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Every once in a while, I get invited to one of these fancy dinners that I imagined myself being a part of when I was working as a casual worker at a five star hotel in my high school days.

I thought that it’d be pretty awesome sitting down having a number of different courses of almost bite size food served in plates that are unnecessarily large, and wouldn’t it be even more cool if they have different drinks for each dish?!

That’d really be living the life, won’t it?

Senja at Saujana Hotel
A Premium Wine Affair, Senja at Saujana Hotel

Well, last Friday was one of such days, and yes, that’s another teenage-hood dream come true moment (though not the first time).

I was invited to “A premier Wine Affair of the Saujana Hotels & Resorts Wine Collection“, a private event hosted by the Saujana to unveil its new wine collection.

Charcoal's Australian Chef Robert Johnston
Charcoal’s Australian Chef Robert Johnston

The wines were specifically made from Frankland Estate, Margaret River, Western Australia, a well-renowned winery with an approach to winemaking that values the importance of soil and environment.

In the kitchen was Charcoal’s Australian Chef Robert Johnston who prepared a distinctive five course menu to pair with the wines for a night of, well, wine and dine.

By the way, you can only get these wines from The Saujana

Note: Instead of paraphrasing the note and pretend that I know exactly how to describe these wonderful wines, I’m going to include the tasting note here verbatim, and by the way, most media/writers do get tasting notes for wine/whisky, we can’t magically come up with fantastic descriptions that are all pretty much the same.

lightly cured salmon, pomelo, cucumber, verjuice jelly
lightly cured salmon, pomelo, cucumber, verjuice jelly

After socializing a bit with the crowd, we sat down and dinner began, our first dish was the lightly cured salmon, pomelo, cucumber, verjuice jelly to be paired with Souvignon Blanc Semillon 2014. Refreshing and easy on the palette.

Tasting note: On the nose it shows exotic fruit aromas, lychee, mango, rose, quince and spices. On the palate it exudes a powerful, burst of fruit, flattering and round with lightly spicy finishing. 

poached chicken and crispy noodles, shitake tea
poached chicken and crispy noodles, shitake tea

Second course was poached chicken and crispy noodles, shitake tea. Paired with Chardonnay 2013, Miles from Nowhere.

The shitake tea makes an interesting base with its slightly bitter after taste, reminding me of chicken essence in a way. Crispy noodle provided interesting texture to the otherwise quite muted poached chicken. Very Asian-ish.

Tasting note: Butterscotch and ripe stone fruit flavours, with a rich and luscious creamy mouth feel. A complex wine with a spicy oak finish

char grilled duck breast, sweet onion puree, apple and radish, balsamic reduction
char grilled duck breast, sweet onion puree, apple & radish, balsamic reduction

Third dish was char grilled duck breast, sweet onion puree, apple and radish, balsamic reduction. Paired with Merlot 2014.

Really love the duck breast with the hint of charred taste. The Merlot carries mulberry and red plum fruit aromas, a touch of earthy complexity that went well with duck.

Tasting notes: Medium ruby red in colour. Alluring strawberry, mulberry and red plum fruit aromas with subtle hint of French oak spice and a touch of earthy complexity.

Black Angus tenderloin, roasted pumpkin risotto, oyster mushroom, bone marrow and parsley sauce
black Angus tenderloin, roasted pumpkin risotto,
oyster mushroom, bone marrow and parsley sauce

The main dish was black Angus tenderloin, roasted pumpkin risotto, oyster mushroom, bone marrow and parsley sauce. Paired with Cabernet Souvignon 2012. While the Wagyu from Hanaya a couple days ago was heaven, I still enjoy Angus beef with its more profound texture.

Tasting notes: A powerful yet elegant wine. Soft and rich with full body. Well rounded tannins on the palate with concentrates fruit flavours and provides a great length on the finish.

