Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cheong Liew at Senses 5th Anniversary, KL Hilton. Something Old, Something New. Something Borrowed, Nothing Blue.

(no pork served)

It is not easy
, the adaptation of Asian Tastes and Sensibilities and combining it with Western Cooking Technique and presentation. A lot of people have attempted it, many have failed. You cannot hide bad cooking with heavy sauces and beautifully presented dishes, more so with Asian styled cooking, where the emphasis is on the natural taste and freshness on the ingredients and the masterful blending of ingredients.

Cheong Liew is the face behind the Grange and had been recently been honoured with a lifetime achievement award by Restaurant an Catering, SA in view of his contribution to the food and beverage industry in Southern Australia. Quite and achievement for a Kuala Lumpur boy. It would not be difficult to see why Australians love Asian inspired fusion cuisine, being a virtual cultural melting pot for so many different ethnic groups from all over the world. Accolades include one of the 10 hottest chefs alive from the American Food And Wine Magazine and Medal of the Order of Australia.

Clockwise from top left: 1. The amazingly energetic Cheong Liew explaining the dishes he created 2. Dominic Versace 3. Michael Elfwing 4. Cheong Liew

Cheong Liew was back in Malaysia recently for the Fifth Anniversary celebration of Senses Restaurant. He was both modest and affable and I had the pleasure to chat with him before and after dinner where he filled me with little anecdotes on his travels, the changes in KL and the Australian food scene plus about his childhood in Malaysia.

"For example, a mother’s job was traditionally not only to cook but to think about the family’s health – ‘my son has a cough, my husband is working hard, the sun is hot’. So she will come up with dishes that will fit each person’s needs. Whether Indian or Chinese, it’s part of the culture of Asia." - Chef Cheng Liew, interview with Sumptious.

It was a wine pairing dinner with Dominic Versace, but I would not be mentioning the wines much, as they failed to impress me. Typical South Australian Fruit bombs which can be very attractive and seductive if you are into that sort of wine. Unfortunately it lacks the complexity and the depth that I normally look for. Only 2 mentions, the 2009 Rossini Rosso is fresh and light and would be ideal as a picnic wine and this Rose is made from Sangiovesse. And the unvintaged Premium Sparkling Shiraz which would make a great party wine with lots of berries and cassis on the nose with moderate longevity on the palate. Better than the Lumbruscos.

Senses Sea Dance: Saffron Gin Kingfish, Drunken Prawns and Oyster, Boston Bay Mussel Jelly.

Senses is part of the KL Hilton Studio Restaurants and is currently headed by a young Australian Chef, Michael Elfwing. It features contemporary Australian cuisine and is still being overseen by Cheong Liew. Throughout the meal, flashes of brilliance were evident and there is no disputing that Cheong Liew is a very clever chef. Chinese cuisine is deconstructed to it's essence which shows a remarkbable understanding of Chinese Cooking Technique and Philosophy and resurrected as again, married beautifully with perfect western cooking techniques. Take for instance, the starter. Those of us who have had Chinese dinners before would be familiar with the Chinese cold plate starter, which is not dissimilar to what we had. The drunken Prawns were marinated in Shoaxing and the cereliac provided it with an interesting twist. Intead of cold chicken jelly, we had Boston Bay Mussel Jelly and a light salad and Sashimi styled Kingfish marinated in Saffron and Gin.

Truffled Scallop Chicken Wings, Dried Octopus Custard with Wild Game Consomme

Each time a new dish is served, Chef Cheong will come over to our table and explain the intricacies involved in creating the dish of which we can see his brilliance. De-boned chicken wings, stuffed with scallop and minced chicken meat and scattered with truffles, tofu smooth soya bean jelly, with shredded dried octopus inside and smoky Venison Consomme, cleared with lobster. A perfect blend of tastes, smokiness blended with the taste of ocean.

We’re always in search of experience. In the whole cuisine of Malaysia, not one dish is fixed in one culture. One dish can have Malay, Indian, Chinese influence, sometimes even Portuguese or Dutch influence. This is how original cuisines evolve. Even 600 years ago in Europe, Paris-style food evolved from a mix of many different cultures. - Cheong Liew, Interview with Sumptous.

