Friday, October 29, 2010

Love is Like a Ball and Chain.

(no pork served)

Carpaccio of Hamachi with Uni and Truffle Shoyu, a decadently beautiful treat that is indescribably beautiful and rich in flavour. It was love at first sight.

We live in perilous times. Modernity has brought many technological advancements, some of which are used incredibly to prolong and improve our quality of life. Unfortunately it has also brought in untold horrors as the technology is being harvested to maim and kill. Look around us. Death, destruction and chaos is almost part of everyday living, we live in fear of being robbed, being involved in an accident, we shock ourselves by following the news and witness the destruction of sanity as this evil pestilence called modern living invades the earth.

Love is the new opiate for the masses. We are made to yearn for the new nirvana called love or more specifically, Eros or erotic love, often touted as a state of complete happiness and bliss. Love sells more than ever before and we are peddled with saccharine laced dope from the music industry, from the publishing industry and also the movie and broadcasting industry. We need our little vials of "love" heroin to numb us from the harsh realities of life while the dictators and despots continue with their plundering, the violent criminals kill and maim and greedy corporations rape the earth and people.

Our little love Prozac is our cocoon. Our protective mantra. As we go through the day, sickly sweet bubble gum tunes flood the airwaves singing about love, we watch telenovelas and movies. We are assaulted by ditzy bimbos enhanced surgically and digitally with their perfectly chiseled manbos with ripped six packs who peddle love in every form and every way.

Boston Lobster Cold Royale with Abalone and Avruga. A Chawan Mushi like creation that makes you forget about kissing and stinky breaths once it touches your lips. Beautiful subtle flavours and love inducing texture.

Being in Love should be classified as a temporary Psychiatric disorder. Love is delusional. We often make our objects of affection to be larger than life, we ignore their weakness and enhance their positive traits however minute they are. We paint ourselves a rosy, robust picture of our partners and in a delusional state, imagine them to be the ultimate and desirable object of affection. When things don't work out, we begin to blame ourselves. We look for answers. We turn to our friends for advice. We buy self help books, we watch Oprah. We resort to the media for answers.

Love is a big industry, love is manipulated by media, love is used to sell products. Buy your girl a diamond ring and she is yours forever, your slave, your confidante. Bring her for a holiday and she will love you and adulate you, shagging in a five star hotel in a faraway place is the panacea for worn out love. Spritz some perfume and you will be sophisticated and sultry like Kate Moss and get your man.

While we fail to see that we were delusional in the first place. Who we love is just a mirage or an expectation that we conjure out of a delusional desire to love somebody, an unrealistic expectation that can never be fulfilled.

Hokkaido Scallops and Angellini Pasta. Soothing creamy comfort with chewy scallops. Warms the heart and soul more than insipid and tacky love notes does.

Love is irrational. The very premise of Love is irrational. Two total strangers meeting up and end up caring so much for each other that they are inseparable. Totally besotted with each other in sickness and in health, still loving and horny even though plagued with wrinkles and sagging butts plus some infidelity and lots of screaming matches thrown in for some added pain before death does the final parting.

Speaking of irrationality, we can throw in sex as well. The benevolent sentient omnipotent being that created us must be laughing his head off, when he created sex as a means of procreation and also a physical display of love and affection.

Squid Ink Tortellini with Crayfish. A remarkable pasta that made me forget about not having anyone to love. It makes first love unmemorable.

The previous century or so has seen an abnormal proliferation of mediocrity in music, literature and preforming arts. The proliferation of technology has assailed us with banality and contrived notions of what love is and should be. It has taken away the deep pain and the extreme moroseness that failed love can unleash on weakened spirits. The tragedy of love is glossed over and trivialized in the idealized version of love that Hollywood attempts to peddle.

Can one ever recover from the scars of failed love?

Hollywood likes to think so, but classical composers and librettists think otherwise. Cio Cio San, who was jilted by Captain Pinkerton sought death as the way out of her predicament of having a failed love and a child. Isolde died of grief slumped over Tristan's body after he was killed. The horrors of tragic love were paraded night after night in opera houses all over the world, while pop has sanitized love.




