, Chef Wang brought along three ingredients with him from Hunan, Fermented Laba Beans, Chopped Fermented Chilli, and Pickled Chilli Padi (obviously it's not called that).

The reason turbot is the chosen fish is because it's quite rarely available, is in a league worthy of a restaurant like Chynna, (I mean, you can't jolly well serve kembung regardless of how delicious it is), and its firm flesh (say opposed to a Marble Goby or Soon Hock) makes it perfect for presentation and well as texture.  And indeed, the sweet flesh of the turbot, with that hot imported chillis, was good to the last bone.  The sauce on its own is a tad salty, but with the fish, perfect.

My second most favourite dish was the fried rice with laba beans and chicken.  Laba beans look like our small fermented beans (tou choo? ) but the texture is firmer, and not as salty.  They added a lovely dimension to the already delicious fried rice.  I love fried rice when the grains are individuals, (you see, I'm an introvert), not grouping together but yet complementing each other in the wider scheme of things.  Paired with this FANTASTIC chilli the Chef Wang brought from Hunan, divine!!!!  I shamelessly had two helpings of the fried rice.  #fatdieme

Chopped Chilli From Hunan

Fermented Laba Beans from Hunan

So privileged for us to be dining with two acclaimed chefs, on the same table. 

Meanwhile Chef Lam, who had to act as a translator, since most of us useless chinese flers can't speak Mandarin, did a sterling job in communicating Chef Wang's intentions, and commentaries.  On the issue of chilli, Chef Lam had this to say....

Their's can grow very big ......

Our Malaysian ones ah, very small only ....

Worried that we still looked hungry, Ee Laine, the Marcomm Exec who was the loveliest host, ordered Chef Lam's signature lamb with cumin dish for us to try.  That certainly filled us up,  Crispy battered lamb with a crown of alfalfa and herbs that tasted rather middle eastern, like tabbouleh, and a distinct cumin flavour.

Fried Potato Cakes with lotus seeds and assorted fruit platter, as dessert.  Ok, honestly, it looked rather ordinary, two battered pikelets, but it did not belie the actual contents.

Fabulous texture and taste. I loved this dessert, as it wasn't too sweet, and was really quite unique.  The texture was chewy yet tender, and the flavours subtle.  I reckon it would pair with another wam sweet soupy dessert, like honey sea coconut or any tong shui, but maybe it's not the Hunan way.

Chef Wang oversees the Chinese kitchen at Hilton Shenzhen Shekou Nanhai.  Hunan or Xiang Cuisine comes from a province that has an age old reputation as a land of fish and rice and is one of the "EIGHT GREAT TRADITIONS" of Chinese gastronomy.

The Hunan Cuisine Promotion with Chef Wang STARTS ON 25th MAY TILL 7th JUNE 2015.

Chynna Restaurant
Hilton Kuala Lumpur
Reservations:  +603 2264 2596

1 comment:

Ciki said...

Wow.. they really should do more early reviews, so you get to go back and write such inspired reviews. Obviously you remembered all the facts coz you weren't veuve-d (yet) :P