Patagonian ToothFish, Black Fish sausage, Snow Pea Prawn, Cuttlefish Rice

However, the union of east and west is not perfect and may result in a discordant, jarring cadence. This dish is heavily influenced by Mediterranean Cuisine. Squid Ink coloured the sausage skin with fish paste, Spanish equivalent of Carnaroli Rice Risotto with Aioli somehow or another did not result in a harmonious transcendence that I was hoping for.

Salt Baked Free Range Duck with Slow Cooked Abalone, Abalone Wakame Sauce

Farm grown Abalone was used and it was double boiled with scallops to give an illusion and taste of dried abalone. The duck was wrapped in a salt meringue before being baked, and although the skin was extremely salty, the resulting texture of the meat was perfectly tender and gamy, and tasted like smoke cured duck meat. Wakame seaweed was mixed with abalone blood to produce this rich tasting sauce and the accompanying broccoli and mushroom was tossed onto a bed of shredded dried scallops. Genius, I could hardly imagine that Cheong Liew started off his career as an Electrical Engineer.

Braised Wagyu Short Rib with Japanese Pumpkin Ricotta Ravioli

The Wagyu beef rib was braised to perfection with some Chinese Cardamom, and the texture was perfect and tender. The Pumpkin ravioli was dressed in some heavy Parmesan cheese and sweetish. The plain grilled wagyu loin eased the satiety of this dish a little, but I found this dish to be slightly too heavy.

Dessert Platter

Dessert Platter was some Cinnamon Ice Cream, Green Apple + Lime Jelly and a Mixed Fruit Loaf with Sago. It was not particularly inspiring.

An old wedding custom dictates that the bride should wear:

Something Old, Something New,
Something Borrowed, Something Blue

And with this marriage of East and West, all the requirements of were met, except nobody was blue after the meal. The only blue we saw was while paying the bill where we parted with quite a few blue coloured bills. This may not the the perfect marriage, but as with any cross cultural relationship, there was a lot of effort made to understand each another, respecting the traditions of each other and not to dominate, but to co-exist in harmonious union.

The exquisite Iced Grand Marnier Souffle with Chocolate Sauce

It was certainly enlightening to be able to taste Cheong Liew's food and actually experience his ingenuity in the kitchen. Not only that, we had the pleasure of interacting with a very down to earth and friendly chef who actually lived up to the hype. The dinner was very intimate and we were awed by the hospitality and interaction from both Cheong Liew and Michael Elfwing. I had the opportunity to make some new friends and fellow foodies, and this was a great way to end the year 2009 and certainly one of the memorable meals this year.

The face behind "The Grange" will be leaving it and will be taking a sabbatical. I wish him all the best, and hope that he will be back to cook again in KL soon.

Merry Christmas, y'all, and Happy New Year 2010!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sage, Gardens MidValley, KL. Can Chef Daniel Hold The Fort?

(no pork served)

KL foodies were abuzz when news of Cilantro's soft opening at Micasa hit the streets and the million dollar question everyone was and is still asking now, what will happen to Sage? After all, the iconic Chef Takashi is almost synonymous with Sage, which draws both accolades and brickbats from KL foodies. Fans of Sage will go on and on about how innovative the French cuisine with a Japanese touch is, and detractors were put off by the pretentiousness and quirky results. I do not see what the fuss is all about, Ramsay started The Maze with Gallic-Asian fusion too, but the citizens in KL seem to be lapping the food up.

What usually is a quite place for me to do lunch previously has turned into a bustling hive with Tai-Tais and Gordon Geckos crowding up the place, with almost unbearable noise levels. Dinners on Fridays and Saturdays are impossible unless one books a week ahead.

So, how is the new Sage, post Takashi era? Can Daniel hold the fort? Well, Chef Takashi still overlooks the menu and there is an ongoing collaborative effort between the two Chefs. I was there for lunch and had their seafood, and back later for dinner for their poultry. And to me, there was no discernible difference, except the dishes seem to be more robust, rather than subtle.

The Mousseline of Sea Scallop with Crab Bisque came in a golden hue that tasted as good as it looked, and the bisque seemed to be more frangrant than usual and the whole dish was a treat for the senses with the creamy mousseline adding richness to the Bisque while playing with the perfect texture of the scallops.

