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Category / By Invitation

Right after participating as a guest speaker at “A Food Biz Workshop” a week ago where I found out that some 80% food business fails within the first two years of operation, I got to attend an event hosted by one that represents the other extreme end – the Martell Pure Gourmet event by the brand that has been in existence since 1715.

Yeap, that’s just a year shy of 300, with perhaps one of the oldest single product, the Martell VSOP being in the market since 1831.

Martell is celebrating 300 years anniversary in 2015
Martell is celebrating 300 years anniversary in 2015

While last year’s dinner was hosted at JW Marriott, Martell chose the Grand Imperial Chinese restaurant at Hartamas Shopping Centre for this year’s annual Pure Gourmet. I was very delighted and honoured to be invited to this year’s dinner again after having had a very good experience last year.

I was surprised that Malaysia actually happened to be the 2nd largest market in the world for Martell after China, and I guess this is partly due to the way we consume cognac, which, fortunately or not, was in full display during the dinner with many happily cheering each other “Happy Birthday to You” while emptying their glasses as the night went on.

P/S: It wasn’t anyone’s birthday, but we had a lot of fun.

sze chuan jelly fish with thousand layer pig ear & deep fried scallop
Sze Chuan jelly fish with thousand layer pig ear & deep fried scallop

Anyway, pure gourmet is about the blend of exquisite ingredients, skills, and passion in the creation of inspiring dishes, as with how each bottle of Martell cognac is created, so lets get on with the dinner.

We started out with chilled Sze Chuan jelly fish with thousand layer pig ear accompanied deep fried scallop wrapped with German vermicelli rice noodle. A pretty descriptive dish and one that has several characters all rolled into one.

The jelly fish and pigs ear with the softer texture and a more complex taste, and deep fried scallop an explosion of seafood sweetness beneath the the crispy and rawer tasting vermicelli. This was paired with Martell V.S.O.P.

baked king prawn with cheese, paired with Martell Cordon Bleu
baked king prawn with cheese, paired with Martell Cordon Bleu

Next up was a relatively unpretentious baked water king prawn with cheese to go with the very recognizable Martell Cordon Bleu, perhaps the gold standard of cognac.

The execution of the prawn was on the dot, I really dug into the head and savour the juices out of this. Though this is probably the only dish I could come close to replicating at home, it was also one of my favorites.

deep fried airflown  Japanese Ayor fish with lemon
deep fried air flown  Japanese Ayor fish with lemon

Third dish of the night was deep fried air flown Japanese Ayor fish with lemon (also known as Ayu fish).

Found in the rivers and lakes around Hokkaido, this fresh water fish is famous for the sweetness of its flesh, which was brought out to its fullest potential when paired with Martell Cordon Bleu.

pan fried lamb cutlet with chef's special sauce, paired with Martell XO
pan fried lamb cutlet with chef’s special sauce, paired with Martell XO

Following the fish, we had the pan fried lamb cutlet with Chef’s special sauce to go with Martell XO.

Perhaps I was more accustomed to Western style of lamb cutlet preparation, it took a while to appreciate the more traditional Chinese preparation method of the red meat that is inherently more cooked. In this instance, the sauce takes center stage with the meat playing supporting role.

braised spaghetti with sliced abalone, black truffle n mushroom, Martell Chanteloup Perspective
braised spaghetti w/ sliced abalone, black truffle & mushroom, Martell Chanteloup Perspective

Last dish before dessert was the braised spaghetti with sliced abalone, black truffle and mushroom. The hint of black truffle went well with abalone, and the fine angel hair spaghetti was the right choice to soak up the flavour. We just wished that it was a whole abalone instead (who doesn’t?).

The aroma and elegance of Martell Chanteloup Perspective complimented the dish perfectly.

Grand Imperial special dessert paired with Martell Creation Grand Extra
Grand Imperial special dessert paired with Martell Creation Grand Extra

Finally, we end the dinner with a host of three desserts prepared by Grand Imperial and had the pleasure to pair them with Martell Creation Grand Extra, the silky smooth and yet very powerful tasting cognac. A unique taste to end a pretty unique and special dinner.

and we were cheering to each other "happy birthday to you".. yes, it's a "trend"
and we were cheering to each other “happy birthday to you”.. yes, it’s a “trend”

A big thank you to Siew Kheng for the invitation, and hopefully we’ll have the privilege to be a part of this again next year!

map to Hartamas Shopping Centre

Address:
Grand Imperial
Lot F33 – F35, First Floor,
Hartamas Shopping Centre
No. 60, Jalan Sri Hartamas 1,
Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.163480, 101.656136
Tel03-6201 9777

Steamboat has traditionally been a pretty strong branch of Chinese cuisine in KL. It is something that can be very simple, like just ordering a couple sets, or you can go wild with a bunch of friends by having fancy seafood, meat, and everything in between.

