February 16, 2015

Pak Loh Chiu Chow, Feast Village @Starhill Gallery CNY Feast

An Elegant Chiu Chow CNY Feast!

It is quite difficult to find an authentic Teochew restaurant, especially one with such splendor. I had first had a taste of Pak Loh Chiu Chow last year their triple victory win with the Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards (HAPA) 2013 – 2015 Malaysia Series and was really pleased at this amazing Chao Zhou, Chiu Chow or Teochew restaurant. Executive Chef Alex Au’s award winning menu is a splendor of sumptuous true blue Teochew cuisines at its best. From their signatures of Slow Braised Goose to Chiu Chow Oyster Omelette to Cold Flower Crab and many more, it is such a majestic pairing of fine Chiu Chow cuisine and opulent ambience.

This festive season, Pak Loh Chiu Chow at Feast Village, Starhill Gallery is offering a traditional Teochew Chinese New Year feast menu available from 19 January until 5 March 2015. Chef Alex and his culinary team has gone all out in creating Teochew specialties from Chiu Chow Yee Sang with Grass Carp to other luxurious offerings of Yee Sang variations.

There are two CNY menus available – Four Season Fortune Set Menu and Golden Jade Prosperity Set Menu together with Chinese New Year A La Carte Menu. A recent visit had us tasting some of the dishes from each menu. The thoughts of experiencing a Teochew CNY feast are exciting and I was truly amazed at this experience.

Chiu Chow Yee Sang is not what I had expected. The set menu has a choice of guests opting for the classic yee sang or the Classic Chiu Chow Yee Sang with Grass Carp. According to Chef Alex, it is not a common dish in China and most are not even aware of yee sang. Inspired by the closes dish that resembles yee sang, Chef Alex has prepared his version of Classic Chiu Chow Yee Sang with Grass Carp.

Chiu Chow cuisine relies heavily on minimal and fresh ingredients to create its distinctive flavours. Chef Alex’s Classic Chiu Chow Yee Sang with Grass Carp consisted of freshly sliced grass carp, preserved radish or Choy Poh, leek, basil leaves, raw slice garlic, coriander stalk and leaves, radish, chili, pickled ginger, roasted peanut and a piquant galangal dressing. There really isn’t much resemblance to our classic yee sang ingredients except the raw fish with fresh and pickled vegetable concept. The sauce is also very different.

After our auspicious Lou Hei, my first taste of the yee sang was a surprising one. Unlike our classic sweet, tangy and fruit yee sang, this one mostly features savory and umami notes. The textures and flavours rely on all the ingredients rather than the sauce. The sauce is a concoction of blue ginger if I am not mistaken or galangal as a general name. The sauce is savory and spicy with an aromatic and oil based flavour of the galangal. When combined with all the ingredients, the yee sang evoked more of savory refined salad rather than the classic yee sang. I can taste almost each ingredient distinctively. What I enjoyed was the whole toasty peanuts with ginger and coriander combination as I am quite fond of these ingredients.

The grass carp is gorgeous. In fact, I really think our classic yee sang should use grass carp. The fish is lightly firm and has a serene sweetness with a good bite. Although the ingredients are quite strong in flavours and textures, the grass carp went very well as it has its own unique textures and flavours. It may be my first Chiu Chow yee sang but it sure won’t be my last!

Teochew cuisine does showcase lavish ingredients a lot in their cuisine. Our next course was soup and it was a luxurious one. Double-Boiled Shark Fin Soup with Marcella sounds unique. The soup is full of slow hours of seafood and meat essence. The deep rich golden hue alone tells how much goes into making this soup. Then it is further enhanced by luxurious ingredients like shark fin and Marchella, which is actually Morchella or Morel mushrooms. The morel mushrooms gave the soup a rich earthy taste.

Every spoonful of soup is soothing and delicious!

The Teochew are famous for their classic steamed fish with preserved vegetable or Ham Choy. Chef Alex had kept the fish course as per the Teochew legacy with Steamed Jade Fish with Preserved Vegetables, Tomatoes and Sour Plum.

Instead of a large fish, he used three Austrailan Jade Perch. The jade perch is soft and sweet. Crowning the fish are plenty of preserved vegetable, fresh cuts of tomatoes, straw mushroom, coriander, bean curd, pickled sour plums, carrot and sliced pork belly. The dish is addictive in flavours. There is a good balance of bold sourness together with savory and sweetness in the soup. One can taste every ingredient distinctively which is the trademark of the Teochew cuisine. This one is pure comfort food…

I always think one should leave certain dish to experts and Braised Pig’s Trotter with Black Moss and Vegetable is one of them. Though the dish is quite common, Chef Alex’s version has an air of refinement. Whole pork trotter is stewed or Hong Shao in superbly rich abalone sauce till tender and melts-in-the-mouth. Then mushrooms and black moss or Fatt Choy is added. The pork trotter has gelatinous skin and fat while the meat is tender and almost creamy. I can taste the luscious deep rich abalone essence in the thick brown sauce. It is a dish that beckons for rice or mantao to balance out the richness of the pork trotter and sauce. This is the only dish in Pak Loh Chiu Chow that is available for takeaway so if you enjoy pork trotter, make sure to order one!

