Saturday, 2 March 2019

Zuan Yuan Chinese Restaurant

Highlights in March  

March 2, 2019

The Executive Chinese Chef of Zuan Yuan may not have been there long but already, Tommy Choong has gained a reputation for a slant towards clean, healthy cuisine.
For instance, his interpretation of Oh Chien (oyster omelette) leaves none of that greasy feel associated with the orgasmic hawker offering where oysters are cooked with tapioca flour and egg in a ton of oil. 

Instead, he has panfried freshly shucked oysters with egg and Thai basil leaf which lends a lovely if subtle aroma. Then he adds a squiggle of mayonnaise and tops it with tobiko (flying fish roe) and coriander. Freshness is the key here and the sweetness of the mollusc attests to this. The Panfried Omelette With Oyster is just one of the six selected items on a specially crafted menu for March.
Oh Chien, a la Tommy Choong
His Braised Superior Soup With Scallop Dumpling & Saffron Flower looks deviously simple when presented – just a snow-white dumpling in a bowl of saffron-tinged broth – but the dumpling reflects the chef’s passion in the kitchen. The “dumpling pastry” is made with fresh scallops and encased within are two rather large, fresh prawns.
Braised Superior Soup With Scallop Dumpling and Saffron
Although I grumble that the broth is warm, rather than pipping hot, I find myself tipping the bowl to scrape up every bit of the thick soup scented with the light flavour of saffron.
I do not partake of beef, but the Panfried Cubed Tenderloin With Chef’s Signature Sauce does look interesting, with the addition of caramelised walnuts with sesame seeds. Indeed, the others at the table wax lyrical over the tenderness of the beef (which is cooked just right), the crunch of the walnuts and onion cubes.
Panfried Cubed Tenderloin With Chef's Signature Sauce
Meanwhile, I am enjoying Stirfried Australian Asparagus in Truffle Oil With Assorted Mushrooms and goji berries. Not a speck of meat or seafood in sight, yet this vegetable dish is so flavoursome. Mushroom lovers will delight in three varieties offered here, with shitake, eryngii and shimeji. Truffle oil pushes the dish a few steps up the aroma ladder.
Stirfried Asparagus With Truffle Oil & Mushrooms
Crispy Fish Cake With Minced Cabbage & Sweet Sauce is deepfried to get the outside crunchy. But the fish paste, combined with chopped cabbage, is soft and sweet. A drizzle of sweet brown sauce is perfect to bring out the juicy flavours.
Crispy Fish Cake With Cabbage
Abalone is always an indulgence, especially if we get a whole mollusc intact. It’s the cherry on top for Chef’s Braised Abalone With Wild Rice. Served on lotus leaves, this combination of rice, glutinous rice and nutritious Canadian wild rice which adds a nutty flavour. Chef also adds finely diced shitake and chicken Chinese sausages to great effect.
Braised Whole Abalone With Wild Rice In Lotus Leaf

Zuan Yuan Chinese Restaurant (pork-free)

One World Hotel
Petaling Jaya, Selangor

+603-7681 1159

Opening Hours
Noon to 2.30pm, 6pm to 10.30pm

Tommy Choong’s Special Menu at RM48 nett per portion, from March 1-31, 2019

Friday, 18 January 2019

Makan Kitchen @ DoubleTree by Hilton

Buffet spread of abundance 

Jan 16, 2019
While it is traditional to go for set menus at Chinese restaurants to celebrate the Lunar New Year, it makes sense to opt for a buffet if the family members have vastly different preferences. That way, everyone will be able to enjoy their favourite foods as well as try new dishes in tasting portions.
Watchful dragon on crystal mountain at the dessert station

