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Category / Cocktail

Late last month, Haze and I were invited to one of the most prestigious gastronomy event we’ve ever attended – the sixth Martell Pure Gourmet event, held at JW Marriott KL.

Martell Pure Gourmet 2013, at Marriott KL
Martell Pure Gourmet 2013, at Marriott KL, some limited edition bottles & glasses

Martell Pure Gourmet features ingredient led cuisine paired with Martell cognacs.

With cutting edge culinary techniques and using only the finest quality produce that enhance the overall flavor as well as texture of a dish, the dinner series embodies the method of cooking inspired by Martell’s creation of its cognac.

Martell infused cocktails and some interesting pre-dinner bits
Martell infused cocktails and some interesting pre-dinner bits

Chef Ryan Clift from the world acclaimed Tippling Club in Singapore showcased his cutting edge culinary techniques in the bespoke menu specially prepared for this event.

the beautifully decorated dining hall at Marriott KL for Martell Pure Gourmet
the beautifully decorated dining hall at Marriott KL for Martell Pure Gourmet

Before the start of the main event, we were treated with a variety of pre-dinner nibbles such as white truffle foam, soup in test tubes, and other tiny one-spoon full dishes involving tofu, foie gras, truffle, and more.

There was also a bar serving four different variations of Martell cocktails to set the mood.

Ocean Trout, Apple Puree & Sorbet, Horseradish, Bronze Fennel and Dill Flowers
Ocean Trout, Apple Puree & Sorbet, Horseradish, with Martell Cordon Bleu

First dish of the night was ocean trout, apple puree & sorbet, horseradish, bronze fennel and dill flowers. According to the chef, only 4 person (at least one of which is his friend) are awarded the permit to fish these trouts from certain part of New Zealand.

The preparation fish was exquisite, and while combination of apple puree & sorbet with seafood takes a little getting used to, it was quite a marvellous combination. The rich aromas of Martell Cordon Bleu accompanied the dish.

The technique used here was salt curing and enzyme separation in preparation of the fish.

Carrot Gnocchi, Ginger Flower and Carrot Broth; Martell Cordon Bleu
Carrot Gnocchi, Ginger Flower and Carrot Broth; Martell Cordon Bleu

Second course was pure vegetarian – carrot gnocchi, ginger flower and carrot broth with pistachio and wild stems of fragrant herbs. Vacuum distillation technique is employed, resulting in a very soft and tender texture of carrot that has about the same consistency of very well boiled potato boiled.

The end result is an adventure in the different texture the dish provides. We continued with Martell Cordon Bleu as the cognac of choice for this dish.

Foie Gras Coulant with Spiced Wine, Cherry, Cocoa & Spices; Martell XO
Foie Gras Coulant with Spiced Wine, Cherry, Cocoa & Spices; Martell XO

The third course called for Martell XO to be paired with foie gras coulant with wine, cherry, cocoa & spices.

The technique used here is one that I’ve never heard of – sound homogenization. It is a process to reduce small particles in a liquid so that they become uniformly small and evenly distributed, which resulted in a foie gras dish that has almost the consistency closer to that of desserts, but at the same time carrying a taste that is unmistakably foie gras.

A very interesting experience, the XO with its dominant characteristic of Grande and Petite Champagne worked well with this stronger tasting dish.

Venison with Black Turtle Beans, Dashi Emulsion and Black Radish; Martell Creation Grand Extra
Venison with Black Turtle Beans; Martell Creation Grand Extra

Forth course called for red meat that came in the form of venison with black turtle beans, dashi emulsion and black radish. Low temperature cooking technique is employed here to achieve a very tender texture of the meat while not having to scorch any part of it.

Martell Creation Grand Extra was chosen as the cognac to pair with this dish. The roasted aroma with a hint of bitterness goes well with the red meat.

By the way, the venison is sourced from deer that’s hunted in the wild using helicopter. As chef explained that there’s a believe that if the animal didn’t see it coming, it tastes better than those that has to go through the slaughterhouse.

