Saturday, January 26, 2013

ART OF TAO



YB Senator Kohilan Pillay (left) with InterContinental KL's GM Mr Phil Riley at the opening of Tao

After a two-month extensive facelift, InterContinental Kuala Lumpur finally unveiled Tao – its opulent Chinese restaurant with a series of special dinners that unleashed the culinary tour de force of its executive Chinese chef Wong Lian You and critically acclaimed chef Sam Leong from Singapore.
The honourable Deputy Minister doing the opening ceremony honours
A rousing lion dance performance kicked off the official opening night that saw was Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs YB Senator Kohilan Pillay as guest of honour. 


Elegant opulence underscores the new interior of Tao
As invited guests sauntered in, gasps of admiration were audible when they spied the glassy panels painted with multiple stems of pale pink peach blossoms flanking both sides of the entrance way and the stunning swirly cloud-shaped pin-prick lighting. Richly accentuated with dark wood and Oriental motifs, more vivid peach blossom accents adorn the main feature wall and carpet underfoot.
Chefs of a feather flock together...Wong Lian You and Sam Leong
With a slew of accolades and countless awards under his toque, the affable Sam Leong soon had everyone eating out of his hands and gushing over his famed Crispy Wasabi Prawns with Mango Salsa. Creamy with faint bursts of tongue-tingling wasabi, the springy crustaceans were perked up with an appetising mango salsa that intensified their natural sweetness.
Springy freshness to savour
Deep-seated briny, sweet flavours of the sea were prevalent in the Double Boiled Sea Whelks Consommé with Fresh Cordycep Flowers and Conpoy. We adored the soup's smooth unctuousness. The textural union between a whole, large conpoy (dried scallop), chewy sea whelks and strands of fresh cordycep flowers was amazingly surreal and lodged itself into our memory.
Soup-er indulgent treat
Robustly tart, salty and citrusy nuances reminiscent of Thai tom yum set our tastebuds alight as we sampled Leong's creation of Steamed Soon Hock Fillet with Spicy Tomato Broth. Spiked with garlic flakes and slivers of tomato, this distinct treat was a nice departure from the usual soya sauce and fragrant oil steamed fish.
Thai-rific influence reigns in this fish dish
My favourite dish of the evening was the Braised Free Range Duck Leg with Eight Treasures. Laid out on a handful of pickled julienne cabbage, it was a breeze devouring the delectable boneless duck roulade that came stuffed with lotus seeds, water chestnut dices and a host of other ingredients. 
You'd take to this sublime speciality like duck to water
Not to be outdone, Wong sifu (master) displayed his prowess by proffering Stewed Sea Cucumber with Dried Scallop and Winter Melon. A golden pool of carrot sauce surround a tender winter melon ring that had a whole conpoy in it. Paired with a dainty spiky "liu sum" sea cucumber and a baby bok choi, there was no faulting its artful melding of delicate sweetness and tender textures. 
Tender textures to tantalise your palate
It was a shame that we couldn't do justice to the Sautéed Broccolini with Wild Forest Mushroom and Crispy Yam. Despite the mashed yam ring's airy-light crust, we only managed to polish off the fungi pieces as the portion was far too generous after the succession of dishes we had.
One yam ring to rule them all
Thankfully the Wok Fried Glutinous Rice with Crab Meat and Whole Abalone proved more manageable. The fluffy grains were surprisingly light with none of the heavy stickiness that is normally associated with glutinous rice. Of course, the luxurious addition of crab meat and abalone helped tremendously to ramp up its irresistible quotient.
Grains of delicious truth
The night's icing on the cake turned out to be Green Tea and Mango Fondant with Lychee and Black Sesame Ice Cream. Murmurs of appreciation were heard all around even though the mango failed to make its presence felt amidst the strong green tea-based, molten centre fondant. Fortunately, the lychee fared better in the dulcet black sesame ice cream.
A dessert to make you go green with envy
Overall, it was a spectacular showing by the Tao team. Perusing the a la carte menu, our interest were piqued to find traditional Peking duck that could be 'pimped up' with foie gras, truffles or eringi mushroom, poached lamb fillet a la 'bak kut teh' style and chilled slow-cooked beef with mandarin skin and spices amongst some of the house specialities. Such interesting creations definitely call for an encore.

Tao, InterContinental Kuala Lumpur, 165 Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 03-2161 1111.

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