NOT a food blog
Every couple of years, Bald Eagle disappears on his personal search for the Holy Grail, and this year, on his birthday, he was in Austria doing the Mexican Wave while celebrating Fernando Torres’ goal for Spain against Germany in the Euro 2008. Now, this was going on while the good wife was at home, in Malaysia, meekly counting the days before his return, thinking of nothing else but of the immense love she had for her husband.
So naturally, there was no way of celebrating his birthday then. And when he did come back, the good wife fretted over where to take him for his birthday. Being the man about town, he had wined and dined at the best places, some of which the good wife was hardly able to get a whiff of. She eventually decided (and a good decision, it was) to wait till Sage opened its doors at The Gardens. And so, upon hearing the good news, she immediately made reservations for Friday, October 3, and announced that it was his birthday.
“It’s good to be back. I’ve missed Cilantro.”
“I’ve missed Cilantro too.”
And that was how the conversation started with the waiter. After months of speculating when Sage would open its doors while quietly reading and re-reading about days gone by at its sister restaurant, Cilantro (currently under renovation), we greeted Sage’s opening with whoops of joy. But really, did Sage measure up to our expectations?
“There’s no truffle butter.”
It was one of the things that I looked forward to, seeing that Chef Takashi Kimura from Cilantro was at the helm. But the fact is, Sage, despite resembling Cilantro in so many ways (including the furnishings, which I expect will be changed once they complete their refurbishments), was not Cilantro. The truffle butter was a Cilantro trademark, and Sage will have to find or create its own. Instead of serving butter, a fragrant guava-scented olive oil was served as a dip for the freshly baked breads.
But if Sage wants to be distinctive from Cilantro, but yet serves French-Japanese cuisine, then it will be an uphill task as invariably, Cilantro regulars will ask the same question. How is Sage different from Cilantro? I do like Sage’s credo, though, something that is fast catching on overseas but has yet to be widely practised here, that is their concept of sourcing the freshest ingredients, from the farmers and suppliers to the kitchen and finally to the table. This brings to mind an article which I read several months back on food miles. To put it simply, to what extent have we considered the environmental impact that results from bringing our food to our plate?
“Compliments of the chef, ma’am.”
It is always exciting to see what the amuse bouche will be. This one was a spoonful of risotto topped with lightly seared scallop. The risotto was creamy and the scallop fresh, enough for me to readily order the risotto dish the next time I visit Sage. (That is, if the foie gras doesn’t get to me first.)
We ordered from a menu that offered sets. Bear in mind that these sets are far from the typical set meals that are available in other restaurants which hardly offer worthy choices. There are two choices of dinner sets – Sage, consisting of an appetiser, main course and dessert, and Gourmet, which comprises all the earlier items and a Chef’s Special of the Day. The price difference is only RM20, with the Gourmet dinner set priced at RM140. What’s good about these sets is that one gets a choice of any of the items on the Ala Carte menu (save for the last 4 items). I can’t imagine anyone not wanting to order from the set, seeing that the items, once added up individually, cost close to RM170 (without the Chef’s Special).
At this point, who should walk in but a very prominent Minister (some say, the future Prime Minister of Malaysia, but dare I be so presumptuous?) and his entourage of bodyguards clad in batik. I looked at Bald Eagle. “You look tougher than them.” After all, it’s hard to take someone seriously when he’s wearing a floral shirt. Even if he’s carrying a gun.
The Brittany oysters, topped with a little fresh cream, was enough to take me to paradise and back. Even the special guests didn’t distract me. The oysters were so amazingly good.
“And what will Madam have for her starter?”
“I’ll have the…errr…feulle…err….”
“Ah, the Feuillete of Anago and Foie Gras!”
Bald Eagle rolled his eyes. “Your french is terrible!” he muttered under his breath.
I showed him my tongue.
I’m glad that I am able to achieve multiple orgasms. This dish was like making love for the first time, providing pleasure with every bite. Anago, a saltwater eel, was cooked together with the most deliciously fatty foie gras (this word can be so politically incorrect these days, but that’s how temptation is, isn’t it? When the desires of the flesh far exceed all human rationality). I let out a shudder as I tasted it, bit by bit. It was perfection on a plate.
“That’s a pretty fancy name for carpaccio with rocket, isn’t it?”
The maid carrying the grandson of the prominent Minister walked by. She smiled and tried to get the grandson, clad in a Shanghai Tang t-shirt to look out way. I glanced at Bald Eagle. “If the minister knew that the maid was trying to get the kid to mingle with us, the rakyat, he wouldn’t be very pleased, would he?”
He took a bite of his wagyu carpaccio, choosing to ignore my idle chatter and preferring to concentrate on his starter instead. By the way, I shall have to refrain from describing his food, no matter how delectable it looks, because it is hard to give an opinion on something that one has only taken a tiny bite of. Anyhow, he decided that he was able to make a better judgement, pronouncing my starter the better of the two. Not that the wagyu was bad. Far from it. The beautifully marbled slice (albeit a tiny one in my mouth) was delicious.
“Do you think they’ll ask me to stop taking photographs? After all, he is a VVIP, you know…”
I was shooting with a bulky Canon EOS 1D, looking quite like the paparazzi. The last thing I needed was a man in a flowery shirt toting a gun asking me to give up my memory card.
“And what will Madam have for her main course?” the affable waiter had asked me earlier.
“I’ll have the cod with foie gras, please,” I replied, feeling a little relieved that I was able to pronounce all the words.
“Foie gras again, madam?” he sounded amused.
I looked slightly guilty. Just slightly.
The slice of cod was cooked to perfection. Each segment of the fatty fish fell off easily; and the foie gras, this time, was a little firmer to the touch compared to my starter. The roasting of the fish and liver in wood paper created a very slight smoky flavour to the dish, but it certainly didn’t distract from the star of the plate – the cod.
Bald Eagle’s guinea fowl was prepared in 2 styles. One baked in a pastry casing, and the other, grilled.
“Are you ready to order desserts, madam?”
“I can’t decide,” I said ruefully. “Can you suggest something?”
“The almond blanc manger is delightful.”
“Isn’t that a jelly?” I made a face. “I’ll go with the ricotta souffle, please.”
Under his breath, Bald Eagle muttered “women”.
Of course, the last laugh was on him. He was expecting his dessert flambéed, and it obviously was – in the kitchen, not in front of him. So what turned up was an apple and ice cream. The accompanying syrup was some kind of treacle, sweet and slightly bitter, a very good foil for the sweetness of the fruit.
Oh and my ricotta souffle? The espresso sorbet was strong and very good, and the souffle, very light and puffy. It was like eating a piece of ricotta cloud. I loved it.
Coffee/tea at the end of the meal is part of the set.
The prominent minister was easily forgotten as I had probably one of my best meals in a very long time. This is one of those rare moments when everything falls together. Attentive and personalised service, knowledgeable staff, pleasant atmosphere, smiling chef, and best of all, the most wonderful date in the world. It was an evening where nothing could go wrong. We spent the evening chatting and laughing, the chemistry in our relationship quite evident as we shared nuggets of our lives with each other.
And I think at that moment, he forgave me for forgetting his birthday.
The Gardens Residences (same side as Isetan)
6th Floor, The Gardens
Mid Valley City
Lingkaran Syed Putra
59200 Kuala Lumpur.
For reservations, call: 03-2268 1188
Note: Please make reservations in advance. (I know people who have called the day before and have been turned down.) Sage is currently serving dinner only, 6.00pm to 10.30pm.
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.