Being the type of dish that is rather mature, how do you have a new steamboat place that everyone wants to go?

Well, The Pot at Kuchai Entrepreneur Park found the answer, and we loved it!

The Pot Steamboat at Kuchai Entrepreneurs Park
The Pot Steamboat at Kuchai Entrepreneurs Park

The Pot is the new kid on the block at Kuchai Lama, and like any shops at Kuchai Entrepreneurs Park, parking can sometimes be a bit of a challenge, even for a restaurant that is situated at a corner premise closer to the main road.

The restaurant is fully air conditioned, so you don’t need to go there only when it rains, which is nice. In fact, all steamboat places not at Cameron Highland should have climate control if you ask me.

Alaskan Crab, 1.5kg or so for RM 155
Alaskan Crab, 1.5kg or so for RM 155

The unique thing about The Pot Steamboat is the glorious Alaskan Crab. For RM 155 at about 1.5KG, you get this beautiful crustacean served on a plate ready to be boiled in the steamboat soup and thereby making the broth ever so sweet.

While looking totally bad ass, the shell isn’t actually very hard and can be cut with a pair of culinary scissors to reveal those awesome meat fairly easily. This is a must-order and I believe more than half the tables at The Pot has an Alaskan Crab.

fresh geoduck, have it raw or just slightly blanched, your take
fresh geoduck, have it raw or just slightly blanched, your take

Other than Alaskan crab, the other pretty unique underwater creature they have is fresh geoduck (pronounced as “gooey duck”, thanks Suan!), the rather phallic looking salt water clam that can be eaten either raw (sashimi style) or just lightly blanched for about 2-3 seconds in steamboat soup.

Fresh geoduck isn’t cheap, the serving we had came up to be about RM 200, though it usually cost more in other seafood restaurants. The innards and other parts of the geoduck is also provided at the end of our meal to be boiled with leftover steamboat broth and rice, making a sort of clam innards porridge. This you gotta try to appreciate it.

steamboat set, smoked duck, black fungus, fish ball, meat ball, etc
steamboat set, smoked duck, black fungus, fish ball, meat ball, etc

Of course, as any steamboat place, there’s a host of other dishes to choose from to go with the three types of soup base they serve (sang yu pot, supreme clear soup, drunken wine soup).

The steamboat set goes for RM 17.80 (min 2 pax per table) and on top of that there’s a selection of live seafood from the aquarium that includes prawns, crab, frogs, giant clams, and so forth. Then there’s pork ball, fish ball, meat slices, chicken, mushroom, fungus, and even smoked duck (RM 7.90).

and of course, steamboat is best shared among friends
and of course, steamboat is best shared among friends

We had a pretty good time at The Pot and I reckon it is certainly a place you should consider if you’re looking to share a pot steamboat with friends and family while looking at some decent seafood offerings. Traffic and parking situation isn’t ideal, but then again sometimes we can’t ask for everything.

Thank you Ah Yat for the invitation.

map to The Pot steamboat at Kuchai Lama

Address:
The Pot Steamboat
No. 1, Jalan Kuchai Maju 4,
Kuchai Entrepreneur Park, Kuchai Lama,
58200 Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.091500, 101.686195
Tel: +6016 821 2280

In the last few years, coffee culture in Malaysia experience quite a significant growth.

As I recalled, even just five years ago when I had to go to Le Passione Cafe at Hartamas for a cup of decent (and non-starbucks, non-coffeebeans) coffee. But now, we have plenty, and it’s great!

Cosans Coffee at Subang Jaya SS15
Cosans Coffee at Subang Jaya SS15

One of the many home brewed cafe chains that sprung up in recent years is Cosans Coffee, and my brother’s friend happened to be one of the persons behind it, which is why you’re reading this today.

