Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Chinese New Year at Chynna Restaurant, The Hilton Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Polly Szantor and photographer Cheryl Hoffmann enjoy an inspired Chinese New Year set menu at The Hilton, Kuala Lumpur.


Chynna Restaurant, Chinese New Year, Kuala Lumpur, Authentic Chinese food, Yee Sang, healthy wholesome food,

Dining at atmospheric Chynna took me back to the little lanes and alleys of ancient Pingyao, a historic walled city in Shanxi Province; there was something so authentically Chinese here, so enticingly foreign.  The table settings were delightful, with beautiful hand-painted plates showing scenes of China in days gone by.

Chynna Restaurant, Hilton Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Chinese New Year, Authentic Chinese food, Yee Sang, healthy wholesome food, set menus, celebration

Chynna Restaurant, Hilton Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Chinese New Year, Authentic Chinese food, Yee Sang, healthy wholesome food, set menus, celebration
To add to the ambience, we had an unheralded visit from the Tea Master, who twirled and juggled his long-spouted teapot, before pouring accurately into tiny cups from a great height. The first taste of the blend of 8 herbal teas was sweet but subsequent sips revealed complex flavours that teased the palate.

Chynna Restaurant, Hilton Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Chinese New Year, Authentic Chinese food, Yee Sang, healthy wholesome food, set menus, celebration

Award-winning Executive Chef Lam Hock Hin has created four special set menus especially for Chinese New Year and Chynna is the perfect place to celebrate the beginning of the Year of the Black Water Snake.

Chynna Restaurant, Hilton Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Chinese New Year, Authentic Chinese food, Yee Sang, healthy wholesome food, set menus, celebration

Chynna Restaurant, Hilton Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Chinese New Year, Authentic Chinese food, Yee Sang, healthy wholesome food, set menus, celebration

We sampled Set Menu 3, Scholarly Honour of Rank and Wealth, and were lucky to try two of Chef Lam’s Yee Sang combinations.  (There are five varieties on the a la carte menu.)  His signature Hakka-style Lao Sang was served with Sea Bird’s Nest and MD2 pineapple from the Philippines.  The flavour was reminiscent of Yee Sang that I’ve enjoyed in the past, enhanced with the sweet sour pineapple.  The unexpected Lei Cha Lao Sang, making use of well-bruised basil and rice-bran oil, emanated a wonderful green fragrance and tasted fresh and healthy. I couldn’t decide which I preferred, meaning that I had to keep trying a little bit more of each!

Chynna Restaurant, Hilton Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Chinese New Year, Authentic Chinese food, Yee Sang, healthy wholesome food, set menus, celebration

Thick and rich, the Shanghai-style Braised Shredded Abalone with Sea Cucumber and Fish Maw was brimming with fine strands of abalone, sliced mushrooms and sea cucumber - another healthy and tasty dish.

Chynna Restaurant, Hilton Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Chinese New Year, Authentic Chinese food, Yee Sang, healthy wholesome food, set menus, celebration

The intriguingly named Poached, Free-range Eunuch Chicken with Wincarnis Sauce refers to a capon, which is a castrated chicken.  Chef Lam explained that capons can weigh up to 5kgs, and are prized for the distinctive texture of their flesh, which is neither tender nor tough. Chef described it best by calling it “crunchy”, and indeed there was a bounce to the meat that I’ve never experienced before. Wincarnis is a British tonic wine, invented over a hundred years ago. It imbued the sauce with herbal overtones, which complemented the poached chicken without overpowering it.

Chynna Restaurant, Hilton Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Chinese New Year, Authentic Chinese food, Yee Sang, healthy wholesome food, set menus, celebration

The Steamed Marble Goby didn’t have the most attractive face at the table, however its flesh was sweet and tender and the accompanying Tauchu Chili Sauce added exactly the right amount of spice.

