Monday, 17 September 2012

Lai Po Heen, Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Lai Po Heen, Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur, Sanya, Hainan, Hainanese Cuisine
Soy and Coriander Marinated Baby Carrot
Lai Po Heen, Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur, Sanya, Hainan, Hainanese Cuisine
White Soy Sauce, Vinegar and Chili Pickled White Turnip

Lai Po Heen, Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur, Sanya, Hainan, Hainanese Cuisine
Double Boiled Kung Fu Soup

Tanniu Wenchang
Tanniu Wenchang with Young Ginger Sauce
Mandarin Oriental, Lai Po Heen, Kuala Lumpur, Chinese
Homemade Tofu in Superior Sauce, Bamboo Pith, Bird Nest and Asparagus

Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur, Sanya, Lai Po Heen, Hainanese menu
Steamed Baby Abalone with Black Bean Sauce and King Scallop with Glass Noodles

Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur, Sanya, Hainanese cuisine, guest chef
Fresh Baby Abalone

Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur, Sanya, Lai Po Heen, Chinese restaurant, Hainan cuisine
Lotus Root Sautéed Vegetables with Sliced Cuttlefish

Mandarin Oriental, Lai Po Heen, Hainanese cuisine, Kuala Lumpur, Chinese Restaurant
Fried Rice with Salmon and Scallops

Hainanese Cuisine at its Best, Lai Po Heen, Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur

For 10 days only, a visit to Lai Po Heen will reward you with a special menu by Master Chef Leung Po Lam of Mandarin Oriental, Sanya. With over 30 years of culinary experience, Chef Leung has many a prestigious restaurant on his resume alongside a few Michelin Stars too. Stints in top hotels throughout China including Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Macau, have equipped this chef with a wealth of knowledge in the specialty of Chinese cuisine.

Lai Po Heen, Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur, Sanya, Hainan, Hainanese Cuisine
Chef Leung Po Lam
His most recent post at the Mandarin Oriental Sanya in Hainan has taken Chef Leung’s skills to new heights through the exploit of regional produce and exposure to local cooking methods. Surrounded by water, teaming with rivers and peaked with mountains, Hainan presents unique ingredients, which are in turn reflected in the native cuisine. As would be expected from a location surrounded by the sea, seafood dominates the culinary scene. Abalone, sea cucumber and sea urchin are known as Sanya’s “triangle of ocean treasures.” These wonderous gems are celebrated in the menu, as the best of Hainan is brought to Kuala Lumpur courtesy of Chef Leung and Mandarin Oriental. All ingredients showcased in these sophisticated Hainanese creations are found naturally on the island. None are farmed industrially and the chef is proud that the produce has been sourced from the wild, maximizing on quality and freshness.

Knowing very little about the subtle differences in regional Chinese cuisine, we were thrilled to receive an invitation to sample a Hainanese menu, especially one by a chef of Chef Leung’s standing.

A saliva stimulating trio of tidbits began our meal. Soy and Coriander Marinated Baby Carrot was a pretty beginning reminiscent of a fresh country garden. White Soy Sauce, Vinegar and Chili Pickled White Turnip caused further dribbling and the Deep Fried Hainanese Peanuts with Black Vinegar were equally drool inducing. An accompanying sauce made with Hainanese yellow chili paste and crushed ginger had enough bite to leave the tip of your tongue numb with a mere dipping of the chopstick.

Lai Po Heen, Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur, Sanya, Hainan, Hainanese Cuisine
Double Boiled Kung Fu Soup
Double Boiled Kung Fu Soup with fish maw and cordyceps (long orange Chinese herbs of high regard) was a hit with all of our dining companions. Presented in a delicate bowl with an accompanying black teapot, the soup was awarded its name because the same pot used to serve the soup is also used for Kung Fu tea. The chef jokes that after you’ve eaten this broth you too will know a few kung fu moves.

Next came shells of beauty atop a patch of shredded lettuce and finely chopped capsicum. An ocean duo of abalone and scallop were both delicate and contrasting in texture and flavour. Steamed Baby Abalone with Black Bean Sauce was something to sink your teeth into. Unlike many sea creatures that disappear without even having to chew, this critter, flown in fresh from Hainan, is a satisfying plate, coercing allowance of time to experience every bite before vanishing. The King Scallop with Glass Noodles was of opposing texture to the abalone. Soft and dissolving in seconds, the textured garlic sauce was all that remained after what seemed like mere seconds on the tongue.

Taking its name from the region on the island of Hainan that is famous for this dish, is the Poached “Tanniu Wenchang” Chicken with Young Ginger Sauce. Similar to the Malaysian endeared, Hainanese Chicken Rice, smooth slices of village bird are topped with a crushed ginger gravy. A splash of soy sauce complemented the gentle flavour of the recipe winning over our taste buds. Hainan is known for its free-range chicken. These birds are not farmed but rather wonder around in the wild feeding off grass and grain before being caught for dinner.

Homemade Tofu in Superior Sauce, Bamboo Pith, Bird Nest and Asparagus, featured vegetables picked wild from the jungle and, is supposedly a popular dish amongst the ladies for its skin enhancing properties. Lotus Root Sautéed Vegetables with Sliced Cuttlefish served in an intricately woven basket again highlighted some of the best of the island’s ingredients. The last main, of a seemingly endless line up of the chef’s finest works of art, was Fried Rice with Salmon and Scallops. In what the chef describes as a plain dish, little seasoning is used in an attempt to allow the natural flavours of the scallops and salmon to dominate the palate.

Lai Po Heen, Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur, Sanya, Hainan, Hainanese Cuisine
Dessert
The Creamy Almond Tea with Egg White and Deep Fried Coconut Milk Spheres put an ear-to-ear smile on hubby’s face. A gentle white nut soup felt healthful with every spoonful, while the chewy balls topped with gold leaf and oozing hot tropical milk left no chance for self-deception into thinking it might be light on the calories. Yunnan Pu Erh Tea was served throughout the meal, but a comprehensive drink list is available with numerous teas and other beverages for your choosing.

Available for lunch and dinner only until the 23rd of September, the Hainanese menu is priced from RM32++ onwards.

From 1- 30 September, Lai Po Heen also celebrates the Mid-Autumn festival with a myriad of innovative mooncake flavours. Both the classic baked and new snow skin mooncakes are at one’s disposal. Priced from RM14++ onwards per piece, don’t miss the once a year excuse to indulge in the dense pastries. Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur does presentation all too well and mooncakes are no exception. Beautiful fabric covered boxes, fitted with golden plaques can be purchased to giftwrap your treats.

Reason visit:  A traditional Hainanese menu available only until September 23rd made from ingredients grown on the island of Hainan. A variety of mooncakes in beautiful presentation boxes.


Lai Po Heen
Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur City Centre
50088 Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia
+6 03 2380 8888

11 comments:

  1. what a wide spread i love to try every dishes

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    1. Pretty impressive right? I had no idea Hainanese cuisine had its own identity.

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  2. Love this variety of food. The fried rice with salmon and shrimp looks exceptionally good!

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    1. Oh yum, this was one of my favourites.

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  3. Oooo...abalone! That must have cost a bomb!

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    1. And flown in fresh too! First time I've ever seen a live one - usually a dried version is used.

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  4. I have the dessert at Lai Po Heen, especially their durian pancake . :)

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    1. Oh, so you're a durian fan. I just can't get my nose to it. ;-)

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  6. Very cool! My mom's side of the family is hainanese, so she would probably have lots of fun at a meal like this :D

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    1. Cool. It's really neat thinking about each person's cultural heritage and how that effects the foods we are familiar with.

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