Soups. Having a Cantonese Paternal grandmother would mean that I have been stuffed with soup at a very early age. It's supposed to be a panacea to ward of diseases and also a cure for diseases as well. Every meal is not complete without a soup, be it just a simple anchovy based vegetable soup. Despite being a Hokkien, my mother embraced the Cantonese Soups totally, to the point of obsession. There is the Old Cucumber soup with Chicken Stock, Dried Oyster, Red Dates and Dried Cuttlefish for hot weathers. American Ginseng Chicken soup for Cold weather and a plethora of everything in between. All the soups that I had were served tongue scalding HOT.
The starter i had at Max's place would probably knock my grandma out. Peekytoe Crab Timbale with herbed cucumber tomato salad with caper berries on chilled gazpacho. What a mouthful, I know. Let's try to translate this into non foodie language! I have to admit i needed about 10 minutes to figure out what I was supposed to order for starter alone. The menu at Max's is really filled with foodie language.
Gazpacho is a chilled soup, or maybe a better way to describe it would be pureed salad. Not the typical kind of soup Grandma makes. When Eliza Doolitle (Audrey Hepburn) sang that "The rain in Spain stay mainly in the plains", she probably was not referring to the Andalucian Plains in Spain, the birthplace of Gazpacho. Long, dry acrid summers in Seville and Cordoba are the norm with temperatures hitting the 40's in Summer. The Andalucians are located in south of Spain, and this explain the Moorish influences in the food. Traditionally, the Gazpacho was thought to have originated from Arabia and was traditionally made from soaked rancid bread, garlic, olive oil, salt and vinegar. It slowly evolved and there are many variations of the soup, from the Malagan Ajo Blanco, where milk soaked almonds are added with chicken broth and the rarer Green Gazpacho which is based on lettuce and spinach and thickened with sour cream. The one served at Max's was the traditional tomato based Gazpacho, made from pureed tomato, onion, garlic, cumin, peppers and cucumber, vinegar,water and salt. See? You can make a soup without boiling anything. Cool and refreshing, it sure took away the thirst caused by the hot, sultry heat in KL very well.
Peekytoe crabs are the rage in NY this summer. Initially, there was very low regard for this crustacean, a rock crab which is harvested accidentally together with lobster. Never hardy enough to withstand any journey, the crabs are never shipped alive but the meat is harvested after blanching (typically in the homes of the fisherman from Maine) and shipped by the suppliers. The crabs are softer, briny and sweeter than our local crabs.
So, cut away the foodie talk would mean that the dish will be described as Peekytoe crab mixed with herbed cucumber and tomato salad, served after inverting it in a bowl (timbale) on top of a cold tomato puree soup. Not very elegant isn't it? Ha ha... So, we need some foodie jargon to enhance the name! Call it anything you like, but Max dished up a marvelous starter that day with all the right flavours locked into the right place. No need to travel to NY to taste the hottest flavours for this Summer.
For Mains, I ordered the Thyme Braised Duck Leg and Smoked Duck Breast with Persillade Sauce and Cannelini Bean Casserole which was absolutely divine. The succulent duck leg was braised to perfection while retaining all it's flavour and the thyme lent the duck a lavish aroma which permeated the dining hall, inviting jealous stares from the ladies dining at the next table. Ha ha. Persillade sauce is basically Parsley with garlic which enhanced the smoked duck breasts beautifully. The duck breasts were sitting on a bed of mashed potatoes.
Valrhona Bitter sweet Chocolate souffle with seasonal fruits and cafe latte ice cream. It's been a long time since I've had a decent souffle and the one at Max was decent, not excellent. It fell flat while I was taking the photo, which is not too bad. Made from decadent Valhorna Chocolate, the souffle was not as light as I would have preferred. It was rich and had just the right balance of sweetness and bitterness and the latte ice cream was decadent and the contrasting temperature in this dish alone was astounding. Scalding fresh and hot souffle, cool fruits and ice cold ice cream.
The lovely yet frugal RM22 set lunches are still available at Max. But I just had to order a la carte that day to try their menu out. My post about Max's set lunch here.
Lot No. 32 Jalan Jati
Off Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel. No: +6.03.21.42.97.20