Coconut rice, caramelized banana, candied coconut and chili
coconut rice, caramelized banana, candied coconut and chili

Coconut rice, caramelized banana, candied coconut and chili as dessert to end the night. Good food with excellent company, what a great way to start the weekends.

great company and awesome food with delectable wines
great company and awesome food with delectable wines

The other wines we tried were  Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2014 from Grape Expectations Estate, Margaret River, and Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc from Frankland Estate.

map to Saujana Kuala Lumpur

Address:
Senja
Saujana Golf & Country Club,
Jalan Lapangan Terbang SAAS,
40150 Selangor
GPS3.106865, 101.575285
Tel03-7846 1466
emailinfo@thesaujana.com

I don’t go to a lot of invited dinners, usually preferring local fair and hawker delights over dine-in restaurants, but when the invitation from Svago via MyCloudTable promising a 5-course all-truffle arrived, I just couldn’t say no.

'Diamond of the Kitchen" Fine Dining Event at Svago, KLCC
‘Diamond of the Kitchen” Fine Dining Event at Svago, KLCC

Svago is located at KLCC, around the fountain and closest to Mandarin Oriental Hotel. A pretty classy set up overlooking the greenery that is the KLCC garden.

Our dinner was called “Diamond of the Kitchen”, which denotes to black truffles, one of the most prized ingredients in European cuisines. Svago’s Chef de Cuisine, Miguel Huelamo Estrada, was the man behind this creation of 5 course dinner. We also had 4 exquisite wines to be paired with for the evening’s dinner.

Fantastic, isn’t it?

Butternut Squash Crème with White Truffle Yogurt
Butternut Squash Crème with White Truffle Yogurt

To start with, we have Butternut Squash Crème with White Truffle Yogurt, with the pairing of Craggy Range Te Muna Road Riesling, New Zealand.

The creme did have a pretty strong white truffle aroma and the butternut squash was smooth and creamy, but the sourness of yogurt was perhaps a little too strong for me. The riesling though, was fantastic, with intense aromatics of orange blossom, lime peel, and jasmine (of course this is from the tasting note, but I really liked the reisling)

Tuna Tartar with Shaved Truffle, Avocado, Pickled Red Radish, Corn and Alfalfa Sprouts
Tuna Tartar w Shaved Truffle, Avocado,
Pickled Red Radish, Corn and Alfalfa Sprouts

The second dish of the night was Tuna Tartar w Shaved Truffle, Avocado, Pickled Red Radish, Corn and Alfalfa Sprouts to paired with Klein Constantia KC Rose, South Africa.

The tuna tartar was one of my favorite dishes of the night, and thankfully the portion was pretty big as well. Those shaved truffles gave the tuna an extra dimension that really complements each other well. Avocado, pickled red radish and alfafa sprouts adds to the complexity and gave it texture. Excellent dish.

The Rose had a hint of citrus and orange blossom aroma while being crisp and displaying balanced acidity, a wine that’s very easy to drink and I suspect would go well with any sort of dessert.

Shrimp, Chicken and Sherry Wine preserved Truffle Empanada (European baked dumpling)
Shrimp, Chicken and Sherry Wine preserved Truffle Empanada
(European baked dumpling)

We continued the night with Shrimp, Chicken and Sherry Wine preserved Truffle Empanada (or European baked dumpling). An interesting dish that was a little crispy and really not too different from your regular Chinese style fried dumpling, though the presence of truffle did add to the flavor just a little bit. I wasn’t particularly impressed with this version to be honest.

We had Val de Sil Godello D.O Valdeorras from Spain to go with this dish. With the aroma of white flower and ripe pear and almonds with lemonpeel palate, the white wine did not disappoint.

Black Angus Prime Roast Beef with Truffle Buttered Potato Mash*
Black Angus Prime Roast Beef with Truffle Buttered Potato Mash

Main dish came in the form of Black Angus Prime Roast Beef with Truffle Buttered Potato Mash. As far as roast beef goes, you can’t really get much better than this, it’s soft, tender, and succulent. Though I would prefer a thick steak any day, you still can’t fault this dish. The truffle buttered infused mash too is something no mash potato fan can shy away.

The red wine that was chosen to be paired with the red meat was Bodegas Sottano Reserva de Familia Malbec, Argentina. The red was balanced yet complex while carrying the aroma of cherry and blackberry. I like its fruitiness.

White Chocolate Mousse Apricot Truffle and Shortbread
White Chocolate Mousse Apricot Truffle and Shortbread, KY & Joyee

We ended the night with White Chocolate Mousse Apricot Truffle and Shortbread, a dessert that is pretty ordinary except for the apricot truffle. Those bits of apricot had a taste that is very unique, I’ve had truffle with meat, butter, and even bread, but never with fruit, and I could only describe it as excellent!