If you have got a good internet connection, check out the scene that leaves me watery eyed each time I hear it. (This version by Yin Huang is not the best, but the libretto had been subtitled in English. I personally love Mirella Freni and Scotto's version. Callas was too distracting as she tried too hard to imitate the voice of a teenager and Tebaldi was over dramatic with her impromptu sobs and wails. Buzz me if you want any of the CDs.)

Love kills, love hurts. Love does not guarantee a happy ending.

Chicken Confit and Braised Chicken with Mushrooms and Wine Jus. Why stick with one when you can have a menage a trois?

Women had been portrayed as the victim of Tragic Love in Classical Opera. Undoubtedly women has a more complex psyche than men. I was astounded when a female friend told me that making love with her husband felt like digging her nose with a toe after they fell out of love. Thank goodness men do not have the same problem. It takes a whole lot less to get a men off. No hunting for obscure G spots. You do not need a flashing red light with whistles and sirens to tell you where a man's G spot is.

Does the complex psyche of women make them more susceptible to the perils of failed relationships?

I don't know, and I do not pretend that I know the answer. If women came with a manual, it will probably help.

Mango Feullantine with Cointreau Foam and Ice Cream. Lushy comfort, better than resting on bosoms.

I am a bastard when it comes to intimate relationships. I wold prefer to have mine frozen and readily thawed when needed. There is too much to distract me. I probably suffer from some form of ADD, I am able to function at work just for the sake of economic necessity. Bills need to be paid, and Android need fine dining. Throw me in a relationship and all the conditioning I received from reading obscure books and listening to doomed relationships comes into play and I shut out any form of intimacy. I have had many relationships in the past, but there was never one that I was completely honest in, where I was completely myself.

My break ups were never as dramatic as those portrayed in a TVB serial. Many years ago, I attempted to recreate a scene I learned from a TVB movie by bringing six cans of beer not to the pier of Hong Kong harbour, but to a beach. I wanted to shout in grief, but couldn't and after two cans of beer, I remembered I had to work early the next day and proceeded back home to sleep. That was as much drama I could handle from being dumped.

Sous Vide of Berries with Caramel Ice Cream. It is easier to propose to this as it will guarantee to satisfy you forever.

Over the years, things have not changed much. Two months ago, I broke up from a six year old on and off relationship. We met infrequently to suit my annoyance of having somebody on my back all the time. Probably this time I over did the freezing part and forgot I had some meat in the freezer. I was to engrossed with work and my books and she was too engrossed with her work and herself. It was an amicable parting, we both knew that it never meant anything more than what it was and it was drama free.

I have been persistently asked what my favourite loves song is. It is Ball and Chain, by Janis Joplin. With her 3 octave range voice which can change from a maniacal shriek to the pleading of a child within a second, she was the real blues/rock star.

She sings about love being unfair, she sings about the pain brought upon by the person she loves. She questions herself if all of it was in vain.

This is LOVE 101. The real mantra that should be chanted before any sex education class.





Listen to it and see if it sends a chill to your spine and make your hairs stand on their ends. Listen to it and decry the sugary sweet pop.
Love is painful. Breaking up cannot be danceable like Leona Lewis singing "Bleeding Love".

If you want to take the chance, fall in love and rush into where angels fear to tread. Angels are sexless (asexual/genderless) anyway. But be prepared for the emotional turmoil that comes with it. I am sure one day, you will be rewarded amply by your persistence.

My wedding chapel

For emotional fuckwits like me, I will remain enclosed and warped with my knowledge that love hurts bad and if I give in to it, I will be burnt. I am just not hardwired for Love. I can be a good friend to have some intellectual discourse, I can be a good listener and look at your problems objectively and maybe offer some limp advice on relationships, a good brother and perhaps a good son.

I will never be able to be a good husband. I am just too engrossed with myself to share. The downside of it is the constant barrage of trashy love songs and well meaning friends reminding me how emotionally challenged I am. Thank goodness I can still find solace in food, with the companionship and pleasure it offers, a pleasure as base and unchalleging as a relationship based on shagging can offer.

