Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tosca At Hilton Doubletree KL, and Sustainable Seafood

We kind of take seafood for granted, but if you really think about it, it is so much more perilous to obtain compared to say, a cow reared in the comforts of a barn, or sheep grazing blissfully in undulating meadows, as opposed to fishermen, who risk life and limb, perfect storms, seasickness.  I half expect seafood to be a rarity by the time I am middle aged, ...oops, that's right about now, but thankfully, judging by seafood buffets and restaurant menus, fish and prawn aren't quite extinct yet.  I guess the term seafood refers not just to sea creatures but freshwater as well, ....afterall, I've never heard a distinction between seafood and riverfood.  Ooh, let's go for riverfood tonight... Soon Hock, Tilapia, Freshwater prawns, ...somehow, nah, RIVERFOOD just doesn't have that catchy ring.  And omigawd, just imagining riverfood from the Klang river, immediate cholera and dysentry.

But as usual, I digress.  I was therefore rather intrigued to get the invitation to a sustainable seafood dinner at Hilton Doubletree, at Tosca.  No point reinventing the wheel, this is what the press release has to say:

From now through August 31, 2015, participating Hilton Worldwide hotels in Malaysia have lined up a series of dining promotions featuring sustainable seafood choices in their restaurants to raise awareness about responsible seafood consumption amongst consumers in Malaysia. DoubleTree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur will present a variety of sustainable seafood culinary options at Tosca, their Italian restaurant and Makan Kitchen, the award-winning Malaysia heritage restaurant.

“The Sustainable Seafood Festival presents a valuable opportunity for our guests to learn about the importance of making smart, sustainable choices which will minimize our impact and protect our environment while enjoying the culinary creativity of our restaurants,” Eric Siew, Executive Chef explained. “Guided by WWF-Malaysia, Tosca has created a special promotional menu using Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)-certified and Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)-certified sustainable seafood items.

Last April, Hilton Worldwide implemented a shark fin ban across all restaurants and F&B facilities operated by its owned and managed hotels globally. This was followed by an announcement in May 2015 to partner WWF to evolve the hospitality company’s global business practices, reduce impact on the environment, and make the hospitality industry more sustainable.

Tosca is located on the 10th floor of Hilton Doubletree, and for the "outdoor" loving, the place is sort of open air, overlooking the swimming pool, and has a lovely casual ambience.

The affable Executive Chef Eric Siew pops his head out of the kitchen window to acknowledge us.  According to him and Amanda, there are seafoods that are in the RED category, meaning they are endangered or close to being so, even stuff we take for granted like tuna.  On the other hand, there are the GREEN category, which are sustainable.  Broadly speaking at least.  One wonders how ikan bilis can be sustainable.

To start, a Carpaccio of Hokkaido Scallops, juicy plump scallops sliced into elegant slivers of goodness, with a tangy dressing that is just right, and doesn't overpower the sweetness of the scallops.  Now, a new discovery for me, no pregnant fish had to give up their eggs for that black "roe" you see, it's actually Avruga Caviar, a product made from herring, salt, corn starch, etc, and is in no way related to Beluga and Sevruga... So really, no pregnant fish had to give up their eggs, so you may chomp down these caviar substitutes with nary a twinge of guilt.

Italian Styled Chilled Norwegian Pink Shrimp, ...the presentation is so reminiscent of the retro prawn cocktail dish, doused in thousand island dressing.  But these shrimp are far from that.  Those gorgeous babies are chockful of shrimp roe, (which begs the question, if we are chomping down all these pregnant prawns, how EVER will they reproduce, sustainably?) so sweet and succulent.

Dill Cured Salmon - Not smoked, but cured.  Tastes like smoked though, but not as salty, and sometimes smoked are smoked to death, but this method of preparation still leaves that lovely texture of the salmon, and that briny taste of the fish.

This was my favourite dish of the night, Canadian lobster with potato gnocchi...who would have thought that lobsters can come under "sustainable" category....these days when I go scuba diving, it's a rare sight to see free swimming lobsters.  The flesh of the lobster was delicious, fresh, and springy.  I usually don't like lobster done western style, preferring the chinese long har meen style of cooking.  But this, I would order again if I go there.  At RM85, it is rather good value if you ask me.

Sea Bass al Cortoccio (RM40) Sea bass, cooked in parchment paper with mediterranean flavours, in a beech oven.  Love the presentation, as the parcel is unwrapped to reveal the contents, the wonderful aroma hits the olfactory with..precisely that, MEDITERRANEAN flavours.  RM40 for a fish dish in a hotel restaurant, damn good value if you ask me.

Red Snapper Capellini, Pan roasted, with angel hair pasta (although this wasn't angel hair) and mustard crumbs, which were superb.  Enjoyed the pasta which had drenched and soaked up all the juices of the fish and was exceedingly flavoursome. (RM48)

Slow Roasted Tasmanian Salmon with potato and celeriac ragout, eggplant parmigiana and lemon.  Loved the eggplant, but I am not a fan of roasted salmon or cooked salmon generally, but if you are, then you will like this dish.  I do like crispy salmon skin.  RM55.

And finally, their signature semi frozen chocolate hazelnut, which was a perfect end to the marine meal.

Tosca Italian Restaurant, Hilton Doubletree
Tel +603 2172 7272 | Direct +603 2172 7716 | Fax +603 2172 7270

DoubleTree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur
The Intermark, 348 Jalan Tun Razak, 50400 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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