Hennessy X.O Appreciation Grows Johor Bahru – Chef Viet Pham from Forage, Utah

Words can’t express how happy I was to be present at my 5th Hennessy X.O Appreciation Grows dinner in Johor.
Every Hennessy X.O Appreciation Grows dinner had showcased amazingly accomplished chefs who whipped up some of the most tantalizing meals I’ve ever had.
Every Hennessy X.O Appreciation Grows dinner had been a money-can’t-buy experience.
While in truth I personally enjoyed a few more than the others, I can’t deny that each dinner is executed with class befitting of the Moet Hennessy Diageo brand and each session still manages to surprise.

Hennessy X.O Appreciation Grows Johor Bahru 2014

This year our dinner was in the hands of the culinary artist, an “Iron Chef Winner”, Chef Viet Pham, a Malaysian born (but named after Vietnam?), San Francisco based chef.

JOHOR - Hennessy Appreciation Grows dinner 2014 Chef Viet Pham

I had expected dinner to be extraordinary. After all Chef Viet is an “Iron Chef Winner” and his restaurant in Utah won Salt Lake City Magazine’s Best New Restaurant in Salt Lake City in 2010 and Best Restaurant in Salt Lake City in 2011.
What was served that night was somehow disappointing.

Similarly to the 4th dinner by Chef LeAnne Wong, the night’s dining room was a replicate of the dining room of an early 19th century steam liner.
The dark space was illuminated with chandeliers and display panels on both sides of the hall showed our journey as we disembarked from our port in Johor to our first culinary destination; France, the birthplace of the Original X.O in 1870.

Entrance to Hennessy X.O Appreciation Grows Dinner JB 2014

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Guest in the dining area 2

Once can’t go wrong with scallops. Well, just as long as you allow the scallops to shine.

The first dish of the night, Sweetness on Seine, featured really large scallops roasted over embers, whey and a buerre of ‘almost burnt‘ cream.
I had thought it was rather ordinary, but at the end of the meal, the scallops turned out to be my favourite for the evening.

With the burnt cream being the iconic ingredient, the dish paired best with Hennessy X.O served with a splash of water to cut through out the richness of the sauce.

JOHOR - Hennessy Appreciation Grows dinner 2014

Since we were in France, it was high kicks and legs (aka cabaret) for the eyes.

01-French Cabaret Performance

We set sail and arrived on Chinese soil.

Yellow River Richness, a dish of lovely rich and unctuous poached duck egg yolk in a shitake mousse with an added crunch of some lightly toasted sprouted grains paired against Hennessy X.O served neat could have been an outstanding dish.
Yes Chef Viet, earthy mushrooms against the rich yolk would have worked really well if it wasn’t marred by an overly saltiness that made most of us barely able to get pass half the serving.

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This time the sexy French girls were replaced by the old-world classic of Shanghainese Jazz.

02-Shanghainese Jazz Performance

We had a long journey ahead next, sailing from China to America.

The Mild Hudson, a tribute to the Great American Dream, saw grilled sea bass served with savoy cabbage; done two ways, topped off with one of the most prized and expensive types of caviar, Osetra Caviar.
This was partnered with Hennessy X.O served on the rocks.

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Smooth, silky tones of an American jazz quintet (saxophonist, trumpet player, keyboardist, drummer and guitarist) soothed my ragged nerves over the disappointing sea bass.

03- Jazz Quintet Performance 2

Chef Viet went Italian classic next and served us a cutlet of fried chicken topped with parmesan cheese, homemade fresh tomato and mushroom ragu (aka Chicken Parmagiana) accompanied by Hennessy X.O and water.
It was such a simple dish, but enjoyable since it was executed well.

04- SPICY MEDITERRANEAN

The strong vocal of the Italian opera accompanied us as we wondered what was for dessert.

04- Opera Performance

The night draws to a close as we were welcomed by an energetic Japanese drum performance by the Wadaiko Syo troupe.
Osaka Bay Freshness
, a dessert combination of 2 traditional Japanese ingredient – ‘Umeboshi’ served with toasted sweet bread, passion fruit and Yuzu sorbet was savored with Hennessy X.O with a splash of water.

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05-Japanese Drum Performance

Hennessy X.O, The Cognac: 

The cognac’s rigorous preparation, the result of blending a hundred eaux-de-vie with exceptional aromas, has not changed since this time.
Hennessy X.O is a masculine and generous cognac that combines subtlety and complexity.
Hennessy X.O is also a powerful cognac; yet harmonious, elegant. Masculine and generous due to it’s rich and spicy aromas with very structured nuances, dominated by the richness of oak and black pepper aromas.
The first wave of aroma, rich in dried fruit aromas such as prunes or dried figs, overcomes you. The aromas evolve to more dense notes of chocolate and black pepper, mellowed by cinnamon, clove and cardamom spices.
These fragrant and generous scents of crystallized fruit, oak, spices, and emanation of old leather, all fall into place very distinctly.
Hennessy X.O is very balanced on the palate, it confirms the aromas discovered by scent: dried fruit and chocolate. Elegant and robust, it reveals balance, roundness, and harmony among aromas, underlined by the strength of peppery notes, and vegetable fragrances from the oak. A lovely long aftertaste is enrobed in velvet conferring the last sweet notes of cinnamon and vanilla.

Thank you and heartiest congratulations to the MHD Malaysia team for pulling off another memorable Hennessy X.O Appreciation Grows event! 🙂

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For an idea of the Hennessy X.O Appreciation Grows Gastronomy Dinners, do check out the links below. Each session is by-invite only and it features Hennessy’s rich savor-faire heritage paired against the culinary brilliance of the selected chef.

Hennessy X.O Appreciation Grows begun with Chef Susur Lee – November 2011.
Hennessy X.O. Appreciation Grow with Chef Edward Lee – April 2012
Hennessy X.O. Appreciation Grow with Chef Micheal Han – September 2012
Hennessy XO Appreciation Grows 2013 – Chef LeAnne Wong – April 2013