Overall it was a more than decent meal with certainly more hits than misses. We love the atmosphere and certainly welcomed the explanation of the wines by the Sommelier.

I also want to thank mycloudtable.com for organizing this session.

map of KLCC

Address:
Svago Cucina e Musica
Kuala Lumpur City Center
Lot G45B-136,
Suria KLCC, Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.158126, 101.711833
Tel: 03-2163 0188

Midi 57 at Jalan Bangkung is the little sister of Le Midi at Bangsar Shopping Centre, one with a more casual setting and features a little more fun going menu with entrees such as suckling pig, oven baked pizza, pot plates, a varieties of tapas, and a good selection of cocktails and wine to go with.

Midi 57 at Jalan Bangkung, Bangsar
Midi 57 at Jalan Bangkung, Bangsar

Located at Jalan Bangkung makes parking a relatively pain free affair compared to the busier part of Bangsar, certainly a welcoming asset for those who’s had experience going round and round Telawi area in their cars.

Seatings are semi-alfresco, with a pretty big and well equipped bar spotting a few flat screen TVs for those who like to catch up with their favorite sporting events with a bit of alcohol laden drinks.

Caprese Salad with Parma Ham
Caprese Salad with Parma Ham

On this review session, we started out with my one of my favorite Mediterranean dishes – Caprese salad with Parma Ham (RM48) that was prepared with organic tomato and buffalo mozzarella in balsamic reduction and pesto sauce. Parma ham never disappoint, and the buffalo mozzarella certainly gave it an extra kick. 

This is a dish that goes well with any drink, be it wine, cocktail, or beer. Salad does a good job of substituting rock melon in this case.

Chicken Fingers in Red Wine and Rosemary Batter , Mussels and Prawns in Beer Batter
Chicken Fingers in Red Wine and Rosemary Batter , Mussels and Prawns in Beer Batter

Continuing with tapas, we had chicken fingers in red wine and rosemary batter (RM 18) that goes very well with draught beer , mussels and prawns in beer batter (RM 18) is another dish that is easy to consume and pairs well with sweet cocktail or any white wine, such as the Secret Berticot Sauvignon Blanc served here.

Potato & Ham Croquette, Crispy Foccacia, Porchetta Pizza
Potato & Ham Croquette, Crispy Foccacia, Porchetta Pizza

Potato & ham croquette (RM 18) with walnut crust is a surprisingly simple yet delicious treat, reminds me a little of bergedil, but more refine and certainly beat the likes of hash brown by a mile.

Crispy Foccacia (RM 15) was very light and crispy, dip in the specially prepared rosemary, garlic, and olive oil mixture releases its aroma and taste, something to be munched away and perfect for carbo loading.

We also enjoyed the Porchetta pizza (RM 29), the crust was thin and soaked with the goodness of porchetta, ie: the moist boneless pork roast of Italian culinary tradition. The accompanying salad was there just in case you need to freshen up your palate from those porky yumminess, though the same can be achieved with a sip of wine.

Spaghetti Carbonara and Lasagna, Midi 57 Bar Burger, Pot Plates
Spaghetti Carbonara and Lasagna, Midi 57 Bar Burger, Pot Plates

The spaghetti  carbonara will surely be a treat for those who likes it creamy (I don’t), while lagsana (RM 28) with tomato,mozarella, basil, and parmesan turned out to be rather excellent despite being meatless. If I had to be vegetarian for any length of time, I want this.

Midi 57 bar burger (RM 28) is prepared with slow cook mince pork ,tomato, lettuce, red onion & Swiss cheese ,homemade toasted bun, and served with French fries. Unlike most pork burger that tends to be a little too dry, this version was spot on. 

For those who like everything in a single dish, the chicken (RM 25) or lamb leg (RM 28) pot plates will serve you well. The avian version comes with black olives, mushroom, and rosemary sauce, while the lamb leg braised in Guinness sauce and served with Sichuan pepper and onion. Both are pretty strong tasting dishes, and perhaps a little too strong if you don’t have a glass of cold beer to wash down with.