Makan Kitchen, on the 11th level of DoubleTree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur, is offering special CNY items for New Year’s Eve (Feb 4), on CNY (Feb5/6) and Chap Goh Meh (Feb 19) as well as 2 set menus for the Reunion Dinner (Feb 4).
Yee Sang platters for 10 pax
Yee sang platters are also available from Jan 14 to Feb 19 with toppings such as vegetarian fruit, guai fei abalone, crispy fish skin, salmon, tuna, unagi and smoked duck.
These are for tables of 10/20, so if your group is small, you can make your own personal yee sang at the buffet appetisers section.
Buffet-style yee sang for individuals and small groups
Of course there is a choice of other appetisers too, such as seafood on ice, sashimi and kerabu such as seafood kerabu and chicken tandoori in yoghurt dressing with onion and coriander. The seafood on ice tray is stacked with black mussel, flower crab, scallop, prawn and clam, accompanied by wedges of lemon and dips. The prawn and crab are particularly delightful and I’m having second helpings.
Seafood on ice with dips
Chicken tandoori salad and seafood kerabu
Highlight of the Chinese section are roasted duck, chicken and char xiu (barbecued honey boneless chicken). The chefs continuously replenish, so there’s no fear of the meat drying out on the trays. These come with sweet sauce and a vinegared chilli garlic dip.
Chinese-style roast duck and chicken
Chicken char xiu 
But do check out the Chinese appetisers. The most popular has to be smoked duck with plum sauce, as I notice the chefs replenishing the platter every so often. Then there’s marinated jellyfish, marinated baby octopus with Thai chilli sauce and marinated ladyfinger with chicken floss.
Chinese  section appetisers: Marinated jellyfish, marinated octopus, ladyfingers and smoked duck
While My Best Friend prefers the thickened seafood soup, I refresh my palate light herbal chicken soup with wintermelon. Then we head for the hot items. We fill our plates with Eight Treasure Lotus Leaf Rice with seafood such as shrimp, dried oyster, dried scallop, mushroom and ginkgo nuts as well as wokfried crab with chilli and garlic and wokfried ladyfinger with spicy dried shrimp.
Wokfried crabs with chilli and garlic
Signature steamed tilapia fish
Eight Treasure Lotus Leaf Rice
It’s easy to see why the steamed tilapia fish is a Makan Kitchen specialty; the deboned and skinned fish flesh is firm and sweet and the light sauce helps bring out its best side.
Personally, I prefer the wokfried lamb with sweet bean and dangguai black pepper sauce. The dong guai adds a subtle herbal flavour that dances well with the strong flavour of the tender slices of lamb.
Wokfried lamb with  sweet bean, danggui and black pepper
Then we head for the noodles station where, after we pick our favourite noodle and condiments, the chef blanches them and ladles tom yam or clear soup over it.
Choose your favourite ingredients at the Noodles Station
The other sections are just as exciting. At the Malay station, start with skewers of beef/chicken satay with peanut gravy, cucumber, raw onion and ketupat. There’s a whole grilled percik fish too.
Beef and chicken satay
At the Indian section, skewers of tandoori chicken and chicken tikka draw the crowd. But there are more, such as pulao to go with South Indian style Madurai Fried Chicken, aloo gohbi, onion bhaji (crispy fried onions in dhall batter) and lamb curry.
Madurai Fried Chicken
Meanwhile MBF is eager to get started on the dessert. The display here centres on a “dragon on a crystal mountain”, watching over the Longan Cashewnut Cake, Red Bean Almond Crumble With Lotus Seed, Osmanthus Jelly, Golden Almond Peach Dome, Raspberry Financer, Milky Black Sesame Cube and Mini Red Bean Sesame Cube as well as assorted nyonya-style pastries.
Picks from the dessert spread
Add your favourite ingredients to leng chi kang
At the Chinese section, there’s also a DIY leng chi kang. Just fill your bowl with longan, lychee, ginkgo, lotus seeds, sea coconut, aloe vera, natta de coco and attap seeds. Then pour in the chilled brew of longan and red dates for a cool dessert.


Level 11, DoubleTree by Hilton
348 Jalan Tun Razak
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

+603-2172 7272

Opening Hours
6am to 11pm

Reunion Buffet Dinner (Feb 4)
6.30pm to 10.30pm
RM168 nett per person
50% discount for senior citizens and kids 6-12

CNY Hi-Tea (Feb 5/6)
12.30pm to 4pm
RM98 nett per person
RM48 nett for senior citizens and kids 6-12
CNY Reunion 10 pax, 9-course Set Dinner (Feb 4)
Golden Prosperity: RM1,680 nett
Luck & Joyfulness: RM1,380 nett

Chap Goh Meh Buffet (Feb 19)
6.30pm to 10.30pm
RM168 nett per adult
50% discount for senior citizens and kids 6-12

Yee Sang (Jan 14 to Feb 19)
From RM68nett (half portion) 

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

RED Chinese Cuisine @ Pullman KLCC

Taste of nostalgia

January 11, 2019
Entrance to Red Chinese Cuisine
Red Chinese Cuisine is looking really festive and it’s not just because of the giant red lanterns at the entrance. Like its name, the restaurant, just an escalator ride up from the lobby, naturally features red as its colour of choice. Inside, giant portraits of women in the style of 50s Shanghai line one wall and at the entrance while the other wall holds beautiful ceramic vases and tanks of live fish.