Teochew cuisine also focuses a lot in presentation as well as its flavours. Classic Crab Meat Ball with Vegetable and Mushroom was the best looking dish that night. It’s literally an art as the crab meat ball is cleverly shaped into oblong balls and decorated with mushrooms, chili and ebiko. There are steamed and coated with a light and translucent sauce. Blanched greens completed the dish.

The crab meat ball is so delicious. It has a good firm texture and is elegantly sweet from the crab. The ebiko gave the crab meat ball a light popping of flavour and texture. Seriously, I wanted more than just one crab meat ball…

Braised Assorted Fungus with Vegetables has quite a list of ingredients. This vegetable course showed that the Teochew is clever at balancing all the ingredients in their cuisine. I spied bamboo pith, Yu Yee fungus, lily bulb, mushroom, dried oyster, water chestnut, Nai Bak, Bok Choy, carrot, broccoli and Fatt Choy in the dish. The ingredients are well sautéed till just right. Some ingredients are soft while the vegetables remain crisp and crunchy. The Yu Yee fungus is the unique ingredient in this dish and gave the dish a unique texture and flavour. This dish is such a lovely change from the usual Chinese set menu courses.

Did you spy a fish in this dish?

I simply loved the Fried Chinese Glutinous Rice Cake Chiu Chow Style. Rice cake always symbolizes New Year and this dish is perfect to be enjoyed during this season.

Chef Alex makes his own rice cake with a few types of flour and cooked them the Teochew style with baby oysters, shrimp, mushroom, egg, coriander and Tsa Cha sauce. The rice cakes are well seared on the outside and almost gooey on the inside. The Tsa Cha sauce is almost considered as Chinese barbeque sauce. It’s very moreish and piquant with a good smoky note. Enjoy this with Chef Alex’s special chili sauce for extra kick. I would be happy just enjoying this dish alone on daily basis.

We ended the feast with much warmness and soothing heat. Double-Boiled Sesame Dumpling with Ginger and Candy Sheet Broth packed quite a punch in flavours. The broth is laced with a strong dose of ginger essence that immediately warm up your senses. It is strong enough to also give the broth a spicy gingery note that lingered in the mouth for a while. There is also a strong sweetness in the broth. The sesame dumpling is smooth and delectable with an aromatic and nutty black sesame flavour. What a spicy ending to a feast!

Pak Loh Chiu Chow CNY Feast Set Menu

Four Season Fortune Set Menu
Rainbow Prosperity Yee Sang with Salmon Trout
Classic Chiu Chow Yee Sang with Grass Carp
Chiu Chow Style Braised Shark’s Fin with Brown Stock
Steamed Jade Fish with Preserved Vegetables, Tomatoes and SourPlum
Braised Pig’s Trotter with Black Moss and Vegetable
Wok-Baked Tiger Prawn with Chiu Chow Plum Sauce
Braised Assorted Fungus with Vegetable
Fried Chinese Glutinous Rice Cake Chiu Chow Style
Double-Boiled Sesame Dumpling with Ginger and Candy Sheet Broth

4 persons at RM468++ (RM118++ additional per person)
6 persons at RM668++ (RM115++ additional per person)
10 persons at RM1088++ (RM108++ additional per person)

Golden Jade Prosperity Set Menu
Rainbow Prosperity Yee Sang with Salmon Trout
Classic Chiu Chow Yee Sang with Grass Carp
Double-Boiled Shark Fin Soup with Marcella
Steamed Marble Goby with Preserved Vegetables, Tomatoes and Sour Plum
Braised Eel Maw and Pork Tendon with Abalone Sauce
Classic Crab Meat Ball with Vegetable and Mushroom
Braised Black Moss with Dried Oyster
Chinese Wax Rice Cooked in Clay Pot
Double-Boiled Sesame Dumpling with Yam

4 persons at RM788++ (RM197++ additional per person)
6 persons at RM1088++ (RM182++ additional per person)
10 persons at RM1788++ (RM179++ additional per person)

It was truly a unique feast of Teochew cuisine! Every dish stands out elegantly. Chef Alex’s passionate nature showed in his dishes as one can taste how skillful each dish is thought off and prepared. Flavours and textures are so refined, showing that Teochew cuisine is just as graceful as its culture. There are other Chinese New Year signatures like Braised Goose Webs with Prawn Balls, Pak Loh Braised Abalone with Assorted Sea Treasures, Authentic Grass Carp with Seasonal Vegetables and more. This festive CNY, go ahead and feast on a Chiu Chow CNY set menu at Pak Loh Chiu Chow for a different dining experience!

For more details and reservation at Pak Loh Chiu Chow, please call +603 2782 3856.

Feast Village, Feast Floor, Starhill Gallery
181 Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 603 2782 3856

Operating Hours: Daily 12 noon to 11pm

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