Thursday, October 24, 2013




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Lai Po Heen and Mandarin Grill
The Mandarin Feast

The Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur stands proud next to the iconic Twin Tower
Dining at a Mandarin Oriental is always a special occasion as the hotel group carries the torch for one of the leading luxury 5-star brands in the world, impeccable standards and consistency being a hallmark present across all their properties. In KL, no less, the hotel contains some of the country’s top restaurants, raising the bar year on year with unrivalled and personalised service matched only by the high quality of food that comes from its kitchens. So it was with much anticipation that invited guests recently arrived at the hotel to indulge in Festival menus from not one, but two participating MIGF restaurants – Lai Po Heen and Mandarin Grill.

Tunku Dato' Seri Shahbuddin Tunku Besar Burhanuddin, Datin Joyce, Datin Seri Raihan, Dato' Liaw Choon Liang
A star-studded guest list made up the dining group, led by Festival Royal Patron Tunku Naquiyuddin Ibni Tuanku Ja’afar; Chairman of Vision Four, Tunku Shahabuddin Tunku Besar Burhanuddin; Ambassador of The Royal Norwegian Embassy, HE Hans Ola Urstad and wife Dr Tone Sundt; MD of Pacific Heights Sdn Bhd, Tan Sri Stephen Voon and wife Puan Sri Ong Li Ling; Chairman of Eu Yan Sang (1959) Sdn Bhd, Dato’ Anne Eu; and MD of Focus Point Holdings Berhad, Dato’ Liaw Choon and wife Datin Joyce.

Dato' Stephen Voon, David Teh, Frank Stocek
Arriving at Lai Po Heen, the first restaurant of the evening, guests warmed up with champagne and canapés. The eatery is extravagantly decked out with regal period furniture and beautifully framed canvases, as well as high ceilings and plush chandeliers, reminiscent of a 1920’s Shanghai mansion. 

Lai Po Heen projects the look and feel of a 1920's Shanghai mansion
Retiring to the private dining room, diners were greeted by two round, candle-lit tables bedecked with an array of fruits – a unique and magnificent centre piece that added splashes of colour to the cream interior.

The private dining room where part of tonight's culinary safari was held
After introductions by General Manager Frank Stocek, who called out Chef Ricky Thein from Lai Po Heen and Chef Reto Weber from Mandarin Grill, as well as Executive Chef Uwe Faust, guests were eager to start the feast. So without further ado, dinner commenced.

General Manager of Mandarin Oriental KL, Frank Stocek
Chilled honey smoked Hokkaido Scallops with organic vegetables opened proceedings, followed closely by doubled boiled mingmu fish essence soup, made with ginseng, black chicken, fish maw and baby cabbage. The seafood theme continued with the final course from Lai Po Heen- Australian deep sea abalone, braised in superior oyster sauce and served with quail eggs and stir-fried cauliflower.

Chef Ricky Thein and assistant preparing the first course
Hokkaido Scallops with organic vegetablesDoubled boiled "mingmu" fish essence soup

Australian Deep Sea Abalone - Braised in Superior Oyster Sauce, Quail Egg, stir-fried Cauliflower
With the far eastern portion of the evening over, guests took the short stroll down to Mandarin Grill, where Swiss born Chef Reto waited with the main course of the evening. The stunning ambience beckoned guests, a blend of classic elegance and modern furnishings, with fibre optic floral chandeliers emitting a warm glow.

A blend of classic elegance and modern furnishings
To aid in the transition between restaurants, diners cleansed their palates with a refreshing apple sorbet and were then given a choice between two main courses: Bretagne turbot fillet, “sous-vide style”, or the char grilled Australian wagyu sirloin and Guiness braised beef cheek angelotti.

Apple Smith Sorbet
Each dish is slow-cooked to perfection, rich in flavour and tender in texture. The turbot a sweet and smooth, melt-in-your-mouth dish, and the beef cooked pink and doused with the heavenly scent of black truffles. Served with smoked celery puree and roasted red chicory, this dish was one of the winners of the evening.

Char Grilled Australian Wagyu Sirloin MS 10+ and Guinness Braised Beef Cheek Angelotti
A trio of sweet endings came in the form of the regally named Grand Cru Valrhona Tasting, consisting of a macaroon sandwiched with guanaja sorbet, ivory chocolate-raspberry mille feuille and jivara poached chocolate pudding. Decadent, silky and utterly sinful, this was the perfect way to end the Mandarin Feast.

Grand Cru Valrhona Tasting
HE Hans Ola Urstad was very pleased with the meal, especially the seafood delights earlier in the evening, noting that “it’s just been one of those special occasions with fantastic people and food from this wonderful hotel. Our great seafood gala dinner every year is done here, so I’m truly pleased to be back. Personally I’m a soup lover, and so the fish soup at the beginning of the meal was superb”.

Dr Tone Sundt and HE Hans Ola Urstad, Ambassador of the Royal Norweigan Embassy
Dato’ Anne was also taken aback by the range of delicious dishes, in particular the double boiled ‘mingmu’ fish essence soup – “I knew exactly when I saw the soup that the chef put in hours of labour to perfect it. Where I am from, I recognise good herbal food, and this dish was simply amazing – I should know as I have 134 years of culinary heritage passed down the generations!”

Dato' Anne Eu waxing lyrical about the ‘mingmu’ fish essence soup
The dinner drew to an end with one of Tunku Naquiyuddin’s eloquent closing speeches, the Royal Patron declaring he finished every last morsel of every dish and that the gourmet tour of China and the West was second to none. He thanked the teams on behalf of the group which produced a round of appreciative applause.

Tunku Naquiyuddin closing the dinner with an eloquent speech
Upon leaving, guests received a saccharine parting gift of cakes, chocolates and colourful macaroons, making the departure an altogether sweet affair and moreover, with sweeter memories of a divine Mandarin feast.

Cakes, chocolates and macaroon as a parting gift
The Lai Po Heen Festival Menus sell at RM298++ without wine for dinner and RM198++ without wine for lunch. The Mandarin Grill Festival Menus sell at RM385++ without wine for dinner and RM195++ without wine for lunch (choice of one appetiser, one main and choice of either dessert or cheese)

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