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Tag / chinese cuisine

A couple weeks ago I was invited to Di Wei Chinese Restaurant at Empire Hotel to sample their mooncakes for the upcoming Mid-Autumn festival as well as a few of their new fish dishes.

It was my second time visiting this rather classy non-halal Chinese restaurant, with the first time sampling some alcohol product that was never brought into the country commercially (Yuzu!), hence the lack of prior blog entry.

Di Wei Chinese cuisine restaurant at Empire Hotel, Subang Jaya
Di Wei Chinese cuisine restaurant at Empire Hotel, Subang Jaya

The restaurant is accessible from the hotel as well as directly from the top floor of the shopping mall. Like most Chinese restaurants, Di Wei carries a pretty decent selection of dishes, from bbq meat, traditional double boiled soup, dried seafood such as abalone and sea cucumber, live seafood, beef, pork, chicken, duck, beancurd, egg, vegetable dishes as well as fried rice and noodle.

On our review session, we sampled three new fish dishes as well as their mooncakes.

Braised Marble Goby Fish with Iced Beancurd and Pork Belly
Braised Marble Goby Fish with Iced Beancurd and Pork Belly

First dish was braised marble goby fish with iced beancurd and pork belly (RM 168++ per portion).

Marble goby is one of the most prized freshwater fish for its smooth texture and layering meat. The usual preparation method usually by steaming, but the chef at Di Wei decided to deep fry the fish and braise with special sauce with addition of pork belly and iced beancurd.

The beancurd, being frozen prior has many air pockets that soaks up the sauce, which makes for an interesting way to enjoy the dish. The fish did not lose it’s original taste with the deep frying process, but gained extra smoothness from pork belly. I love it.

Steamed Seabass in Assam Sauce
Steamed Seabass in Assam Sauce

Next up was steamed seabass in assam sauce (RM 122++ per 100 gram). It was basically a high class version of asam fish that is quite common in many Chinese restaurants, with seabass doing the major lifting in the quality department. This dish should be consumed quickly if served in the heated bowl, as the heat may otherwise overcook the fish over time.

Pan Fried Giant Grouper with Soy Sauce
Pan Fried Giant Grouper with Green Apple Sauce

Pan fried giant grouper with green apple sauce (RM 23++ per 100 gram) is a dish that may not get approval for giant grouper lovers who love to have this fish the traditional way – steamed with superior soya sauce.

I tend to agree, but pan frying the fish gives the skin a new and exciting texture to ponder about, with the addition of apple sauce making it pretty interesting. It is a bold attempt no doubt, but one that hasn’t surpass the traditional cooking method of this prized seafood yet, I’m afraid.

traditional baked mooncakes, RM 18-23 each
traditional baked mooncakes, RM 18-23 each

So then, lets move to mooncakes.

The traditional mooncakes from Di Wei we sampled are as follow:

  • pandan lotus single yolk
  • white lotus single yolk
  • black sesame single yolk
  • pure lotus single yolk
  • red bean
  • bamboo charcoal single yolk

My favorite being the bamboo charcoal and white lotus single yolk, and my complain is – why not double yolks? or even better, quadruple yolks?

snow skin mooncakes, RM 18-23 each
snow skin mooncakes, RM 18-23 each

As for snow skin mooncakes that are best chilled, we had the following:

  • snow skin white lotus single yolk
  • snow skin green tea single yolk
  • snow skin black sesame single yolk
  • snow skin bamboo charcoal single yolk

I like them all, but my favorites were black sesame and bamboo charcoal versions.

Di Wei's 3 meat platter
Di Wei’s 3 meat platter

Since mooncakes and three dishes of fish weren’t exactly fulfilling enough to our collective stomachs, we ordered Di Wei’s three meat platter as extra (small – RM40++, medium – RM60++, big – RM80++).

The BBQ pork (chasiu) was perhaps not the best I’ve had, but the roast duck very good, and roast pork turned out to be really excellent.

So if you’re into mooncakes, Di Wei offers some excellent choices, and for good quality fish in some non traditional cooking style, this is also a place you should check out.

Empire Mall map

Address:
Di Wei
L1, F20 & F21 

Empire Hotel, Jalan SS16/1,
Subang Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan
GPS3.082109, 101.582716
Tel03-5565 1228

A couple weeks ago I was invited to a lunch review at the new Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur. While I have been to the hotel previously for events, I had no idea how good looking the restaurant on the 38th floor was until this visit.

Grand Hyatt is located at KLCC, directly next to the KL Convention Center on Jalan Pinang. The lobby of the hotel is actually at the top floor (39th), and you get to marvel at the beautiful KL city view through those floor to ceiling glasses while waiting to check in. Marvellous concept, I was impressed.