Textures of Milk; Martell Chanteloup Perspective
Textures of Milk; Martell Chanteloup Perspective

The 5th course – texture of milk, was perhaps the most simplistic looking dish, but one that is hardest to prepare. Using the technique of dehydration & nitrogen, Chef Ryan Clift manage to prepare a meringue that comprises of nothing but milk alone. It was very interesting and absolutely wonderful.

Martell Chantelop Perspective, classed in the Extra category, with eaux-de-vie that may be aged for up to 50 years, provided the perfect ending to this most excellent meal.

The good chef also created “tiramisu capsules” as an additional dessert to go with coffee and cognac as an additional final item for us. Most interesting, I want to have this on my computer desk!

Haze, KY, Lex & Weizhi from kampungboycitygal
Haze, KY, Lex & Weizhi from kampungboycitygal.com

Martell Pure Gourmet dinner proved to be a gastronomical experience unlike any I’ve experienced before, I want to thank the good people from Martell for the invitation, and hopefully my name is on the list again for next year. 😀

Ten Fine Dining Restaurant is back, relocated from their previous location at Publika (where I got to meet Iron Chef Sakai in 2011). The new location at Marc Residence replaced the lot that Delicious used to operate. Right by KLCC, it has much better visibility than being in the maze that is Publika.

I was fortunate enough to be one of the few who was invited to a review session at Ten last week.

Ten Japanese Fine Dining at Marc's Residence
Ten Japanese Fine Dining at Marc’s Residence

The floor plan isn’t exactly conventional. There’s a long dining hall with smaller private rooms on the sides, with another big classy private dining hall that can house some 20 people at right side of the entrance. The interior decoration certainly has a flavor of modern Japanese styling but one that does not stray too far from the tradition, as evident with the stone garden at the other end of the restaurant.

unique Japanese Dango, cocktails
unique Japanese Dango, cocktails

Our review is on the four course degustation lunch  menu that starts with the unique Japanese Dango made with seasonal vegetables filled with French foie gras.

The three dango (or dumplings) were made from carrot, sweet potato, and yam. The taste was subtle yet exquisite, with the bits of foie gras enhancing the overall flavor. Katsuobushi (smoked skipjack tuna) and leek shavings giving the soup an extra touch of sophistication, a good way to start our lunch.

assorted ocean fresh sushi & sashimi
assorted ocean fresh sushi & sashimi

The second course had a simple description on the menu – assorted ocean fish sushi and sashimi. On the plate these beautifully crafted delights:

  • grilled baramundi and sushi rice with salmon roe
  • slow cooked scallop with chili and plum paste
  • poached alfonsino fish marinated with natto soy sauce
  • simmered white clam with sticky egg sauce and grilled sushi rice
  • Otoro (tuna belly) sashimi and tuna tartar with a hint of truffle flavor
  • geoduck with Italian leaf soy
  • anago (salt water eel) with black garlic vinegar
  • Tasmanian salmon sushi with mascarpone sauce
  • Tasmanian lobster sushi with deep fried leek soy sauce

It was hard to choose a favorite, and if I had to pick one I’d probably choose the otoro, with truffle flavor really adding to the already superb cut of tuna belly. While I personally dislike natto somehow worked, and I even helped my table-neighbor finished hers.

This was by far the most sophisticated plate of sushi/sashimi I’ve ever tasted. If you’re a fan of Japanese food, this is a must try.

teppanyaki styled Miyazaki A5 wagyu beef
teppanyaki styled Miyazaki A5 wagyu beef

Our third course was another masterpiece. Teppanyaki styled Miyazaki A5 Wagyu beef served with Tasmanian garlic chips and daikon.

I asked for mine to be prepared rare (chef recommended only rare or medium-rare), and it was truly glorious. A bit of freshly grated wasabi complemented the meat beautifully. Teppanyaki and ponzu sauce is available, but to truly enjoy a piece of red meat, none were really required. The garlic chips were great to have in between those chunks of pure heaven.