I am at a media/blogger preview of Chinese New Year dishes by head chef Linus Mak Kar Leong who, despite his youthful 34 years of age, has drummed up flavours that evoke days of yore. Even better, he has injected splashes of his generation in the dishes and keeps in mind that eating healthy is the key to a good life.
His yee sang, for instance, is a toss of fresh salad leaves and fruit rather than flour crispies tinged green, red and yellow. The fruit is julienned and includes rose apple, dragonfruit, jackfruit, green mango, pomelo, dried guava and deepfried beetroot chips. He has also prepared dressing choices of strawberry, pineapple plum and sesame plum. The strawberry dressing adds a lovely fruity flavour with a sweet and slightly piquant taste.
Healthy, fresh and fruity yee sang 
Yee sang is available on the a la carte menu in half (from RM70) and whole (from RM138) portions with choices of toppings such as salmon, tuna, scallop lips, jellyfish, sea urchin, tempura prawn, whitebait, abalone, soft shell crab, black truffle and fish skin.
There are 3 set CNY menus for 10 pax but if your group is small, celebrate with the a la carte menu of Chef Mak’s favourites.
The Double-Boiled Sea Whelk Soup With Bamboo Pith, Matsutake Mushroom, Conpoy & Village Chicken (RM69 per portion). It’s full of herbal goodness as it’s brewed with the root herb, yuzhu, and red date. Much of the flavour comes from matsutake, a mushroom prized for its warm, earthy aroma. I tip the bowl to drain the last drops.
Double-boiled sea whelk and chicken soup with herbs
I’m delighted to see Stirfried Mantis Prawn With Fish Roe & Asparagus (RM68). With “too posh to peel” as my mantra when it comes to crustaceans, I’m overjoyed with the battered and deepfried shelled mantis prawn coated with a creamy sauce and tobiko (flying fish roe) which pops in the mouth. The prawn is served with sautéed fat asparagus.
Mantis prawns with asparagus and tobiko
Scrambled Egg White With Tomato & Bamboo Pith (RM18) may not sound like much but there’s something comforting about the silky smooth bits of cooked egg white while the bamboo pith and tomato add a crunchy texture.
Scrambled egg white with tomato and bamboo pith
Rice is a must in Chinese cuisine and I am totally enamoured of Fujian-Style Seafood Fried Rice With Braised Whole Abalone (RM88). While most restaurants offer fried rice, Chef Mak has taken it to the next level by ladling over it a thickened braised sauce with prawn, fish, scallop, mushroom, sliced asparagus and a whole abalone (the size of a Chinese soupspoon) sitting on top.
Fujian-style fried rice with braised seafood and whole abalone
The fried fragrant rice has a definite al dente texture and adding the braised sauce is an inspired touch that turns fried rice into a gourmet delight.
For dessert, we have Panfried Nian Gao With Purple Sweet Potato (RM22). Here again, the culinary team shows its crafty side. The CNY glutinous rice cake is coated with mashed purple potato and wrapped in bao pastry. The dumplings are then panfried before serving.
Panfried nian gao and purple sweet potato buns  
Meanwhile, in the lobby, wooden tables and chairs have been set up with ye old biscuit tins and all to create a nostalgic ambience. Oh, and even the unisex restroom at Red is worth a visit. I’m so in love with the steel knobs on the door, the dressing room lights, the ceramic blue nyonya wash basin and the portrait of the Shanghainese girl. 

Restful restroom for the diva

RED Chinese Cuisine (pork-free)

Pullman KLCC Hotel & Residences
Jalan Conlay, Kuala Lumpur
+603-2170 8888 ext 8200

Opening Hours
Noon to 2.30pm; 6.30pm to 10.30pm
Open on eve and throughout CNY

Nostalgic Chinese New Year, Jan 4 to Feb 19
3 set menus for 10 pax at RM1,388 (7-course), RM1,588 (8-course) and RM1,888 (9-course). Yee sang and special dishes available a la carte. Vegetarian options available on request. All prices stated are nett.