The Almond Crusted Atlantic Cod came sitting on a bed of Porcini Mushroom which was wading it it's own Porcini sweat. This was supposed to be a new dish created by Chef Daniel. It was a fabulous play of textures again, with the crunchy, dry almond crust surrounding a piece of moist, perfectly cooked piece of Cod topped by the wonderfully aromatic broth.

And Dessert was the warm Chocolate Galette with Nougatine and Vanilla Ice cream.

As for the Dinner menu, there have been some revisions as well.

I tried their poultry for dinner, and the Confit of Duck Leg with Puy Lentlis and Olive as a starter was perfect. Beautifully smoky and gamy and tender, the condiments gave a Mediterranean zing to the duck. The dish was hearty and whet my appetite for the next course.

The Chapon came with two different cuts of meat, cooked in 2 different ways. The Thigh was grilled to perfection with a crispy skin (I usually hate chicken skin, but I devoured it with relish) and some steamed breast meat. The Morel Fricasse tossed onto the chicken was slightly sourish with shalots and some herbs (Tarragon) thrown into it which tempered down the satiety of the chicken skin. Inset is the amuse bouche.

The Almond Blanc Manger was silky smooth with a slightly bouncy consistency which came with a perfect Mango Sorbet. Beautifully light dessert for a late dinner.

Though I arrived at 10pm, the dining area was still almost full and the private dining room occupied. Will be back to try their red meats later.

Mid Valley Megamall seems to have taken up the Spirit of Christmas with a Harry Potteresque floating candles decoration. There seems to be an abundance of German Stollen cakes, available from Cold Storage. The Biscuit tin that houses some Chocolates and Gingerbread from Bahlsen looks like an open book. With all the Christmas Songs in the and so many beautiful decorations around KL, I am almost convinced that the world is a beautiful place filled with people bearing no ill will against each other... Until, I read the newspaper.

Ciao! And Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Mezze. Jalan Kasah, Damansara Heights, KL. Of Turning Chickens Into Butterflies

(non halal)

Another fancy term which means finger food or small plates of appetizers or tapas. For ages we have been trying to catch up with this great twitterer @minchow. Finally, after an exhaustive study of migratory pattern of twitting birds and radio tagging her (the findings will be Published in the ornithology journal later, and her migratory pattern involves between home, work and watering holes in the PJ/KL suburbs) we managed to pin her down and decided to check out Mezze, which has seen a lot of buzz among foodies recently. For a postionally challenged (Boo says it sounds rude) Android, still getting the hang of getting around KL, I scouted out the place in the afternoon so that I will be able to make it on time for dinner.

It seem that Mezze is rather easy to locate, because it is just next to Vintry, (which I have never dined in) and behind the venerable Victoria Station, an Icon of the KL dining scene. The menu is fairly limited, but very wittily categorized under Grazing (starters), Greedy (mains), Indulge (desserts) and Afternoon Quickie (lunchtime specials).

We had the board menu specials for starters.

The Grilled Pork Belly came together with some apples with cinnamon, which was rather Christmasy. Unfortunately, the skin of the belly was very very tough and took quite an effort to chew. Anyway, I am not a big fan of lard anyway which makes it all the easier to disregard this dish.

I usually get very embarrassed when my blog readers comment on my photography. I do not use any fancy equipment, and am too cheap to buy Adobe Photoshop, which costs about RM 1700. The photo above is the undoctored version, and the one below, after manipulating with GIMP, a GNU Imgae manipulation program, available free from For some really serious food porn, I have just discovered Lady Iron Chef's website.

The next dish was Sumac and Sichuan Fried Calamari, which all of us thought a weird combination. Sumac is usually used as an ingredient to add tartness to Middle eastern food such as kebabs, and some varieties may be poisonous. The calamari fritters though crunchy and light, came out too bland even when dipped into the aioli sauce.

For starters, I had the Barbecued Spatchcock Chicken. Now, the term spatchcock has got a very interesting history. I googled it, and guess what? It is probably Irish in origin and comes from a shortened "Dispatch Cock!", in other words, send the chicken in quickly. How do you do that? Well, the spine or backbone of the chicken is removed, and the chicken is flattened onto it's breast and the end result of it would look as if you were lying flat on your stomach, spreadeagled. This reduces the cooking time by increasing the surface area.

