NOOK AND CANNY!
IT WAS A CASE OF CHEF STEVEN SEOW SCOURING EVERY NOOK AND CRANNY TO CONCOCT SUCH AN INSPIRED CUISINE IN HONOUR OF THE CURRENT, ON-GOING MALAYSIA INTERNATIONAL GOURMET FESTIVAL.
Nook and canny!
This special 5- course MIGF menu with 2 wines and 1 beer plus coffee/tea costs RM 280+ per person from now till 31 October so pencil in Nook for your next dining out night!
Nook at Aloft KL Sentral--03 2723 1188
20 fortunate guests were invited by Dato Steven Day and wife Datin Su Day, organisers of MIGF to partake a delectable dinner at Nook, the signature restaurant of Aloft hotel which is an offshoot of the glitzy W Hotel. Come to think of it, only 18 were invited since I should not count Dato Steve Day and Datin Su Wai Fun.
Each year I live in permanent fear of not being invited to one of MIGF's 30 exclusive and exhilarating special dinners dished out in honour of the food fest. So when I finally received an invite to Nook, I hightailed back home from Paris on 17 September instead of 18 September and had to pay Malaysia Airlines an extra 36 euros (RM 155) some more!
Being so kiasu I was the first to arrive at 7.15 pm only to be escorted to W XYZ bar where the cocktails and mocktails were served. I particularly adore the pretty little plastic boxes served with every drink. Open it and it contains an assortment of nuts! How witty and ingenious! No more boring, ho-hum white trays! I wonder how many of these colourful little boxes vanish every evening...
Host with most Dato Steve Day gave the noblesse oblige speech to thank and welcome his guests before introducing Chef Steven Seow, marketing executive Amanda and Complex Revenue Manager (what does that mean I wonder) Jung Chul Soon. Chef Steven Seow gave a rundown on what was in store for us and already I was salivating at the thought of 'lowly' laksa, nasi lemak and shaved ice transforming into haute cuisine!
We were shepherded to the first floor where 2 tables were handsomely laid in the middle of Nook so other diners could admire my exquisite clothes and flashy jewels since I am unable to thrive in the shade.
The starter was quite conventional and it was the first and last time! We had Smoked Scallop, Umai sushi and duck confit with pomegranate and yogurt sphere with Villa Maria Chardonnay from New Zealand. Nice and tasty all round.
Then came the first transmogrification of local hawker's delight Sarawak Laksa into haute cuisine as Executive Chef Steven Seow deleted the usual vermicelli or yellow noodles and replaced them with organic soba noodles. The delicious gravy---not too thick nor watery---was poured into the laksa bowl separately from a small teapot.
This new take on a traditional Sarawak favourite added zest and unexpected zing as it was accompanied by Sarawak lobster with abalone slices tucked neatly into its tail. Yummy!
Instead of wine, Chef Steven Seow declared beer was a better mate and so poured us Leffe Blonde! True enough, the effect was unexpectedly soothing as I was initially alarmed at the thought of frothy beer and soury laksa fermenting inside my innards. I expected mini explosions but my stomach stayed calm.
The main dish was Wagyu beef cheeks cooked as rendang with veggies, acar jelatah and tumeric rice.
This was sensational.
The beef melted in my mouth while the delicately scented tumeric rice was the perfect foil for the crunchy veggies and quail eggs. Somehow I felt like I was dining on couture food and not something we normally eat for breakfast or lunch!
Hooray, laksa and nasi lemak, 2 local staples, have been elevated to fine dining! Congrats Chef Steven Seow!
This beefy course came with red Shiraz from Madfish, Australia.
The dessert was the coup de grace...
ABC or Ais Batu Champur or Ice Kachang is as common as pimples but I almost fell off my seat when the bowl of shaved ice with the usual accompaniments was placed before my startled peepers.
The shaved ice and ice cream had no milk, no rose or gula melaka. Instead all these and more were inside 5 syringes placed next to the bowl!
All we needed do was squirt, splish, splash and splosh as much or as little as desired the coloured liquids!
It brought back memories of 'masak masak' (Malay for 'cook cook') or playing with food in my mother's kitchen.
This ABC was called '8 Treasures' and indeed it brought back treasured memories to us all! Plus the child in all of us as we squealed in delight while injecting the coloured syrups into the bowl.
Chef Steven Seow appeared from the kitchen to explain each course and it struck me there seemed to be a strong Sarawak connection. Then I discovered he is a Sarawakian!
Dato Steve Day introduced each guest on three occasions during what he artfully referred as 'commercial breaks'. Each guest was asked to email various answers in advance and Dato Steve Day read their biodata and of course added in irreverent tidbits in his inimitable style!
As the meal ended on a rapturously note, Dato Steve Day invited Chef Steven Seow and his service team to receive their just desserts---applause from all of us while Viscountess Maylin de Chezelles thanked them on our behalf.
It was a trip to Mai Bar at the rooftop for drinks and champagne before we called it 'oh what a night'!
Madfish shiraz for Carmen Gomez