Standard Chartered Bank’s Extravagant 8 Menu – Elegant Inn

Chinese New Year is just a bout two weeks away! Radio stations and shopping malls have been blasting Chinese New Year songs throughout the month of January, signalling the Year of the Rabbit is approaching fast. Most Chinese will be busy preparing for the festive season, especially the important reunion dinner. If you’re a Standard Chartered credit card holder, here’s a good news for you. Standard Chartered Bank will be hosting the Extravagant 8 event in association with 8 of the best Chinese restaurants in Klang Valley from 20th January 2011 onwards till 17th February 2011. Chefs from all 8 participating restaurants will prepare a special customised menu for the fiesta.

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Priced at RM888++ per table for a pax of 8, Standard Chartered credit card holders will not only be taken on a gastronomical journey, they will also be treated to free fortune cookies. Here are the list of participating restaurants:

  1. Li Yen, The Ritz-Carlton Kuala Lumpur
  2. Shanghai, JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur
  3. Celestial Court, Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur
  4. Tai Zi Heen, Prince Hotel & Residence Kuala Lumpur
  5. Zing, Grand Millennium Hotel Kuala Lumpur
  6. Gu Yu Tien, Chulan Square Kuala Lumpur
  7. Elegant Inn, Menara Hap Seng Kuala Lumpur
  8. Chynna, Hilton Kuala Lumpur

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Much rave reviews on their fine Hong Kong cuisine have been heard about Elegant Inn since their second outlet debut back in 2008 and I was lucky enough to be invited over to sample their Extravagant 8 menu, specially prepared by their executive chef Wesley Ng. As a normal practise, yee sang is a must-have for all Chinese New Year meal, hence we kicked off our meal with the Bountiful Harvest Salmon Lo-sang. Freshly shredded carrot, cucumber, radish, ginger, snow pear and pomelo sacs are tossed together with fresh sliced salmon, jelly fish, pearl clam, crispy crackers, sesame seeds and specially home-made dressing. The colour of the vegetarian ingredients were kind of pale especially the shredded cucumber, but hey, Elegant Inn emphasizes on natural ingredients and healthy-eating, hence no extra colouring or dye are used in their ingredients. Every mouthful was a refreshing experience as you can really taste the freshness of the ingredients. And don’t forget those Chinese phrases or wishes, while tossing the yee sang as high as you can!

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It was a relieve to know that no shark’s fin will be served in all the participating restaurants. Elegant Inn double-boiled most of their soups for 4 – 6 hours with no extra flavouring enhancer to brings out the best natural flavour from the ingredients. Our Double-Boiled Village Chicken Soup with Cordyceps Flowers and US Top Shell was perfectly cooked with a distinctive sweet taste. Every drop of the soup were infused with the goodness of two village (free-range) chickens (yes, two!), pork ribs, Chinese ham, dried scallops, US top shell and cordyceps flowers, which is beneficial to the lungs and liver.

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The next dish was Golden Fried Estuary Grouper with Chinese Leeks Fish is another must-have on the dining table during Chinese New Year, as fish (“yu” in Mandarin) signifies “nian nian you yu” (Abundance all year long). One thick slab of giant estuary grouper (long dan) was lightly fried to golden crispiness, topped with stir-fried leeks and “har kon” (dried prawn meat sourced from HK) and drizzled with superior soy sauce. The fish was beautifully done; moist and succulent, while the thick skin was a little bit gelatinuous but crispy.

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While most restaurants would dunk their prawns or crabs into the salted egg yolk mixture, which resulted a thick coating of the mixture on the crustacean, Elegant Inn believes that will overpower the taste of the prawns. Hence, their Crystal Prawn done in Signature Salted Egg Yolk Style was prepared in the way that the egg yolk mixture was just enough to lend a subtle salted egg flavour without overpowering the taste of the prawns.

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A labour-intensive style of cooking a chicken, this dish requires the work of stripping all the meat and bones from the whole chicken while retain the skin. It is then replaced with minced prawn paste (instead of fish paste as most restaurants did) and deep fried till the skin is crackling crispy, akin to roast pork skin. The chicken meat is then shredded to make the side salad with tomatoes and orange balsamic dressing. We love this Golden Boneless Stuffed Chicken with Chicken Tomato Salad lots!

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Braised Sea Cucumber with Dried Oyster, Fatt Choy and Mushroom is another dish synonym with Chinese New Year, as “fatt choy” is always related to abundance of prosperity. High quality thick cut of sea cucumber and big, plump Japanese oysters are used in this dish. We were almost stuffed to the brim when we were presented with Braised Seafood Rice with Australian Scallops, Fresh Crabmeat and Abalone Sauce in Lotus Leaf. Looking at the amount of scallops and crabmeat on the rice, we just couldn’t stop ourselves from digging into this luscious rice dish despite our stomachs’ protest!

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Last but not least, desserts! A symbol for “higher/better year”, nian gao or nin kou in Cantonese (sweet glutinuous rice cake) from Elegant Inn were just simply pan-fried lightly without any condiment and served with hazelnut cookies. The rice cakes were amazingly soft without overly sweet. The accompanying Chilled Japanese Pumpkin Sago with Green Bean made a good ending to the lavish meal.