Guys, if you have been a good boy, your wife might whisper demurely in your ear, "Spatchcock?", which is distinctly different when you have been bad and she screams, "I'm gonna Spatchcock you!". The term describing a chicken, with no spine, it's legs permanently spread open waiting to be .... also reminds me of certain politicians. And to prove how non-partisan I am, from BOTH sides of the political divide.

Notice the picture above? That was the Spatchcock Chicken I got. The Drumsticks were touching the wings? That would be akin to lying spreadeagled on your belly and being able to tickle your armpits, which could only be possible if you were a contortionist, or had some really serious Yoga training, or if i just chopped you up and put your legs under your armpits. OK, OK, I'm just nitpicking here. The chicken was halved. So what? How was the chicken? Well, the skin was nice and had a very honeyed, smoky flavour but had over charred bits, but unfortunately the insides were not very well cooked. Kinda like the BBQ wings we did while camping during our school days. Of course, during that time our chicken was not served with aubergine salsa and potatoes. Joe from lotsofcravings seemed to have gotten the real deal from his photos here.

Next on the list was Ballotine of Lamb, which was marinated with tnagine spices. Probably the best dish of the night, the lamb cutlets were flavourful and tender, but the cous cous was way too bland, which was a pity. The above picture shows that if the photos were really badly taken in the first place, there is no way you can save an out of focus shot.

We also tried the Giusando Alicante, which was Saffron Broth, with Calamari, Mussels, Fish, Chorizo and Chilli. The soup was rather disappointing. It tasted like tomato soup, and did not impart any hay like flavour of Saffron. Neither were there any subtle hint of Pimento from the sausages. Compare this photo and the one posted on Aly's blog here. Now, be honest and tell me that there is no difference between dining there as an influential food blogger on an invited (free?) review and when you go there as ordinary folks and pay for the soup with your hard earned money.

Desserts were no longer on our minds and we just wanted to hurry out and go for desserts somewhere else (The Pressroom). To be really fair, the place had an a decent wine list, and the prices of the wine was reasonable. We paid 155 for a Prosecco. Dishes were also reasonable. 20's for the mains. The lamb was 42.

This post was not meant to insult the bloggers who went there, but the food you got and the food we got were not comparable, and I was just blogging about my SINGLE experience there. I already am a social outcast, and guys, please don't send me to have my meals at the Spratly's!

No. 132, Jalan Kasah, Medan Damansara
50490 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel: 03-20950122

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Bangsar Shopping Centre. A very pleasant transformation. The Pressroom at BSC, O Gourmet at BSC and WIP.

(no pork served)

Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Adha to all Muslim friends! Two exciting news to be shared this week. One is the opening of the O gourmet food hall at BSC. A really wonderful place, where you can get cakes from A Slice of Heaven, beautifully aromatic tea from Singapore's TWG tea , Nurnberger Stollen Christmas cake, Whisky Honey, etc... I was dizzy the moment I landed there.

One of the more interesting items would be Dominostein (or Dominosteine in plural) from Germany. This 3-layered gingerbread is a Christmas confection with a layer of sour apple jelly in between and coated with dark chocolate. The Lebkuchen (Gingerbread) tins that are sold in O gourmet comes in the form of music boxes and musical revolving merry-go-rounds as well.

Notice the Blanxart Dark Chocolate above? They come with Ginger and Rose Petals! Have yet to taste them, but the curry infused chocolate came highly recommended by Boo.

The Pressroom is another restaurant located at the Ground Floor, is part of the La Bodega chain. Alilfatmonkey happened to be around and we had the opportunity to dine together. The concept of the restaurant is Anglo-French cuisine, but the menu seemed to be very "Mediterranean" inspired.

For Starters, I had their White Asparagus with Ravioli. As everything was white, including the plate, I had to distort the colour of the photo a bit. The lack of colour was made up by the Beautifully prepared Egg Ravioli with a creamy taste and perfect texture. The Asparagus was served with some sour cream sauce as well.

For Mains, I had the Saffron infused Linguine, with seared scallops, artichoke and black truffle oil. This was another beautiful pasta and the Saffron imparted a beautiful hay like flavour to the slightly bitter and spicy pasta. The perfect Linguine with a beautiful yellow hue imparted from the Saffron.

