Expectations for dinner were raised after the 3 hour lunch at Enfin by James Won a few days prior (review HERE).
His detailed explanations of his vision, his farm to table efforts and dedication in harnessing quality indigenous ingredients as well as his full out self-promoting speeches kind of did that to me.
I get it, credit where it is due, I admire his years of grit to attain his dream – his own fine dining French restaurant that would elevate the Malaysian dining experience to international standards.
While lunch had left me in doubt, dinner, as I’ve correctly predicted, had showcased his capabilities better. Suffice to say, Chef James Won is certainly one of the few chefs in KL to watch out for.
This elegant space opened in January 2016 and tonight we are the lucky bunch to be presented with his new dinner degustation menu and be in the focus of his undivided attention. As expected, Chef James arduously explained every dish. Naturally we hear about his farm again, of his self-harvested tuak as well as Enfin’s housemade chocolate and boulangerie.
We are to expect too, his book “Forest to Fork”, of which we are privileged to taste one of the recipes created for it – the Mushroom Tartare later, and we felt his excitement for his upcoming 30 episodes of food edutainment coming up on his very own YouTube channel. It has about 5 subscribers and an average of 10 views per video now, but I’m certain the marketing team has a strategy in place to boost viewership once the series launched.
Yes, there are exciting times ahead for Chef James and the Enfin team. Do subscribe to the channel!
Now that I’ve dutifully passed on the promotions that Chef had briefed us (in return for my seat at dinner), let’s talk about the food.
We began with a trio of amuse bouche that are complimentary for the set dinner but you will only get to select one if you are going ala-carte.
Amuse Bouche: White sturgeon caviar, sago chips, prawn powder and chill.
Amuse Bouche: Squid ink macaron, almond tofu, parmesan, chives and sundried shrimps.
Amuse Bouche: Truffle ice cream, crispy shiitake fries, basil flowers.
Out of the three, the macaron left the best impression on me. Gosh, I loved it!
Chewy and sweet, it was a perfect juxtapose of appropriate sweetness and appetizing savouriness heighten by a load of umami flavours from the dried shrimps.
Chef’s favourite almond tofu made its appearance again and together with the cream cheese, it lend moisture to the whole ensemble.
Oh, I have to mention that this has the makings of a notable social media content as it was served in a Krug box, releasing donut and vanilla smoke when opened. All that theatrics – get your cameras ready folks.
By the way, it was spelled as ‘macaroon‘ instead of macaron in the menu and press releases.
I’m not a French chef nor a trained one, but from what I read macaroon and macaron are supposed to be 2 different cookies. Or not?
Chef had mentioned that basil (thus the basil cream in this truffle ice cream) are super best friends with Krug champagne and that it heightens the fruitiness by FIVE times.
Well, it was good ice cream with a great champagne so I have no complaints.
The scallops were next and as a huge fan of scallops, I’m happy as long as it is seared while still remaining opaque in the centre.
Whatever else that came with it is a bonus, though I must admit the white sturgeon caviar and sea grapes were fancy and definitely impressive for dinner dates.
Both entrees of mushroom tartare and truffle soup were stunning. The former bears the hallmark of James Won – a spectacle of numerous techniques, ideas, textures and flavours jammed into one plate of food while the latter was a luxurious cream of mushrooms like none I’ve tasted before.
Being a classical French chef, I half expected to be choking on extremely rich mushroom soup but this turned out to be a pleasant surprise. The result of a blend of 6- 7 mushrooms plus ends of truffles sitting in XO for 30 – 60 days (the perks of being a Hennessy ambassador – supply of cognac to soak your mushrooms in! LOL), this was rich and fragrant but contrary to the standard creamy rich, it wasn’t cloying but robust in terms of depth and flavour instead.
The Mushroom Tartare was a mouthful – sous egg yolk and distilled mushroom, jellies and whatever else that was lost as Chef James droned on.
If I ever dine here again, I must remember my voice recorder.
Anyhow it was complicated but healthy tasting. At the very least, I managed to catch his tip of using the wood ear fungus chip to eat with the tartare.
Mushroom textures tartare, Maitake, woodear, truffled yolk, quinoa, pea shoot.
After all that excitement, the palate cleanser appeared in the form of pea and wasabi ice cream to ready the palate for the ‘plate principaux‘, which means the mains by the way. My French is limited to ‘bonjour’ and ‘jetaime’, so yes, I learnt a new term today.
Diners have the option between the beef, lamb, cod or lobster tail for mains. For us, it was either the beef or the fish.
I chose the beef of course.
Main: Margaret River Wagyu (MB5 – 120 g), pommes souffles, charred confit shallots, broccoli puree and condiments.
Here the beef was left to shine minus make up. ‘No salt, just black pepper, seared and remember the Dijon mustard‘ Chef James said.
When my order was taken the staff did ask for my preference of doneness and I’m glad to report that my beautiful steak was medium rare as requested and superbly juicy.
I’ll leave the debate of whether this 120g of M5 Wagyu is worth RM198++ to your discretion.
Chef is proud of his hand churned ice creams but I was glad that we were served a dessert minus ice cream.
I thought the tarte tatin and pandan ice cream for lunch was a pleasant classic. However I was keen to discover if desserts at Elfin are as elaborate as the savouries so I had hoped for a complex dessert for dinner.
This Pumpkin, mandarin, meringue log, sable, pumpkin white chocolate curd, mandarin mousse and jus was certainly unique though it comes at a steep price of RM108++.
This was paired with Hennessy on ice (only if you opted for alcohol pairing option) which worked really well.
Chef James had repetitively credited his team during our lunch and dinner sessions. The team was tasked to execute our meals with perfection (Chef James didn’t step into the kitchen at all) and I must say they did a great job. I was certainly satisfied with dinner so thank you!
MENU and PRICES
The 4-Course Degustation Dinner Menu is priced at RM388 per person and the 5-Course at RM438, excluding beverage and taxes. À la carte prices range from RM108 – RM198. There is an optional cocktail, wine, Champagne, and fine cognac pairing for an additional RM235. The new menu is available now – August 2017.
Enfin by James Won,
Level 2, Menara Hap Seng 1, Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 010-288 7920