I do like some intimacy of occasional companionship, but the pressure from a Hachiko waiting for me at the station everyday will drive me bonkers. Sex is pleasurable but comes with too much emotional bondage.

For the time being, "A Shag? Frankly, my dear, I would prefer a cup of tea".

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"2 Star" Michelin Dinner. Christopher Coutanceau at Senses, Hilton KL.

(no pork served)

Gosset Champagne. The Star of the Dinner.

The Chef of Cuisine from Restaurant Richard et Christopher Coutanceau (a 2 star Michelin rated restaurant belonging to the Relais & Châteaux group in La Rochelle) was in KL for three days recently to cook up a storm as part of the MIGF. Unfortunately, what we got was a few drops of rain, lots of haze and no sunshine.

The Hilarious/Humorous Bouche

The amuse bouche was a very imaginative mushroom with mushroom and mushroom in mushroom sauce combination. Chantarelle, Morels and Trumpet mushroom with mushroom sauce. Surprisingly, this was the best dish through out the evening. I would have preferred it to be renamed hilarious bouche. Or a humorous bouche. I really needed a lot of sense of humor to get through dinner.

Grilled Foie Gras with Candied Mandarin and Mandarin Sorbet

The Foie had the consistency of liver and tasted like liver. Efforts to distract me with a super sugary piece of caramel and sweet candied Mandarin drove me deeper into melancholy. The least offensive on the plate was the superb Mandarin Sorbet which tasted better than what they offered for dessert.

Brittany Lobster Stew with Baby Vegetables and Mushroom Ravioli

The lobster was flown in fresh, but was probably very nervous during it's turbulent maiden flight. The meat was tough and rubbery due to the stress, although the flavour was good. The dish was served with baby vegetables in a "golden shower" of light and bland buttery sauce with mushroom ravioli topped with a booger sized piece of redundant gnocchi.

Squab Pigeon With Cabbage Leaves and Foie Gras, Seasonal Vegetable Casserole with Truffle Juice

The Pigeons probably did not drink enough water while flying to Malaysia and Mr. Goose did not heed it's Hepatologist's advice to cut down alcohol and hence developed cirrhosis. Mr. Pigeon's thighs got a massage before being fried, and was rewarded by a better consistency. I was glad to share the pigeon which tried covering it's inadequacies by hiding inside some Savoy Cabbage, suffocated by foie.

French Sea Bass, Cucumber Cannelloni, Parsley and Avocado, Shaved Fennel and Ginger

Being the fiend that I am, I opted not to share my dining companion's burden when she offered me some fish. The age of chivalry has died a long time ago.

Pineapple Ravioli, Filled with Pineapple Ice Cream and Lychee, Rum and Raisins Ice Cream, Fresh Mint Jelly and Slivers of Candied Pineapple

The dessert was mercifully devoid of any mushroom, truffles or fungi. The sensation of biting into the Pineapple Ravioli was rather unique. I doubt any fine dining restaurants are able to reproduce the sensation of biting into a thinly sliced pineapple wrapped around some shaved ice. Masochists will love it.

2 Beauties

I have chosen not to be my usual vitriolic and caustic self because of the following factors.

1. The Chef (Coutanceau) was cooking in an unfamiliar kitchen
2. The Resident Chef was away at Shanghai and could not have guided his guest
3. The Guest Chef was probably jet lagged and tired
4. The beautiful and attentive service at Senses
5. The table next to mine already berated the Chef when he went around after the dinner

My favourite

The real stars of the dinner were my dining companions and the excellent Gosset Champagnes, especially the 1998 Gosset Celebris Brut. Copious amounts were downed because it tasted excellent and I needed something to numb my shock.

The price of the dinner was RM 598 and probably worth your bucks if you like champagne as Gossets are not cheap and it was free flow.

The reason for this post is to remind myself that it is probably wiser to ask if the resident chef would be there as well if I am contemplating a dinner by a guest chef.