Chocolate and Ginger Ganache, Chocolate Bomb
Chocolate and Ginger Ganache, Chocolate Bomb

As for dessert, Chef Andrea Alimenti prepared chocolate and ginger ganache as well as chocolate bomb for us during the review. Both were exquisite and we certainly enjoyed them. Your mileage may vary on this though, as the type of dessert at Midi 57 changes on a weekly basis.

a good selection of cocktails and wine
a good selection of cocktails and wine

Midi 57 certainly strikes the right chords when it comes to balancing food, ambiance, and pricing. I still want more of those Parma ham!

location map of Midi 57

Address:
Midi 57 Restaurant & Bar
57 Jalan Bangkung, Bukit Bandaraya
59100 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.138232, 101.668810
Tel: 03-2095 1381
Hours11am-12am daily

 

Previously under the Jacob’s Creek portfolio, St. Hugo Wine now stepped out from the shadow and stake its claim as a stand-alone brand, we were invited to the coming-out party held at Las Carretas, USJ.

During the event, we got to sample wines from St. Hugo as well as Jocob’s Creek and Wyndham Estate.

St. Hugo Wine at Las Carretas, USJ Taipan
St. Hugo Wine at Las Carretas, USJ Taipan

Incidentally, I last went to Las Carretas at USJ a little more than 8 years ago. It was the first proper Mexican restaurant I’ve visited in Klang Valley, and I believe I actually had my first taste of margarita there.

I am glad that the restaurant still thrives, and now even spots a branch at Ampang.

Steve Meckiff, Global Wine Ambassador at Pernod Ricard Winemakers
Steve Meckiff, Global Wine Ambassador at Pernod Ricard Winemakers

Our night started out with a variety of appetizer, including mille feuille of tuna spread, baked tartlet of Emmental cheese, and cream puffs. The bite size snacks were good, especially when you had Jacob’s Creek Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir  to wash them down. I like the sparkly’s crisp finish and citrus flavour.

Steve Meckiff, the global wine ambassador at Pernod Ricard Winemakers, then told us about the story of St. Hugo wines, and how it rose to prominence for a brand that started in 1983, relatively young for this industry.

baked Norwegian salmon with George Wyndham Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2012
baked Norwegian salmon with George Wyndham Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2012

Our first course was baked Norwegian salmon presented on a robust lemon butter sauce. The fish is paired with George Wyndham Semillon Sauvignon Blanc – 2012.

I’ve always like semillon sauvignon blanc, with semillon giving it that extra fruity taste that goes very well with fish or poultry. The pairing is definitely spot on and  very easy to drink. The fish was expertly prepared and not overly baked either, almost as good as those prepared sous-vide.

crab meat chowder and a sorbet as palate cleanser
crab meat chowder and a sorbet as palate cleanser

Next we had crab meat chowder with Jacob’s Creek Reserve Chardonnay 2012. The chowder simmered in root vegetable and thickened with Idaho potatoes with a hint of aged cherry. I’m not so sure about the cherry part but the chowder was most excellent, something that I can have for breakfast at least twice a week.

The chardonnay has attractive aroma that pairs well with the chowder.

slow cooked grass-fed Australian lamb rack, St Hugo Barossa Shiraz
slow cooked grass-fed Australian lamb rack, St Hugo Barossa Shiraz

Our main course was the slow cooked grass-fed Australian lamb rack, presented with on a ginger and thyme infused sauce that was so irresistible. We tried the St. Hugo Barossa Shiraz 2010 as well as the St. Hugo Connawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 to go with the red meat.

I like the Shiraz with the slightly spicier note, while the Cabernet Sauvignon will suit those who enjoys elegant fruit characters, toasty oak and long, fine tannins. You can’t go wrong either way.

KY, Latha, Evelyn, Dennis, and Steve Meckiff
KY, Latha, Evelyn, Dennis, and Steve Meckiff

It was certainly a most enjoyable wine and dine session, thanks to the good people at Millennium Associates and Pernod Ricard for the invitation. You can find St. Hugo’s wine at major wine retailers.

map to Las Carretas at USJ Taipan

Address:
Las Carretas
No 29 USJ 10/1F
47620 Subang UEP
Selangor

GPS: 3.047943, 101.583163
Tel: 03-5637 3058

Nook at Aloft KL is a pretty funky all-day dining restaurant that serves international and Asian cuisine.

