meulle - foil of smoked bonito
How often does one get to dine on exquisite food prepared by acclaimed chef, Mark Best of Sydney’s Marque Restaurant, who is currently Chef of the Year in the 2006 Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide? Okay, you sir, if you’re from Sydney, you can put your hand down coz you don’t qualify. This is for the rest of us non-Sydneysiders. Yes, about 99.99999999% of the world population.The Westin Kuala Lumpur is currently promoting Taste of Australia from May 11 – 20, 2007 which features celeb chefs such as Andrew McConnell, Daniel Mosedale and Mark Best. That’s about all the publicity that I’m going to give to the Westin. They have enough money to promote themselves.

What I’m really excited about is the food.

chaud froid free range eggIf you’ve never heard of Chaud-Froid (Free Range) Egg, research it. There is so much literature out there. It is easy to think that it is just a half boiled egg in a cup. But scoop up some and taste it. The mixture of the slightly runny egg and the cream together with what tasted like syrup created an unexpected mixture of flavours in the mouth. The sensuous feeling of holding the egg in my hand as I cleaned out the eggshell immediately disappeared as it cracked under the pressure from my fingers. I’m no Nigella Lawson.

That marked the beginning of my journey of discovery. The pairing of the unexpected. Blue swimmer crab with almond jelly sprinkled with ground popcorn. Cured ocean trout with a slice of melon on top. Risotto made of calamari instead of rice. Smoked bonito with wafer thin crisp potato slices. Roast duckling with olive that tasted of liquorice. Goat’s cheese with marzipan cake and rambutan. It was fusion food like no other. The descriptions were utterly baffling.

Despite that, the flavours of the unusual ingredients were a perfect match for each other. The trout served with a slice of melon and a single oyster reminded me of the sea as I inhaled its fresh fragrance. Close your eyes, and it is easy enough to be transported to a place where the sand is fine and white and ocean waves caress your feet. The blue swimmer crab served with smooth almond jelly and finely ground popcorn allowed the tongue to explore the various textures of the dish. The risotto which turned out to be finely chopped calamari in a bubbly broth had a touch of spiciness in it, the curry leaves providing a hint of asian flavour.

apple pectin jelly and salted caramel chocolateAnd for dessert, we were served goat’s cheese with marzipan cake. Eaten individually, my tastebuds were overwhelmed by the piquant taste of the cheese. The marzipan cake, however, provided a perfect foil for the pungent cheese and an entirely new experience was created by the matching of these two unlikely-paired foods.

Mark Best’s Sauterness Custard with Caramel, a deceivingly simple looking dish, will be forever imprinted in my memory. Sauterness, a dessert wine, gave the custard an intoxicatingly sweet flavour, and I savoured it slowly, jealously guarding my portion like it was my pot of gold.

Dessert also included dark chocolate with banana, coffee and apricot, apple pectin jelly and salted caramel chocolate. My dinner companions, Boo_licious, Splashie Boy and The Bald Eagle, seemed to enjoy the dark chocolate very much. Unfortunately, my tastebuds are not as refined; give me sweet anytime, and between the two types of chocolates, I preferred the salted caramel chocolate.

Dinner was at Qba at the Westin, a Cuban bar and Latin grill. As the night progressed, vibrant latin music combined with the consumption of different wines (my favourite being the Yalumba Y Series Viognier 2006) were perfect for an evening of lively banter and loud conversation for the four of us.

For more pictures of the food we ate, check out masak-masak.