Retrospectively, I could have gotten the same kick by buying some Gosset and ordering in some fried chicken at home. But then, I would not have been able to boast about having a dinner cooked by a chef from a 2 star Michelin restaurant.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Dim Sum Memories Part 1. Elegant Inn, Menara Hup Seng, KL.

(non halal)

Bean Curd Roll with Home Made Abalone Sauce

I have to admit that I am not a connoisseur of Chinese Food, especially when it comes to dim sum. This little bit of contemptible confession in the confessional booth of gastronomic perdition was in fact due to the minimal exposure I had as a child to this exquisite Cantonese feast. The nearest place for me to have dim sum during my childhood years was a grease stained little restaurant that served the most horrid concoction of meat and flour that the owners try to pass off as dim sum. Dingy and decrepit, the place smelled of lard that has fossilized into the wooden walls. Cleaning of the eating utensils with a pot of hot water was mandatory and not a ritual.

Steamed Australian Scallop Dumpling

Their dim sum was hard clumps of meat with questionable freshness, mixed with clumps of lard and wrapped in tough leathery lye. I could imagine using the Siew Mai as bullets for skeet shooting, if not for the fact that it will smell rancid once it was not consumed within a 10 minute period after being fished out from the small little bamboo baskets that were used to steam it. Saunaed lumps of unpalatable smelly pork and lard was my childhood impression of what Siew Mai was.

Steamed BBQ Pork Bun. (Char Siew Bao)

Not that the steamed flour dumplings or Baos fared any better. The dough was invariably wet from the condensation of water, it turns into a gooey sticky clump of insipid mess in the mouth, flavoured with a 90 percent lard filling that was over zealously flavoured with MSG.

Dirty, greasy, smelly restaurant with awful food scarred me for life and cursed me with an aversion for pork. I did not need any psycho analyst to come up with the source of my Freudian childhood conflicts.

Home Made Fish Balls

When I was studying in KL, my occasional forays into dim sum joints (usually dragged by well meaning friends who were curious about my dislike for anything porky) did not fare any better. Same food, swankier joint. I piled copious amounts of sweet sauce and chilli onto the disagreeable bits of meat to hide their foul taste.

Fried Beancurd Roll with Shrimp and Cheese

Years later found me in Hong Kong and I decided to meet my friend who was lecturing at HKU, and he suggested meeting up for breakfast near where he was working. I was told to meet him at the Sai Ying Pun tram stop, and he asked me whether I have had any Dim Sum in Hong Kong yet. My heart sank. I wanted to lie and say yes, because i know where he will invariably lead me to. But I was curious to know why in this densely populated city where everybody is a food critic, is there an obsession with what I thought to be the vilest in Chinese Cuisine?

Xiao Long Bao

My heart sank after walking a couple of minutes and reached a small little greasy restaurant, with an all Chinese menu. I could imagine the Gay team from "Queer eye for the straight guy" fainting at the sight of the green slimy tiles from the 60's. Furniture and fittings run on a theme of mix and mismatch from a junkyard sale. I was seized by the terror of having to relive the misery of being tormented by balls of lard in a dirty, greasy restaurant that I endured as a child. I seriously questioned my friend's sanity for inviting me to dine in what I perceived as squalor.

Crispy Vegetarian Rice Roll

My friend was obviously a regular there. The waiter took his order while engaging my friend in banter, joking with him and teasing him. In a few minutes the food arrived. Whatever apprehension I had faded when I took a bite of the har gao or prawn dumplings (being apprehensive of pork). The pieces of the most perfect al dente succulent prawns wrapped in light starch were absolutely delectable. No sauces were served because none was needed. The taste was that pure. The Siew Mai was still porky, but soft and juicy without being lardy and came anointed with some roe on top. A bevy of other dishes followed, all equally impressive.

Old Fashioned Prawn Toast

Sam Hui Yad, located at Pok Fu Lam Road was the first place I had truly enjoyed dim sum, the place where my heart was touched for the very first time like Madonna's Virgin. Coincidentally, Dim Sum in Cantonese means touching the heart.

