Monday, 15 July 2019

Five Sen5es @ The WestinKL

Exquisite Chinese

16 July, 2019

Dining at Five Sen5es Chinese restaurant is never only about food. This contemporary restaurant is truly a feast for the five senses.
I prefer to arrive as soon as it opens for business, so 11.55am finds me waiting outside its doors. Sounds kiasu? Maybe. What I really want is to soak in the calm of its surroundings before other customers show up. 
For a start, I love the serenity of its many water features, including the gurgling of the water fountains. 
Then I take my time strolling through the premises to admire replicas of copper ding (ancient giant Chinese cauldrons). I notice dry ice has been placed inside and the billowing vapour rises and falls over the side to create a momentarily surreal atmosphere. There are many pieces of artworks besides, including vases and sculptures of horses.
For many people though, it’s the food that draws. At the open kitchens, chefs are busy shaping dim sum, steaming and frying. We place orders from the a la carte menu and for appetisers, pick a selection from the dim sum menu. Our choice of tea is bi lou chun (RM10), a fragrant tea with smokey undertones, from the premium tea selection.
Har Gow with truffle
Yam Puff with fresh scallop and tobiko (right) and  Crispy Prawn & Mango
Har gow is a must and here, it comes with shavings of black truffle (RM18/3pcs). The yam puff (RM18/3pcs) doesn’t look like the regular stuff. It’s shaped more like mini taro bowls filled with fresh scallop and topped with tobiko.
For a fruity treat, we have prawn and mango wrapped in deepfried net spring roll (RM18/3pcs). The pastry is delightfully crisp and airy, contrasting well with juicy prawn and sweet mango.
Wok-fried turnip (radish) cake with XO sauce and egg
To round up the dim sum selections is wok-fried turnip (radish, actually) cake (RM14) with XO sauce and egg. Beansprouts gave an added crunch while chopped chives lent a strong, garlicky flavour.
Crispy Salmon Banana with green tea and strawberry dip
Before the last morsel of dim sum is finished, we are served a new addition to the menu, Crispy Salmon Banana (RM36) with green tea dip topped with chopped strawberry. An unusual combination. The sliver of salmon seems a bit lost though, overpowered by the more dominant taste of banana.
Braised Fresh Scallop with Seaweed and Seafood is a thickened broth
I am bowled over by Braised Fresh Scallop With Seaweed & Seafood Thick Soup (RM36/portion). I see a big, fat fresh scallop and a prawn resting on a disc of seaweed. Where’s the soup? Turns out the thickened soup lies right under the seaweed. It’s a light flavoured broth and, fortunately, though thickened, does not have that gluey consistency. There’s chopped tofu, asparagus, prawn, crab and egg in the soup.
Cod with Lemongrass Sauce and julienned young mango/kyuri
Cod (RM160/180g) with lemongrass sauce is topped with julienned young mango and kyuri cucumber. This is reminiscent of Thai hot and sweet sauce but milder in flavours. The mastery of deepfrying is reflected in the cod fillet that stays crisp despite the sauce, and softly moist inside.
Braised Chicken in claypot with chestnut and mountain yam
Served sizzling hot, the aroma from the Braised Chicken with Chestnut and Mountain Yam (from RM52) is tantalising. This does call for steamed white rice as the perfect sidekick. The deboned cubes of chicken is coated in the dark, clinging sauce while the chestnut is soft and mountain yam (huáishān, ) powdery.
Fragrant Crispy Vegetables with Roasted Pine Nuts
Skilled control of fire is again evident in Fragrant Crispy Vegetables With Roasted Pine Nuts (from RM38). The combination of sweet pea, celery, onion, lotus root, cloud ear fungus, carrot, young corn and ginkgo nuts, is well orchestrated and each ingredient has the right texture despite the different cooking times required. The vegetables are topped with roasted pine nuts and shredded conpoy (dried scallop).
Fried Rice with Minced Duck, Prawn, Yam and Pumpkin
Shredded conpoy is also a feature in Minced Duck Fried Rice with Prawn, Yam and Pumpkin (RM45). Served in claypot, the rice is fragrant, with flavours and textures coming from the minced duck, egg, soft pumpkin and yam. Sitting prettily on top are two large prawns and a sprinkle of scallions. This makes a great one-pot meal in itself.
Chilled Silken Mango Cream and Chilled Herbal Jelly with Aloe Vera and honey 
Crispy Avocado Kataifi
For dessert, we share Chilled Silken Mango Cream with Pearl Sago and Crushed Thai Pomelo (RM20), Chilled Chinese Herbal Jelly with Aloe Vera Honey Juice (RM16) and Crispy Avocado Kataifi (RM20).