The restaurant set up reminds me of those futuristic movies back in the 80s, little squarish pods that has a bench, chairs, and even come complete with artificial turf. Among the three Starwood hotels at KL Sentral area, this one is definitely the most hip.

Nook at Aloft, playful & hip
Nook at Aloft, playful & hip

Earlier this month, together with a couple other reviewers, we were invited to sample the MIGF (Malaysian International Gourmet Festival) menu at Nook.

MIGF is about bringing the best out of the world class chefs who are already working at the restaurant (instead of one off “import” from overseas). It is about paying a little extra to get a more pleasant fine dining experience with quality ingredients and first class service.

At Nook, Chef Steven Seow flexes his creative mind and came up with this very interesting set of dishes. The festival runs throughout the entire October, 2013 (yes, this blog post is way late.)

smoked scallop umai sushi, duck confit, Villa Maria Chardonnay, NZ
smoked scallop umai sushi, duck confit, Villa Maria Chardonnay, NZ

The starting dish is smoked scallop umai sushi, duck confit with pomegranate and yogurt sphere. A two part dish that is served with the soya sauce on the little plastic drip thingy.

The sushi rice is coated with a fine layer of ebiko, and the scallop prepared with method inspired  by umai (a traditional Sarawakian seafood preparation method, I had it over Mabul/Sipadan trip thanks to Irene). Duck confit with yogurt sphere provided a different texture and savoury taste, I particularly liked the bit of fried duck skin on top.

We had Villa Maria Chardonnay from New Zealand to start the dinner. Lovely pairing.

Sarawak lobster and ablone laksa, Leffe Blonde
Sarawak lobster and ablone laksa, Leffe Blonde

Next up was the Sarawak lobster & abalone laksa with organic soba noodle. This was a dish unlike any I’ve tried, a sort of traditional hawker dish meet fine dining.

The soup is sourced all the way from Sarawak to ensure that it was authentic and just right. Lobster and abalone definitely provided a huge dose of luxury to this dish, and I thought the use of soba noodle was a clever touch to lighten up the dish a little bit too. Some of us asked for extra soup cos it was so delicious!

A glass of cold Leffe Blonde went well with this spicy dish.

p/s: the hawker version at Bangsar is one of my favourites.

wagyu beef cheek rendang, Madfish Chiraz, Australia
wagyu beef cheek rendang, Madfish Chiraz, Australia

Continuing with the same philosophy, the next dish was Wagyu beef cheek rendang with farm vegetables, archar jelatah, and turmeric coconut rice.

Last I had something similar to this dish was the big lunch box at EEST, Westin back in 2009, and this definitely brought back the memory. The beef cheek was superb and as per Wagyu standard, super tender and flavourful. The turmeric coconut rice carries a nice and not overly strong fragrance, with two quails egg sitting on top of some sambal should you want to spice it up a bit.

Red goes well with beef, so we had Madfish Chiraz from Australia to wash down the meat.

Chef Steven Seow with the 8 treasure ice kacang
Chef Steven Seow with the 8 treasure ice kacang

Concluding the dinner was another playful invention by Chef Steven Seow – the 8 treasure ice kacang. Basically shaved ice with 8 different ingredients such as lychee, blackberries, nangka, peanuts and so forth with 5 different syrup served on the side in syringes. Mix and match it the way you want and be responsible if you ruined your own dessert.

We had fun with this but my advice is to mix it up quick cos the ice tends to melt and create a hardened outer layer if you spend too much time taking photos.

me with Trixha & other food reviewers at Nook, Aloft KL
me with Trixha & other food reviewers at Nook, Aloft KL

The menu is priced at RM 280+ per set for what you see here. The version without alcohol is RM 180+ per person, and for those with smaller stomach, you can go light for RM 160+, which exclude the wagyu dish but does come with a glass of Chardonnay. Every set comes with coffee or tea too.

I’d want to check out Nook’s normal menu too.

Aloft KL map

Address:
Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral
No 5, Jalan Stesen Sentral,
50470 Kuala Lumpur
GPS3.13295, 101.68619
Tel: 03 2723 1188