I met my brother and a few others at the branch of Cosans Coffee at Subang Jaya a few weeks ago. The cafe is situated at a corner lot with tasteful design that took cues from English architecture, and a chilly air conditioning fitting for hot drinks. I remember when I studied at this part of the world over 1.5 decades ago, the most glamorous shops weren’t a quarter as neat as this one.

love the latte, with my brother Win Sern
love the latte, with my brother Win Sern who’s a medical doctor

Cosans apparently take pride in their process of making coffee (you can find out more details in their website), but what I do know is that their latte tastes as good as anywhere I’ve tried. The milk silky smooth, and the coffee positively strong and aromatic. That’s all I ask for in a cup of coffee, and I like their version here.

In addition to latte, they serve a full range of espresso based drinks, including macchiato, espresso, flat white, cappuccino,  mocha, and so forth. Prices of these drinks RM 7 to RM 14. Oh, they have affogato too.

sandwiches at Cosans, they pack a punch
sandwiches at Cosans, they pack a punch

Additionally, what sets Cosans apart from many other cafes is the sandwiches and salad they serve. The sandwiches are priced at RM 18-20 but they are absolutely loaded. I tried the blackcurrant smoked duck and would not hesitate to order again, the New Zealand beef steak sandwich too is something to reckon with. Two sandwiches here is probably enough for 3 person with average appetite.

Salad starts from RM 10 to RM 15, and there’s a selection of cakes to go with your caffeine. I haven’t tried these so to be honest, I wouldn’t be able to comment.

So if you’re around Subang looking for a place to chill out and possibly have a meal with some good coffee, Cosans is worth stopping by.

Address:
Cosans Coffee
30, Jalan SS 15/4,
47500 Subang Jaya, Selangor
GPS: 3.075284, 101.5875
Web: http://cosans.com
Tel
03-5612 9600

-advert-

with Transitions lens on a cloudy day
with Transitions lens on a cloudy day, while walking back from LRT station after work

A note to those who may wonder why Transitions lenses, including this pair of Transitions® Signature™ lenses in this picture has a tint when it is cloudy, this is due to the fact that UV light penetrate clouds, and hence activating the lenses. This way I’m still protected against the harmful rays even on a cloudy day.

One of the small perks of running this food blog is that sometimes I get invitation to cool events that makes me realized that there are actually people who read this column.

Things got real a week or so ago when I got to meet one of the most recognizable faces on TV, especially for those who loves food. Yeap, we got to sample a four course dinner prepared by Chef George Calombaris, one of the judges of MasterChef Australia.

MasterChef Australia Judge George Calombaris in KL
MasterChef Australia Judge George Calombaris in KL

First, the important bit.

The latest season of MasterChef Australia is aired on Lifetime (Astro Channel 709) every weeknights at 7 pm and 11 pm. If you’re a fan of this show, be sure not to miss it.

George was brought in by A+E Networks who runs Lifetime for a promotional tour of Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, and Jakarta, and a lucky few of us got the privilege to be invited to this event.

A once in a lifetime chance for us to judge the judge, I guess?

chicken parfait with bitter chocolate baklava
chicken parfait with bitter chocolate baklava

The first dish of the night was chicken parfait with bitter chocolate baklava, coffee, cumquat, pickled onion and pumpkin seeds.

Yeap, a pretty weird combination of ingredients, and you could mistaken it for a dessert since the parfait actually looks a bit like a scoop of ice cream in the photo. However, they do compliment each other to offer a pretty interesting experience that I find myself enjoying.

green Greek salad with stir fry abalone
green Greek salad with stir fry abalone

Second dish was green greek salad with stir fry abalone, George Calombaris has a Greek heritage, and Australia produces quite a bit of abalone, so put two and two together, you get this dish.

I love the contrasting texture of the puree, slices of asparagus, crispy kale, and of course, those abalone certainly contributed to add a dimension of richness.

poached chicken with miso hummuspoached chicken with miso hummus and green mango salad

The chef certainly does not shy off from experimenting with food. Our main dish was another creation that has elements of different cuisines all rolled into one.

The chicken meat is marinated before rolled into a cylinder and poached while secured in cling wrap, then there’s the miso hummus that has a hint of horse radish (or wasabi?) to it. Together with the green mango salad, you basically get to taste at least 3-4 different cuisines all in one.