FIVE SEN5ES (pork-free)

The Westin Kuala Lumpur
199 Jalan Bukit Bintang
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

+603-2773 8495

Opening Hours
Lunch: Noon to 2.30pm
Dinner: 6pm to 10pm


1. All-You-Can-Eat Simply Dim Sum: RM88 nett per person 
Monday to Friday (Noon to 2.30pm) and Saturday (10.30am to 2.30pm)
2. Sunday Simply Dim Sum Buffet:  RM125 nett per person
Sunday and public holidays (10.30am to 2.30pm)
All dim sum are freshly made and served to each table

Friday, 5 July 2019

Table Talk @ Dorsett Hartamas KL

Dainty finger food and Burger Towers

July 5, 2019

Three tiers of finger food, including sandwiches, sliders, mini spring rolls, cupcakes, tarts and macarons – these are what indulgent afternoons look like at Table Talk at Dorsett Hartamas KL.

At the media preview, we nibbled on croissants stuffed with beef salami and delightful crustless sandwiches filled with tuna and egg. We pop mushroom quiche and salmon quiche into the mouth and wash these down with cups of steaming hot coffee or tea.

Crustless club sandwiches, mushroom quiche and mini sliders
The mini sliders have chicken patties between sesame and charcoal buns. This is just the top tiers of the 3-tier trays containing these delicacies.
The middle tier is filled with sweets. 

Cupcakes, fruit tarts and chocolates
I see cheese cake, cupcakes, fruit tartlets, red velvet cake, chocolate and macarons. The yummy fruit tartlets have strawberry and grapes on a shortcrust cup filled with peanut butter.

Scones with cream and strawberry jam
At the bottom tray are two scones with cream and strawberry jam.

Platter of Asian selections: Mini spring rolls, nasi kunyit with beef rendang, chicken tikka and honey chicken wing
This is not all. Served on another plate are sticks of green chicken tikka, deepfried cheese ball, mildly spicy honey chicken wing, nasi kunyit with an aromatic beef rendang pailang, and mini spring roll with otak-otak filling.
The waiting staff also comes around to offer glutinous rice with serawa durian in individual spoons.

All you need to make that Burger Tower
Eat your burger creation to win the first prize
Afternoon Tea customers can also take part in the Burger Tower Challenge for an additional RM10. The winner walks away with a prize.
Participants are given 3 minutes to stack 6 meat patties, sliced cheese, salad leaves, olives, cucumber, tomato in between two halves of a burger bun to create a 30cm-tall (1ft) burger tower. Bamboo skewers are provided to help you keep your burger standing tall and proud.
When the 3 minutes are up, Chef Saiful Othman (of Abang Masuk Dapur TV3 fame) will come around with his ruler to check on your creations and those who have built burgers that measure up can move on to Round 2, which is eating the burger in 5 minutes. 
Sounds easy? Not quite but it’s a lot of fun, especially if your friends and family are there to cheer you on.

TABLE TALK (halal)

Mezzanine Floor
Dorsett Hartamas KL
63 Jalan Sri Hartamas 1
Kuala Lumpur

+603-6209 8888

Opening Hours
Saturday Afternoon Tea: Noon to 4pm at RM48 nett per person (minimum of 2 persons)

Pay an additional RM10 to take Burger Tower Challenge and win prizes.