Ten's specialty desserts
Ten’s specialty desserts 

The sad thing is, every meal has to eventually come to a conclusion, and the fourth course was a dual of Ten’s specialty desserts. It was perhaps impossible to keep up to the excellence of the previous three courses, but dessert lovers would not be disappointed with the bitter sweet chocolates and the sweet & sour combination of plumb and jelly.

Nana, Michelle, KY, Chenelle, Tian Chad
Nana, Michelle, KY, Chenelle, Tian Chad

Ten Japanese Fine Dining will have some pretty stiff competition in a few other restaurants within the vicinity. Ozeki Tokyo Cuisine offers great lunch value and is just a stone’s throw away at Menara TA, Fukuya at Jalan Delima can never be discounted for fine Japanese foods, and Fukuhara too is a fine alternative if you’re looking for a good evening of Japanese delights.

Ultimately though, I think Ten does manage to set itself apart with it’s modern offerings and pretty unique menu. Teppanyaki course is at RM 200 and RM 300, Sushi course at RM 300, and Omakase (degustation) course is priced at RM 300 per person.

map to Marc Residence

Address:
Ten Japanese Fine Dining
A-G-1, Marc Residence, Ground Floor,
No.3 Jalan Pinang,
50450 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.155396, 101.710203
Tel03-2161 5999
Hours: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, 6 pm onward, closed on Mondays
Webtenrestaurant.com.my

Ten Japanese Fine Dining

Happy Chinese New Year to everyone and may you have blessed Snake year ahead. Not coincidentally, Valentine’s day is also just around the corner and we had the chance to sample one of the many Valentine’s day menus around town at the Renoma Cafe Gallery at Bukit Bintang the other day.

For those of you who are looking for a romantic night out with love ones, this is a place worth considering. Read on.

Update 11/11/2015: unfortunately this place has since closed

Renoma Cafe Gallery, Jalan Bukit Bintang (by Jalan Delima)
Renoma Cafe Gallery, Jalan Bukit Bintang (by Jalan Delima)

Renoma Cafe Gallery is opened by the very same person that brought you the famous underwear (and fashion) brand, and in fact, this is the second of such cafe in the world, with the first one being at Paris.

The place serves modern Western food with a heavy influence in French cuisine. There’s a dining hall with a stage and live music on weekends, alfresco dining areas, as well as a big private dining room upstairs. Interior decoration is a bit quirky but tastefully done.

Lets get on the 4 course Valentine’s Day menu (priced at RM 388++ for two person) that includes all the dishes described below as well as two glasses of champagne.

consomme of kangaroo island marron; veloute of crustacean & stone crab
consomme of kangaroo island marron; veloute of crustacean & stone crab

The gentleman starts with Veloute of Crustacean & Stone Crab, basically a cream of shellfish with stone crab meat, blue mussel, brown clam and XO chili oil. A pretty hearty way to start out  dinner, the soup was delicious and packed with plenty of crab meat as well as shellfish. Just this alone filled up almost 1/3 of my stomach space already.

Consomme of Kangaroo Island Marron is the lady’s first dish and it’s packed boullion of seafood with grilled crayfish, blue mussel, brown clam & petit pois. Crayfish isn’t something you get very often in Malaysia, and it tasted a bit like a cross between crab and lobster. The consomme is a bit lighter in taste but not lacking in character.

surf & turf; earth & ocean
earth & ocean (top); surf & turf (bottom)

For the second dish, surf and turf is in store for the guy, while the lady enjoys a dish called earth and ocean.

Surf and turf includes medallion of medium lamb loin & rock lobster, sauteed baby spinach and smoked chili coulis. I love the lamb loin, and I think the shelled rock lobster is something that you can appreciate even just by looking at the photo. Oh, that massive scallop was excellent too!

