Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cantonese Cuisine With Complimentary Roller Coaster Ride. Chef Chan Kwok at Zing, Millenneum Hotel, Bukit Bintang, KL.

(non halal)

Faux Antique Chandelier

Most regular readers of this little whimsical blog would have noticed that I am not a regular diner at Chinese Restaurants. I am not particularly averse to Chinese food, but I seldom dine in a big group and unfortunately the portions that are served in Chinese restaurants are too daunting for a solitary diner. Unless you fancy having just a plate of sweet and sour chicken and rice and call it a complete experience of having dined in a Chinese restaurant.

Flower arrangement

Invitations from friends to join them for dinner at a Chinese Restaurant is usually taken as an opportunity to reacquaint myself with my cultural root of my ancestors. Actually, only two things remind me that I am a Chinese. One is Chinese restaurants and the other is my own government. Notice the absence of the column for ethnicity when filling in forms while overseas?

But I digress. This is not a socio-political blog.

Well spaced tables with bead curtains

One cannot help but to be amazed by the relative tranquility of Zing which is atypical for Chinese restaurants, with it's Gothic faux antique 1920's Shanghai furnishings that is regrettably marred by the presence of 1980's styled modernism. I was pleasantly surprised by it's service staff. Being accustomed to just expecting nothing more than efficiency at Chinese Restaurants, I was greeted with a smiles and attempts to make me feel welcome. The tables are well spaced to render the ambient conversations to a mellifluous murmur, earning Zing extra brownie points.

Chef Chan Kwok from Orchard Hotel's Hua Ting Restaurant was cooking that night, and with him I had some high expectations because the name is almost synonymous with fine Cantonese Dining in Singapore.

The meal came in sets and we ordered some dishes a la carte for variety.

Crispy Roasted Duck Accompanied with Grilled Fresh Scallops Skewer and Chilled Cucumber with Black Fungus Marinated in Fruit Vinaigrette from the Dinner Set

The roasted duck was perfectly succulent with a beautiful gamey and smokey aroma and the right amount of subcutaneous fat under the slightly crispy skin. It came paired with some grilled scallops. I was lulled into ecstatic bliss by the crunchy cool cucumber and black fungus as a side dish that was drizzled in slightly sourish fruit vinaigrette that provided a beautiful contrast, both in terms of taste and texture.

Double Boiled Baby Superior Shark's Cartilage from the Dinner Set

Unlike normal shark's fin soup that is braised in clear double stock, Chef Chan's version came immersed with milky coloured shark's cartilage soup laced with Chinese Wolfberries and Cabbage. It had a slightly sticky after taste that took some getting used to but was sublimely seductive in taste.

Braised Home Made Emerald Bean Curd with Seasonal Greens Topped with Pan Fried Scallops from the a la carte menu

The Emerald Green Bean Curd was a delightful show case of skill and creativity. It was silky smooth and had a light bounce with the green taste (of ?watercress? spinach?), and served as a sponging agent that absorbed the delicious flavour of the scallop that perched gracefully on top. Served with some vegetables, it is a calorie counter's dream dish and proved that healthy, delicious food is indeed not an oxymoron.

Pan Fried Fillet of Kurobuta Pork from the Set Menu

However, the aristocratic Kurobota Pork was tortured by it's inquisitors prior to being served and was left burning on the heretic's stake for too long thus rendered it tough and sinewy. Instead of pieces of pork chomping infidel's wet dream, we got pieces of caliginous gustatory nightmare.

Pacific Clams sauteed with Fresh Lily Buds, Celery, Seasonal Greens and Preserved Olives from the Set Menu

The sauteed pacific clams was rather pedestrian and did not do justice to the Chef's pedigree. It was glaringly out of place. In fact I could probably get some squalid manger born versions which could have been more satisfying.

Fresh Water King Prawn perpared 2 ways: 1. Deep Fried Prawn Head Glazed with Salt and Pepper 2. Braised Prawn with Superior Stock
from the a la carte menu

Anything done two ways is questionable. Unless it is able to showcase brilliant and contrasting cooking techniques or enhance the overall taste of the dish is either a sign of fickleness or a split personality. The prawns were visually arresting and aromatic with a crispy, crunchy, though slightly oversalted head filled with roe. But I thought the body was slightly overcooked as it was rubbery. I doubt an overcooked piece of prawn could ever be resuscitated even by the enviable endeavor of dousing it with best of sauces (the best superior stock included) and should best be relegated to the morgue.

Stewed Rice Vermicelli with Crystal Vermicelli with Sliced Fish and Bitter Gourd in Black Bean Sauce from the a la carte menu

Stay clear from the carbohydrates, the health guru says and in this particular meal I should have adhered to this dictum. I was not able to differentiate the crystal noodles from the vermicelli as they lay clumped and soggy drenched in vapid black beans sauce.

Stewed Noodle with Fresh Water King Prawn from the Set Menu

The noodles were again soggy and clumped. Whatever traces of prawn flavours was nuked by an unpalatable mushroom cloud of noxious alkali emanating from the noodles.

Chilled Fresh Fruits with Aloe Vera and Hawthorn Berry Jelly from the Set Menu

The desserts were probably a lagniappe served in chinked glass, a halfhearted appeasement of sorts to whiners who demand a sweet ending to their meals. I would not have missed it at all if it was not served.

I wish I could have launched into panegyrics as an ode to the meal. It was too inconsistent with vertiginous highs and abysmal lows. Taking into account again that the Chef was cooking away from his milleu, the meal probably failed reflect his true capabilities.