John was still stuffed from breakfast, and just had desserts. His apple strudel did not come in the expected light, fluffy crust, but the filling was still beautifully spiced up with Cinnamon. I had the Pineapple tart Tartin. The Puff pastry was rather tough and leather, but the filling was great, with the right mix of sweetness and sourness flavoured with ?anise. The Food here was interesting, and the dining atmosphere beautiful. I went there to check it out again fro dinner, but the kitchen was closed due to some technical problems. Too bad, but I will definitely go back and try out other items in their menu.

Another place you may like to check out would be WIP. Initially known as Work In Progress, it has been renamed Whipped In Place. Clever. Brought to you by the same people who run Souled out and 7ate9. It is located just next to the Pressroom.

The photos were taken with my phone. The Mango Avocado Salad was very bland. The Portobello Mushroom that came with the chicken burger was beautifully grilled and still moist inside, but the burger pattie was just too salty. The cheesecake was rather run of the mill, but adequate. Service was excellent. And the book (which did not come with the meal) is McGee's On Food and Cooking. Fact laced, I bet you did not know molecular cuisine was started by an Oxford Don, who was chuffed that "we can measure the temperature in Venus, but do not know what goes on in a souffle!". Every important ingredient that is used in cooking is discussed in this book, which is never dry and boring. Anecdotes, history and scientific properties of food, mixed together in this compendium.

Remember I mentioned two exciting news? The second one is Cilantro will be reopening in Micasa on the 16th of December! Chef Takashi will be leaving Sage, which will still be under his supervision and Chef Daniel will be taking over there. Jason will be at Cilantro.

What is a paranoid Android post without something from Sage, right?

The Taglietelle pasta with Hokkaido Scallop and King Prawns is a very delectable variation of the alla olio pasta, the Roasted Lamb Rack with Sautéed Mushroom and Meaux Mustard was tender but slightly too fat. The Apple Tart Tatin was not too terribly exciting.

Do forgive the hurried post again. Done in an energizer bunny beating the drum style. Work schedule has been punishing so far and I do apologise for not updating this blog regularly! Have a nice weekend!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Weissbräu, Pavilion, KL. A Quick Lesson In Vulgar Slangs.


Wiener! It's not very pleasant when somebody calls you that. It is actually the shortened form for Wienerwurst sausage and since the Wiener resembles a certain male organ, it is also used as a vulgar slang. I don't know why out of the 1500 different varieties of German sausages, the Wienerwurst has been given the honour.

Germans are also avid pork lovers. The average German consumes 72kg of meat per year. And pig in German is Schwein. The German's love affair with Pork can be illustrated by one commonly used phrase in the German Language, Schwein Haben, which literally means to have a pig. But the expressions means to get lucky!

With these two sang words/expressions. I begin this post on a restaurant that has generated s much interest among food bloggers. A cathedral to worship the Schwein in all it's glory, 9am till 12midnight, in every cooking style imaginable, right in the centre of town.

Breakfast is served all day long, which is godsend for me. Had Egg Benedict and the German word for egg is Ei or Eier (plural). One of the ways to insult another person in German would be to call them Land Ei (Country egg) or Village idiot. That's another insult to learn, another way to call your Bos when he is not around. The eggs were not poached, but fried and the Hollandaise Sauce was not tangy, but the Bacon was crispy and nice.

Country Farmer Sausage, very old world, chunky and contains Marjoram and Caraway, not unlike the not unlike the Nürnberger Rostbratwurst from Franconia. It cam served with Roesti (made from fried sliced potato wedges) and Sauerkraut. The Sausage was beautifully flavoured and fresh and erved with some deliciously lardy red wine reduction sauce. You will have to agree that German Sausages are better endowed than the wrinkled and hard Chinese Lap Cheong. There are a lot of beautiful expressions in the German language using the word Bratwurst, but in order to mantain the PG13 rating of this blog, I'll have to omit them.

Nothing much to look at, but the Sausage was served with some Sauerkraut as well. Wonder why Germans are called "Krauts" (usually derisive, don't use that term) by Americans? Sauerkrauts are rather popular n Germany and it is actually Cabbage that has undergone some fermentation and hence is slightly sour and pungent. I happen to be a big fan of pickles, and I loved it.