Saturday, 29 June 2019


League Of Kitchens chefs serve lunch in forest

25 June, 2019
Part of the cookout picnic area  by the pond and under the trees
A cookout at the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) wrapped up The League Of Kitchens, the 5th edition of the annual Marriott International’s APAC Culinary workshop. On 17-20 June, 2019, Le Meridien KL hosted 40 chefs for activities and discussions on trends and innovations in the F&B industry. They came from Marriott properties in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, The Philippines and The Maldives.
On 20 June, 2 busloads of chefs, student participants and members of the media left the Le Meridien carpark at 8.25am, with a touch of dismay as the skies burst open in rain, accompanied with thunder and lightning. Not quite the weather to be cooking for an outdoor picnic in the park.
Chefs sweeping away the puddles after the rain stopped
The storm showed no signs of relenting when we arrived at FRIM and rolled up to the Botanic Garden near the pond. We disembarked with trepidation.
We waited nearly 20 minutes for the rain to slow down to a drizzle and then stop. Like magic, chefs put aside their knives and ladles to pick up brooms and sweep away pools of water from the cooking and picnic areas. It was a sight to lift our spirits.
Chef Toine giving words of encouragement
A short briefing later, everyone got down to work. Stoves and charcoal braziers were fired. Ginkgo nuts were diligently halved and the bitter embryo removed. Vegetables were sliced, cubed and shredded. 
Cutting and slicing vegetables 
Stirring the cauldron of dalca
Yes Chef, we're all ready to roll 
Yup, chefs chill and strike a pose after the iced drink's made
Giving the thumbs-up for ondeh-ondeh
Sticks of satay were premarinated and kuah kacang premade; butter chicken, bubur pisang and bubur durian came in claypots but most items, including ulam kerabu, wokfried vegetables, dalca and fried noodles were prepared on the spot. Squid was marinated and ikan kembung wrapped in banana leaves with herbs and spicy marinade. These would be grilled and ready when the 100 underprivileged children from Sekolah Bimbingan Jalinan Kasih arrived.
The feeling of camaraderie was infectious and could be felt in every corner. The aroma of cooking overpowered the crisp morning air of the park but no one was complaining.
Chefs in black greeting the kids
At 11.30am, the children arrived. They couldn’t believe their eyes to see two rows of chefs in black waiting to greet them and enthusiastically high-fived their way in.
Then it was on to the serious business of eating. 
With the cooking done, chefs took over to serve the children. Their reward? Smiling faces and requests for more satay, noodles or grilled sotong. 
One tubby boy was heard to protest: “Look at my size… one’s not enough. I need more squid.” The chefs roared with laughter and quickly added more squid to his plate.   
There was food and drinks aplenty. At the pasta stall, Le Meridien’s executive chef Antoine Rodriguez and his team cooked and dished out pasta a la minute, happily spooning extra cheese on top upon request.
Satay proved to be just as popular, not surprising as the skewers of beef and chicken were well marinated and tender to the bite.
Fried noodles 
Chefs dishing out the food for the children
Cucur badak, ondeh-ondeh and serimuka for dessert 
Le Meridien KL's Chef Antoine Rodriguez preparing pasta a la minute
The children had surprises in store too. A couple of them grabbed a mic and sang with their hearts and later, a teacher joined in as well.
Singing their hearts out while the chefs cheered them on with enthusiastic clapping
Hasta la pasta
Then it was back to more food and dessert, with ondeh-ondeh, seri muka and cucur badak as well as sweet durian and banana-sago porridge.
Chefs and the children 
Souvenirs for the chefs 
After the home’s management presented hand-made souvenirs to the chefs, the children left, with full tummies, broad smiles and warm memories.
Chef Toine
Then Senior Culinary Director of Marriott International Asia Pacific, Chef Toine Hoeksel, took over to thank the 40 chefs and the 12 participating students from Taylor’s University, Sunway’s Le Cordon Bleu Institute and KDU University College. He presented the students with a certificate and gift. To enthusiastic clapping and cheers, he added that the certificate was a passport that would guarantee them employment in any Le Meridien hotel.
For two days earlier, the chefs and students of the Culinary Workshop had an immersive and experiential time learning and networking with each other.
Chef Toine said Marriott’s focus was on going local and preparing local food with local ingredients or western dishes with local ingredients.
He admitted that millennials could be difficult and that it was a huge challenge to find the right talents. “They watch TV shows like Masterchef and see the glamour and fame but forget it’s actually a lot of hard work,” he said.
“The mentality of young people today is different. When I started, we were so passionate that working long hours was not a problem. Hotels operate 24/7 and it’s on weekends that we’re really busy. But one advantage is that we’re big and so, we have better career development plans. Those starting out should think long term. Yes, there are tough time but there are great times too.”
He feels it’s very important to retain the good talents. “With good talents, we try. We take them aside for chats, we invite their families for dinner so they can see what their children are doing,” he explains.
“On the other hand, if you have people on the team who are not performing, I say get rid of them. Don’t keep for sake of keeping. Good people may leave if the ambience is bad and it’s bad if someone in the team is not performing.
“After the APAC workshop, the participating chefs will go back and present to their managers the key takeaways they want to implement in their hotels. All 40 chefs who participate in the workshops love it. Even the chefs of the host hotel love it as they can find a bit of inspiration as well.”
As for customers, Toine said: “Today’s travellers want to eat authentic food; they don’t want burgers and club sandwiches. But very often they are afraid to eat off the streets so we try and provide the same for them in the hotels.
“In a lot of places, it’s not about expatriates anymore. It’s more about local chefs. In Shanghai for instance, we have 47 hotels but only 8 foreign chefs.”

