The dine and wine scene at The Saujana is interesting right now.
Just last week I met Chef Ryan Arboleda and was given an insight of the Modern Asian twists he had incorporated into The Restaurant @ The Club menu.
Though I had a bit of a jolt, for I was used to the strict Modern European cuisine of the previous chef, the change looks set to impact The Restaurant in an compelling way.
This week 36 year-old Italian native Chef Emiliano di Stefano showcased his new menu where he injected the true warmth of Italian flavours using quintessentially Italian ingredients such as tomatoes, garlic and olives to Senja; as it is already a well established Italian restaurant.
Having worked around the world in various established hotels for 18 years, Chef isn’t one to be easily shocked with new flavours and ingredients.
As a matter of fact, Chef is familiar with Asian flavours!
A stint in India; he had said, was one of the more challenging times of his career.
He went on to explain about the local Indian palate and how it is conditioned to bold, extreme flavours. It has somewhat distressed their ability to appreciate the subtle, natural flavours that are quintessentially Italian.
He received conflicting reactions from his food at first for some locals couldn’t accept the flavours of his cooking.
However, Chef Emiliano stuck to his guns and kept to his authentic methods of preparing Italian dishes. He took on the task of educating his diners on the finer tastes of pure Italian cuisine and his perseverance had paid off eventually.
Tonight, as he sat and explained the same to us, it was after a 5 course meal and we were left in no doubt of the prowess of his “Italian” job. 🙂
We began with a simple salad, which he claimed to be similar back home. I’m not particularly fond of the quality of the smoked salmon, but loved the guacamole and the honey vinaigrette.
The neat presentation of the dish was a plus point too.
Gamberi alla Parmigiana.
Tender tiger prawns wrapped in crunchy eggplant, tomato vellutee, pecorino cheese shavings and cherry tomato confit.
One word: Delicious!
Chef achieved the elusive non-greasy yet delightfully crisp texture for each band of eggplant and he wrapped just enough layers to ensure both prawn and eggplant flavours are in harmony; the eggplant neither shadowed the prawn and the prawn still shone through with its fresh, sweet flesh.
The delicate sweetness of the tomato vellutee added moistness and provided the sauce for the dish.
PASTA: Handcrafted tagliolini with scallop, zuchini and pistachio pesto.
Pasta fans should order fresh pasta when dining here at Senja. A stickler for tradition and authenticity, Chef personally saw to the import of the correct flour from Italy and assured us that only filtered water are used in the making of his pastas and pizza dough.
I’m not a pasta fan but resistance was futile as I bit into a forkful of this.
The sauce was wonderful with its depth of flavours produced from prawn bisque, tomatoes, chillies and garlic. The pistachio pesto was mild as the primary flavours were meant to be the tomato based sauce, but the more sensitive palates among us were able to discern the mild pistachio nuttiness and fragrance from the basil.
MAIN: Red mullet fillet with black simmer truffles served with braised vanilla baby carrot, rucola and walnuts salad as well as “egg custard”.
If your experience of a fish dish in restaurants are limited to the typical seabass, salmon, cod and barramundi, it’s time to treat yourself to the flaky sweet flesh of red mullet.
Kudos to Chef for his effort in injecting a few out-of-the-ordinary dishes in Senja’s new menu. Have you had your vegetables cooked with quality vanilla? Or mop up your fish with an accompanying sauce made from custard and eggs?
NO? Well, this is the dish to order then.
The Almond and Banana Mille Feuille sounded deceivingly boring on print, but when it was served we were delighted by the delicate yet non-greasy folds of the pastry.
Chef duly informed us that every component of the dessert, save for the custard sauce was prepared ala-minute.
The result – fresh, light, crackly pastry thins that was heavenly with fresh sweet bananas and the mildly rich custard sauce.
I noted on how thinly sliced each banana coin was, for that paired so well with the dainty dessert.
I’ve never liked having thick cut of bananas with my waffles or crepes.
I’m of opinion that chunky bananas coins are great if it was baked in pies, puffs, cakes or in a tart (who doesn’t love generous bananas fillings!) but for raw bananas, it tend to get overwhelmingly gummy in the mouth especially if they are paired with delicate pastries like this.
Saujana Hotel and The Club at Saujana boast of its own branded wines from the vineyards of Australia. I enjoyed the Sauvignon Blanc most followed by the Chardonnay and the Merlot.
Freshly baked bread with the most luscious tomato dip as well as imported olives in oil were served at the beginning of our meal.
I urge you to make room for them, for they are most appetizing.
The pizzas are an excellent choice; for they are baked in a wood fire oven and the result is a lovely airy crust with crisp, lightly charred exterior, and soft, chewy interior.
The new Senja Restaurant menu will be launched at the end of this month.
So if you are hankering for pork-free Italian fare with unparalleled ambiance, Senja’s reservation number is + 603 – 7843 1234 ext 6122 or you can email [email protected].