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Norwegian Seafood Gala Dinner 2014 – Mandarin Oriental

Time sure flies.
It’s been a year since my maiden experience at the Norwegian Seafood Gala Dinner. And as you can see, I have not grown any taller.

BELOW: Chef Frank Naesheim; the Salmon King and me in 2013.

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Chef Frank and me; this year.

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While my height and size remained, the buffet spread had expanded for sure!
Since it is my 2nd year at the Norwegian Seafood Gala Dinner; I arrived with high expectations of the proceedings. Happily for everyone, food remained top notch with Chef Frank and his team of culinary professionals from Norway, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong overseeing the spread.

Adding to the culinary heavyweights are Norwegian guest chef Markus Dybwad from the 3-Michelin star Fat Duck by Heston Blumenthal in England, Malaysian Kenneth Loke and Ovyind Naesheim, executive chef at Nobu, Intercontinental Hong Kong.

The chefs’ specialties were prepared ala-carte at their stations and understandably, majority of the guests made a beeline for them the moment dinner commenced.

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Chef Eric Teo.
1. Norwegian langoustine & crab rice with spicy egg sauce.
2. Chilled sliced salmon loin with sesame. Chilli vinaigrette.

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Chef Kenneth Loke.
1. King crab carrot emulsion & horseradish.

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2. Salmon carpaccio “Mosaic” laksa crispy scales.

Chef Markus Dybwad.
1. Greenland prawns, charred spring onions & parmesan foam.

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2. Dried cod, dried scallops, creamed linguini & bleak roe.

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3. Steamed halibut, Cep mushroom brown butter & hazelnuts.

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I sampled every single one of these and the amalgamation of ingredients, flavours and texture of each dish blew me off. Going for second (or third, or fourth) helpings is certainly recommended!

For the rest of the spread, it was naturally salmon-centric; with the familiar rich hued fish prepared in all ways imaginable.

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Poached whole salmon – wonderfully flaky and with its natural flavours shining through; prepared the exact way it should be enjoyed.

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I couldn’t keep count of the number of servings of these that I’ve devoured that night. These supple, slippery slices slided down my throat easily.

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The smoked salmon section alone is mind-boogling; just as vast as it was last year:
Hot smoked salmon with black pepper, smoked salmon Singapore fillet, hot smoked apricot salmon loin, smoked salmon loin with black sesame seed paste, smoked salmon fillet with citrus pepper, double smoke salmon belly, sale signature “Thai style” and Tandoori hot smoked salmon.
If the only version of ‘smoked salmon’ you have had is well; just plain ‘smoked salmon’, trust me, there are many more ways to smoke a salmon!

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Gosh, I love slightly poached salmon in a bowl of greens; with its inner flesh undercooked and moist. If only I could make this my daily salad…..

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I had to take a photo with the chefs responsible of course. Utmost respect goes to the Mandarin Oriental chefs and their teams for pulling this off everyday with such aplomb and style.

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The centrepiece of the buffet spread has always been this majestic ice sculpture with its impressive display of the King Crab, shellfish and large fishes; beckoning thousands of pictures to be taken that night.

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The variety of food is an endless spread. There are cold/fresh seafood preparations (as you have seen some above) as well as some Asian renditions.
Desserts take an entirely dedicated section outside of the ballroom.

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Norwegian shrimp salad with eggs & asparagus. These babies were so sweet with a firm bite.

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All you can eat King Crab, perfectly delectable just as it is.

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This is almost like a ceviche but Asian-styled with chilli and lime.

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This terrine is definitely out-of-ordinary. I remembered it from last year and was in fact specifically looking out for it this year!
I love the crunch of the beans which was embedded in some form of slightly spicy paste against the alternative layers of king crab and fish.

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Luxurious, colourful caviar by the bowl. Don’t be shy. Heap spoonfuls of it on your plate. No one will judge because everyone else is doing so! 🙂

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All the pretty shellfish in a row. So fresh and the flesh so sweet.

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This prawn cocktail dome is an architectural marvel; a shame to break it up but the guests wasn’t as sentimental as me. It was quickly “demolished”.

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Over at the cooked section, rows of salmon preparations in local and Asian preparations teased our palate further.
We had Halibut Kheng Som – steamed halibut fillet w spicy & sour Thai sauce, “Monkfish Kapitan” – monkfish tail on light curry sauce, “Lobster Sambal Hijau” – stir fried lobster tail green chili paste, Black Halibut fillet with black bean sauce, Wok charred salmon in rock sugar honey sauce, Goan style Haddock tail curry, “Salmon Jalfrrezi” – Sautéed salmon cubes in rich tomato & chili gravy and “Hyderabad Theenga Briyani” – Norwegian shrimp briyani rice.
I went home with extra tips and ideas that evening after sampling the spread.
There’s more to cooking seafood than plain grill, baked or steam! But one has to start with the freshest catch available for sure.

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A whole baked turbot, not a common fish for sure but delicious nonetheless. In fact I only had turbot twice (I think), which was during last year’s Norwegian Seafood Gala Dinner and this year.

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The people to thank for the dinner; first and foremost the Ambassador of the Norwegian Embassy himself; Mr Hans Ola Urstad. 

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A special moment that evening was the Special Recognition Award presented to Ewe Tuan Hai, head of Innovation Norway (the former Norwegian Trade Council) by the minister. Tuan Hai has served 32 years, assisting Norwegian companies and helping trade between Norway and Malaysia.

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And of course, Chef Frank Naesheim; the Salmon King.

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Desserts: I enjoyed the lingonberry ice cream last year (link: http://www.rebeccasaw.com/norwegian-seafood-gala-dinner-2013-the-best-of-norwegian-food-hospitality-and-the-malaysian-norwegian-business-council-mnbc-innovation-award/) and made a beeline to the ice cream table for it.
Unfortunately it wasn’t available this year but they had the Honey Apple Ice Cream which was a new flavour and tasted really good, mildly apple scented and not too sweet.

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BELOW: Yes waiter, a scoop of each please!

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This is a 40kg (40kg! I’m only 43 kg!) Viking made from chocolate. I was tempted to have a chunk of him; literally.

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The dessert spread covers traditional Norwegian treats such as the Princess Cake, the Norwegian baked prune custard (most heavenly custard ever), the Norwegian Sweet soup (ingredients include raisin, nuts, cranberry juice and prunes), the Ring Cake as well as local desserts such as nyonya kuih.

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Another year, another enjoyable evening at the Norwegian Seafood Gala Dinner. Thank you for having me again!

Last year I enjoyed the spread as a food enthusiast and was more focused on presentations and flavours.
I have since evolved from just appreciating food to creating recipes, researching and regular cooking due to the nature of my new business FitFabKitchen.
When I explored the spread at the Norwegian Seafood Gala Dinner this year, I became more acutely aware of flavours and paid closer attention to the ingredients that was used to achieve the taste and texture of the food that evening.
There was questions of “why this, but not that”?
Likewise for the method of cooking and temperatures and the difference of the origination of produce and how it affects the taste even if it was the same recipe.
No doubt the oceanic produce from the Norway are far superior and it was evident in the taste of the dishes that night.
Well, every wise chef could attest to this; great food starts from the best produce.
And I had certainly sampled some amazing food that night!