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Le Midi is a name that I’ve came across for quite sometime, and it was a privilege to finally be invited for a food tasting session in conjunction with the arrival of Chef Andrea Alimenti, who has some 30 years of culinary experience since graduating from Aurelio Saffi Florence Hotel School in 1983.

Chef Andrea Alimenti is a multiple Michelin star chef, with his first coming at the tender age of 20, then at age 30 he left Florence to open his own restaurant with some partners (the renowned Aquamatta in Capolona) for 15 years… which also received a Michelin star. It is not common that we have the opportunity to sample creations from a chef with such pedigree, we felt very honored.

Le Midi at Bangsar Shopping Center, with live nautilus
Le Midi at Bangsar Shopping Center, with live nautilus

The restaurant is located on 3rd floor in the East wing of Bangsar Shopping Centre, the interior oozes a sense of mystic and class, with a couple nautilus in a round aquarium at the centre of the dining hall. This was actually the first time I witness these pelagic marine mollusks outside Aquaria, way cool.

Anyway, we’re here for the food, and you can’t order the nautilus.

eggplant nest with truffle egg yolk and parmesan cheese
eggplant nest with truffle egg yolk and parmesan cheese

Out first dish was eggplant nest with truffle egg yolk and parmesan cheese. A dish with deceptively simple base ingredient – poached egg and eggplant, manage wow us with it’s wonderful combination of texture and taste. The eggplant fried to a texture not unlike bacon, the egg poached perfectly, and shaved parmesan with truffle gives it that touch of complexity. I was impressed.

mozzarella ravioli in tomato consommé
mozzarella ravioli in tomato consommé

Next up was mozzarella ravioli in tomato consommé, a classic Italian dish with a well balanced taste of acidity from tomato consommé countering the stronger mozzarella cheese within the ravioli.

A glass of Secret de Berticot Sauvignon Blanc proved to be a worthy companion for the above two dishes.

homemade Tagliolini in saffron butter whiskey salmon cream and crunchy almonds
homemade Tagliolini in saffron butter whiskey salmon cream and crunchy almonds

Next we had homemade Tagliolini in saffron butter whiskey salmon cream and crunchy almonds. A type of pasta popular in Emilia-Romagna, a region in Italy.

While we love the soft smooth texture of the pasta, I thought the salmon cream was a little too mild, but nothing a dash of sea salt won’t help. We also had Secret Berticot Rosé to go along with the pasta. Though the Rosé was a decent pairing with pasta, we felt that the Savignon Blanc was actually suited for this occasion.

seabass with fine herb crust on spinach bed
seabass with fine herb crust on spinach bed

Next up – seabass with fine herb crust on spinach bed. Seabass, or barramundi, is quite a popular fish in local cuisine, but I’ve never had it prepare this way before. The crust gives it a crispy herbal taste while leaving the texture of the fish still tender and moist. The spinach did a fine job as a side kick, and we had more white wine to go with this.

It was already a rather good night at this point.

tenderloin in old Madeira sauce with foie gras and fig
tenderloin in old Madeira sauce with foie gras and fig

Then came my favorite dish of the night, tenderloin in old Madeira sauce with foie gras and fig.

When it comes to beef, I’m usually one who likes to have it as is. Be it ribeye, NY strip, tenderloin, of Black Angus, Wagyu, you name it. I like to have it medium rare with nothing on it.

On this occasion though, I was proven wrong. The Madeira sauce and fig really enhanced the taste of the already excellent beef. The foie gras, of course, managed to kick it up a notch. Give me this any day and I’ll be the happiest man.

Red meat deserves some red wine to go with, so we had a glass of Château Pouroutou red to go with (I believe it was merlot). Perfect.

dessert galore!
dessert galore!

As usual, by the time we were well full, dessert is served. Not one, but five creations from the good chef. I took a bite from all of them and wished that I had a bigger stomach to properly devour them. They are:

  • Millefoglie with Chantilly cream and caramel
  • Vanilla panacotta and strawberry coulis
  • Chocolate fondente and mini chocolate cup
  • Chocolate tender heart with Amarena cherry parfait
  • Orange cheesecake and chocolate drawing

KY, Haze, Mei & Josen, Melissa, Kelly, Chengyi, Chef Andrea Alimenti
KY, Haze, Mei & Josen, Melissa, Kelly, Chengyi, Chef Andrea Alimenti

It was a great dinner with even better company, thank you Melissa for being a generous and wonderful host. We will be back to Le Midi.

map to Bangsar Shopping Center

Address:
Le Midi Restaurant
3rd Floor, East Wing,
Bangsar Shopping Centre,

285 Jalan Maarof,
Bukit Bandaraya, 59000 Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.142808,101.667448
Tel:  03-2094 1318

While still in the year of Snake, I got an invite to sample Chef Malcolm Goh’s dishes at Samplings on the Fourteenth at Berjaya Times Square.

