Friday, August 26, 2011

STERLING BASH





This is one event that the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre team couldn't afford to make any mistakes. A hallmark bash that underscored everything that Chef Richmond Lim touts in his inaugural book - The Stainless Steel Kitchen - a classy, hard cover tome that reveals the precise art of banqueting.

I guess most of the guests that night came with pretty high expectations just like me. And happily, the KLCC team delivered; everything went off without a single hitch right from the start. What is even more surprising (well to me at least) is that the food was top-notch.



Now this is no small feat considering that the kitchen team has to cater to such a large group of guests. But then again I suppose after catering for countless international events of all types and group sizes, the night's launch would have been a walk in the park for them. Nevertheless, I was impressed that all the dishes were served at the right temperature, freshly and beautifully prepared and cooked to perfection.

Executive Chef Richmond Lim who delves into the meticulous nitty-gritty and precise work that go into each banquet told members of the local media that the book was conceived a year ago.

"It took me six months to jot down and compile all the essential notes for the book: from the different aspects of banquet operations, how cutting-edge technology from Electrolux has transformed the face of modern banqueting and my own thoughts, experiences and insights on how it is possible to replicate fine-dining dishes for hundreds and thousands of diners," says Lim.

The affable chef also paid tribute to his superior, KLCC CEO Datuk Peter Brokenshire and his dedicated team who supported him unstintingly for the book project.



After the ceremonial bit was over and done with, we circulated around the function room to sample the sumptuous spread laid out. Although it was a standing cocktail, only the starters and dessert were served buffet-style. Even then there wasn't a chafing dish in sight; every offering was in singular, dainty and visually pleasing portions to tickle the tastebuds.

Much to our delight, several specialities found in Chef Lim's 5-Star Banqueting book were recreated for us to savour. My choice picks include tender slivers of Peking duck stuffed with assorted lettuce and enoki mushroom in a crisp, kataifi-type cone; rolled salmon with its own roe and tangy dill-scented cream; smoked duck breast with pear compote; plump, sweet scallops with ebikko; miniature glasses of Asian seafood bouillabaisse and double-boiled Treasures of the Sea consomme.




One of the most outstanding dishes were the Malaysian evergreen favourite of Nasi Lemak. Served in carved out coconut shell tops, this ensemble of santan-rich steamed rice, half a hardboiled egg, fried baby anchovies, peanuts, cucumber slices and piquant sambal must have knocked the socks off quite a few international delegates had they gotten the chance to sample it.



Now few hotels and restaurants let alone an international convention centre would bother with a painstaking speciality like Nasi Kerabu but this is the other show-stopping delight that really grabbed me that night. Beautifully tinged to a dreamy pastel blue, the rice was amply flavoured by finely shredded fresh herbs like torch ginger flower with cucumber, cabbage, dry-fried grated coconut and long beans. It was a match made in heaven when eaten together with the tender Ayam Percik hot off the grill and generously doused with a thick, sweetish and spicy sauce.







Last but not least, the momentous occasion also marked a reunion of sorts for me and a couple of dear old friends (Rose and Majorie it was great having caught up with you both) and former chef colleagues (ditto for KK Yau and Vincent Tan)!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

COUNTRY CHARMS


Ayam Masak Cili Padi from Negeri Sembilan to set your tastebuds alight

For countless city folks whose roots lie beyond the Klang Valley, Ramadan is that time of the year when they crave for comfort food; simple, rustic dishes lovingly prepared by one's mothers and family matriarchs back in the kampungs come time for berbuka puasa or breaking of fast.

To assuage these culinary longings, they can either trawl the numerous Ramadan bazaars or head to the nearest hotels or restaurants that proffer a profusion of local Malay delicacies from all over Malaysia.

This is exactly what Malay chef Azhar Alias and his Nipah CoffeeShop team have set out to do - conjure up 150 homely kampung-style fare for buka puasa nightly.

“We've drawn inspirations from every nook and cranny of the country. Some specialities are prepared according to treasured family recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation,” says Chef Azhar.

Kambing Gulai Kentang...hearty mutton curry with potatoes

Few Johoreans would be able to resist Nasi Briyani Gam, the ubiquitous spiced-infused basmati rice cooked with chunks of scrumptious chicken or beef. Fluffy and flavourful, you just need some Jelatah (pickled cucumber, pineapple and onion) or Acar Buah (subtly sweet fruit pickles) to complete the dish.



Kerabu Daging to whet the appetite for starters

If you're from the East Coast then you'd love the Nasi Dagang with Gulai Ikan Tongkol, a rich and spicy tuna curry that's the requisite accompaniment for this unique rice dish. Another perennial delight from this part of the country is Ayam Golek with Percik Sauce, grilled whole chicken basted with a thick spice and coconut milk-based sauce.

It was an evening of meat overload as we feasted on Grilled Stingray, Mutton Keema (thick Indian mutton curry), Chicken Satay and the piece de resistance of every buffet worth its salt, Kambing Panggang Berempah - a whole roast lamb rubbed with exotic spices.

My good Penangite friend gave the Prawn Noodle her stamp of approval which means the dish is as close to the real deal as you'd get at five-star hotels. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for the mushy Otak-otak.



