There is much to celebrate. Pak Loh Chiu Chow, fresh from its impressive triple win at the Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards (HAPA) is offering a special 6-course “Oscars of Hospitality” set menu for discerning diners to sample fine Teo Chew cuisine.
Those familiar with Teo Chew cuisine would appreciate its refined taste and style. Freshness and quality are of high importance, and emphasis is placed on steaming and braising. Some say that Teo Chew food is a healthier option than most other Chinese cooking styles, though understated but no less lip-smakingly delicious.
Award-winning Chef Alex Au who took 3 months to create the exclusive Oscars of Hospitality menu, planned for flawless journey of Teo Chew gustatory delights. Priced at RM138++ per person, the menu is accompanied with two glasses of wine: Grant Burge Chardonnay from Australia and Hunter’s Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough.
Enough with the preamble, I want to talk about the food, the food!
First course: Combination of Cold Platters sees Shredded Cuttlefish with Cucumber, Chilled Bitter Gourd with Plum Sauce and Pork Jelly with Chinese Wine, to be devoured in this order.
The cuttlefish is imported from Hong Kong, not unlike the chef. Grilled and sliced into strips, tied together with jellyfish and carrots and served with a sweet, slightly sour and spicy sauce.
The bitter gourd was infused with in-house kitchen-made sour plum sauce, made with Japanese plums, orange zest and rock sugar for a distinctively richer taste.
Saving the best for last, the pork jelly with Chinese wine was absolutely divine. A classic Teo Chew dish that sees hours of prep work; simmering, boiling, and chilling before it reaches your table. We took our time savouring the richly flavoured pork jelly, sipping our accompanied Chardonnay that brings out the flavour of the gelatin delight.
A Chinese meal isn’t complete without a soup course, usually a double-boiled of sorts. Chef Alex decided on Fortune Parcels of Prawns in Double-Boiled Superior Almond Soup.
For this, he uses 3 types of almonds, boiling it with pork trotters for 6 hours, then blending and filtering it thrice. The result: a smooth, creamy savoury nutty, porky almond soup, as opposed to the typical sweet dessert type.
Then he wraps prawns in soft, fluffy thin pancake made of egg white. “Because Teo Chew people like to wrap their food in egg white!” He serves it with roasted sesame seeds and crispy fried fish skin.
It smelled great, wonderfully aromatic. Even though I’m not a fan of almond soup, I could appreciate the full-bodied flavour of this dish.
Steamed Fillet of Imperial Sea Grouper Rolled with Vegetables, Teo Chew-style. If you ever wondered how you could take steaming fish to the next level, this is pretty much it.
The fresh fish fillet are wrapped in Chinese cabbage with enoki mushrooms and julienned carrots. This ensure that during the steaming process, the fish would still be moist and not lose its texture; i.e. crumble all over your plate.
It is then steamed with preserved vegetables, tomatoes, kitchen-made Japanese sour plum sauce and superior broth. The result is a perfectly executed steamed fish dish that caught the imagination of our senses. Savoury, sweet, sour, all in a single dish.
I licked my plate clean.
Next: Steamed Quail Egg with Sun-Dried Scallops. Almost too pretty to be eaten! What makes up this flower-like dish?
The based, shaped in Chinese tea cups is made of prawn paste. Dried scallop threads shape the petals, then a quail egg is added. The whole thing is then quickly steamed with Chinese cabbage in a sauce also made from dried scallops.
Taste-wise, the scallop’s seafood richness stands out. I’d prefer for the egg not to be so well-cooked; maybe this preference could be noted for future orders.
Fifth course: fried rice like you’ve not seen it served before. The name is promising too: ‘Village Style’ Wok-Fried Fragrant Rice with Assorted Seafood, Duck Egg and Shrimp Paste. What a mouthful, and in this dish, serves about 3. 4 if you have a larger mouth.
The duck egg is made into a ‘net’ containing the fried rice. Fried shallots complements the dish. A lovely ending to the savoury courses.
Dessert was Chilled Osmanthus Flower Jelly served with Fresh Aloe Vera and Bird’s Nest. The osmanthus flowers, brought in from Hong Kong, was said to be a favourite of the emperor’s concubines for their health and beauty benefits.
The soft jelly with the aloe vera, eaten with the accompanied fruits of strawberry and honey dew in rock sugar syrup completed our delightful meal on a high note.
I’ve to say that Chef Alex opened my eyes to fine dining Chinese cuisine, and how far it can go. As he said, Chinese food has a lot of deep flavours, but presentation skills were neglected in pursuit of pure taste. I’m looking forward to returning to Pak Loh Chiu Chow to sample his other signature dishes.
The Oscars of Hospitality is available throughout June and July 2014 at RM138++ per person. A 6-course meal complete with 2 glasses of white wine, and is also available for single orders.
Pak Loh Chiu Chow Restaurant
Feast Village, Starhill Gallery
181 Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603 2782 3856
Opens daily from 12pm to 11pm. Superbly non-halal.