For those who aren’t familiar with Chef Malcolm Goh, he is one of the chefs on AFC’s Great Dinners of the World (together with Johnny Fua and Sherson Lian of Elegantology). Pairing with popular Malaysian radio DJ and host, Tham Zher Peen, Chef Malcolm is now back on AFC’s Back to the Streets 2.

Chef Malcom Goh & host Tham Zher Peen for AFC's Back to the StreetsChef Malcom Goh & host Tham Zher Peen (lower left) for AFC’s Back to the Streets

The show features chef Malcolm and Zher tracking down and replicate Malaysia’s outstanding street food at the BERJAYA University College of Hospitality kitchen, which was also where we had this dinner.

For more information of the show, check out asianfoodchannel.com/show/back-to-the-streets-2

roasted portobello with smoked garlic vinaigrette
roasted portobello with smoked garlic vinaigrette

We started the night with roasted portobello pave with garlic vinaigrette, mushroom tortellini with tomato fondue and herb salad. The portobello fashioned into a cube and was one of my favorite items from the whole night, nicely balanced by the freshness of salad and the more subdued taste of tortellini. Very nice.

salmon mi-cuit with pickled beets, cauliflower mousseline
salmon mi-cuit with pickled beets, cauliflower mousseline

Second course was salmon mi-cuit with pickled beets, cauliflower mousseline, potato chips and spiced butter  sauce.

Mi cuit roughly means half cooked in French, which is a fine preparation method for salmon with its delicate texture that tends to become tough and harsh when overcooked. The accompanying  pickle and potato chips compliment the fish well.

sous vide chicken with crispy skin, creamy leak stew
sous vide chicken with crispy skin, creamy leak stew

Third course was sous vide chicken with crispy skin, creamy leak stew, golden potatoes and red pepper emulsion.

Sous vide is a method of cooking where meat is sealed in a vacuum packed plastic bag, then dipped in a a water bath with accurately regulated temperature. By cooking chicken this way (which I didn’t realise then), chicken breasts remain moist while fully cooked to the internal temperature of 165ºF.

I love the leak stew, and absolutely enjoyed the crispy skin (needed more of that), and while I never liked chicken breast, this method made it pretty decent, but did not change my stance on chicken breast.

with Eelaine, Mei, Josen, Chengyi, Frank, and Kelly
with Ahfa, Mei, Josen, Chengyi, Frank, and Kelly

We ended the night with coconut ice cream and blackcurrant sphere. The blackcurrant spheres were a jolt to my senses, absolutely delightful! I did like the coconut ice cream too, but left to wonder how it’d be if we had stuck to having gula melaka sphere instead.

It was a good dinner and more than validated the ability of Chef Malcolm Goh. Check out the show!

map to Berjaya Times Square

Address:
Samplings on the 14th,
Berjaya Times Square Hotel ,
14th Floor Berjaya Times Square,
55100 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.14271, 101.71061
Tel: 03-2117 8000 ext 8131
Fax: 03-2117 8155

AFC’s latest foray in their long line of food & restaurant themed series comes in the form of  “Reality Bites: Rise Above with Style”, featuring two celebrity chefs – Johnny Fua & Sherson Lian of Elegantology.

I was invited to the premier of the show followed by a dinner at Elegantology, and since I’ve yet to have a taste at this rather unique restaurant that I’ve heard so much about recently, it was an opportunity I had to take.

Reality Bites premiere at Publika
Reality Bites premiere at Publika

Reality Bites is a six part series starting 10th December, at 9pm every Tuesday on AFC. The show takes part in Elegantology Gallery & Restaurant, featuring not only the glitz and glamour of running the kitchen of a higher end restaurant, but also the day-to-day challenge and many issues faced by the two chefs and their crews.

Chef Johnny Fua, Chef Sherson Lian, & the director of Reality Bites
Chef Johnny Fua, Chef Sherson Lian, & the director of Reality Bites

During the event, we were shown the first episode of Reality Bites in its entirety, alongside with an on-stage session with Chef Johnny Fua & Sherson Lian, the director of the series, as well as the creative director of Elegantology, Beatrice Looi.

So if you want to see a restaurant themed reality series that is closer to home, tune on your TV Tuesday 9pm on AFC!

some homemade bread to start, love the truffle butter
some homemade bread to start, love the truffle butter

After that of course, is what I was even more interested in, the degustation menu at Elegantology.

We started out with Elegantology Baker’s choice, served with truffle butter florets, paprika chickpeas hummus, and EVOO (olive oil & balsamic vinegar?). I think we must have asked for extra truffle butter at least twice, it was very good.

Ceviche scallop, foie gras cube with braised shimeiji mushroom
Ceviche scallop, foie gras cube with braised shimeiji mushroom

Next up was ceviche scallop, paw paw kerabu, nam pla influenced Ponzu sesame drizzle. A dish that has some similarity in Sarawak’s umai, both using acid to lightly cook the seafood. Scallop was huge, juicy, and delicious, I can hae this often. The kerabu was an interesting experiment, tho one that I wouldn’t care too much for.

