Sunday, December 02, 2012

HOW TO TEMPT A TYCOON



Some of us may never get a chance to be one of those tycoons to make the Forbes rich list but hey, we can sure dine like the best of them!
Just step across the threshold of Lai Poh Heen's opulent white and gold interior and one can pretend we were dining in a Chinese tai pan's palatial turn of the century home high up on the lofty Victoria Peak in Hong Kong instead of traffic-choked Kuala Lumpur...

With its pristine white high ceiling and ornate chandeliers, expansive picture windows and polished marble-topped tables paired with Blackwood chairs, carefully curated Oriental artworks and artefacts,  the Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur's world-class Chinese restaurant would immediately make any mogul worth his millions feel right at home.

Now that award-winning chef Ricky Thein has taken over the culinary reins, you can expect  the food to be suitably refined and palate-pleasing enough to satisfy those of the manor born. No faddish food here thank you very much. Instead the chef's latest repertoire harks back to familiar, well-loved classics that are bestowed with restrained modern touches. Portions may look deceptively dainty but rest assured, the resultant flavours are anything but. Bold yes; brash no.

Take that night's curtain-raiser for instance. The visually arresting platter has two delicate egg pancake cones stuck upright into discs of fresh watermelon and musk melon. Filled with crispy seven spice-scented soft shell crab chunks, they form a pretty picture with a scattering of tiny, translucent ginger flavoured jelly dices on the side. Mind  you, those little cubes sure worked like a charm, their zingy bursts of warm spiciness adroitly tempering the crustaceans' mild greasiness.

For someone who never care much for soup, I always make an exception for Chef Ricky's soulful broths. I still recall the splendid soup he dished up for the recent Malaysia International Gourmet Festival and this time, it was no different. The doubled-boiled soup with baby abalone and supreme fish maw was good to every sweet, last drop. Aside from the little baby bok choy, slippery smooth fish maw and luxurious baby abalone, its delicate sweetness was augmented by berry-bright red kei chi (wolfberries) and a whole dried scallop. 

Bursting with deliciously smoky accent from its jasmine tea-smoked preparation, the tender, juicy chicken had everyone clucking with approval. The bracing ginger and spring onion dip gave it a sublime lift.

While most chefs would prefer to counter the cod's natural richness with something acidic, Chef Ricky took a gamble by topping rectangular bars of black cod fillet with gooey, melted cheese. Accompanied by fat spears of Australian asparagus tips, crunchy magnolia petals and crisp-tender deep-fried shimeiji, we felt like the proverbial cat that got the cream. I guess the trick is to slap on just enough to tantalise the tastebuds or else it'd be too much of an overkill.


The lightly stir-fried, jade green snow peas, celery, carrot and asparagus stalks in the ensuing dish of Stir-fried Seasonal Vegetables with Honey and Crispy Preserved Olive Tree Leaves helped to alleviate the guilt of such an indulgent treat somewhat.


Alas, before we could pat ourselves on the back for being such saints, our steely resolve disappeared instantly the minute we had a bite of the seared prawns with spicy lemongrass sauce. Those succulent crustaceans lacquered in a fiery piquant and citrusy sauce with aromatic curry leaves, onion and garlic slivers would draw even the wiliest, cold-fish magnates out of their shell. 

Why bother sending a private jet to buy a plane-load of Musang King durians when you can waltz into Lai Poh Heen and demand a serving of the famed chilled durian pancakes? Meticulously wrapped to resemble pale gold ingots filled with cool, creamy and oh-so-heavenly sweet filling, every mouthful of the pancake is sure to leave you feeling like a million dollars.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, are some of the alluring ways to tempt a tycoon...or dine like you're one!



Lai Poh Heen, Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur City Centre. Tel:+603/ 2179 8885

1 comment:

Food Dreams said...

Chef Ricky is such a master at soups!! I can see him getting bolder and creative in his new dishes... drools...