This is a dish that I sorta struggled to enjoy, but I admire the bravery and adventurous nature of the chef, without the trailblazers like him, food would not progress.

chocolate cake
chocolate cake

My favorite dish turned out to be the dessert, what George Calomboris refer to simply as – chocolate cake. The richness of the chocolate cake, chocolate sauce, dark chocolate soil, chocolate ice cream, and some sweet foam all worked in a wonderful harmony that left us with a very sweet and fond memory, where can I order one of this?

babeinthecityKL and Kelly were among the audience to go up on stage with George Calombaris
babeinthecityKL and Kelly were among the audience to go up on stage with George Calombaris

The good chef also answered some questions from the audience, with my partner of the night and colleague Kelly asking George about his favorite dishes sampled in Malaysia (rojak). It was a wonderful night and yeap, this guy definitely is very well qualified to be judging anyone’s food.

I would like to thanks Rubini, Janet, Hui Jun, the good people of A+E Networks Asia for this opportunity.

As someone who was born on an island, I just can’t say no to good seafood. This is the reason why I went back to InterContinental Hotel’s Serena Brasserie for their seafood buffet review this year as I remember how good was last year’s spread.

Fresh Seafood Promotion at InterContinental Hotel, KL
Fresh Seafood Promotion at InterContinental Hotel, KL

Before we get started on the food, lets look at the important bits of this buffet:

  • available every Friday and Saturday nights
  • RM 120++ for adults
  • upgrade to W.O.W (Wine of the Week) package for RM 180++ which includes a bottle of red or white wine

Additionally, Halloween ‘Scream for Seafood” promotion is priced the same on 31st Oct 2014 with best dressed male and female for the night taking away vouchers of award-winning restaurant, Tao Chinese cuisine and Tatsu Japanese cuisine.

tuna, crabs, octopus, oyster, mussel, slipper lobster, crayfish, and more
tuna, crabs, octopus, oyster, mussel, slipper lobster, crayfish, and more

The most important line of this buffet spread is the chilled seafood bar, it is the most impressive I’ve seen yet on any buffet.

On the bed of ice you can find premium cuts of tuna, butterfish, Pacific prawn, New Zealand green lip mussels, crayfish, slipper lobster, octopus, Fine de Claire oysters, Australian yabbies, spanner crab, mud crab, and Harvey Bar half shell scallops.

These are either raw or boiled, the minimal preparation method retains the original sweetness of the seafood to be enjoyed as is or with the variety of condiments available.

live Australian yabbies stir fried, grilled, or eaten sashimi style
live Australian yabbies stir fried, grilled, or eaten sashimi style

A unique selling point at this buffet spread is the availability of live Australian yabbies, a type of freshwater crayfish. These yabbies are fished out of the pond in the restaurant and prepared fresh in several ways of your choosing – stir fried, grilled, or even eaten raw sashimi style.

A word of caution – the raw yabby may twitch when you pour some tabasco sauce on it!

seafood and other dishes on the buffet spread, with cute Halloween deco
seafood and other dishes on the buffet spread, with cute Halloween deco

There’s also an outdoor portion of the restaurant that prepares freshly grilled seafood of your choosing, this includes crabs, slipper lobster, prawn, cuttlefish, yabbies, fish filet, and more. Additionally, they also serve beef and chicken satey.

a good selection of traditional dishes on the buffet spread too
a good selection of traditional dishes on the buffet spread too

Of course, in addition to fresh and grilled seafood, there’s plenty of traditional dishes to choose from on the buffet spread. Beef rendang, bok choy, briyani rice, crab curry, roast meat, and more are among the many ready-to-eat cooked dishes to choose from.

Halloween themed desserts fancy you?
Halloween themed desserts fancy you?

For the dessert lovers, a pretty decent selection of mostly Western style desserts is available for your picking. Cakes, bread and butter puddings, and many more are available. The chef also showcase his talent in some pretty interesting looking Halloween themed desserts too.

fresh and grilled seafood were my choice, Li Vian joined me at Serena Brasserie
fresh and grilled seafood were my choice, Li Vian joined me at Serena Brasserie

We thoroughly enjoyed the buffet spread at Serena Brasserie. Executive chef Sam Kung certainly know what he’s doing, upgrading the already very good spread from last year to the excellent selection this year. If you’re looking for a good seafood buffet, this is one that you shouldn’t miss.

map to Intercontinental Hotel, KL

Address:
Serena Brasserie
Intercontinental Hotel

165 Jalan Ampang,
50450 Kuala Lumpur
GPS3.159767, 101.718045
Tel03-2161 1111
Webwww.intercontinental.com