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Chinese New Year is around the corner, so I guess it is appropriate to participate in at least one CNY dinner review session, and since Intercontinental Hotel is nearby my workplace as well as having a sterling reputation in their culinary department, I decided that paying a visit to their Tao Chinese Cuisine for this very purpose should be a rewarding experience, and indeed it was.

Tao Chinese Cuisine at Intercontinental KL, with Chef Wong Lian You
Tao Chinese Cuisine at Intercontinental KL, with Chef Wong Lian You

Tao is headed by Chef Wong Lian You, who joined Intercontinental since 2012 to develop the concept behind this restaurant. The good chef has a long list of awards won in competitions, but above all, he is also humble character who does not shy away from being bold with his culinary inventions.

The CNY menu starts from 11 January to 22 February, 2016 and priced from RM 1,888. There’s also a 20% discount with payments made before 18 January 2016, but I guess this article is a little too late for that.

For our session, we tasted the Opulence set menu 3, priced at RM 2988 for a full table. A bottle of wine comes compliment with the dinner.

Bird’s nest with passion fruit sauce yee sang
Bird’s nest with passion fruit sauce yee sang

We started out with a rather special yee sang dish invented by Chef Wong – bird’s nest with passion fruit sauce yee sang. Other than traditional yee sang ingredients, there’s deep-fried salmon skin and bird’s nest in the mix, the use of fresh passion fruit as the base instead of palm sauce also made the experience rather unique.

I find myself enjoying it a bit too much actually.

Double-boiled fish maw with sea treasure soup
Double-boiled fish maw with sea treasure soup

Next up was double-boiled fish maw with sea treasure soup. The soup is served in individual bowl and packed with flavors  – there’s scallop, abalone, mushroom, chicken, and of course, fish maw. Certainly very satisfying, and beat the radish soup from my own kitchen by about 26.2 miles.

Braised eight treasureS duck
Braised eight treasures duck

Braised either treasure duck show cases the chef’s skill in combining different traditional ingredients in a duck braised to perfection. I don’t want to attempt to pretend that I remember the different individual ingredients, and was too busy chomping down the dish while other more serious journalists were taking notes.

Steamed Soloman star garoupa, stewed abalone with sea cucumber
Steamed Soloman star garoupa, stewed abalone with sea cucumber

CNY dinner menu is never complete without fish, and for this we have steamed Soloman star garoupa with braised tangerine skin, ginger, garlic and mushroom sauce. The fish was good and certainly packed with flavor, the tangerin skin gave it a bit of sophistication not usually associated with Chinese style fish. Part of me still want to have the good old old fashion steamed variety with soya sauce though.

Another classic dish served was the stewed abalone with sea cucumber and bean curd skin bag. This dish was executed as good as any I’ve tried in the past, and abalone is never disappointing.

Wok-fried AlaskaN king crab leg with salted egg sauce, lap mei fan
Wok-fried Alaskan king crab leg with salted egg sauce, lap mei fan

Fifth dish in the 7-course dinner is one that combines luxury with modern, perhaps Malaysian Chinese style of cooking – wok-fried Alaksan king crab leg with salted egg sauce.  Rich, strong tasting, and certainly delicious, the crab leg is also easy to handle and a definite joy to eat.

The penultimate dish was chef Wong’s lap mei fan – steamed glutinous rice with preserved duck leg, salted egg yolk and dried oyster. If you still have space left in your stomach by then, this dish will fit the bill just nice, if not, packing it home for next day’s breakfast is certainly a good alternative.

Pan-fried “ninko” with sesame seeds, salted bean paste dumpling served with chilled peach gum, papaya, snow fungus and glutinous dumpling in soya bean
desserts to end the night, KY & Xing Yi

For dessert, we had pan-fried “ninko” with sesame seeds, salted bean paste dumpling served with chilled peach gum, papaya, snow fungus and glutinous dumpling in soya bean, which actually sounds like two different dishes to me. I absolutely loved the ninko which carries a taste not entirely unlike salted caramel mixed with lotus paste + nian gao, you have to try it! The soya bean dessert also served as good and slightly sweetish ending to the awesome 7-course dinner.

I want to thank Lisa & Justina for the invitation, and Xing Yi for being the stand-in partner in crime for this session.

map to Intercontinental Hotel, KL

Address:
Tao Chinese Cuisine
Intercontinental Hotel

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

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

Over the years, from business traveling, meeting with friends, and invited reviews, I’ve seen quite a few buffet spreads. Hence, for the most parts, buffet offerings don’t excite me very much.