Watercress Gao Zhi

Forward a couple of years latter, I had some trysts in KL, where there a lot of restaurants serving Dim Sum with the growing sophistication of local palate. Unfortunately, I was like a Mad Fool trying to rediscover the beauty of his first love in whore houses. The Dim served was within the range of appalling to barely passable with an average of mediocre. The Dim Sum lacked an important ingredient. Passion. They served Dim Sum out of an obligation to earn some lunch time cash, while their minds were distracted, maybe by large wedding dinners or lavish corporate functions.

Secret Dish... :p Will be reviewed in another post. The noodle from the basket was sourced from Bentong

I was naturally a bit reserved when I received an invitation from Marian to dine with Jeanette, one of the co-owners of Elegant Inn. I do recall having had their Hairy Crabs with some Dim Sum over there last year, but was too satiated to remember how the dim sum was. Jeanette is a walking encyclopaedia of Cantonese Cuisine and travels to Hong Kong monthly to source the Dried Seafood produce used in her restaurant.

If there is one thing that has been drummed into me by my friend in Hong Kong, good food requires good ingredients and exacting techniques. Jeanette even sources her wet produce from Bentong just to get the right flavour.

Glutinous Rice Package with Dried Scallops and Duck

Lunch was long, and as the small petite bamboo baskets waltzed in, Jeanette animatedly explained how this tiny morsels of delectable delicacy was made, and how the Chef was used as a conduit for her passion for good Dim Sum. She purposely omitted Siew Mai and Har Gao from the menu in order to allow us to sample the more exotic creations.

Deep Fried Taro Pouch

I will not go through the tedium of running through every dish that was sampled that day, but I was impressed by how the natural flavours of each dish was coaxed out just by the virtue of using the right ingredients. The fishballs were made from Mackerel and contained minimal amounts of flour making each bite a flavourful delight. The steamed scallop dumpling provided a new insight into the flavours that can be obtained just by sourcing the scallops from a different place. In this instance, they used scallops from Australia which were juicier and provided a beautiful bouncy bite that the slightly thicker skin that was used to cover the dumpling was overlooked.

Stuffed Tau Foo Pok

The dough that was used in the flour covering of the steamed bun or Bao was amazingly fluffy and light.

Although the covering of the Xiao Long Bao was slightly too thick in this instance, it hid a deliciously flavourful broth inside and was served at the perfect temperature.

The humble Bean Curd roll was given a royal make over when it was served with the most luscious Home Made Abalone Sauce which made each morsel a very indulgent treat.

Two extra dishes were brought out of the kitchen just to illustrate how the use of the proper ingredients added a different gastronomic dimension to the dishes. The stuffed Tau Foo Pok which used Tau Foo Pok from Bentong was more robust than it's city cousins as the Bean Curd was thicker and was able to absorb more flavours. The Steamed watercress dumpling (Gao Zhi) was lighter when compared to their cousins from the North.

Chandelier

Perennial favourites like the Nor Mai Gai ((Steamed Glutinous Packages) was given a new twist by using duck meat and salted egg yolks, which I thought was rather brilliant. They were served wrapped in steaming hot lotus leaves.

The humble Cheong Fun was reincarnated was a crispy vegetable roll by using it as a wrap for some deep fried vegetables in a light tempura batter.

I was extremely impressed with the frying technique at Elegant Inn. It was perfect. How the Prawn toast was fried to perfection without any trace of oil in the bread was an eye opener.

The Deep fried taro pouches were absolutely crunchy and not bogged in lard. You can see from the photo that some parts of the batter was as thin as hair.

Geoduck at the aquarium in from of the restaurant

It was definitely one of the best dim sum meal I have ever had in KL. The Dim Sum there was prepared with an astonishing zeal for authenticity and passion that reverberated in each small little plate of savoury morsels that has it origins in Southern China.

Thank you, Marian for the invitation and Jeanette for hosting. Also warm hugs to Boo, Ciki, Chris (Hi!), Aly and Michael for being such wonderful dining companions.

Note: The desserts will be posted at a later date.