Foie gras cube, olive lemon soil, soy bean milk braised shimeiji mushroom is similar to chicken liver pate, but undoubtedly a lot more luxurious and sophisticated. The mushroom adds a welcoming change of texture which I do appreciate.

oxtail broth, brandied sea cucumber
oxtail broth, brandied sea cucumber

Continuing our course was a much needed soup dish in the form of oxtail broth with brandied sea cucumber. The oxtail is de-boned while sea cucumber provided the texture that’s similar to beef tendon, but with a dash of seafood sweetness. The soup itself carried a nice herbal aroma.

tomato sake granita, sour plum shaved. Josen, Mei, Cheng Yi & KY
tomato sake granita, sour plum shaved. Josen, Mei, Cheng Yi & KY

Tomato sake granita, sour plum shaved was chosen as a sort of intermission to the degustation dinner course. It was cold, sour, and a tad sweet, perfect as a palate cleanser before we continue with perhaps the most important dish.

kobe beef skewer, miso pineapple bearnaise
kobe beef skewer, miso pineapple bearnaise

Which was the kobe beef skewer with miso pineapple bearnaise. This was the first time I tasted kobe beef (well at least that’s what they claimed), and yes, it was every bit as awesome as the sterling reputation it carries. The meat was super tender with superb marbling, a melt-in-your-mouth feeling that somehow does not compromise on texture.

It was so good we jokingly asked for second servings from the waiter, who actually complied! Sometimes you can achieve a lot more in life by just asking. :D

barramundi, smoked muscovy duck glutinous rice; replated black forest gateau
barramundi, smoked muscovy duck glutinous rice; replated black forest gateau

The penultimate dish was barramundi, smoked muscovy duck glutinous rice. While the fish was fresh, it was perhaps just a tad too cooked for my liking, the glutinous rice was perfect though, goes especially well with the sambal-like sauce. Also, after the beef, nothing feels the same anymore.

The rather funky looking dessert was the replated black forest gateau, a bit of sponge, chocolate, ice cream, cherries, and cream all carefully arranged in a careless appearance. It was acceptable but perhaps did not live up to the capability of the restaurant. 

I really appreciate the idea behind Elegantology and their bravery in always experimenting with different dishes and menu. The overall dinner experience was very good, and while a couple dishes did not wow, they were mostly excellent, and most importantly, provide diners a different and unique gastronomic experience.

It was a wonderful night overall and I’m grateful for this opportunity.

map to Solaris Dutamas

Address:
Elegantology
35 Level G2, Publika, 

Solaris Dutamas, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-6206 5577
GPS3.170961, 101.665721

The month of Ramadan is just a little more than a week away, and for many of us in the corporate world, it is also a time where companies will host buka puasa dinners, giving employees a chance to break fast together and mingle a little.

It is also a time where hotels and restaurants get busy with Ramadan buffet offerings, and lucky me, I already got to sample what JW Marriott at Bukit Bintang has to offer for this holy month in Muslim Calendar.

buka puasa dinner at JW Marriott
buka puasa dinner at JW Marriott

The buffet at JW Marriott will feature 108 of the best Malaysian delicacies from various states of the country, gearing towards “preserving heritage”. From the dishes we sampled, it definitely seems like they are doing what is claimed.

Case in point – sambal tempoyak (fermented durian) is available!

you'll definitely love it if you like it spicy
you’ll definitely love it if you like it spicy

Other traditional kampung dishes includes tongkeng ayam (bishop’s nose), goreng bercili, daging salai masak lemak dengan bachang and kupang masak rampai too are on offer.

Of course, ulam, satey, soup tulang, ikan bakar, roast lamb, keropok ikan, various kuih muih, fruits, and assortment of curry and vegetable dishes are to be expected as well. The preview only showcased a portion of what’s to be offered on the actual buffet, and we are already spoilt for choices.

two of my favorite things - tempoyak and paku
two of my favorite things – sambal tempoyak and paku

As for the dining areas, the pool side at 6th floor and the Starhill conference centre on the 4th floor will be transformed to a Ramadan bazaar to replicate the kampung ambiance.

fruits, traditional kuih, and more
fruits, traditional kuih, and more

Oh, and in case you’re wondering how much this feast will cost?

  • RM 60++ per person at Conference center
  • RM 70++ per person at poolside area

Certainly a very competitive pricing considering the 5 star setting and the rather stellar offering in terms of dish choices. I sampled quite a few dishes from the spread, and most everything was top notch and “ori”, except perhaps for the ikan bakar pari which I thought was a bit too chewy (hopefully this gets fixed). The roast lamb, tempoyak, and prawn with petai were particularly outstanding.

For reservations, call 03-2719 8666 or e-mail bukapuasa@ytl hotels.com.my

cheng yi, shah, ciki, and I definitely had a great time
cheng yi, shah, ciki, and I definitely had a great time

Now I gotta wonder how other hotels within the area will respond.

map to JW Marriot KL

Address:
JW Marriot
183 Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur

GPS3.14765, 101.71372
Tel03-2715 9000