Earth and Ocean comes with tataki maguro akami, caramelized foie gras pate, chargrilled portobello mushroom and wild berries. The tuna fish was perhaps slightly too done for my liking (but I’m nitpicking), the mushroom soft and full of flavor, and the foie gras pate did not disappoint either. We were quite impressed with the food at Renoma Cafe Gallery by this point.

black Angus tenderloin, wild caught red emperor
black Angus tenderloin, wild caught red emperor

For the main course, there’s a choice of black Angus tenderloin or wild caught red emperor.

The beef dish comes with char grilled black Angus beef tenderloin that’s prepared to your choice, pomme dauphine, duck fat baby carrot, and morel ragout. The tenderloin was top notch, with the scallops and shellfish complimenting the beef perfectly.

If the beef was good, the fish was perhaps even better. Oven baked dried sole crusted red emperor, butternut squash puree, nai pak, and salted yolk emulsion made up this dish. The photo might not look like much, but the skin of the fish was really something that you need to taste for yourself. It was crunchy and salted just nice, with the seafood not overcooked. I took a bite and wished I could have the whole dish to myself.

chocolate sunrise; strawberry sunset
chocolate sunrise; strawberry sunset

The three excellent dishes were then followed by two desserts, again one for the guy and another for the lady.

Chocolate sunrise comes with guanaja chocolate with mango lavender coulis, coffee ice cream and hazelnut crumble. I love the ice cream, but though the chocolate was pretty average, perhaps the other dishes has set too high a standard to keep up.

Strawberry sunset comes with strawberry fraiser mosse cake with passion fruit and mango coulis, raspberry sherbet and praline croustillant. Again, we enjoyed the ice cream a bit more than the other part of the dessert.

KY & Haze at Renoma Cafe Gallery
KY & Haze at Renoma Cafe Gallery

Overall, I rate Renoma Cafe Gallery pretty high based on what we were served. The place also has lively music and serves a full range of cocktail and other drinks. I’d love to return sometimes to try their other offerings.

If you have a private function, this is also a potential place to check out, but for those who’re looking for a good Valentine’s dinner, if the budget fits, this is a place to go.

Renoma Cafe Gallery KL map

Address:
Renoma Cafe Gallery
Lot 510, Jalan Bukit Bintang,
Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.147212, 101.720814
Tel: 03-2143 9919

Fa Ying at Paradigm Mall is the new foray into modern Thai cuisine by the same people who run Rama V at Jalan U Thant.

If you aren’t exactly a Thai historian, the name Fa Ying (means Princess) might sound a bit bizarre for a Thai restaurant. According to the owner, Fa Ying was the name of the playful sister of Rama V, the revered Thai King who was credited to the modernization of Siam. Since this outlet serves a “playful” interpretation of Thai cuisine to the sister restaurant Rama V, hence the name Fa Ying.

Pretty neat, I thought, but maybe adding “Thai restaurant” at the back of that big sign board bight help a little. 😀

Fa Ying Thai Restaurant at Paradigm Mall
Fa Ying Thai Restaurant at Paradigm Mall

The restaurant is located at The Boulevard at Paradigm Mall, the semi-outdoor area under the office block with a set up that’s not entirely unlike the “covered alfresco” area at Pavilion. It’s pretty much open air while still sheltered from the harshest of elements.

Fa Ying also spot a full bar, serving liquor, cocktails, and beer
Fa Ying also spot a full bar, serving liquor, cocktails, and beer

For those likes some proper drinks to go with Thai food, Fa Ying is definitely a place to go. Spotting a full bar, the restaurant serves a variety of cocktails, beer, and other drinks.

Some of the drinks we tried were:

  • Mango Thai Pandan RM 21
  • Thai Tom Yam RM 21 (funny name..)
  • Mojito Selection RM 24
  • Lemongrass Basil and Mango Sparkler RM 13

They also serve a fishbowl drink called Marquessa (RM 100) that comes with dragon fruit, cucumber, Absolut blue, burnt orange peel, white wine, and soda. It’s like a potent Thai version of Sangria.