Elegant Inn
2.01, 2nd Floor, Podium Block,
Menara Hap Seng,
Jalan P.Ramlee,
50250 Kuala Lumpur

Tel: +6.03.20.70.93.99


Disclaimer: This was an invited event. The invitation was made with the understanding that the Blogger maintains full discretion on what to post and there was no inducement in the form of cash or gifts for a favourable review.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Symphony of Flavours. Nathalie's Gourmet Studio, Solaris Dutamas, KL.

(no pork served)

Salmon Tataki, Cereliac Puree and Truffle Oil

Imagine your mouth filled with a spoonful of the most heavenly Cereliac Puree, wonderfully fragrant yet slightly earthy and vegetal, light and pure, not overtly green nor overpoweringly pungent, with a slight starchiness. You ask the Manager, what's the secret?

Roasted Celery.

You nod, and slowly work your way down into the cubed bits of Salmon, drizzled with Truffle Oil. Slices of crunchy Daikon Radish to balance out the beautifully clean flavour and texture of this very untraditional rendition of the Tataki. You smile and think. So simple yet so delicious. The sea meets the land with a rapturous sigh of pleasure.

Morel and Chicken Timbale, Morel Emulsion

Nathalie's menu rotates monthly with 5 starters, mains and dessert. Yet the menu is so diverse and inspired that it is breathtaking. The cooking techniques are faultless and the plating is simple. The Chicken and Morel Timbale looks like a feat of engineering marvel, with vertically assembled Penne lining the succulent baked chicken topped with Morel Mushrooms. The ensemble came steeped in frothy, earthy morel emulsion that made each mouthful a pure indulgence and a celebration of the earthiness of this mushroom.

Citrus Scallop Carpaccio, Mesclun and Citrus Dressing

The soft and slithery scallop carpaccio came adorned with the usual salad greens and avocado and crowned with some crisp fried julliened ginger. The grapefruit based dressing was sourish and tangy. It was a wonderfully refreshing salad.

Revised Bouillabaisse

Nathalie used Haddock or églefin in her Revised Bouillabaisse that was marvelously smokey and infused with generous amounts of Saffron. The interesting thing about this soup was it was served with bread topped with Rouille Sauce, which is popular in Provencal cooking but I have never encountered in KL before. Despited the "revision", the Bouillabaisse did not stray too far from it's heart in the South of France.

King Prawn Lasagna, Zucchini done 2 ways, Bisque

It is always a pleasure to dine at Nathalie's because of the beautiful touches and the slight whimsical sense of humour that gives the dishes so much personality without resorting to theatrics. The King Prawns Lasagna with two large perfectly grilled and aromatic prawns sitting resplendently on top of 3 layers of Lasagna, with some zucchini and tomato in between one of the layers, and some chives in another. The bisque sauce that cloaked the Lasagna was an inspiration, lightly creamy yet intensely flavoured. The flavour lingered on in the palate like a long lost kiss from a forgotten lover.

Stuffed Cabbage

The Stuffed Cabbage with Beef, Chicken and Parmesan swimming in Herbal and Chicken Broth was a worthy homage to the rustic, austere and mountainous Auvergne region in Central France. The meat was densely packed and richly flavoured, and the serving has huge.

When it comes to desserts, be prepared for some of the most pleasurable and indulgent treats this side of the world. Nathalie does not fail to deliver and deserves to be named the Goddess of Desserts. The flavours are usually intense, gorgeous and multi-dimensional.

Roasted Pineapple Tart

The roasted pineapple tart was served with an extraordinary dollop of pineapple sorbet and crowned with a paper thin slice of oven dried/roasted pineapple. Sweet, crisp and tart and bursting with beautiful tropical flavours, it was magnificent.

Citrus Craquant

The Citrus Craquant hid some beautiful Grapefruit Sorbet inside it's cripsy cracker like exterior. Bit's of grapefruit and orange lined the bottom and it was topped with orange sorbet and a thin slice of crispy oven dried lemon. There is a light tinge of bitterness to this that drove me to a frenzy. I must go back soon to taste the rest of their desserts which sounds tempting, especially the Caramel Mousse, Roasted Banana with Morels and Balsamic Caramel Sauce which I am sure will be ecstatic. I have decided to post earlier without completing the menu because the current menu will end in 2 week's time!

