Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Ushering the Rooster at Dynasty Restaurant, Renaissance Hotel Kuala Lumpur

I always enjoy eating at the Dynasty Chinese Restaurant in Renaissance KL, because, WELL, the food is consistently good.  It was with eager anticipation that I came for their CNY review.  By eager anticipation, I mean with empty stomach, and arriving on time, so as not "miss out".  Chef Kok Chee Kin's menus are always something to look forward to anyway.

From the myriad sets that are available for the choosing, we were given the Fortune Set, priced at RM2088 nett per table of 10.  Over and above that, we were lucky enough to have a special "guest star appearance" by a dish that truly is one of the piece de resistance of the night.

Despite "lou sang" being done to death during the CNY Period, I have to say that there is a certain amount of bon viveur in celebrating and communing over this dish.  For starters, I can't think of any dish that requires communal participation, in chinese cuisine.  Steamboats don't really count, cos that's more like everyone for himself kinda thing.

The tossing of Yee Sang is an action packed routine, starting with the various condiments being strewn over the dish, much like an elaborate salad dressing.  Whilst this is done, utterance of prosperity, good health and all things good are said, usually by the server, and this is again regurgitated during the communal toss.

Whoever devised this dish is pure genius.  Almost every conceivable flavour and texture is present. Sweet, sour, bitter, crunchy, soft, mushy, slimy.....

And there we have it, lift off.....At my age, the most important auspicious utterance is probably SUN TAI KEEN HONG....good health.  Of course the Sang Yi Heng Loong (business prospers) is a close second.

The Fortune Combination Platter, a generous potpourri of plump scallops, delicious moneybags, and the usual deep fried fritters with salted egg yolk, and an elaborate vegetable sculpture ...this particular one of the longevity old man I think.

Ying Yang Scallop Soup With Dried Seafood...The flavour of the bamboo pith was a bit overpowering, which some of us didn't care much for.  I do know of some who do like that pungent flavour.  But I think it would be wise to tone it down a notch as I felt it overpowered the goodness and sweetness of the seafood broth.

Steamed Live Tiger Dragon Grouper  with Scallions and Ginger.  Lest it be miscontrued, I think what they mean is it was swimming live before it met it's fate on the plate, not that it was steamed alive.

It's always a challenge to get a good shot of steamed fish, because let's face it, a dead fish is hardly the most photogenic thing.  Gone are the colorful hues that one sees underwater.

And the bonus dish for the night, POON CHOI, the prosperity pot of goodness.  Scallops, abalone, big prawns, siu yoke, and that's just the top layer.  Beneath that opulent layer was duck, chicken, mushrooms, cabbage, ...the "lesser items" of the food kingdom, I suppose.  Mirroring life in general, I suppose.

Wok fried glutinous rice with waxed meats.... A good ratio of meats to rice... and very tasty, but so very filling it's impossible to have more than a few spoonsful, especially with a decadent menu such as tonight's.

One of my favourite dishes here, the Braised Pork Knuckle with Sea Cucumber.  That stewy goodness of pork skin, fat, cartilage, and meat which melt in the mouth.  Hog heaven.

Golden Prawns with Spicy Minced Garlic.  It was interesting to see how most of the women on the table were too lazy to peel prawns, so this was by far the least popular dish based on that alone, until the gallant and chivalrous respective partners were forced into the task.

Double boiled bamboo cane, aloe vera and fungus with Tong Yuen. It's always a welcome end to the meal to have that piping hot sweet soup, often gingery, with a couple of balls filled usually with nuts or seeds, to wash down the heavy dinner.

Dynasty's fortune pastries.  I have to say, the nian gao was outstanding...Perfect texture, and not too sweet.

 The dashing Executive Sous Chef Kok Chee Kin....hosting a question and answer session.

Sets start from as low as RM288 nett  for 2 persons, RM1088 nett for 6 persons, and RM1688 for 10 persons, while the Treasure pots start from RM428 nett for 5 persons.  ,

For Reservations, please call
Tel: 03-2716 9388

Renaissance Kuala Lumpur, Corner of Jln Sultan Ismail and Jln Ampang
Tel : 03-2162 2233

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Chinese New Year 2017 At Celestial Court, Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur

This year, Chinese New Year is fairly early in the year, so actually, just after Christmas, there were already pictures in social media of Yee Sang etc....Another reminder what a dietary disaster the months of December and January are.

The first for me this year (as in first Yee Sang review) was at Celestial Court, one of my favourite pork free Chinese Restaurants, for dim sum in particular.  Time flies, as the last time I was there was actually last year.  Gasp.