While not an expert in cocktails by any means, I did enjoy their drinks.

lamb, fish, and seafood sate
lamb, fish, and seafood sate

Lets move on to the food.

We sampled three types of Thai satay here. The lamb satay (RM 20) was flavorful but without the overly strong “lamb” taste that some people dislike.

Fish satay a tender and soft, while the seafood satay with prawns & mussels were refreshing and went very well with their sourish sauce.

minced beef in cucumber, watermelon salad, pomelo salad
minced beef in cucumber, watermelon salad, pomelo salad

Minced meat in cucumber (RM 12) looked a bit like sushi but carries the distinctive Thai taste. The cucumber provided nice contrast to the meat, without the requirement of steamed rice to complement the meat. I’ll wouldn’t mind this as beer food.

For those who loves to go green, watermelon salad (RM 12) and pomelo salad (RM 16) will do the job just fine.

grilled scallops served with spinach and manow sauce
grilled scallops served with spinach and manow sauce

Our favorite appetizer of the day goes to this beautifully presented grilled scallops with spinach and manow sauce (RM 19). The scallops were perfectly seared, and the sourish manow sauce provided just the kick to complete this seafood experience.

I also think that this dish offers excellent value.

spaghetti with river prawn, Thai green curry pesto
cod fish with manow, spaghetti with river prawn, Thai green curry pesto

Codfish with Manow (RM 42) provides a choice for those who loves this buttery fish, I find no fault in the execution of this dish, except that it’ll probably leave some room for dessert.

Spaghetti with Thai green curry pesto (RM 22) and spaghetti with river prawn (RM 32) are among the two pasta dishes offered here, both were a bit spicy and definitely not masking their Thai origin. I find the experience a little strange, but perhaps it’s something you get used to.

roast duck sandwich, grilled tenderloin with green curry
roast duck sandwich, grilled tenderloin with green curry

My favorite main dish goes to the roast duck sandwich (RM 20). It was simple yet brilliant, and I wonder why it took so long for anyone to come up with this. It was utterly delicious and I would go back to Fa Ying just to have this. (btw my colleague Sheng had this and gave his approval as well)

Lastly, we also sampled their grilled tenderloin with green curry mushroom (RM 42). Perhaps I’m spoiled by those high grade beef at Prime, but for less than RM 50, the meat was decent.

Thai desserts at Fa Ying
Thai desserts at Fa Ying

Like most Thai restaurants, Fa Ying serves a variety of traditional desserts. I liked the fried banana fritters with vanilla ice cream, and their mango with sticky rice was pretty good as well. Each of these dish comes with half a strawberry, leaving the trace of the “playful” nature of Fa Ying.

Pearl, Reiko, Evelyn, Suan, Haze, KY, Audrey, Owner
Pearl, Reiko, Evelyn, Suan, Haze, KY, Audrey, Owner

We had a pretty good session at Fa Ying, and it is definitely a place I’ll revisit (if not just for the roast duck sandwich!). Mention ‘PRINCESS’ as password and get 10% off food bill before 1st of February 2013.

If you are looking for Thai food with a bit of a twist at a place with nice ambiance to bring a date, this would be a sweet choice.

map to Paradigm Mall, Petaling Jaya

Address:
Fa Ying Thai Restaurant
The Boulevard, Paradigm Mall
Kelana Jaya, Petaling Jaya
Selangor
GPS: 3.108806, 101.59564
Tel: 03-7451 2933

A couple weeks ago a bunch of us were invited to Al-Amar Express at Fahrenheit 88 for the Happy Hour promotion and a bit of food. The event turned out to be a definition of excess, and a textbook reference of good times.