Updated! The Caramel Mousse, Roasted Banana with Morels and Balsamic Caramel Sauce. It was ecstatic.

Nathalie has been nominated as one of the contenders for the best Chef in the Time Out KL food awards 2010. You can cast your votes here.

Be prepared to pay about RM120-RM150 for lunch. For detailed menu and pricing, please visit Nomad Gourmand's site here.

Nathalie’s Gourmet Studio
A-4-1-5 Dutamas Solaris
Jalan Dutamas
50490 Kuala Lumpur

Tel: +6.03.62.07.95.72

Monday, October 11, 2010

Life on a Plate. Gu Yue Tien, Chulan Square, KL.

(non halal)

Salmon Roll with Onion Crabs

Humans differ from animals in many ways, and one of the differentiating factor is our ability to understand that our time here on earth is not permanent. One day, somehow, despite our bests efforts to prolong our stay here in this material world, we will encounter the implacable condition known as death. The desire to prolong our stay in this temporal world is constantly at the back of our minds, reflected by our daily activities. Exercising to stay healthy, working hard in order to save up for old age, applying inches of cream on our faces at night. Anything to delay the ravages that the march of time brings onto our body and with it decay and ultimately, death.

Iberico Ham wrapped around Rock Melon with Avruga Caviar

Even the rituals that we etch into our daily routine, for some, it is the consolation of prayers or abstinence from certain food as a preparation for death, a resolute self affirmation that life exists beyond death. Rituals that we follow for a non altruistic purpose of being rewarded by a happier existence after death. For other who do not believe in a Supernatural being, we plough books on Philosophy and Science and arm ourselves with enough ammunition in order to intellectualize the inevitable.

Despite living in conscious fear of impending finality, the subject of Death is always kept a Taboo, as if by not speaking or discussing about it, we can avoid it.

Momo Duck Roll

I am not sure if any of you read Kafka's "The Trial". The novel describes a gentleman, Joseph K., who was arrested on unspecified charges, put on trial which was presided by a Judge who had a zero percent acquital rate. Joseph K. was subjected to a ridiculous and farcical trial process which finally ended with Joseph executed on the last day of his 30th year, still not knowing what the charges against him were. It was a disconcerting read that left me troubled for a few days, but I couldn't help thinking about how well the absurdity of human existence being was described in it's essence in a tiny little unfinished novel. I last read it more than 15 years ago, and as much as I loved it, I could not bring myself to read it again and confront the frustrations and the despondency of being human entails.

GYT Soft Boiled Egg with Foie Gras

It does make sense however, that some form of escapism offered by Art is welcome, to distract us from the anxiety of facing the inevitable unknown. Art, for non philosophers could defined as an artifact that evokes a sensori-emotional response. This would be a gross over simplification of the definition of Art. In Malaysia, the closest encounters with anything that can be defined as Art would be Movies, Books and Food.

GYT Soft Boiled Egg with Foie Gras

I have audaciously included Food as Art, because to me, it is the most accessible form of art. It does evoke very strong emotional responses from the sensory stimulation. A good meal stimulates gasps, smiles of approval and even laughter and a strong desire to prolong the intense sensory pleasures that good food provokes. Food is Art on a plate, right from the preparation to plating. Extraordinary food not only stimulates the visual, gustatory, olfactory and tactile senses, it stimulates the intellect as well.

Double Boiled Gold Coin Shark's Fin Soup with Chin Hua Ham and Cabbage

Art has been described as a process of destruction, or more precisely, the destruction of similarity of things or the sameness of things. Sameness sells, it comes with the comfort of conformity to what the market requires or the set opinion of the masses and historical verification of the response of the market. It takes gut and vision to escape from the blandness of being similar. If total disbandment of similarity is a characteristic of great Art, then Chef Frankie from Gu Yue Tien had created a couple of Masterpieces from his set menu.

Double Boiled Pig Stomach Soup with Gold Coin Shark's Fin. I am not fond of Pig Stomach, but am pretty sure fans will find comfort in this soup.

