Remember my post on the Midsummer Nights Festival 2010 in Starhill Gallery?
Yes, it has begun!
The week of haute cuisines, with specially crafted Celebrity Chefs menus, showcasing a sauve Italian Chef, a 2 Michelin Star Chef Burton – Race & Chef Stephen Mercer kicked off last Friday with the “Best of Shook!” menu -where diners finds 3 renowned master chefs at their service.
Amuse Bouche for the night – an eggy custard, with some bitter, (foie gras? ) liver-like tasting concentrated broth which I enjoyed but found a tad salty after a little while. Intrigued, I asked a few waiters for the name/explanation of the dish & one told me “tofu” while another “cawanmushi”. The rest drew a blank. Not a good start.
On a more pleasant note, Master Chef Jacqueline Quiqiong from Shook! Shanghai gave a live demo of her dish that night; the Red Snapper with Celery Root Puree, Pepper Smoked Tapioca, Jade Salad, and Lily Bud Lime Sauce, breaking the usual monotony of a sit-down dinner.
Red Snapper with Celery Root Puree, Pepper Smoked Tapioca, Jade Salad and Lily Bud Lime Sauce.
I could barely see anything as the cooking station was elevated way higher than me. I did however, witness the beginning; where she showed us some big dried peppers that looked similar to red chillies. She proceeded to put them into the oven to roast. My guess here? The tapioca refers to the orangey tapioca PEARLS above, & the reason for the orange hue is due to it being roasted together with the peppers. The vibrant vermillion oil is the chilli/pepper oil released from the roasted peppers. Smart eh? 😉
There used to be a time when dishes have simpler names. Take a cabonara for an example. Or Nasi Lemak. If they were to be named now, it is most likely Spaghetti in emulsion of Pecorino Cheese & Egg Yolks, with Cured Belly Bacon & Ham while Nasi Lemak is Local Rice steamed in the cream of coconut, served with Roasted Peanuts & Deep Fried Anchovies, Quarter of an Egg, garnished with Farm Cucumbers & Slow Braised Mix of Chilli, Onions, Garlic & crushed Deep Fried Anchovies Paste.
Well, I guess that haute cuisine naming makes it easier for the diner to identify the ingredients/flavours of the dish. So let me attempt to dissect the dish for you again.
The celery root puree is the light tawn creamy pool you see below. The fish sits on a bed of mashed (potato?). The ‘Jade Salad’ was slivers of celery, with green chilli, (which tasted vinegared to me – but that would explain the “Lily Bud Lime Sauce”) & some unidentifiable vegetables.
Taste-wise? Simply lip-smacking; a peep of piquancy from the Jade Salad, a notch of spiciness from the tapioca pearls, a luxurious touch of lovely creamy puree, all best eaten in one mouthful with sweet, firm flesh of the red snapper. To be honest, just eating the fish on its own will not woo a seasoned fine diner in anyway. But all in a bite, the differences in flavours & textures does still manage to rouse the jaded tongue.
Next, Marsala Scented Sea-Scallops and Citrus Fruit Salad. And it’s a big fat one too.
I was pleasantly pleased with the balance of pairing the clean flavours of the scallop with the strong Marsala paste. The pea shoots were raw & left a slightly bitter aftertaste, the cloves of orange slightly sour & the almonds wraps it up with a nutty finish. Again, eat them all together please..else, it is just another scallop.
Halfway through, Najwa Mahiaddin enchanted the evening with her strong vocals, delivered with passion and soul!
Which was good, cos I had a hard time washing the taste of this Arugula & Mint Soup with Fish Roe off my tongue. The name alone hints at foulness. To be fair, I don’t fancy bitter soup & I hate mint so that might have made my judgement of this worse, but nevertheless, I was curious to see how Chef Johann might have pull it off.
Well, to put it mildly…it is AN ACQUIRED TASTE. Still, as Chef Kevin Cape had explained later that night, it was a good avenue for Chef Johann to showcase his creativity & not be stifled by sticking to ordinary & safer creations. And some diners that night did lap it all up. 😉
This was a superbly executed dish, Medallion of Grain Fed Beef Cooked at 59.5° With Caramelized Shanghaiese Infused Eggplant And Roasted Chilli.
Chef Kevin explained that it was cooked at precisely 59.5° & that is the perfect temperature. Preparation was in a variety of ways of which he won’t indulge further other than one of them was using a waterbath (The French call this cooking technique au bain marie (bahn mah-ree) .
Yes, the texture of the meat tells me it has been gently cooked, not harshly grilled or pan seared. The doneness was perfectly medium. Preparation methods aside, this is very chinese, with crisp garlic bits & drizzling of garlic oil over the top. The use of dried chillies, at some parts, made it taste reminiscing of our Chinese “Kung Po” – (stirfry with dried chillies).
Desserts was worth the extra calories. I’ ve got no complains on the slice of chocolate mousse cake which was was packed with nuts & I loved the bottom choc + peanut butter + crisps layer. The one in the glass was ordinary, & the half roll at the side was aka banana & red bean springroll.
Chef Kevin Cape came out from his fortress & caught me sneaking a picture of him. LOL.
And I had the privilege of discussing with him my opinions of the food that night, as well as snapping some pictures with his team – left to right:
Master Chef Johann Ong from Shook! Kuala Lumpur,
YTL Executive Corporate Chef Kevin Cape from Shook! Worldwide,
Master Chef Jacqueline Quiqiong from Shook! Shanghai.
We went to the kitchen & he showed me a whole jar of these – black truffles!! Apparently, that one bulb costs more than my dinner (RM260++) that night!
Che Massimo who was just dining at the next table got “coerced” into posing with the same truffle for me by Chef Kevin. 😉
What an experience! I’m most excited to see what Chef Kevin has in store for me this coming Wed, & I sure hope it doesn’t include any Arugula Mint Soup! 😉
Here are the Special Menus in each outlet in StarHill Gallery throughout the week of the Midsummer Feast Festival 2010. If you are feeling indulgent, I personally think the Celebrity Chefs is worth pondering over. We do not get visits from 2 – Stars Michelin chefs often after all!
Go on, a bit of profligacy doesn’t harm anyone! 😉
My Dinner : “Best of Shook!” menu.
2nd July 2010
Red Snapper with Celery Root Puree
Pepper Smoked Tapioca, Jade Salad, and Lily Bud Lime Sauce
Marsala Scented Sea-Scallops and Citrus Fruit Salad
Johann’s surprise dish (the Arugula & Mint Soup)
Medallion of Grain Fed Beef Cooked at 59.5°
With Caramelized Shanghaiese Infused Eggplant
And Roasted Chilli
Symphony of Desserts
181 Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel : 03 2782 3855
****All prices are subjected to 10% service charge and 5% government tax