Friday, 11 January 2019

CHECKER’S CAFÉ @ Dorsett Kuala Lumpur

Taste of tradition

January 10, 2019

While most restaurant chefs are busy creating new dishes for the Chinese New Year Of The Earth Boar, Chef Meng of Dorsett Kuala Lumpur has decided to go with tradition instead. 
While Checker’s Café is not exactly a traditional Chinese restaurant, it offers a sit-down halal CNY menu which is popular, not just for celebrating the Lunar New Year but also for sau gong (year-end) and annual dinners.
This year, there are 3 set menus of 8 courses each to choose from. All start with Yee Sang, which is also available a la carte and for takeaways. There’s Jellyfish, Snow Pear, Thai-style Tiger Prawn and of course, the ever-popular Salmon. Priced from RM108 nett for 10 pax.
At the media preview, we are sampling selected items from all the three menus. To start, we toss up an auspicious 2019 with Snow Pear & Jellyfish Yee Sang. The dressing is traditional plum sauce and I am happy to revisit this original flavour that evokes memories of a happy youth.
Traditional Yee Sang with Jellyfish & Snow Pear
When soup is served, I’m pleased to note it’s not shark’s fin. Instead, the Braised Superior Seafood Soup With Crabmeat has plenty of crabmeat, fish, prawn and enoki mushroom. Add a dash of vinegar for extra oomph.
Seafood Soup with mushroom
We literally cleaned the plate of Roasted Pei Pa Duck With Sweet Sauce. The tender duck meat is well marinated and the skin so crisp.
Juicy Roasted Pei Pa Duck with crispy skin and sweet sauce
Fried Butter Prawn With Oatmeal is always a popular dish and here, the fragrance proves very tantalising. The prawn is fresh and sweet, with the butter oatmeal coating bringing out its best side.
By popular demand, Butter Prawn With Oatmeal
With the next dish, our tastebuds are again beguiled by the pungent aroma of the Deepfried Seabass With Sichuan Sauce. The fish is well fried and the skin stays crispy even when coated with the ma lat bean sauce. But the flesh is soft and juicy, its sweetness enhanced by the hot sauce.
Deepfried Seabass with ma lat Sichuan sauce
Happily, the next dish of traditional Braised Mushrooms With Seasonal Vegetables helps calm our over-excited palates. It looks simple enough, just shitake mushrooms corralled by a moat of broccoli florets. What I like is that the mushrooms are fat, thick and succulent, absorbing all the flavours of the oyster-based sauce.
Simple but yummy dish of shitake mushrooms and broccoli 
We move on to Fried Rice With Seafood & Silver Anchovies. Again, fragrance is the keyword and there’s plenty of wok hei. The rice is fried with prawn, fish, peas, carrot and corn. Deepfried ikan bilis is scattered over and provides a lovely crunch to the dish.
Crunchy ikan bilis enhances the flavour of fried rice with seafood 
Dessert is Chilled Sea Coconut With Longan. Thin slices of lemon add a citrusy scent and a touch of zest.
Cool off with iced sea coconut and longan


Dorsett Kuala Lumpur
172 Jalan Imbi, KL, Malaysia

+603-2716 1010
Opening Hours
Daily, 6am to 11pm

CNY Set Menus for 10 pax at RM1,288, RM1,388 and RM1,488. All prices nett. Yee Sang takeaway from RM108 nett. Available January 22 to February 19, 2019

