Chinese New Year Set Dinner at Lai Po Heen, Mandarin Oriental
Words and photos by Polly Szantor
As the Year of the Horse gallops madly towards us, it’s time to start thinking about where to celebrate Chinese New Year. One of the truly classic options in Kuala Lumpur is Lai Po Heen at the Mandarin Oriental, which offers superior, authentic Cantonese cuisine in a sophisticated atmosphere.
|Lai Po Heen's Chef Ricky Thien|
Chef Ricky Thien has created many outstanding dishes to tempt your taste buds, and there are wonderful choices for Yee Sang too. Lai Po Heen has at least five varieties, ranging in price from RM88++ to RM338++ for half and full portions. I tossed salmon with snow pear, which came with a generous portion of soft shell crab. I very much enjoyed the different crunches in this dish: snow pear, crackers and the lightly battered crab and I realised how much I’ve missed Yee Sang.
Lai Po Heen is offering three, festive set dinners, which include Yee Sang and I sampled dishes from each set: Fortune, Prosperity and Wealth.
|Abalone Soup that's good for your eyesight!|
We moved on to Double Boiled 6 Head Abalone Soup with Fish Maw and “Ming Mu Fish”. You may be as curious as I was about that final ingredient, and it appears to be a Chinese herbal concoction that’s very good for vision problems. The rich, healthy stock was steaming hot and the plump abalone from South America was particularly good.
|Perfectly Steamed Cod|
The next course was Steamed Cod Fish with Yellow Fungus served with a Morel Mushroom and Asparagus. The Canadian cod was perfectly steamed and served in a sauce slightly sweetened with rock sugar. The morel introduced a hint of fusion and added interest to the dish.
|Chicken in Golden Broth with Sea Cucumber and Baby Pak Choy|
The Simmered Corn-fed Chicken with Chinese Herbs in Supreme Golden Broth with Baby Pak Choy was stunningly served on a large, well-garnished platter. The firm yet tender chicken was very tasty while the healthy sea cucumbers that accompanied this dish were cooked in duck broth.
I loved the Wok-fried Prawns in Chinese Barbeque Sauce with Almonds. The large, white sea prawns were absolutely delicious, and the sweet, slightly spicy barbeque sauce didn’t overpower their flavour. I liked the addition of crunchy chopped almonds too and I felt that this was a very successful dish.
|Special Chinese New Year Fat Choy with Seafood|
Lai Po Heen’s Chinese New Year “Fat Choy” Sun-dried Seafood Pot was another first for me. Fat Choy translates to black or hair moss, and it was easy to see where the name comes from.
|The Black or Hair Moss living up to its name|
When the dish was divided, the moss separated into thousands of little strands. I especially enjoyed the dried abalone in the dish, and the fresh scallops were sweet and tender.
|Fried Sticky Rice with Seafood and Yam|
Up to this point, none of the dishes had been very heavy, but despite this, we were beginning to feel the weight of the meal. I thought the next course, Fried Glutinous Rice with Seafood and Golden Yam, would be my undoing, but it was so delicious that I couldn’t stop eating it. The rice was fried to perfection, the little cubes of yam were crispy, the prawns were juicy and the scallops were plentiful, in fact, this is one of the best, fried rice dishes I’ve ever eaten.
|Chilled pear and Bird's Nest in Osmanthus Syrup and Fried Nien Kao with Cheese|
The dessert was attractively served all together. The Chilled Pear with Bird’s Nest and Osmanthus Syrup was refreshing and not too sweet. I was curious about the Batter-fried Glutinous Rice Cakes with Cheese until I realised it was an innovative way to serve Nien Kao. This traditional Chinese New Year favourite is made with glutinous rice flour and coconut milk, while palm sugar gives the glorious orange colour. The salty cheese was a perfect foil for the sweet Nien Kao, and the chewiness of the glutinous rice cake contrasted admirably with the crispy outer layer – another inspired creation.
Reason to visit: Chef Ricky uses only healthy, natural ingredients that are always of the highest quality. His attention to detail is legendary and without a doubt, Lai Po Heen is the perfect venue to welcome the Year of the Horse. This is definitely a dinner for the discerning diner
The set menus begin at RM198++ per person, with a minimum of 4 people dining, and they are available for lunch and dinner. For dining reservations, call 60(3) 2179 8885 or email email@example.com
Lai Po Heen Restaurant
Mandarin Oriental Hotel
Kuala Lumpur City Centre
50088 Kuala Lumpur
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