Thirty8 at Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur, with 360 degree city view
Thirty8 at Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur, with 360 degree city view

Walking down a flight of stairs (or take the elevator if you would) from the lobby and there’s THIRTY8. THIRTY8 takes up the whole floor and consists of several open and interactive kitchens serving traditional Chinese cuisine, Western dishes, as well as Japanese fair and a bar.

With huge panel of glasses that span across two floors, THIRTY8 is flooded with natural sunlight. The ambiance was simply one of the bests I’ve ever dined in. If you want to impress someone, this should surely be in the short list.

the Chinese chef from Guangzhou
the Chinese chef from Guangzhou

Since there are actually several different open kitchens on the same floor, I like to think of THIRTY8 as several different restaurants without walls in between. The advantage is that you can order different cuisines and share the same table. It’s almost like a extremely high class food court if you will.

For our session, we sampled the Chinese set menu. There’s a minimum order of 2 pax. The sets are priced at RM 188, RM 208, and RM 238. We had the fortune of trying the RM 238 version.

radish in sweet soy sauce, pacific clam with kailan, jellyfish and fungus in vinegar
radish in sweet soy sauce, pacific clam with kailan, jellyfish and fungus in vinegar

The first there were cold dishes. Radish in sweet soy sauce is a little bit like pickle but a bit juicier and crunchy, a bit of an acquired taste but I like it.

Pacific clam with kailan was succulent and fresh tasting, I’ve had it prepared as sushi & wasabi, but it actually does go well with the kailan as well.

My favorite cold dish turned out to be jellyfish and fungus in vinegar. This dish carries a bit of a kick with bits of chilli in it, and I really liked the mixture of fungus and jellyfish prepared in a way that it is almost impossible to tell apart by their texture or taste, but half way between chewing you’ll notice the subtle differences and be rewarded by the intricacy of it.

crispy prawns with bread crumbs and garlic, double boiled chicken soup, fish maw, papaya & snow fungus
crispy prawns with bread crumbs and garlic,
double boiled chicken soup, fish maw, papaya & snow fungus

The last appetizer was crispy prawns with bread crumbs & garlic. It was fresh and I thought the chef balanced the breading and spiciness from dried chilli pretty well. The skin is almost like in between butter prawn & fish & chips. I liked it.

Soup was next, and it was a double boiled affair involving fish maw, papaya, and snow fungus. The soup was very very sweet but in a good way, I believe partly contributed by the addition of papaya. It was very good, and I really loved the whole chunk of fish maw in the bowl. It was boiled till very soft but yet retain it’s structural firmness, excellent.

braised whole abalone, mushroom, oyster sauce
braised whole abalone, mushroom, oyster sauce

Braised whole abalone was our first main dish. It was a simple pairing with broccoli and black mushroom in oyster sauce. The execution was very good, with abalone prepared to the perfect consistency that makes it very easy to manage. It was a good change of taste after the stronger tasting prawns.

braised boston lobster, scallops, vegetables
braised boston lobster, scallops, vegetables

Continuing our seafood affair was the braised Boston lobster with scallops and vegetable. These two are some of my favourite seafood ingredients and they did not disappoint. I was imagining the broth to be in the most luxurious wat tan hor ever, one that I’d be able to eat everyday.

steamed cod fish, black bean chili sauce; Chinese style salty glutinous dumplings
steamed cod fish, black bean chili sauce; Chinese style salty glutinous dumplings

Next up was steamed cod with black bean and chili sauce, and it was just perfect. Black cod is generally not easy to mess up, but also pretty difficult to prepare it that much different from every other kitchen. I like the version here with the condiments really enhancing the seafood very well.

Our last dish of the day was Chinese style salty glutinous dumpling, and well, to be honest, I think it was just weird. I’m used to dumpling being sweet with maybe black sesame fillings in ginger soup, but this one’s .. salty, and had chicken. As it turned out, this is the traditional dish in Guangdong Province to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, as explained by the chef.

I’m guessing it’s one of those things you do just because it’s a tradition and maybe not necessarily because it tastes good. That or it’s an acquired taste.

baked and snow skin mooncake, KY & Joyce
baked and snow skin mooncake, KY & Joyce

After the set meal, we also sampled some of the mooncakes offered by THIRTY8. The mooncakes here are made in house as well, and while not overly fancy, they were of good quality. This post is a bit too late to talk about mooncakes now so I’ll just leave it at that.