I couldn’t remember how long it was since I had such a great meal prepared with good quality ingredients, paired with the great skill of the chef but Elegant Inn truly did a great job with their Extravagant 8 menu here. Kindly don’t just take my words for it. Come and experience it yourself. So, if you are a Standard Chartered credit card holder, grab this opportunity to feast on the limited time menu available, while ushering into the Year of Rabbit.

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Elegant Inn Hong Kong Cuisine
2.01, 2nd Floor, Podium Block,
Menara Hap Seng,
Jalan P. Ramlee, 50250 KL.

Tel: 03-2070 9399
Fax: 03-2070 9398
Email: ei_hs@streamyx.com

Read about PureGlutton’s experience HERE.

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Merdeka Open House 2010: Food From Our Hearts

Merdeka Open House event is back! Organized annually on the Malaysia independence month by our dear Babe KL, I took the effort to participate in this year’s event with the theme “Food From Our Hearts” (I didn’t participate last year due to time constraint).

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So, what does food from the heart means? As most people know, when it comes to cooking, we need skills, effort, ingredients, tools and also the “heart“. When cooking from the heart, the food would usually looked scrumptious and has a perfect balance of taste (saltiness, sweetness etc), smell and texture. Most of the time, mom’s cooking fulfilled every aspects as I mentioned above.

I’ve always admired my mom, as she could whip up an array of dishes easily and quickly. Her nasi lemak has been a favourite among my siblings and myself since we’re little, as well as her “ham kou” (rice cake with preserved vegetable and dried shrimp), which I’m going to write about for the Merdeka Open House event this year.

Rice Cake with Preserved Vegetable & Dried Shrimp

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Guesstimate recipe:

  1. 500 – 600 grams rice flour, sifted
  2. About 1 litre water, adjust to preference
  3. 400 grams preserved vegetables (dai tau choy or choy pou), minced
  4. 400 grams dried shrimp, coarsely chopped
  5. 10 rose shallots, finely chopped
  6. 20 red chillies
  7. some bird’s eyes chillies (cili padi) – if you like it spicier
  8. juice from 10 calamansi lime
  9. salt and sugar to taste

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How to do it:

  1. Mix the rice flour with water in a round metal deep dish (the upper part of the metal steamer). Adjust the flour and water amount to your peference; too much flour would yield harder cake and too much water would cause the cake mushy.
  2. Add some salt to the mixture and steam it high heat, stirring occasionally and gently to prevent the mixture for coagulating at the bottom part of the dish. Do this step until the bottom part started to set in. Cover and continue to steam over medium heat for about 30 – 40 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, fry the chopped preserved vegetable, shallots and dried shrimps separately and set aside. Reserve some of the oil as well.
  4. Blend the chillies till formed a smooth paste (alternatively, pound the chillies with a pestle and mortar for a coarse chilli sauce texture). In a heat-proof bowl/pan, heat the calamansi juice. Add the chilli paste to the juice and mix well. Add sugar to taste and remove from heat. Let the chilli sauce cool.
  5. When the cake is done (test this by poking a chopstick into the cake and if it comes out clean, it’s ready), set aside to cool. Spread the shallots, dried shrimps, oil and preserved vegetables on the cake before serving. Serve with home made chilli sauce.
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    Happy Birthday, Malaysia!

Vegetarian For Chinese New Year

It’s good to be back after the Chinese New Year celebration back in Ipoh. In fact, I can’t wait to be back to KL again as the weather there was horridly warm. Was surprised too as the streets were kinda empty and there was no traffic jam in most areas in Ipoh except when night falls in. Basically, there wasn’t much to do back home; eat, watch TV, sleep and repeat the cycle for 3-4 days.

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I didn’t have my first yee sang this year until 31st January, which was the sixth day of CNY. My family doesn’t practice the yee sang tossing tradition, so I only got to have it when I’m back to KL. A few of us went to this vegetarian restaurant called Ba Xian (Eight Goddess) in Kepong for a small CNY dinner gathering last week, so here’s my first yee sang for 2009!

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I think most restaurants came up with set meal during festival season to minimize confusion and maximize the serving time, so does this place too. We had a 6-course set dinner for 5 person, including yee sang. The Superior Soup, resembles shark’s fin soup consists of glass noodle, sliced vegetarian ham, crabmeat stick (it’s vegetarian!), bits of fu chuk (substitute for egg swirl) and some minced mock meat (chicken perhaps). Flavourful, not starchy and brimming with ingredients.

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The Mock Herbal Chicken is a little weird for me as I couldn’t distinguish the “chicken” and its other ingredients (the “chicken” doesn’t seem alluring enough) but the texture is very much alike the chicken breast meat. The herbal taste was mild and sadly, the herbal (evangelica roots or dong guai, ginseng etc) were more than the chicken and they’re not edible! (well, not really edible for most people).

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The Butter Prawns tastes more like curried prawns, no hint of butter at all (but then, butter is not a vegetarian food, I guess) and they looked like some corn crackers (think Twisties) with slightly chewy texture.

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Mock sweet and sour chicken was not bad; the deep fried mock chicken were still crispy despite drenched in the sweet sour gravy.

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And finally, some stir fried vegetables with mock meat which was pretty ordinary but the ginger smell was a little strong. The mushrooms were very, very tender.

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Ba Xian Vegetarian Restaurant
12,14,14-1, Persiaran Mergastua,
Kepong Baru, 52100
Kuala Lumpur.

Tel: 03-62778052