The first thing that you notice about the destruction of similarity in his food is actually in the plating, which is decidedly Western. Although his cold starters of Iberico Ham wrapped in rock melon and his Smoked Salmon and Onion Crab Roll although visually appealing and full of the right flavours, it does not hit me as particularly ground breaking. It was just some western dishes in a chinese restaurant.

The Momo Duck Roll however, was a wonderful gustatory experience of biting into a piece of smoked duck, pickled cucumber, sourish mango, spring onion rolled into a flour crepe with some savoury and smokey duck sauce and Mustard. The resulting Melange of flavours and textural contrasts is nothing short of amazing.

Oven Backed Honey Glazed Black Cod

Chef Frankie's break from conventionality not only lies in the plating of the food, but also in his deconstruction of certain ingredients associated traditionally with Western Cuisine. His Gu Yue Tien Soft Boiled Egg with Foie Gras is a revelation. Adding some Foie to a perfectly boiled Egg was something so simple and yet effective. The resulting decadent emulsion is a deluge of rich flavours that flooded the palate and left a satisfied smile on my face.

Crispy Soft Shelled Crab with Pumpkin Mousseline

The meal was not without fault. The Shark's Fins used were small and inferior, perhaps due to the pricing of the Degustation Menu which was set at RM99. The Ching Hua Ham which was used to salt the double boiled broth was too conspicuous and resolute and over powered the subtle soup. Again, there was also an over zealous glazing of the Cod which resulted in the delicate flavours of the Cod being lost.

Deep Fried Spare Rib Confit with Hoi Sin Sauce

The Soft Shell Crab was perfectly fried with minimal traces of Oil, that almost had me popping open a champagne in joy as it is usually mushy and bogged with oil elsewhere. The beef had been sampled in a previous review of GYT.

Being not a big fan of Pork, I was taken back with the delicious flavours that greeted me from the Confit of Pork Ribs. The meat was crumbling off the bone and had a very delicate flavour of Chinese Herbs that went deliciously well with the Hoi Seen sauce. It was astounding as I found the pork to be absolutely delicious which is a rarity.

Desserts were not heart stopping impressive, just some amazingly good Almond Tea that was grounded in house and some Chilled Mango and Pomelo.

Pan Fried Australian Beef Tenderloin with Mushroom Sauce

In most other Art forms (with the possible exception of paintings), Tragedies are the ones that makes a lasting impression on our minds. Heart breaking songs, tear jerking movies and books about the horrid ravages that the human condition inflict on us are the ones that get the most attention from us. Humans are usually abnormally fixated on Tragedy, especially when it involves others and not us.

Fortunately, good food evokes the other spectrum of emotions. That makes us all thankful that there are people like Chef Frankie to excite us, to tantalize us and make us ogle at his dishes, his little pieces of art on plates. Even his little degustation menu offers a glimpse of our short journey of life, from creation (the use of roe and eggs) to old age (meat cured in herbs) and the disappointment and monotony of the less inspiring dishes, the tedium of life that invariably plagues all of us at some point or another.

One may detect some slight complacency such as his use of Pumpkin Mousseline/Puree in his dishes, and the menu may not be rotated as frequently as it should be. His culinary creations may lack the intellectual depth of Blumenthal, but the sheer vivacity of the kaleidoscope of flavours and textures of his culinary creation and his brazen yet admirably effective disregard for what defines and and yet confines Chinese Cuisine demands some attention.

Gu Yue Tien
Lot 5A, Chulan Square
Jalan Raja Chulan
Kuala Lumpur 50200

Tel: +6.03.21.48.08.08

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Unless stated otherwise, all the posts and food here is paid for by the Paranoid Android. He dose not receive any financial compensation for posting in this blog. The views expressed here are an opinion and as usual, taste is subjective and varies among people, time and mood as well! Please feel free to contact me at humanist dot philo at gmail dot com. Unless otherwise stated, the photos here belong to the owner of this blog. You are free to use it for any non commercial purpose. As courtesy, just drop me an email and credit the photo to the blog. Thanks for dropping by!

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