If you want good food with a great view to match, THIRTY8 would fit the bill. I’ve yet to try other cuisines there but as far as Chinese cuisine goes, you won’t go wrong.

grand hyatt kuala lumpur map

Address:
THIRTY8
Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur
12 Jalan Pinang
50450 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.15381, 101.71234
Tel: 03-2182 1234 ext. 2340

It’s two more weeks to Mid Autumn festival, a time where Chinese everywhere light up lantern, look at the fullest moon of the year, and gives each other mooncakes while attending those parties for the sake of their kids. Well, at least this is what traditional families in small towns do, in KL, maybe slightly less so.

Anyway, a week or so ago we went to Prince Hotel to sample their mooncakes for 2013 as well as some of their pork free dimsum. The mooncakes will be available now till 19th September, 2013.

Tai Zi Heen at Prince Hotel KL
Tai Zi Heen at Prince Hotel KL

Behind the Chinese restaurant at Prince Hotel KL, Tai Zi Heen is a chef who was trained both in traditional Chinese cuisine as well as Western cooking method. Thus, many of the dishes, including dimsum and mooncakes, are created with a bit of influence from the west.

While some might readily dismiss them as gimmicky or not “pure”, I always applaud chefs who dare to push the limit and create something out of the ordinary. After all, how would any cuisine improves if you only stick to what’s taught?

four types of steamed dimsum
four types of steamed dimsum 

We sampled four types of steamed dimsum.

My favorite being the purple spinach dumplings topped with Mexican clam, the taste of seafood and texture of those clam (something like in between lala & scallops) were really fantastic.

The prawn dumpling with crab meat and dried scallop as well as crystal yam dumpling with chicken and mushroom were both pretty good as well, with the latter come in a beautiful flowery shape.

The meatless choice of crystal vegetable and mushroom dumpling though, was a bit too bland for me, but perhaps those who are vegetarian would enjoy it more.

crispy bean curd with prawn & cheese, yum puffs with beef bacon & chives, crispy salmon & cheese roulade
crispy bean curd with prawn & cheese, yum puffs with beef bacon & chives,
crispy salmon & cheese roulade

I enjoyed the fried dimsum here more than their steamed counterparts. Crispy bean curd with prawn & cheese, yum puffs with beef bacon & chives, as well as the crispy salmon & cheese roulade were all pretty creative and carry a taste that isn’t very typical of traditional fried dimsum, but in a good way.

I felt that ingredients such as cheese and salmon gave the dishes an extra edge and really went will the those soft crispy pastry.

shanghai dumpling with crab meat & broth, beef patties with leeks
shanghai dumpling with crab meat & broth, beef patties with leeks

The “xiao long bao” alternative here comes in a small bowl, and is definitely not “xiao” (small). Stuffed with crab meat and those sweet, savory broth, it was quite a treat.

The beef patties with leeks, mayo and teriyaki sauce seems like something out of a Japanese restaurant, and tasted as such as well. I was happy to have a bit of beef after the mostly fish and chicken dishes sampled above.

2013 mooncakes from Tai Zi Heen
2013 Tai Zi Heen mooncake collection

Then there’s the mooncakes, Tai Zi Heen’s mooncakes were all handmade in house, we sampled eight different varieties and just about the only problem I have is that they don’t have a version with double salted egg yolk! gahh.

Here are the flavors:

  • baked five variety of nuts, rum & raisin (with alcohol)
  • mini snow skin chocolate and whisky (with alcohol)
  • baked white lotus paste and single egg yolk
  • baked low-sugar white lotus paste with sunflower seeds
  • baked pandan paste with melon seeds
  • baked with red bean paste
  • mini snow skinw ith red bean paste
  • mini snow skin with pandan lotus paste and mung bean paste
  • baked premium durian lotus paste
  • mini snow skin with passion fruit cheese cake

Of all these flavors, I find the passion fruit cheese cake version to be most interesting and out of the ordinary. It tasted like a mix between really good sorbet and snowskin mooncake, in a good way. This is a must try if you’re adventurous. The traditional lotus paste with egg yolk version holds up with some of the bests I’ve tried as well.

KY, Kelly, Eunice, Dennis, Evelyn, Sarah
KY, Kelly, Eunice, Dennis, Evelyn, Sarah

A word of caution for Muslim friends, while the food is pork free, some of the mooncakes do come with small amount of alcohol; and as far as pork free dimsum goes, the dishes we sampled here were of pretty high standard and for sure, worthy of the dishes. I like the creativity and the different ingredients used as well.

For weekends and public holidays, they also run an ala carte buffet dimsum for RM 45++ which features 45 types of their best selling dimsum dishes.

map to Prince Hotel KL

Address:
Tai Zi Heen
Prince Hotel
No.4 Jalan Conlay,
50450 Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia
GPS: 3.15041, 101.71467
Tel 03-2170 8888
Hours: Lunch & Dinner daily