Then again, the Bubblier Sparkalite 4Cs Sunday Brunch at Intercontinental KL’s Serena Brasserie isn’t just any buffet spread.

Serena Brasserie, at ground floor Intercontinental KL
Serena Brasserie, at ground floor Intercontinental KL

Heading the kitchen is executive chef Darrell O’Neill, originally from Australia and has since left a trail of presence across the globe in countries such as New Zealand, UK, France, Hong Kong, Dubai, India, Maldives, and now, Malaysia. During his time at restaurant Al Mahara t the Burj Al Arab Hotel Dubai, the restaurant was awarded Best Seafood Restaurant by Time Out Dubai.

this is what we came here for, the Alaskan King Crab
this is what we came here for, the Alaskan King Crab

The concept of the Sunday buffet brunch at Intercontinental KL centeres around 4Cs – Crustaceans, Carvery, Chocolate, and Candy.

Crustaceans is what excites us the most, there were Alaskan King Crab, slippery lobster, tiger prawns, and cray fish. Under this “C” also includes catch of the days such as fresh white fish, marinated tuna steaks, oysters, mussels, scallops, salmon, and more.

yeap, bubbly too, and a host of seafood ready to eat
yeap, bubbly too, and a host of seafood ready to eat

If you haven’t had a chance to sample king crab due to the price, this buffet offers one of the best values. The seafood were fresh, tasty, and most importantly, plentiful. I think I had close to 10 oysters, a departure from norm as I usually don’t get more than a couple, they tasted so good!

cold cuts and little appetizer in shot glasses
cold cuts and little appetizer in shot glasses

The next C stands for Carvery – which basically means cooked meat that are freshly sliced. Here you’ll find roasted whole ribs, prime ribs, roast chicken/duck, and more. Trimmings such as Yokshire pudding, roast vegetable, and baked potato accompany these dishes well.

roast chicken & duck, local delights, and prime ribs too
roast chicken & duck, local delights, and prime ribs too

For those who wants to sample some local delights, they are available too. A good selection of traditional Malay, Chinese, and Indian dishes are available for your picking.

BBQ meat & sausage, tandoori chicken, smoked salmon
BBQ meat & sausage, tandoori chicken, smoked salmon

They’ve also set up a BBQ area right outside the air-conditioned dine in section. Here you get freshly grilled lamb rack, chicken tandoori, sausage, baby chicken, satay, and even freshly smoked salmon and “DIY” burger stand with mini-Augus beef sliders and mini-chicken satay sliders.

fruits, a variety of cheese, desserts, and cakes
fruits, a variety of cheese, desserts, and cakes

The third C stands for Chocolate, and of course, that includes a host of other desserts as well. There are Australian lamingtons, chocolate fudge brownies and rocky road, mini Pavlovas, mini fruit trifles, banana and caramel sticky puddings, and more.

I can't get enough of the Alaskan King Crab and slipper lobsters
I can’t get enough of the Alaskan King Crab and slipper lobsters

Finally, last but not least is Candy. This actually refers to the Sparkalite Kid’s Corner, a section within the restaurant set up to keep kids busy learning the sweet art of making lamingtons and be entertained by the clown. This is a particularly great feature for parents with kids who actually want to have some food in peace.

with Umei, Josen, Haze, Evelyn, Dennis, and Damian
with Umei, Josen, Haze, Evelyn, Dennis, and Damian

The Sparkalite ‘4Cs’ Sunday Brunch at Serena Brasserie is available every Sunday from noon to 3pm. Brunch is priced at RM 120++ per person, and if you want the free flow sparkling, white & red wine and beer, it’ll be RM 198++. Kids from 6-12 is charged RM 60++ per head.

For the spread that you get, I think the price is more than reasonable, now excuse me while I go get myself more King crabs.

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

Malaysia is such an awesome country when it comes to celebrating festivals, Hari Raya Adilfitri is basically still on going, but we are already preparing for the next – the mooncake festival that falls on the 15th of the 8th month in the Chinese lunar calendar.

A little over a week ago, we went to InterContinental Hotel to check out their mooncake offerings and I even got my hands on trying out how to make them.

ingredients and method of making mooncake
ingredients and method of making mooncake

Here’s a recipe that’s shared by InterContinental Hotel’s Executive Chinese Chef Wong Lian You. The recipe isn’t exactly too complicated, but you might have a problem if you don’t have the cool wooden mould.

