Hokkien Fried Rice – a melange of assorted seafood (prawns, scallop), chicken and mushrooms, cooked in a thick sauce, with rice

Last Monday, I took almost an hour and half to arrive at work.  The cause of the jam was an overturned cement truck somewhere in Cheras.  Now that wouldn’t seem so unbelievable except that the jam that I was caught in began at the Subang Jaya point of the Federal Highway.  Sometimes, I wish I could get on a helicopter and observe driving habits during peak hours.  I’ve spent enough time in traffic to mull over the meaning of life and traffic concerns and now I want to save the world from bad drivers.  I think I’ve finally found the reason for my existence and it’s wonderful to be able to share it with my readers.

Li Yen restaurant (SIGNATURE)
Li Yen at the Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur (photograph courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton)

Peking duck served with steamed sesame pancakes – a specialty at Li Yen and faultless

The Christmas carols have barely begun to dissipate in my memory, but in the blink of an eye, that other orgiastic festival that brings with it an endless slew of lavish banquets assails me with the speed of an oncoming train. Everywhere I go, the ubiquitous jingle of Kongsi permeates the air, reminding me of a childhood gone by, happily spent in Penang and Klang, where the smell of gunpowder lingered in the air, as children with nary a care in the world played fireworks to usher in the New Lunar Year.  I can hear Tangechi telling me, “Oi, masuk Cina la”, his constant reminder to embrace the other half of my being.

Prosperity Salmon Yee Sang – contained thick slices of raw salmon

Steamed patin fish with superior soya sauce

I spent the end of 2010 and most of 2011 with the sniffles, and while I revelled in the sympathy in the beginning, I was mostly embarrassed about it in the third and fourth week of my illness.  My mother-in-law would make random calls to me asking me to take everything from Vitamin C to evening primrose oil while the rest of my well-meaning family members recommended other natural remedies ranging from a type of bitter leaf that can cure everything from the common cold to cancer, to manuka honey with lemon.  Friends googled articles online on the joys of consuming ginger and 10 ways to stop coughing in your mother-in-law’s face.  What made it worse was that I had all these food reviews to attend, courtesy of Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia and the various restaurants participating in the Extravagant 8 Chinese New Year campaign, and I wanted to be able to taste everything.

Double-boiled assorted seafood soup – Standard Chartered does not support the consumption of sharks fin soup, a popular delicacy in Chinese restaurants, and has requested that none of the menus contain that ingredient. In this context, the various restaurants have come up with different types of soups, some more complex than others. The soup served at Li Yen contained prawns, grouper, crab, scallops, fish maw and bamboo piths which took 7 hours to boil.

Stir-fried assorted mushrooms and asparagus

Unfortunately, the pinnacle of my illness was at the food review of Li Yen, and I was burdened with a tongue that could not taste and a body that would rather be wrapped in a blanket instead of a thin black dress.  Thankfully, I could feel textures (the peking duck was very crispy, the steamed patin was fresh and firm to the touch, and the double-boiled seafood soup contained all the comforts for a sick person in a thin black dress).  The food at Li Yen is predominantly Cantonese, and will satisfy the health-conscious thanks to the use of less oil in the preparation, so I suppose I could call it a blessing that I was eating at Li Yen that night.

Braised dried scallops with dried oysters and sea moss – the dried oysters were sourced from Hong Kong while all other ingredients were brought in from Japan

In conjunction with the Chinese New Year celebration this year, the best chefs from 8 top Chinese restaurants in the Klang Valley have customised special Extravagant 8 menus, priced at RM888++ for a table of 8, exclusively for Standard Chartered credit card holders.  The menus are available from January 20 to February 17, 2011.  More details on the restaurants, their offerings and T&Cs are available at the Standard Chartered website.

Deep-fried yam with lunar cake – a sure-win yam and nian gao combination

Chef Leung Kwai Hong (61), born in China, with experience in Hong Kong, Japan and Korea.  He also loves swimming and travelling, and his motto is “Whatever you do, you must be hardworking, then you will eventually succeed”.  Wise words indeed.

Thank you Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia and Ritz Carlton for your kind invitation.  More reviews can be found here:-
Memoirs of a Chocoholic

Li Yen
Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur

Tel: 03-2142 8000

Note:  This is the first of five reviews under the Standard Chartered Extravagant 8 campaign.  Prepare for a visual feast!