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Zuan Yuan @ OneWorld Hotel

Tealicious and sizzling

June 22, 2019

Tommy Choong
Tea has always been a part of the Chinese culinary scene. Naturally, these aromatic leaves have found their way into specialty dishes.
Inspired by cups of steaming tea, Zuan Yuan Chinese Restaurant chef Tommy Choong has created a menu using oolong, green tea, chrysanthemum and lei char (Hakka thunder tea). 
These dishes are new but this is not the first time that Tommy has used tea in his kitchen.
He says tea leaves add a distinctive flavour and essence to food. 
“Tea has withstood the test of time as the second most consumed beverage, after water,” he said with a smile. 
The tealicious menu is priced from RM38 nett per portion.

Double-boiled abalone and fish maw soup with cordycep flower and chrysanthemum
At the media preview, we start with Double-boiled abalone and fish maw soup with cordycep flower and chrysanthemum. When the lid of the individual bowls are lifted, the aroma quickens my pulse and I eagerly dip in a spoon. The soup is heavenly, full of flavour from the ingredients with just a hint of chrysanthemum. Tommy has used small buds so that the floral essence is not overpowering. Good to the last drop.

Crispy Prawns with green tea dressing
Crispy Prawns with green tea dressing are not really stuffed with yam and pumpkin. The two root vegetables are julienned and lightly battered with the prawn before they are deepfried together. The prawn is fresh and moist while the yam and pumpkin are crisp. The green tea mayonnaise is light and adds a refreshing flavour.

Smoked Village Chicken with Oolong
Smoked Village Chicken with Oolong is a classic. The chicken meat is full of bite and texture; in particular, I enjoyed the al dente chicken skin the most. The deepfried oolong tea leaves add a nice smokey flavour to the dish.

Hakka-style lei cha fried rice with seafood
I’ve had Hakka-style Lei Cha many times but this is the first time I’ve tried it in Stirfried Rice with Seafood. The basil-based and pine nuts pesto comes together with the rice in a nice rhythm. Tommy uses fresh scallops and crunchy fresh prawns as well as diced carrot, French beans and pine nuts to elevate the dish to a lofty level.

Sizzling Australian Prime Lamb Cutlets
Sizzling US Angus Beef 
Meanwhile, Tommy has a new sizzling menu. US Angus beef, Australian Prime Lamb Cutlet are cooked on heated lava plate. These come with sides of assorted vegetables and mushroom as well as a choice of black pepper, barbecue and Mongolian sauce.
The beef, I am told, is tender and well marinated. I try the thick lamb cutlets. Cooked right with just a hint of pink in the centre, the cutlets are juicy and meaty.
Other choices are Australian Grass-fed Beef steak and King Tiger Prawn. All items are at RM42 per 100g (minimum order 200g).

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

From July 1-31, for lunch and dinner
Tealicious menu from RM38 nett per portion
Insanely Hot Menu at RM48 nett per 100g (minimum 200g)