Well, in keeping with the General Theme in the Menu, the only seafood dish here is also served with Pork. Grilled humongous Alaskan Scallops, wrapped with Bacon and served with Grilled Mushroom, Onions and Tomatoes. The Scallops were mist , juicy and seared just right. It is served with another very traditional German side dish, the Spaetzle which was wonderfully milky and smooth.

Remember Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music singing "My Favourite Things"? One of the lines goes "Crisp Apple Strudel and Warm Woolen Mittens....". Well, the Apple Strudel here was not crisp, but leathery. But the filling was nice and tangy with a hint of Cinnamon. And the Vulgar meal with lots of Oinky Porky Dishes ended with the Strudel.

I have to say that Weissbräu is a very welcome addition to Pavilion. The food served is beautiful, rustic German Pub Grub and there is a huge variety of German Beers for the jaded Alcoholic. Items to look out for will be the German Pork Knuckle and the smoked pork loin and bacon. My LX3 after the firmware upgrade has been better in preforming under low light conditions (pics above ISO200 and 400) and the white balance has been a little bit more accurate as well.

Level 3, Pavilion
Tel: 03-2142 0288

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Lazy Post, with Apologies. Elegant Inn, Dim Sum, Menara Hap Seng KL. Da On Korean Food, Pavilion, KL. Sage Menu this week.

(non halal at Elegant Inn, no pork served at Da On and Sage)

Sorry for another very hasty and lazy post. Been very busy, running around in circles and finally, I have got my Identity Card, 10 years down the road. Since having the Hairy Crabs at Elegant inn, I wanted to get back there to sample their Dim Sum.

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

Their Fried Yam Rolls were wonderfully crispy, crunchy and light. The ones I have had at other places were usually badly fried and very heavy and soggy. I really have to compliment the Chef at Elegant Inn for his frying technique.

The Bean Curd Rolls were filled with fish patty. Nothing outstanding. The obligatory Har Gao and Siew Mai in any Dim Sum was palatable, although the shrimp in the Har Gao was a little bit too cooked, resulting in a very tough consistency.

The Lotus Leaf wrapped rice here is a bit special. They used duck meat and shredded dried oysters and is beautiful carbo laden dish.

For dessert, I had glutinous balls with black sesame in ginger syrup. Another beautiful chinese dessert and the ginger takes away the satiety of the brunch.

Da On Fine Korean Cuisine
Lot 6.40, Level 6,
Pavilion KL

Tel: +

On the same day, I had to go to Parkson at Pavilion to get finish up some shopping vouchers and by chance, landed at Da On, which is a swanky looking Korean Resturant with a cavernous interior that has somehow eluded me in the past. I had wanted to get some Thai at Celadon, but they were closed for renovation.

Photos were taken with my Mobile Phone Camera (I did not expect to be posting anything later that day).

As you have noticed, I was at nearly at the end of my meal when I hastily took some photos of the food. The Chicken BBQ was excellent and they were of course served with the little Korean Side Dishes including Kimchi, Stir Fried Vegetables, Mushroom and some pickles. The Kimchi soup (bottom left) deserves and honourable mention beacuse it was so piquant and served with slivers of beef. Dessert was some beautiful Black Sesame Ice Cream. I wmust come back and do a full meal here again.

Gardens Hotel and Residences
Tel: +

This week's menu at Sage is a little bit less decadent.

The Fricasse of Foie Gras with Sweet Bread and Mushrooms. Sweet Bread is the Thymus Gland of Veal/Lamb and here, it was breaded and deep fried. It lies behind the piece of Foie. The mushroom fricasse was slightly heavy with cheese.

The mains is a rustic French/Creole Meunière of Pomfret Fillet with Crab Brisque served with Vegetables in Cocotte. The Pomfret fillet was lightly dusted with flour before being fried and them served on Prawn Bisque instead of the traditional brown butter sauce.

The vegetables were served in a separate pot and consisted of French Beans, Endamame Beans, some local sprouts and choy sum.