Spicy Mussels on half shell is one of the many piquant dishes on the buffet

Thank goodness, the meat-filled Murtabak with Onion Pickles came up to mark as did the Sweet and Sour Razor Clams which was prepared on the spot at the live cooking station.



Colourful desserts from East and West to sweeten the breaking of fast

From the dessert section, my favourites are the velvety soft and smooth Soya Bean Curd, and unusual Fried Ice Cream, dodol and assorted fresh local fruits such as jackfruit, longans, water apple, and watermelon. The Apam Balik was too chewy for my liking but my dining companions had a field day rounding up their meal with Ais Krim Potong, Ice Kacang, traditional Malay kuihs and sweet broths.

The Aneka Sajian Tradisional Buffet Dinner is priced at RM99.00++ per adult and RM49.00++ per child.

For reservations at Nipah CoffeeShop, call: 03-2161 7777 ext 8555.

CHECK-MATE!


We don't know if the maximum buka puasa crowd at Checkers Cafe was due the entertaining antics of local comedian Jaafar Onn and singer Haiza or the abundant Malay delights whipped up by the hotel chefs.

Set your tastebuds alight with piquant sambals and local kerabu salads


Sushi splendour to tickle the palate

Still there is no denying that Dorsett Regency Kuala Lumpur's Citarasa Selera buffet reveals some unexpectedly good delicacies on the evening we were there.


Sayur Lodeh is by far the best dish for the evening

Top on our list is Sayur Lodeh, a delicious turmeric-accented mixed vegetable curry with pieces of fu chuk (layered bean sheets) and tempe (pressed and preserved soyabean cake); the gravy is moreish when generously doused over plain white rice. You can even sprinkle a little Serunding (spicy chicken floss) over it for additional enhancement.

Spicy squid with chilli (top) or classic Chicken rendang anyone?

Now that the durian season is tapering off, I was ecstatic to find Ikan Keli Masak Tempoyak - a traditional East Coast curry cooked with river catfish, fermented durian and coconut milk in the line-up. Again best savoured with rice, the soft, fine fish meat in creamy yellow curry is something to write home about.

Sink your teeth into these tender pieces of Braised lamb with parsley

My other sublime finds from the buffet include Nasi Lobak Merah - buttery rice with shredded carrot; Gulai Udang - prawns in a mildly spicy, tomato-based gravy; Kerabu Mangga - spicy, tart and briny shredded young mango salad with fried ikan bilis (anchovies) and Pasembur - local salad of shredded cucumber and yambean with assorted fried fritters, fried beancurd and egg.


Tantalising spicy & sour Oxtail that goes superbly well with white rice

Hubby had double helpings of the Braised Lamb (it looks similar to Kambing Kurma to me), Rojak Buah (the sauce has all its flavours nicely balanced) and Curry Crabs which I notice he walloped with great relish.


Grab a crab!

I also sampled some Eel Sushi and Handrolls which passed muster and was impressed by the hearty Roast Lamb with Briyani Rice.

Sweet parcels of Kuih Koci and Sago

Didn't have quite enough tummy space to fit in more so I settled for a frothy glass of milky Teh Tarik with a piece of Dodol and Steamed Tapioca. There were also Bubur Pulut Hitam and Bubur Cha Cha as well as assorted cakes and kuihs to satisfy the sweet-toothed.


An unusual Batik Cake created by the hotel chefs

All in all, we had a whale of a time thanks to Jaafar Onn and Haiza who were in their element as they sang, danced and picked sporting diners from the capacity crowd to join them on stage.

The Citarasa Selera priced at RM75++ per person will be available until August 30, 2011. For reservations, call Checkers Cafe at tel: 03-2716 1000 extension 188.

Friday, August 05, 2011

MONSTER'S HERE!

Aren't these in-ear headphones hawt? We simply fell head over heels with

these ultra-kawaii Harajuku Lovers models that were just launched

by Monster - the global makers of the popular Beats™ by Dr. Dre™ family of headphones.


Inspired by Gwen Stefani’s signature style, Monster's Harajuku Lovers

come in three different models – Wicked, Super Kawaii and Space Age

that let you express your own unique sense of fashion.


Held at Zouk KL, the event created quite a buzz with the local media, bloggers and trade players alike. Listening posts equipped with iPods and iPads with different models of Monster headphones and in-ear headphones gave those of us who were invited a chance to experience first-hand the big, bold and bad-a** Monster Beats™.

See the green and yellow model? That's inspired by the lightning-fast Usain Bolt
under Monster's iSport series!
It even has his trademark pose silhouetted on the earbuds...cool huh?


I was surprised but delighted when Hitz.fm's crazy duo of JJ and Ean appeared as
the day's VIP celebs. Both were later officially declared as Monster's proponents!
I even took the opportunity to pose for a pix with them for rememberance :)



The sweat-proof iSport Immersion in-ear headphones (left) are designed for
athletes, workout enthusiasts and everyone who wants to enjoy
enhanced music listening in tune with their active lifestyle.


Avid gamers would be ecstatic with Monster Game T1 Championship Headphones
that literally “take their game to a new level”; giving them the ultimate surround-sound
in gaming, music and home cinema performance.


Last but no least, it was supremely generous of Monster to present each of us bloggers with a pair of Monster Lady Gaga Heartbeats in-ear headphones. I was blown away by the splendid sound quality of my favourite tunes once I plugged it into my iPod.
Thumbs up to Monster!