It is always a treat to eat in Lai Poh Heen at the Mandarin Oriental, because as far as pork free Chinese dining goes, it definitely ranks as one of the better ones, and Chef Ricky Thein, Executive Chinese Chef does take pains to ensure innovative and creative dishes tantalize our palates. MIGF, or the Malaysian International Gourmet Festival stretches from 1-31 October, with quite a number of participating restaurants. But like choosing a spouse, one has to be selective, I suppose....and unfortunately, cannot indulge in all the participating restaurants.
To begin, we were treated to the Hunan Ice Chilled Whole Baby Abalone. Hunan in the way of preparation, and not in origin, according to Jean.
The presentation is really rather attractive. Bits of pomelo, avocado, kiwi and spicy sesame sauce makes the abalone salsa on this platter of crushed ice, almost poetically. I am not sure of the significance of the caramel sugar stick though.
Next, the double boiled "Kung Fu" soup, which no, does not contain the Panda of the same fame. Elegantly served in what Eric Yong described as too big for a cup, and too small for a bowl, this clear but absolutely divine broth envelopes a cluster of very interesting sea food, ...
That thing on the spoon looks like a scallop had procreated with an abalone, and apparently that is precisely what it was, a painstakingly re-engineered scabalone. (Scallop + Abalone). No, it does not happen in nature, only in Ricky's kitchen. My favourite dish of the night.
Trio of Corn Fed Chicken, a Szechuan pepper spiced, wok seared with crispy skin menage a trois.
Steamed Dragon Grouper roll, with Hong Kong Kai Lan and superior wine sauce.
Sun Dried Scallops Glutinous Rice, Serve in Dim Sum Basket. Unlike the usual hor yip fan, (lotus leaf wrapped rice), this wrapping was edible, and it tasted as stunning as it looked. Fluffy flavourful glutinous rice, encasing a huge scallop within.
Chef Ricky in his signature Chef pose. He is a Gold Medalist reciepient in the 5th World Golden Chef Competition for Chinese Cuisine in 2005.
Sweet Sensation - Peanut Coated Buttermilk cubic, green tea sauce, passion fruit infused coconut pudding.
The lunch time price is RM228++ per person without wine, and the dinner menu, which is the same, but for an additional Mandarin Orange Sorbet, is RM288++ per person, without wine.
We move on to the next stop, the Mandarin Grill, where the flickering flames welcome wayfarers on a cold wintry night. Well, not quite, I exaggerate.
The futuristic entrance to the Mandarin Grill almost makes me expect to be beamed up somewhere or other.
A wide selection of nosh is available for diners at the Mandarin Grill.
The elegant interior of Mandarin Grill...
The breads in Mandarin Grill are superb, and usually I try not to eat too much bread as it expands like a sponge, but these hot buns with the gorgeous creamy butter and sour cream are too good to resist.
Dug Leg Confit A la Orange - Braised apple red cabbage roasted potato dumpling. Actually this dish is surprisingly main stream, for an MIGF dinner, which actually suits me fine. You know how when you go for a classical concert, I actually prefer it when I know a few familiar favourites. There's odd comfort in the familiar. No complaints with the duck. Love the accompanying braised apple and red cabbage jam.
Rabbit Loin "Perigord", one of two choices in the Festival Dinner Menu. Lamb lettuce, cep mushroom, truffle juice.
Doversole Fillet, with salsify, baby spinach and grenobloise sauce, three words in one sentence that is beyond my vocabulary. According to our friendly waiter, dover sole is the smallest flatfish, as opposed to Halibut, which is the biggest.
Okay, that's not soap. I don't know when all these foamy stuff came into vogue, probably with the advent of molecular gastronomy, but someone remarked on my facebook page that it looked like soap. Plebians. [tossing nose into the air with a snooty sniff, though secretly agreeing]. Halibut Fillet Winemaker Style, champagne choucroute, pomme chateaux, caramelized grapes. The flavour of the fish was superb, though my piece might have been just slightly overcooked. And fish can be so unforgiving.
The choice of mains is either the fish, or the Pure Black Angus Tenderloin "saliou" with foie gras, brussel sprouts, smoked celery puree garnish bourguignon.
For Dessert, White and Orange, white sacher sponge, bourbon vanilla bavarois, orange custard
This is Chef Reto Weber's second year in the festival. He is the Chef De Cuisine, and has worked in 2 Star Michelin Star, Waselhorf, in 2000.
Some petit fours to wrap up the dinner, and selection of teas and coffees.
The Lunch menu at the Mandarin Grill is RM165 ++ for 2 courses, or RM195++ for 3 courses, without wine. For dinner it is RM345++ without wine.
Check out their other festival offers
Mandarin Grill 03-21798960
Lai Poh Heen 03-21798885
Thanks to Jean, Jesslyn and Bel (in abstentia) for your ever gracious hospitality.