Al Amar Express at Fahrenheit 88
Al Amar Express at Fahrenheit 88

Like most people, I had the unfortunate generalization that Al-Amar Express is a middle eastern food joint (which was correct), and hence must not serve alcohol (which wasn’t).

cocktails at Al Amar Express
cocktails at Al Amar Express

In fact, the Al Amar “lets meet up…” wines and cocktails menu has several selections of Lebanese wines, popular beers, whisky, spirits, and some 10 different types of cocktails.

From 4pm to 8pm, buy 2 cocktails and get 1 free. The same thing applies to beer as well.

wine, strawberry margarita, beer
Lebanese wine, strawberry margarita, Corona beer

Before food was being served, we already got the night started with some mojito, Corona beer, wine, and margarita. Perfect start to the evening if you ask me.

hummus, Lebanese chickpea and eggplant dip, pita bread, haloumi salad
hummus, Lebanese chickpea and eggplant dip, pita bread, haloumi salad

After a bit of chit chat and making sure everyone had something to drink, the food arrived.

We started out with some warm pita bread. Dipping them into hummus (RM 12.90) or those very interesting chickpea and eggplant (moutabal RM 12.90) as you would with chips and salsa, except the experience is quite a bit richer, and definitely more refined (for something that is eaten with hand)

The haloumi salad (RM 20) is another exquisite dish that I’ve never tasted – with fried haloumi cheese, herb crust crouton, cherry tomato, and vinaigrette dressing on top of a bed of rocket. The fried cheese was a revelation, slightly crispy on the outside, and definitely cheesy within. It was very good!

tabbouleh, warak enab, grilled chicken salad
tabbouleh, warak enab, grilled chicken salad

Tabbouleh is a uniquely Arabic salad with finely chopped tomato, Italian parsley, and mint. The taste was very… refreshing.

Another salad we tried was the grilled chicken salad (RM 20), and this came with a generous portion of grilled chicken breast topped with aioli dressing. The marinate definitely leave a Lebanese signature in this dish.

Warak enab is these spring roll look-alike with ground lamb, rice, and spices all chopped up and wrapped in grape leaves. I find it a little too sour and salty, perhaps it is an acquired taste, or just a case of Al Amar sticking to the traditional recipe too closely.

spinach fatayer, cheese roll, lamb sambousik,
spinach fatayer, cheese roll, lamb sambousik,

Spinach fatayer, cheese roll, and lamb sambousik  (RM 8.50 each) were definitely the type of finger food best with some beer or cocktail. I don’t think further explanation is needed. Deep fried food always go well with alcohol.

Lebanese pizzas, shawarma and flame grilled chicken
Lebanese pizzas, shawarma and flame grilled chicken

And as we thought our collective stomaches were starting to get a bit full, the main dishes came.

First to be served were spicy chicken cheese (RM 17.90) and kafta with cheese manakeesh (RM 17.90) were both very delicious. They looked exactly like pizzas, but the taste was definitely different, a tad of saltiness, a kick of spiciness, and that savory taste from the meat. If I could only get these delivered…

The other main dishes were grilled whole chicken (RM 38) that comes in spicy and non spicy versions. The portion was enough to be shared between 2-3 adults. They too, carry the distinctive Lebanese taste.

Finally, we also tried the chicken and beef shawarma (RM 24.90 each). They were a bit like the kebab meat, but served loosely on a plate with pita bread.

a bunch of guys and gals who are completely full and half drunk
a bunch of guys and gals who are completely full and half drunk

The session at Al Amar was rather enjoyable, there were good food, drinks, and excellent company. Ultimately, I thought the food at Al Amar was a little bit too one dimensional if you will. Everything stays very close to a distinctive taste that is undoubtedly Lebanese.

For a food review session, it gets a little bit monotonous, but to have a change of pace from other cuisines, a dinner at Al Amar surely wouldn’t disappoint, just don’t order the warak enab.

map to Fahrenheit 88, KL

Address:
Al Amar Express
Fahrenheit 88
Lot G44, Ground Floor,
Buking Bintang, KL
GPS3.14748, 101.71283
Tel03-2141 3814