The highlight of the night was their signature Nian Gao, specially designed by Dim Sum Chef, Ken Liew shaped as Koi Fish that symbolizes good fortune, success, prosperity and longevity. It is considered good luck to eat nian gao during this time, because ‘nian gao’ is a homonym for “higher year”. As such, eating ‘nian gao’ has the symbolism of raising oneself taller in each coming year (年年高升).

I always thought from legend that Nian Gao was made by wives to seal the mouth of the Kitchen God shut from blabbing tales of their misdemeanours to their hubbies.

 Their r special home-made ‘Nian Gao’ is available in 2 different size package – Twin Koi Fish priced at RM 88 nett per pack or 1-large Single Koi Fish priced at RM 118 nett per box.

A visual feast for the eyes with an array of dazzling colours, Yee Sang, for the uninformed, is as far as I know, a Malaysian invention, and everyone gathers around the platter for a communal toss.  When the sauces and condiments are poured onto the dry ingredients, the server or whoever is pouring the stuff say auspicious words, like "good health and long life", "prosperity in business", "may your life be sweet like the plum sauce",  before everyone uses their chopsticks and toss the stuff high into air, while also regurgitating those same auspicious mantras.  One cannot help but be reminded of the underlying materialistic nature of the Chinese in general.

The yee sang is also available for take away, at the following prices.

Roasted Corn Fed Chicken served with Spicy Onion Sauce RM69(Half Bird) RM135(Whole Bird).

Fragrant Golden Jin Sha Style Spicy Slipper Lobster.  The "fragrant" was no exaggeration, the gorgeous aroma of the sauce permeated the entire restaurant. RM150(S) RM225(M) RM300(L)

Wok-fried Fresh Scallop and Shrimps with Macadamia Nuts and Sweet Bean RM128(S) RM192(M) RM258(L).  Pretty standard fare, scallops were plump and juicy, ...actually the word "KIN HONG" (health) was bandied about a few times, as our menu was specifically catered to be "healthy" with lots of greens.

Braised Abalone Top Shell Meat with Scallop and Black Mushroom In Supreme Oyster Sauce
RM118(S) RM177(M) RM236(L).  They weren't kidding with the health theme, which suited me fine actually.  It was a refreshing change not to be plied with tonnes of meat.

Seasonal Vegetable with Morel Mushroom Topped with Diced Seafood and Crab Meat Roe Sauce
RM80(S) RM120(M) RM160(L).  Touted as the chinese truffle, at least on that table I was on, I personally found the morels did nothing for me, and tasted a tad bland, like a sponge.  The morel of the story is I guess sometimes it's best to stick to the familiar.  Especially if people don't really appreciate how expensive these things are.   I loved the crab meat with the roe though.

And finally, fried nian gao for dessert.  Everyone commented it looked like fried luncheon meat.  Haha.  But taste def was nothing like luncheon meat.

Ours was an ala carte menu, but diners can take their pick from the 4 exclusive prosperity 9-course set menus titled Abundance (财源广进套餐), Fortune (发财好事套餐), Auspicious (恭贺新禧套餐) and Luxurious (一本万利套餐) to treat family and friends. Guests can take pleasure in a variety of the delicious dishes such as Yee Sang with Crispy Soft-Shell Crab and Snow Pear served with spicy Mango Plum Sauce, Braised Sun-dried Oyster, Sea Cucumber & Black Moss on Garden Greens, Signature Roasted Crispy Duck with Five Spice Herbs & Rock Sea Salt, Double Boiled China Pear with Red Dates, Snow Fungus & Kumquat and others more. The price for the set menu starts from RM 1,788 nett onward respectively per table of 10 persons.

Celestial Court will be open during the Chinese New Year celebration from 17 Jan 2017 till 6 Feb 2017 for CNY lunch (12noon to 2.30pm), CNY Dinner (6.30pm to 10.30pm). On weekends during Chinese New Year weekends from 21 to 29 January 2017, the usual Dim Sum Brunch Buffet will not available but replaced with the CNY menu.

To book:  03-2717 9900 ext. 6933
email: celestialcourt.imperial@sheraton.com.
For real time reservations, visit http://www.celestialcourtrestaurant.com/

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Arthur's Pub, Shangri-la KL, With Amazing Steak to Kick Start 2017

Back in the day when Shangri-la KL still sold their privilege card, me being the eternal romantic (choke) would regularly patronize the F&B outlets with the wifey, because it's one person eats free with that card, and really, where ELSE in KL would you find a fabulous prime rib at such a price.  Alas, the Shang has since discontinued that card program, much to my surprise, actually, as quite a number of other hotels still have theirs.