Dessert was a spectacular Gratinated halved Strawberries with Cointreau Sabayon and Kiwi Sorbet. Masterful.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Would You Patronise A Restaurant That Refuses To Allow You Take Photograph The Food They Serve You? Momofuku, The Book.

Thanks to Boo from Masak Masak Blog and her tweet, I found out that David Chang, the current enfant terrible, darling and genius of New York Food Scene has released a cookbook. The cover of the book spots a plywood motif and a small lovely peach, in keeping with the decor of his 4 restaurants which interior is mainly constructed from unglamorous plywood and very very industrial/spartan in design.

This includes his Flagship in the East Village, Momofuku Ko. In order to get reservations for the coveted 32 spots for dinner, one does not depend on impressing the receptionist, nor could you claim to be friends with the chef, utilize your concierge at Waldorf Astoria, or part of the entourage of some celebrity. It is done in a very sterile manner through the internet. Reservations are open at 10am one week in advance. From there on, it is something like a lottery draw. With the Gods of the internet on your side and a 1000Mb/s connection, you MAY be able to secure your coveted seat, at your preferred time slot to indulge yourself in some of the most inventive cooking that you might have experienced. Frozen Foie served on Riesling Gelee, The Famous KO egg, steeped in Anise and served with Caviar. A myriad of unimaginable combination of ingredients and cooking methods that works. Cost is pretty reasonable. US 125 for a 8 course dinner lasting 2 hours.

One of the regulations for dining at Momofuku Ko (but not at the other Momofuku outlets) is that NO PHOTOGRAPHY is allowed. While doing the booking via internet, you will come across this clause. For me, it is understandable. Ko is a very small, spartan and narrow restaurant and the seating is not unlike in a Sushi Bar leaving very little space in between other diners. Those who are endeavoring to take the perfect shot and angle will certainly intrude into other diner's space. In fact, David, during an interview with Bourdain came up with a very famous (?disdainful) quote. "It's just food. Eat it!". Link to the video, click here.

This sparked a mini debate among foodies on whether restaurants should allow food pornographers and pimps to take photographs of the food they were being served. It seems quite a few fine dining establishments were not too happy with bloggers snapping pictures of their restaurants in careless abandon in New York.

The points raised were:-

1. Other Diners were annoyed at Foodies who used their flashes incessantly in the restaurant.

2. While trying to get a certain angle of the dish, the foodies invaded other Diner's "space".

3. The presence of foodies photographing their food is very distracting for other diners who felt like a photo shoot was going on at the other table.

It would be a matter of time before this trend of prohibiting photography, especially in fine dining restaurants hits our shore. Link to the "serious eats" website where this was discussed in June, click here.

I hope that I have not been guilty of these transgressions, and hope that other food bloggers will be aware of the potential discomfort food photography can be for other diners. I usually do not bring my Camera out to restaurants when I am on work-lidays because somebody else is sponsoring my trip and while having a meal with my sponsors, who usually go to great lengths to satisfy my lust for food, I cannot appear to be distracted. It would be rude.

I don't know about your guys, as far as the no photography policy in restaurants, I am fine with it. I have to respect the rules of the restaurant that I am dining in. Some require formal attire, some do not allow noisy mobile phones, some do not allow photography. Fine. But, I would like to be informed about it to prevent a potentially embarrassing situation for both me and the restaurant itself. Probably a no photography sign at the entrance would suffice.

As for Momofuku, the book, it was a good read. It is a honest testament of his obsessive passion for Ramen, a tribute to the people who have helped paved his career and a treasure trove of ideas, recipes and facts. The other book on the bottom right is Low Boy, which is an exhilarating journey to the depths of New York Subway with a Schizophrenic Teenager, try to save the world from a meltdown.

I am hoping some of the celebrity food bloggers would start a side column listing restaurants where photography is not allowed, to be updated regularly by the readers. Please do not misunderstand my intentions. It is not a call to boycott the restaurants or to punish them. But I am sure you would like to know beforehand before you lug your 1 kilo DSLR, set it up and after that, told in a nice way that you can't take photos.

Have a nice weekend, everybody!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sage, Gardens MidValley, KL. Food Porn for This Week

Am postng this in response to Boo's tweet about deciding whether to luxe lunch at Sage or Senses and Agent Cikay's love for oysters tweet. Sage has revamped their menu for lunch starting this week and have introduced some new dishes. Hopefully the pictures here will help her make up her mind.

