A Malaysian Blog about Food, Family and Friends – by Lyrical Lemongrass
We had just come back from Bali the day before, browner than normal and exhausted from the days of doing…well…almost nothing, except for eating and lazing by the pool with martinis in our hands. The weather gods were not on our side. Despite the sunny days which allowed us to get our tan, the evenings were wetter than a striptease bar and we were thus compelled to enjoy our sunsets huddled in claustrophobic spaces.
I used to sink into severe depression at the end of vacations. I’d cry myself to sleep because I’d always have left a part of myself miles away in some foreign land. My most meaningful holidays are usually the ones spent with people who matter, and I’m not perturbed about not having time to see famous sights. You can’t carry those in your heart, but people…you can.
On my last trip to Hong Kong, I was rather devastated about not having time to dine at Alvin Leung’s Michelin-starred restaurant, Bo Innovation. I had researched his cuisine and printed out information in anticipation of a mind-blowing experience, but it never happened, and so I was quite ecstatic when the PR company for Hennessy X.O Appreciation Grows series, Milk PR, contacted me and asked if I’d be interested to attend the event and sample Alvin Leung’s cuisine. I did several leaps of joy in my rather subdued accounting office, then sent off a reply immediately saying Yes Yes Yes!
Meeting Alvin Leung was like a dream come true. Not all my wishes materialised, though – I had wanted to try his molecular xiu long bao, but it wasn’t on the menu. I had no cause for complaint, though, as the menu for the two nights that I was present managed to put a big smile on my face. Two menus were offered to guests – the non-vegetarian and vegetarian menu. Like me, many others sniggered at the idea of opting for a vegetarian menu for a dinner that was worth RM800 per head. No foie gras? No wagyu? How cannnn…?
I grew up in a household where we were vegetarians one day a week, and although I am averse to certain types of leafy green vegetables, I wholeheartedly approve of vegetarian cuisine. Nevertheless, it took me some convincing to opt for the vegetarian menu by Alvin Leung, but I figured that I’d do myself a favour by eating just a little less foie gras for a change.
Some of the items were similar for both menus. The opening dish, called Glass Garden, seemed aptly named with withered branches in an electrifying green and brown soil, entirely edible and immensely enjoyable. The menu had described this dish as “an avant garde Hong Kong interpretation of a garden dish, made from baked morel soil, dehydrated enoki, braised caterpillar fungus and green onion puree.” As unattractive as it sounded, the green onion puree was heavenly. It had a silky, buttery texture which seemed to lightly graze the tongue, but we learnt later that no butter was used in this dish and it was extremely healthy.
Everything was close to perfection. The pan-fried foie gras on my first night was good but not exceptional as it was a little too mushy and lacked a crisp surface, but my second time trying it (off a friend’s plate) showed a vast improvement in the dish. Likewise, the dessert of kikorangi blue cheese, milk, cream and dried longan granita seemed disproportionately doled out with the piquant taste of the blue cheese overpowering every other flavour, but this was quickly rectified the next night and it finally occurred to me why the good chef would pair a seemingly chinese dessert with blue cheese. The resultant dish with the ingredients combined was a creamy iced dessert with a mild sharpness in flavour from the cheese.
One other dish that caught my fancy was the Kukomi Intrigue, a dish created from boiled chicken soup, sous vide egg white, foie gras and julienned truffle. The flavour was like a pure extract of chicken essence, and the texture was a thick, curdled consistency from the egg white, foie gras and truffle. The vegetarian version of the soup was less attractive in appearance but every mouthful was extremely pleasurable. The ingredients seemed rather similar. The egg white was present, as was the julienned truffle, but the vegetarian version was bursting with the flavour of mushrooms. Fans of mushrooms would also have been thrilled with the vegetarian menu, where an assortment of fungi such as enoki, morels, black truffles and ceps were used in the cooking.
Only two types of beverage were served together with the specially planned menu – water and Hennessy X.O cognac. The pairing of the food with the cognac was excellently done. Hennessy X.O could very well be my tipple of choice in the future! Halfway through the meal, we were given the opportunity to savour the Ultra Limited Edition Hennessy X.O Mathusalem created by master blender and secret keeper, Yann Filloux. Speeches were aplenty, and Alvin Leung was a delight to listen to.
The event was held for six nights in September at a specially built “dome” in Bukit Kiara Equestrian Club with constantly changing 360 degree visuals on the walls with every new dish. Tables were adorned and spilling with flowers and crystals, and guests were dressed to the nines in line with the black tie theme. Service moved like clockwork. It was absolutely beautiful.
Thank you, Adeline, Janis and Wei from Milk PR, and Andrew and Frederic from Riche Monde Malaysia for inviting us and for making our dreams come true.
Food, for me, is a means to an end and not an end in itself.
Food, for me, represents the love of family, the fellowship of friends, and the community and communality it brings.