Anyway, fast forward, and what a lovely start to 2017, to receive an invite from Makan Fairygodmother (Marian Eu Hooi Khaw, established Food Writer amongst other credentials), hereafter referred to as MFG, to dine at Arthur's Pub.  I'm no stranger to the place of course, and my whole family are regular customers there, in fact, my parents are almost part of the furniture, dining there in one outlet or another every week.  The night before the review, my dad and nephew were dining at Arthur's Pub as well.

Which is why I was delighted to revisit the place, which I personally haven't been since they discontinued the privilege card, not because #iamacheapskate, but because I felt obliged to use the other loyalty cards in my possession to get more bang for the buck.  I was pleasantly surprised, and honored to be the only guest MFG had invited, together with the Shang Art director, Daniel Lau.  And it turned out to be a lovely evening with fabulous food and company.

Their homemade Ciabatta bread is lovely, but anticipating the food marathon ahead, I decided not to fill myself with bread, as man does not live on bread alone.

Arthur's Bar & Grill is a lovely setting, and I don't know if it's because it's age appropriate for me, but I find the ambience exceedingly cosy, and elegant but yet casual.  Their menu is very extensive, and well, it is called Arthur's Bar and Grill, so it does have the best of both, bar food snacks and a proper menu.  The signature deep fried octopus with Thai chilli dip (RM28) screams out for a beer, which I of course had.

Whilst eating, I regaled MFG and Daniel about the good old days, when Arthur's was known as THE PUB, and how my friends and I used to play board games at the upstairs area from the bar.  Boy, the Shang and I go back a long way.  We reminisced about the Gourmet Corner, etc etc....

I can never resist a good clam chowder, and I was not disappointed by this thick, New England Seafood chowder that makes you wish you were in a cold climate with snow falling on the outside.  Basically I wished I was in New England. RM43.  Very filling, enough for two to share.

Simply called Spicy Snow Crab (RM22), these little baskets of delight are basically crab in a deep fried wantan skin shell.  Again, a snack that screams out for alcohol, and by which time I had moved on to a NZ Sauvignon Blanc, which was perfect.

I did suggest to Daniel that they have two sizes for the Nachos (RM48), as the plate was HUGE, and large enough to feed a hungry horde of marauding Vikings.  Generous dollops of Guacamole and Sour Cream.  A bit too much for a table of three....

Because we are very ahem, classy people, we drink wine with dinner lor. .......

Apart from the Prime Rib, which was my raison d'etre for coming here, this dish, this very "atas" mee mamak, really was superb.  Okay, it's RM62 for this Seafood Mee Mamak, so I am sure, to be very honest, this will cause some to faint, but honestly, it is very good.  Enough wok hei, and chockful of ingredients.  And of course, you ARE paying "hotel" prices, but hey, price is subjective.  A few friends having beers and sharing this very satisfying platter, justifies it all.

Their signature Shepherd's Pie.  Truthfully, I am not really a shepherd's pie fan, so I personally would not order this, but if you ARE a Shepherd's Pie fan, and I realise that among my friends, there are many, then knock yourself out with this. RM62 for lamb and RM52 for beef.  (Theoretically I heard a Beef Shepherd's Pie is called Cottage Pie).

It's like watching a concert, the Chef slicing this beauteous piece of meat....

Perfectly roasted prime rib.....

lying on a HUGE Yorkshire Pudding, (as someone described on Insta, "as big as my face"), with a choice of vegetable and potato sides.

Just look at that perfect doneness, and that glorious streak of fat .....Priced at RM125 nett, I am reminded what good value it is, even without any loyalty discount.  It really can feed two moderate eaters.  And contrary to popular belief, I myself am unable to finish one whole portion myself.

In addition to the Prime Rib, there's also the usual Wagyu Rib Eye, (RM260/300gm), Black Cod Fillet (my wife's favourite, RM140) and even Grilled Boston Lobster (RM290).

The classic Creme Brulee dessert, one of the largest servings I've ever seen...usually it's just a ramekin.  Aromatic silky custard with vanilla bean flavour.

Arthur's also has a live band on Friday nights from 6.45pm to 10.15 pm.  And (the most important info for me), there is happy hour daily from 5-8pm, where:
6 bottles of Carlsberg or Tiger, in a bucket for RM88 nett.
Asahi at RM24 nett
Beer in Tower at RM140 nett (Carlsberg or Tiger)
House wine by glass, buy one one free
Selected cocktails by carafe at RM65 nett.

Operating hours are
 Mon - Thurs, 12noon -1am
Fri & Eve of Public Hols 12 noon - 2am
Saturday 5pm- 2am
Sunday and Public Hols : 5pm - 12 midnight.

Kids below 18 are not permitted after 5pm.

For reservations, call 03-20743900
or visit their website at www.shangri-la-specials.com