TOH YUEN @ Hilton Petaling Jaya

Year of Blooming Abundance

January 8, 2019

For the coming Lunar New Year of The Pig, Toh Yuen’s Chef Ric Teoh is all excited about the three set menus he has crafted. All the 9-course menus are for tables of 10 and have yee sang as the starter de rigueur. Naturally.
Yee Sang with sliced raw salmon and crispy salmon skin
But not all yee sang are the same. All Toh Yuen yee sang feature sliced fresh salmon but variations come in the addition of crunchy snow pear, crispy deepfried salmon skin or soft shell crab and top shell abalone.
At a recent preview, the media and bloggers sampled dishes from the three menus. First, we tossed up a coming year of luck and happiness with Yee Sang With crispy salmon skin & fresh salmon. 
Then we soothed our palates with Double Boiled Wolfberry With Minced Chicken & Dried Scallop Soup (鸿图大展道四海) 杞子干贝炖鸡盅. The minced meat, with wolfberries and a whole scallop, is doubled-boiled for hours to get a crystal clear soup bursting with nutritious goodness. While the minced chicken is quite tasty, I find greater joy in just sipping the delicious brew.
Sweet clear flavours in this double-boiled minced chicken with scallop and wolfberry soup
The next item is a treasure bowl of Braised Sangkan (gluten), Oysters Balls, Sliced Shell Abalone, Hericium or Monkey Head Mushroom, Black Moss & Broccoli (包你丰收发大财) 蚝皇发财螺片猴头菇生根蚝士丸. The thickened oyster-based sauce clings to the ingredients to add another level of flavour. I love the oyster balls in particular, with the semi-dried oysters blanketed in fish paste.
Treasure bowl of braised gluten, oyster ball, mushrooms, shell abalone and broccoli
In fact, I prefer this to Steamed New Zealand Orange Roughy Fish With Yellow Bean Sauce (如意得水吉星照)酱䒱长寿鱼. This deep sea fish is low in fat and has high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids as well as other minerals and vitamins but I am not too enamoured of its strong fishy flavour which unfortunately, the yellow bean sauce doesn’t help to mask completely.
NZ orange roughy with yellow bean sauce
The Braised Oriental Style Duck Served With Steam Flower Bun (十二金鸭齐贺年)古法红烧鸭拼花卷 though, is exactly what I’ll come back for. Preparation for this dish can be a tedious job, best left to professionals. Chef Ric explains how the duck is marinated, deepfried and then braised for hours to get the meat softly tender. Then, just before serving, the whole duck is plunged into hot oil once more to make the skin crispy. And it is crispy, despite the sauce drizzled over it. The duck is served with mantou (bun). It’s such fun to make your own mini “duck burger” at the table.
Braised duck is served with mantou
Make your own duck burger at the table
The next dish looks like it’s designed by a Barbie fan. The delicate pink hues of Deep Fried Tiger Prawn Meat With Red Dragon Fruit Mayonnaise (春色满园花争艳)火焰沙律虾球signify good luck. I love how the prawns are peeled, then lightly battered and deepfried before they are tossed in the salad dressing with cubes of chewy natta de coco. No messy fingers, so no risk of dirtying that New Year outfit. Hehehehe…
I'm so delighted with peeled Tiger Prawns served with dragon fruit mayonnaise
We are a little surprised by the rice dish, Braised Seafood & Five Grain Rice & Yam “Hock Chew” Style (五谷丰收太平年)福州芋头海鲜五谷饭. Sitting on the rice is a big bowl of prawn, fish and asparagus braised in thick yam “broth”. To eat, one pours the yummy yam broth on the healthy multi-grain rice.
Braised seafood and 5-grain rice is a healthy way to start the Year Of The Pig
Frankly, I am feeling satiated at this point but there’s dessert (or 2) on the way. Nian gao is a must and it’s a combo of Crystal Jelly Red Pomegranate Fruit With Crispy “Nian Gao” (锦绣前程步步升)红石榴菓冻拼年糕. The chilled pomegranate jelly helps to cleanse the palate after all the rich food. The nian gao balls are coated with mashed purple sweet potato, battered and deepfried.
Crispy Nian Gao balls with pomegranate jelly
Hot brew of ginseng, red date, chrysanthemum and wolfberry
Next is a bowl of Hot Ginseng, Red Date & Chrysanthemum With Wolfberry Tea (大吉大利笑开)热菊花参须红枣枸杞茶. Somehow, a hot dessert broth after a satisfying Chinese meal always seems a splendid idea that envelops me with a warm, fuzzy feeling.


Hilton Petaling Jaya
2, Jalan Barat, PJ, Selangor
Tel: 603-7955 9122 

Opening Hours
Lunch: Noon to 2.30pm  
Dinner: 7pm to 10.30pm  

Feb 8-28
9-course Set Menus for 10 pax 
Everlasting Happiness RM1,988 nett
Luck & Joyfulness RM2,288 nett
Abundance & Prosperity RM2,888 nett