1. Trio of Oysters with Condiments and Potage

The potage is spinach based and has some oysters inside as well

I am not able to identify all the condiments, but it has some dashi based sauce, some citrus flavoured peel.

2. Sea Bass Escalope with Hokkaido Scallops and Squid Ink Sauce

Beautifully fresh pan fried Sea Bass in a Prawn based Squid Ink Sauce, served with Kailan, French Peas and Yau Mak. Wondrous and spectacular. The sauce was light and not overpowering at all.

3. Galette de Rois

A very traditional French Dessert, Cake of Kings. Plain Puff Pastry served with a dollop of Vanilla Ice Cream.

Enjoy the Food Porn from Sage this week. And the lunch was, naturally ORGASMIC.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Elegant Inn Hong Kong Cuisine, Menara Hap Seng, KL. Hairy Berry Crabs.

(non halal)

Hairy Crabs.
A Chinese delicacy that is seasonal and is highly prized for it's roe. That makes the Female species highly prized and the Male erm.... sort of unprized. I guess that makes sense because it would be more difficult to find a hirsute Female than a Male. It is considered a pest in Europe as it is invading their ponds and streams and just shows that one man's meat is another man's poison. After all, flip through Elle and Vouge and see that all their female models are clean shaven and Brazilian waxed. It's probably a case of fearing the crabs being a bad influence on European ladies, I think.

It's Autumn again and all those unshaven, never used veet/nair before female crabs are being offered at Elegant Inn again. A prized Shanghai delicacy, it is served steamed here with vinegar and ginger dip.

I have to admit, the crabs did look like a mean MF, with hair sticking out all over the place. With 4 pairs of legs, one can hardly blame the crab for not being clean shaven.

The waitress proceeded to dismember the crab and placed all the body parts neatly on my plate. There were some wierd looking utensils which I reckoned were to dissect the crab surgically. Just like in an episode of Gray's Anatomy. Pass me the scalpel, suction, etc... Eat the roe first, the waitress said. The roe, the roe...

What can I say about the roe? Artery clogging stuff. But hey, all the delicious food kills you one way or another. The roe was as promised. Every morsel a delight of creamy, rich, sweet, sinful, intoxicating indulgence. Better than ayam kampung yolks. The meat was succulent and sweet. The vinegar they serve at Elegant Inn is top grade, slightly sweet dark vinegar that was very very balanced. I took about half an hour to finish the crab. And as I was eating, I got some tweets from the luminaries of Malaysian Food Bloggers, and they were actually having Hairy Crabs elsewhere too. Well, I'll just have to live my life at the bottom of the food blogger chain and get used to it, I suppose. The crabs tasted better with the salty and lonely crocodile android tears anyway. A pot of sweetened ginger tea was served at the end of the crab meal to neutralize the cooling effect of the crab.

Next was the Deep Fried King Pork Ribs. I am sure no king reared this pork, which probably had some sexy love handles before being slaughtered and sacrificed to appease this android. Crunchy and fragrant and perfectly fried. No complaints.

The famous RM 22 Elegant Inn special fried rice was ok. Be forewarned that Elegant Inn's menu is not very Single Diner friendly. The portions are probably meant for 3 to 4 people. And I was completely stuffed at the end of the eye opening meal. It was after all, my first attempt at dissecting the Hair Crab surgically, and I do have to declare that the operation was a success. All of the meat went down in my tummy and is well on it's way to cool my body, if you believe in that sort of thing.

Alert, Alert! Update!

Was told by FBB that I was mistaken. Actually Male Crabs has better roe, and the roe consists of sperm! I was too polite to ask the waitress if she served me a male or a female crab and risk being regarded as a Male Sexist Pig. Neither do I have the zoological knowledge to locate the sexual organs of the Hairy Crab, not that I would know how a crab's penis would look like anyway. Now, I can only hope and pray that I did not just eat, savour and swallow some crab cum for lunch today! Aiayaiyayai!

Elegant Inn Hong Kong Cuisine
2.01 2ndFloor Podium Block,
Menara Hap Seng,
Jalan P. Ramlee,
Kuala Lumpur

Telephone: +

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