Here’s a recipe that makes 15 pieces of Mini Green Tea Paste with Single Egg Yolk mooncake.

Ingredients (for skin):

  • icing sugar – 600 gram
  • cooked glutinous rice flour – 300 gram
  • shortening- 100 gram
  • green tea powder – 10 gram
  • water – 450 ml

Fillings:

  • green tea paste with sunflower seed – 700 gram
  • salted egg yolk (cooked) – 8 nos

old school wooden mould is used to shape the mooncake
old school wooden mould is used to shape the mooncake

Method:

  • put all ingredients for the skin in the mixing bowl and mix well manually. Let rest for 10 minutes
  • divide green tea paste into 15 portions and roll into a ball, make a depression in the centre and wrap an egg yolk, set aside
  • spread some glutinous rice flour on a table
  • roll out into a strip and cut into 15 poritons, roll and wrap the fillings
  • spread some glutinous rice flour in mooncake mould, put the ingredients and press firmly
  • KNOCK HARD until mooncake falls out!

and I got my hands dirty to mould this mooncake, it was a success!
and I got my hands dirty to mould this mooncake, it was a success!

I’m not so sure if the instructions is any useful, but that’s exactly how they make mooncakes in this hotel, all by hand and all in house. After trying it out for myself making the XL sized mooncake, I now really appreciate the effort it takes into making proper mooncakes. If you don’t get it just right, the skin will be uneven, or worse still, the ingredients spill out.

looks like handbag, but does not smell like one
looks like handbag, but does not smell like one, yes they are mooncake boxes

The mooncakes at InterContinental are priced from about RM 17 to RM 25 each, with the mini almond milk cream with bird’s nest mooncake at RM 33. The best thing here is their super ridiculously cute mooncake box that resembles high fashion handbags, I was equally impressed and amused. Too awesome!

The 7 star premium collection is priced at RM 288, which includes 6 smaller and one giant mooncake.

The full list of flavors (traditional baked):

  • white lotus paste with single egg yolk
  • white lotus paste with double egg yolk (I love double egg yolk and actually want 4 egg yolks!)
  • pure white lotus paste with nuts
  • pandan paste with egg custard and walnuts
  • bamboo charcoal paste with pumpkin seeds
  • assorted nuts paste with chicken ham

Snow skin:

  • mini white chocolate snow skin with dark chocolate paste and rice crunch
  • mini duo roseberry snow skin with spirulina paste and gummy candy
  • mini peanut butter snow skin with dark chocolate paste and mixed nuts
  • mini tiramisu paste with dried mix fruits and raisins
  • mini green tea paste with single egg yolk
  • mini durian meat with oats
  • mini almon milk cream with bird’s nest

mooncake tray, and pick your own tea at Intercontinental KL
mooncake tray, and pick your own tea at Intercontinental KL

After messing about at the demonstration, we proceeded to OneSixFive to sample the exclusive afternoon tea showcasing their mooncakes.

The mooncake comes in a unique stand (RM128++ per stand for 2 persons) while you pick the tea (by TEALEAVES) from the box by first sampling them by smell. It’s quite a high life and there’s certainly more than enough mooncakes to go around for two person.

mooncakes from InterContinental KL
mooncakes from InterContinental KL

As for the mooncakes, I find myself still gravitate towards the traditional white lotus paste with double egg yolk. The durian mooncake here was positively potent and should satisfy any durian lovers. I was a bit impartial to the gummy bear version though some really liked it. Other flavors were all pretty much spot on.

Oh, as for the bird’s nest mooncake, while interesting and certainly luxurious, it was tough to actually taste the bird’s nest itself due to the stronger tasting paste/skin necessary for a mooncake. Credit must be given to Chef Wong & Chef Lo for pushing the envelop though.

we had fun at the event, thanks to Chef Wong and Chef Lo
we had fun at the event, thanks to Chef Wong and Chef Lo

Mooncake festival lasts through 19th September, 2013. If you’re looking for some gift ideas, I gotta say that so far the handbag packaging here is the most impressive of all

map to Intercontinental Hotel, KL

Address:
Intercontinental Hotel
165 Jalan Ampang,
50450 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.159767, 101.718045
Tel: 03-2161 1111
Web: www.intercontinental.com