Monday, March 30, 2015

BOATHOUSE'S PORK COUTURE


I always admire restaurants that can withstand the heat of competition. Now into its 11th year in business, Boathouse rightly deserves the same kind of respect accorded to newer, fancier restos in the local food scene. The secret of Boathouse's success stems largely from the chef/owner, Yenni Law who recently launched her Meatology cookbook.
During our visit, Chef Yenni graciously tempted us with her specialities for St Patrick's Day (available until 31 March) as well as Boathouse's signature show-stoppers. Top of my personal fave list is the orgasm-inducing Caramelised Bacon & Roast Pork with Garlic Cloves (RM28++) - chunky, sticky-sweet yet garlicky and super-crisp roast pork and bacon spiked with smoky sweet garlic cloves and bird's eye chilli to give bursts of heat. Lightly caramelised with brown sugar and flamed with brandy to finish, it sets off a cacophony of flavour "fireworks" with every mouthful.
Coming in at a close second is the appetiser of French Air-flown Foie Gras (100g @ RM67++). Seared to render a crusty veneer on the goose liver and then deglazed with Pinot Grigio, the tender and velvety rich pieces came sheathed in an inviting gloss. Served with homemade raspberry relish and fresh rocket leaves, this is a classic winner that needs no reinvention.
Our curtain-raiser is no pushover either.  Pretty as a picture, the Fresh Oysters with Lumpfish Caviar (3 pcs, RM23++) slid down with slippery smoothness, punctuated by bright pops of the tiny fish roe's muted brininess. What's not to like?
Now if I sound disconcertingly messed up, I shall blame it on all that Guinness infused St Paddy's Day specials. You would be green with envy too since the Guinness Porker (RM59++) paired an irresistible bacon steak with cured pork loin steak, served with legumes and pepper mushroom for textural contrasts. Robustly flavoured while retaining the meat's distinct salty accent, this dish is conceived to hold its own against a good pint of Ireland's most famous stout.

 

Staying true to Chef Yenni's meatology approach is Guinness Shepherd (RM68++) - 400gm of blackened lamb loin soused with a fruity-malty apple, BBQ and Guinness sauce. The tender, slightly fatty cut ensured the resultant taste hit all the right notes on our palate.

More Guinness is used to lend cachet to her Guinness Catch (RM78++) of grilled Atlantic cod with risotto, Guinness-anointed onions and Guinness balsamic honey. Cooked to just-right moist flakiness, the fish doubled up as an apt canvas to showcase the flavourful symphony that runs the gamut from the delicate oceanic sweetness of the cod to the intermingling creamy (stout), acidic (balsamic) and sweet-spicy (onion) profiles.


Raising the stakes further here is the house speciality of Steak Au Poivre a la Gueridon (RM76++). Once upon a time, the art of flambé was confined to truly haute restaurants like the Chalet. Chef Yenni Law should be lauded for training her Boathouse team to uphold this culinary art form. Be prepared for a flaming great show as a 320gm charbroiled prime steak flecked with black pepper is artfully flambéed with brandy at your tableside. Medium rare is the way to go, to appreciate the meat's natural jus but the accompanying wicked VSOP sauce does it ample justice too.


Weighing at about 1kilo, lesser mortals would have quaked at the sight of Boathouse's Baked Holland Pork Belly Rib (RM78++). Heck, our dining party had no such problems and gamely demolished the gargantuan portion of buttery-tender belly pork. It's a painstaking speciality that demands loads of TLC - slowly baked over Granny Smith apples, the rib has to be charbroiled after, to caramelise the fat and crisp up the skin. Then some housemade apple BBQ sauce is doused over it for that perfect finishing touch. 
The solo pasta offering of Fettucine Carbonara with Real Bacon & Caviar (RM39++) was almost eclipsed by the surfeit of porcine delights earlier had it not been laden with chopped bacon. Honestly, I'm not big on this cloying rich pasta but I daresay some kids and a few teens will beg to differ.
More retro revival was in store when desserts arrived. As the blue flames lapped at our Bombe Alaska (RM35++), it evoked an instant throwback to the Merlin Ballroom aeons ago when I first encountered this treat. A dome-shaped cake layered with chocolate and vanilla ice cream, studded with strawberry and rum-soaked raisins, the confection is covered with satiny meringue. Once the flames have disappeared, we dug in with gusto; the simple but impressive old-school confection taking me down memory lane.
Stale bread just don't cut it at Boathouse as far as Chef Yenni's bake-to-order Jamaican Bread & Butter Pudding (RM26++) goes. You'd need patience too to enjoy this dessert as it takes 25 minutes to prepare the layers of bread and butter, sprinkled with rum-macerated raisins and banana slices and soaked in fresh egg custard. Topped with a crumbly crust and baked to perfection, the piping hot dish is served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream - a sensational dessert that artfully melds fire and ice!

