After living in KL for almost 15 years, I finally stepped into Chynna at the Hilton Kuala Lumpur earlier this year.
A warm arrival in the form of the welcome tea poured in style and perfect precision from a long tip teapot had me enthralled. It is a skill, as I was told that the waiter had acquired mastery after doing so for 22 years.
The result was a frothy, floral tea pleasant to the nose as well as the throat with a deep, warming sweetness.
As I sipped my tea I eyed the fine Narumi Bone china plates in front of me. Such gorgeous tableware and classy settings, would the food impress as much? I had wondered.
Mixed Salad with Squid and Coconut White Curry Yee Sang (RM128/half, RM238/ full portion).
It was my first time meeting Chef Lam Hock Hin, Chynna Chinese Executive Chef and TV personality and I realized that I shouldn’t fret.
Good -humored and sociable, he had us laughing and well-fed with delicious food that evening.
Just for yee sang alone he had crafted 5 variants; assembling classic and some rather unexpected ingredients together to toss for prosperity, wealth, health, and good luck.
If I’ve had doubt as to the quality of the food here at Chynna, my fears were very much laid to rest by the first mouthful of my yee sang that evening.
The coconut curry was a bold move done by a bold chef which paid off handsomely.
Lusciously creamy and infused with onions, ginger, curry powder and lemongrass, this sauce packs quite a punch of flavours which bought out the taste of the overall yee sang tremendously.
Its spicy kick heighten the tastebuds and the bouncy squids provided such a pleasant contrasting bite to the crunchy fresh vegetables on the yee sang platter.
As if all of that wasn’t unique enough, Chef Lam thrown in dried longans for sweetness and fried anchovies (ikan bilis) and crackers for the crackly crunch!
Yes, this is one yee sang to remember, and the same can be said for the chef.
Other yee sang available are the traditional Norwegian Salmon Lo Sang, Jackfruit & Strawberry Lo Sang, Caesar Salad with Grated Parmesan Cheese and Australia 3 Head Abalone Lo Sang.
After my 3rd helping of the yee sang, the soup was set down before me.
Braised Jade Soup with Monkey Head Mushrooms & Prawn Meat.
A collective widening of eyes went around the table.
A green soup definitely raised some eyebrows, but it seemed that Chef himself hoped so from the gleeful expression on his face as he eyed us sipping his brew.
Quite a nutritious powerhouse, this soup concocted from blended spinach and chicken stock imparted none of the raw vegetal taste associated with vegetation but was instead sweet and nourishing with chunks of of prawn meat and monkey head mushroom.
Rock Salt Baked Chicken Stuffed with Ginger and Tea.
The healthy theme continued with a whole chicken that is aged 120 days. Chef said a 180 day old chicken would have been too old.
The bird is first brined overnight and then left to dry. The marination with Longjing tea is next before it is salted baked. The result is tender meat with a pleasant subtly infused tea flavour.
Steamed Giant Estuary Grouper Filler with Homemeade Assam Jawa Sauce.
The appetizing, sweet, spicy and piquant gravy really got us hooked. Likewise the presentation.
Meaty fillets made it easier to consume and each bite of the firm, sweet flesh flavored with the curry was heavenly.
Yes, this was certainly one of the better fish dish I’ve had the good fortune to sample this 2016.
The chef remained tight-lipped on the recipe, but if Chef Lam ever decided to run a cooking class, I’ll be the first to sign up!
Claypot Stewed Abalone with Sea Cucumber, Sun Dried Oyster, Fatt Choy, Mushrooms and Bran Gluten. This is a pretty standard dish, adeptly prepared and tasted as it should taste.
Wok Fried Omega Egg with Curry Flavour, Australian Scallop, prawn and garden vegetables.
Another finger-licking good rendition of prawns and scallops on a tasty bed of egg omelette. It does seem like Chef Lam favours chilies quite a bit in his dishes?
Poached Hong Kong Egg Noodle with Mince Chicken Beijing Style.
The starch dish came in the form of thin, eggy noodle richly coated with “zha jiang” (again a bit spicy) sauce plus a generous amount of minced meat.
I enjoyed this as the tasty zha jiang gravy reminded me of “mah poh taufu” kind of sauce. However the noodles got really soggy after a while so it is best to eat it as soon as it is served.
Dessert was an unexpected pairing of Panna Cotta with Crushed Peanut Nian Gao.
Can’t quite imagine it? Well, somehow it worked.
You just got to trust Chef Lam. I doubt the possibility of a dish served from his kitchen that is a disaster. No doubt it is impossible to please everyone but I believe Chef Lam would disappoint (if he ever) only a few.
All in all my first visit to Chynna is a memorable one and Chef Lam proved himself to be an excellent chef as well as a gracious host with his affable manner and humour.
Chynna Chinese New Year Menu is available from 11th January till 22nd February, starting from RM238nett per person.
For further details, contact Hilton KL Hotel at (phone number) +603 22642596 or visit website www.life.hiltonkl.com