Friday, September 15, 2006

PRIME MAKES THE CUT

^ Trio of flavoured butter to spread on
crusty seven grain and poppy seed breads

^ Fresh oysters to seduce the senses
^ Angel hair pasta with saffron sauce & seafood
^ Scrumptious lobster tail terrine
^ Prime rib carved at your tableside
^ 80 day grain fed Australian filet mignon with side dishes
^ Sink your teeth into this tender ribeye with morel cream sauce
^ Berries with cream for a tantalising finish

For me, steaks are synonymous with cowboys, Country & Western flicks and the funny antics of Desperate Dan, a steak-loving cartoon character in the UK Dandy comics of my childhood. I also cut my teeth learning to eat sizzling steaks at an established ship-themed steak house in Kuala Lumpur. However, the steak and Wild, Wild West association distintegrate after a visit to Le Méridien Kuala Lumpur’s spanking new outlet, Prime.

Touted as Kuala Lumpur’s first international steak restaurant, Prime is set to take the proverbial bull by the horns, serving up the finest cuts of imported beef within its sleek, contemporary confines.

Extensive timber inlay and impressive custom-built floor-to-ceiling wine displays are matched by high backed two-tone leather chairs and oversized tables that accord extra space and elbow room.

If you wish to see and be seen, opt for the main open seating area. Otherwise, be discreetly cloistered in cosy booth seats and secluded nooks for better privacy. The 10-seater private dining room looks like a presidential conference room that offers an up close and personal vista of the culinary masters at work. While show kitchens are now almost de rigueur for new restaurants, Prime goes one up with its novel Sommelier’s Table. Naturally wine samplings are the main focus here and the resident wine manager will be more than happy to help select suitable wines to complement their meal.

Prime’s steak cuts vary between the basic 220g (8 oz) and the staggering 900g (32 oz or two pounds!) portions, covering a prized range that includes Black Angus 200 day aged and Australian 120 and 80 day aged steaks, grilled on lava stone or imported charcoal. For connoisseurs, there is the Australian certified Kobe-style Wagyu beef with a marble score of six and above. This score is considered the best as the meat has a good balance of dense fat and lean marbling.

The different ‘aged’ steaks actually denote the total number of days the cattle is fed with high grade grains (usually corn), which determines how tender and well-marbled the beef is going to be. Good things don’t come cheap and neither does Wagyu (pronounced wah-g'you, it means Japanese cattle) beef, even though the ones served at Prime comes from Wagyu cattle raised in Australia and not Kobe, Japan. Raised under stringent, exacting conditions, the cattle are placed under a carefully controlled diet and given daily massages to procure supremely tender and densely marbled beef cuts. Is it any surprise a 340g (12 oz) Wagyu sirloin costs RM300 a pop?

My serving of 80 day centre cut 220g Filet Mignon (RM60++) with Caramelized Balsamic-Shallot Jus with Deep-fried Potato Balls with Foie Gras Heart (RM15++) certainly deserves top billing for its amazingly juicy tenderness. Despite its deceptively dainty portion, the expertly prepared steak proved substantial enough. The subtly sweet and tangy sauce brought out the beef’s sumptuous full-bodied flavour whilst the potato balls teased the palate with its mixture of crisp and velvety smooth textures.

Our lunch had earlier started with oven-fresh poppy seed and seven-grain breads served with three types of flavoured butter – unsalted, smoked salmon and mushroom. Our group also shared half dozen of fresh Fines de Claire Oysters (RM60++), Australian Crab Cakes (RM45++), Fresh Angel Hair Pasta with Crustacean Saffron Sauce (RM45++) and Caesar Salad (RM35++).

Served imaginatively on a two-tier glass platter, the oysters were exceptional for their delicate sea-brininess but if you wish, the six accompanying dressings – wasabi mayo, Thai chilli, sour cream, lemon ginger, Tabasco and lemon wedges would certainly add an interesting dimension to them.

The Australian Crab Cakes served with chilli flakes, garlic sauce and mango salsa is an easy way to enjoy tasty crab meat minus the hard work. Forgo pasta as appetizer unless you have an insatiable appetite – the delicious Angel Hair is huge enough to qualify as a main course on its own. The classic Caesar Salad is a better option, prepared and served with a flourish at your tableside.

Special mention must be given to the slow-roasted 80 days grain-fed Australian Prime Rib (300g RM80++, 450g RM110++) which left an indelible impression with its unbelievable melt-in-the-mouth tenderness. Noteworthy accompaniments for this are corn sweet mashed potato, jumbo white and green asparagus, Béarnaise and cracked peppercorn sauce.

My partner’s 120 days 220g Ribeye Steak (RM55++) cooked to medium rare with red warm centre was moist and succulent. Complemented by Morel Cream Sauce and Truffle Mashed Potato (RM15++), it was a match made in heaven.

Prime’s menu is further beefed up with seafood, chicken, lamb and venison. If you want your beef and seafood too, the ubiquitous Surf and Turf (RM120++) would be the ideal solution.

Since we had no room left for decadent desserts such as Gelato, Sticky Date Pudding, Tiramisu and Mango and Coconut Baked Cheesecake, a platter of fresh, imported berries with luxuriously smooth whipped cream brought our meal to a refreshing conclusion.

Prime is definitely worth visiting if you are true-blue steak lover and have no qualms about paying top dollar for great steaks. No bulls about it.

PRIME (pork free)
Level 5 Le Méridien Kuala Lumpur
2 Jalan Stesen Sentral
Kuala Lumpur
Reservations 2263 7555

1 comment:

boo_licious said...

The Prime Berries look good. Definitely better than their Tiramisu which was just a blob of cream.