If you feel all these effusive praises are too far-fetched, the proof of the pudding is in its eating. Go dine at Boathouse and you'd discover the solid substance and ship-shape style that has kept Chef Yenni Law in the challenging F&B scene for over a decade.
 
Boathouse
16 Lorong Rahim Kajai 14
Taman Tun Dr Ismail
60000 Kuala Lumpur
Tel:  03-7727-4426 - See more at: http://pureglutton.com/boathouse-ttdi-kuala-lumpur-food-to-rock-your-tummy-heart#sthash.LrSuMKFE.dpuf

For reservations, call Boathouse, tel:  03-7727-4426. The restaurant is located at 16 Lorong Rahim Kajai 14, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur. Open Mon-Sat 12 noon-2 am; closed on Sun.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

HOT & STEAMY AFFAIRS AT YE ZI



Coconut water broth and fresh ingredients are the headliners at Ye Zi, a new premium steamboat restaurant that's inspired by a famous Chinese restaurant in Shenzhen.
 
Dax Lee, CEO of The Group F&B and director of The Roof in Bandar Utama says that Ye Zi advocates clean and healthy eating hence the signature coconut water broth is supplemented by a wide repertoire of organic and semi organic dishes, fresh from the farm
to your table.
 
You can also add in organic chicken (RM20-1/2, RM30-whole) to boost the soup's sweetness further. Bamboo pith and waterchestnuts are the other ingredients found in the base.
"The Original Ye Zi broth (RM38) using coconut water emphasises the quality of the food. All base stocks are prepared daily. Key ingredients are brought in daily to ensure freshness while vegetables used are mostly organic or washed thoroughly," Lee explains.
 
Situated on the Sky Level of The Roof, Ye Zi boasts panoramic view of Bandar Utama from its ceiling-to-floor picture windows. The opulent Oriental themed decor features rows of amber-hued swirly shaped pendant lanterns as the key focal point here. There's also a section with semi-partitioned banquette seats along a feature wall adorned with Chinese ink paintings.
It was the most civilised steamboat affair I had encountered as the waitstaff on duty took great pains to explain each ingredient to us before dunking the item into the bubbling broth. Everything was cooked in an orderly manner, enabling us to savour and enjoy every morsel.
A tent card taught us how to concoct two special sauces - Ye Zi's Original Homemade Dip and A Local Alternative Dip. We really like the kick-ass homemade chilli dip which helps to ramp up the heat quotient. The other broth choices available sound equally intriguing: Imperial Canton Broth (RM88) with cabbage and bacon, Aromatic Taiwanese Beef Spice Broth (RM58), Fragrant Shao Xing Wine Seafood Broth (RM58) and Wild Forest Truffle Mushroom Broth (RM78).
Can't wait for the broth to boil? You can nibble on hot appetisers like Fried Chicken Cartilage (RM8) and Szechuan Fried Century Egg (RM15) - two tempting offerings that should keep hunger pangs at bay temporarily.
 
The noticeable difference between premium and normal steamboat is the quality of the ingredients served. The latter usually consists of mass produced, factory-made fish balls but the latter takes pride in housemade meat or fish balls. At Ye Zi, you get Black Truffle Balls (RM24),  Pepper Cheese Balls (RM16), Wagyu Beef Tendon Balls (RM18), Tung Choy Pork Balls (RM12), Mui Choy Pork Balls (RM12), Chicken Balls with Mushroom (RM12) and Squid Balls (RM16). Each variety is cooked separately so the distinct flavour stands out.
Homemade paste on the menu includes Fish & Tobiko Paste Noodle (RM18) which comes in a giant syringe to squeeze strands of the paste into the hot broth. Other options range from Prawn Paste (RM20) or Fish Paste (RM18) to Seaweed Fish Noodles (RM12).
We recommend the delectable Coconut Chicken Dumplings (RM12) and Imperial Seafood Dumplings (RM28) for their generous fillings. For that super-luxe dining experience, Ye Zi has live seafood available; a veritable treasure trove that covers deep-sea garoupa to clams and tiger prawns.
 
You'd have to dunk the finely sliced Pork Neck Meat (RM16) and Special Beef Slices (RM25) to avoid overcooking them. These paper-thin strips of meat cook easily so keep a close watch on them. Mindful of today's health-conscious clientele, Ye Zi has a whole line-up of organic and root vegetables (RM6-RM10) to ensure your steamboat turns out well-balanced.
 Those who crave for carbs can opt for imported Taiwanese Ramen (RM9) or Vermicelli (RM7) in addition to side orders of assorted Mushroom (RM8-RM12), Quail Eggs (RM4) and Beancurd Skin (Fu Chuk, RM8).
 

The languid pace makes the meal worthwhile as we get to discern the different nuances and delicate accents of each ingredient. For dessert, the Homemade Fragrant Coconut Ice Cream (RM10) is worth sampling.



For reservations, please call Ye Zi hotline: 012-3235841. Address: Sky Level, The Roof, 1 First Avenue, Bandar Utama, Petaling Jaya, Selangor.