Chynna Restaurant, Hilton Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Chinese New Year, Authentic Chinese food, Yee Sang, healthy wholesome food, set menus, celebration

Doesn’t the glistening Braised Abalone in Dried Scallop Sauce look enticing?  This dish, with its generous portions of abalone, sun-dried oysters and sea cucumber, evoked the smell and taste of the ocean on a clear blue day.

Chynna Restaurant, Hilton Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Chinese New Year, Authentic Chinese food, Yee Sang, healthy wholesome food, set menus, celebration

These large Bamboo Clams with Spicy Home-made Dried Shrimp Sauce were sweet and only a little chewy.   The sauce was perfect – not too spicy but zingy enough to perk up the taste buds. 

Chynna Restaurant, Hilton Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Chinese New Year, Authentic Chinese food, Yee Sang, healthy wholesome food, set menus, celebration

The Bean Vermicelli with Minced Meat Sichuan Style, aptly nicknamed Ants on Trees, was my sort of dish.  I love chewy noodles, and these were prepared with very little oil and super-finely ground chicken.  They were spicy but not burningly so and I ate every last strand.


Chynna Restaurant, Hilton Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Chinese New Year, Authentic Chinese food, Yee Sang, healthy wholesome food, set menus, celebration

I often find a lotus and red date dessert rather tasteless, but Chef Lam’s version was much more appealing, with slightly sour red dates and a refreshing sweetness to the liquor.  The only fried dish on the menu was the traditional Deep-fried Nian Gao with banana.  A crispy bite revealed the chewy glutinous rice flour filling surrounding sweet banana - a fitting end to a most delectable and refined meal.

In addition to the main dining area there are several private rooms, making Chynna the ideal venue for business, family or romantic dining.  Almost all the dishes were either braised, steamed, poached or boiled, so it’s a remarkably healthy CNY menu. Also, Chynna is a pork-free restaurant and they do NOT serve Shark’s Fin.  Bravo Chynna!

Reason to visit:  To taste authentic, wholesome Chinese food in a beautiful setting.

Prices for the set menus range from 178.80++ per person to RM398.80++ per person for a table of 10 guests. Hilton Premier Cardholders enjoy discounts of 20% off the set menus, while CIMB World Mastercard, Visa Infinite and Visa Signature, CIMB Platinum, Gold and Classic Credit Cardholders are entitled to a 15% discount.

For reservations, please call (60) 3 2264-2592/2596 or visit: www.life.hiltonkl.com

Hilton Kuala Lumpur Hotel
3 Jalan Stesen Sentral
Kuala Lumpur 50470
"The Yum List supports a shark's fin free Chinese New Year for the prosperity of our oceans and the sustainable future of our global community."

13 comments:

  1. Double thumbs up! Save the sharks!!! Once the demand stops, the killing will too.

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  2. The yee sang and all that food remain me that CNY is upon us again! The shark fin soup that is not, and the braised abalone and sea cucumber and braised abalone in dried scallop sauce are the favourites for me. But even the humble vermicelli dish looks inviting. The tea master and the setting do nicely remind one of things Chinese. Here's wishing all an early 恭喜发财 gong xi fa cai!

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    Replies
    1. I like your comment about "humble vermicelli". When a simple dish is well-prepared it is elevated from ordinary to extraordinary.

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  3. love the unique yee sangs!! I certainly wouldnt mind the soup & bamboo clams... :)

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    Replies
    1. The Lei Cha Yee Sang was especially interesting. I've never eaten bamboo clams before, but I sure would like to eat them again!

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  4. whose hand is on the left side on the yee sang pic..
    have a very unique way on using chopstick

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    Replies
    1. Interesting observation! My hand is front centre, so I can only tell you it's not me!

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  5. gosh, i wonder if i could try to undergo some tea pouring training. it looks like an impressive skill! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How many years are you prepared to devote to it, Sean?

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  6. Replies
    1. The tea master was a wonderful addition to the meal and caused quite a stir every time he came to our table.

      Delete

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