If Chef Chan Kwok ever makes his way back to KL again, forget the sets and aim for the more than excellent Roasted Duck, Shark Cartilage Soup and Emerald Tofu. Unfortunately this makes dining at Zing having a banal similarity to shopping at a hypermarket. Dash in, grab the sale items and never get distracted by other items which you will invariably end up regretting paying for.

PS: I would like to apologize for not being to reply to your comments for the past 2 months because I was away from KL most of the time. Thank you.


Grand Millenneum
160, Jalan Bukit Bintang
Kuala Lumpur

Tel: +

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Perfect Simplicity. Marufuku Udon, Jaya One, Petaling Jaya.

(no pork served)

Nebayaki Udon

I am going to start off by listing a few things that brings me the greatest comfort and joy. The give of the warm sand along a beach when I step on it, with the tiny particles trickling between my toes while my face is being blown by the briny sea breeze.

Listening to the recording of Martha Argerich's live performance of Rachmaninoff's 3rd for the first time, tears welling up when I realize that nobody had ever played it with the virtuosity and intensity and nobody will ever play it like that again.

Marufuku's simple menu

The warm hug from my mother as I leave for my studies in an unknown destination. Myself filled with fear, anxiety and excitement as I begin to embark on a new phase in my life. Carrying with me my mother's hope that I will be able to experience something new and gain more knowledge that will somehow give me an edge up to be successful in life and to lead and pursue a life she never had a chance to lead.

Simple joys that generate a warm, euphoric fuzz.


At a neurosensory level, it is something banal. The triggering of sense receptors leading to the propagation of electrical impulses that land up in the brain. At an emotional level, it is breathtakingly exhilarating. The creation of a memory capsule that defies space and time to be summoned at will during periods of desolation and despondency as a salve for the tired soul, pro re nata.

The bare bulbs

As I entered Marufuku Udon for the first time, I was slightly shocked by the rather unappealing interior. Although clean and bright, the chairs and table looks soulless, sterile and cafeteria like with naked light bulbs hanging unabashedly from it's black painted ceilings. Only after the food has been served, I realized that all of that does not matter because anything else would be a distraction to the star attraction of Marufuku. It's Udon.

Wakame Udon

Smooth, slightly bouncy with the right diameter, lovingly made from fine Australian Wheat. The Perfect Udon. The Udon here is served in a variety of permutations, all of which emphasizes the noodles and other ingredients just play a supporting role to the real star of this restaurant.

Cold House Udon

Perhaps the bowl of noodle that impressed me most was the House Udon, available in both the hot and cold version. Udon, some Konbu Based soup, shoyu, wasabi smeared on the side, served with a perfectly half boiled egg. Sprinkle some Shichimi and I was greeted with perfection in a bowl.

It was simple and yet the most satisfying bowl of Udon I have encountered in this part of the world.

Shitake Yakitori

Their Udon is also available in other variations. In Wakame Broth for instance, again with a perfect piece of soft boiled egg. And if you like, paired with a side of kitsune and kakiage that almost intrude the stillness of the Zen like austerity of the perfect bowl of Udon, inviting you to contemplate and savour their taste and texture.

The Oyako Udon is a playful term because in Japanese it means parent-child and here Chicken meat and eggs were added to the broth, enveloping the noddles with the taste of poultry. This was my least favourite bowl udon because there seems to be a lacuna here which would be filled with more scallions.

The Nebayaki Udon as the name implies, comes in a Neba (hot pot) with kakiage and some tempura prawns.

Sake chillling

Asahi Beer and Sake is available for those who need their tipple and side dishes that are served after 5 pm include Yakitori (mainly chicken parts and Shitake) and Hot Pot.

Ice Cream Mochi

Desserts are fairly limited here and perhaps just an after thought. Ice Cream Mochi or Mochi with Azuki Beans. For those who are disinclined towards the uninspired may fill the gap in the their sweet tooth at The Bee, just a short walk away which serves the lovely ice cream from The Last Polka.

I would term Marufuku a slow fast food restaurant. Well made food, served in different ways but limited variety. I tend to steer away from restaurants with an overambitious menu as the fare is usually disappointing yet expensive to appease the ego of the Chef.

Food in Marufuku is usually served within 5 minutes, and no frills approach makes the price astounding. Udons are from RM7 to RM10, Side dishes start at RM2.50. If you order carefully, it is cheaper than a McD meal.

Ice Cream from The Last Polka at The Bee

On my latest trip to Marufuku on a dreary Monday filled with burdens of work and my spirit being dampened by rain, I found my trip there rejuvenating. It is amazing how a hot bowl of noodles can heal a tired psyche and despite what appears to be a Sisyphian task of going through the drudgery in living seems trivial and bearable. Dark thoughts and tiredness are banished to the corners waiting to be jolted back by another awful day, but while sipping the wonderful broth and slurping the noodles dark clouds disappeared and I thought I saw a rainbow appearing in the wet, dark night that blanketed PJ.

I usually complicate my own life and clutter it with my neurotic disposition and tend to forget that the solution to all problems would be the simplest approach, a detachment from superficial things that complicate my life. I do not need superficial friends who compete rather than accept, I do not need to give in to the crass, wasteful consumerism that entices me to spend on things I do not really need. The simplest things are usually the ones that give the most lasting pleasures in life.

Marufuku reminded me that a posh meal filled with pomp and rituals may just give transient ephemeral pleasures and the simplest meals cooked from the heart are the ones that are intransigent. They evokes the best memories that are tenacious and unwavering.

P.S. Thank you, Sea, for your kind messages. You are a gem. I took some time today to post something to let you know I am well. :D

Marufuku Udon
Blk L,
Unit 18,Level G, Phase 1
Jaya One

Tel: +

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.


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: +

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.

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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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