Savoring The Best All Over Town…

Asian Food Channel (AFC) together with BERJAYA University College of Hospitality (BERJAYA UCH) recently held an event entitled Autumn Treasures with Chef Martin Yan at the university’s fine dining restaurant, Samplings at the Fourteenth, Level 14, Berjaya Times Square, Kuala Lumpur. The sit down dinner held on 5 September 2012 was priced at RM290++/pax. I was lucky to be one of the lucky winners of a contest organized by AFC to dine with Chef Martin Yan (甄文達). I’m sure most of you would have known the Chinese-born American celebrity chef for his jovial ways to handle Asian cuisine with a twist of humor. Chef Martin Yan from the famous cooking show “Yan Can Cook” has hosted over 1,500 episodes since 1978. “If Yan can cook, so can you!” became his catchphrase ever since. What impressed me most was his comical ways in chopping food frantically with just a sharp cleaver. He indeed made the whole room filled with laughter when he performed a live demonstration on how to cook his Dragon & Phoenix chicken dish.


During this Autumn Treasures event, five of the chef’s signature dishes were chosen to be served as fine dining dishes, with assistance from the numerous students support from the Berjaya UCH. The menu was as shown below:


The first dish was the Crispy Beancurd Skin Rolls. The spring onions wrapped rolls had stir fried jicama, carrots and mushrooms fillings, beautifully plated with a pickled radish and carrot flower and some drops of hoisin and chili sauce. Although the rolls were quite tasty in flavors and texture, they were not as crispy as the name. Most probably the kitchen had prepared it too early or the oil was not hot enough to give that crisp. Thus, there was this soggy oil after bite.


The next dish was the Dragon & Phoenix in a Basket. The basket basically consisted of deep fried finely julienned yam mixed with some corn starch. The topping had the chicken dish demonstrated live by Chef Martin Yan. They consisted of chunks of chicken breast meat stir fried with onions, straw mushrooms, garlic and Thai basil leaves, topped with some blanched asparagus. I was surprised that my serving did not contain some diamond shape bell pepper cuts as shown in the demonstration. However, even without the flavors from the bell peppers, the taste for the topping with high hints of Thai basil and pepper after taste was nice enough to complement the yam basket.


As for main, we were served with Beef Stew with Beancurd Sticks & Chinese Chestnut. The dish tasted quite similar to my brandy boasted Cantonese recipe of Braised Oysters & Scallops. The beef stew which had tender chunks of wine boasted beef came with some beancurd sticks, Chinese chestnuts, carrots, radish and Chinese mushrooms, came with side dishes such as bread pudding with mixed toasted sesame seeds candy and a slice of garlic bread. The dish was amazingly great and rich in sweet flavors from the long period of stewing. However, such rich flavored dish would go better with plain rice or bread instead of the accompanied side dishes. Moreover, it lacked some fresh greens to subtle the richness from the meat dish.


As an alternative dish to non beef eater, a Vegetarian Spaghetti was also served as main. It was basically some spaghetti with the right al dente served with some fresh onions, carrots, zucchinis and tomatoes sauce, garnished with some julienned bell peppers, parsley and a deep fried beancurd stick. Taste wise, it was a straight forward dish. However, I personally felt that it was a dish not properly justified against the price paid. I was a non paying guest, so I can’t complain much but it would surely piss off those paying ones. The kitchen should have considered serving some vegetarian dishes that has a more sophisticated outlook and taste such as the Agnolotti with Roasted Pumpkin, Broccolini & Chilli Spaghetti with Pangrattato, Pan Fried Potato Gnocchi with Mushrooms & Sage Butter or simply add in a different variety of fresh mushrooms to make the dish more classy.


We were also served with Smoked Marinated Squab. The squab or commonly known as domestic pigeon, had a tough texture almost similar to duck meat but with meat white in color. I personally found that the meat was just mildly marinated with barely distinctive flavors or strong smoke taste. Moreover, it needed some tenderizer such as ginger juice to soften the meat further. The squab was dressed with some brown sauce and served with some simply fried basmati rice with finely brunoised bell peppers and some cherry tomatoes salsa.


Lastly, it was dessert time with Wine Poached Pears being served. The mildly sweetened poached pear in red wine had mixed spices flavors coming from some cloves, star anise and cinnamon. I would say that it was a bit overwhelming for diners who detested strong spices aftertaste.


There were also free flow of Chinese tea, white wine, red wine and sparkling wine, by Australia’s over 160 years winemaking expert, Jacob’s Creek, to pair with the dishes.


All the diners were presented with a certificate signed by Chef Martin Yan to commemorate our memorable dining experiences with the chef.


Here’s the snapshot of the contest winners and guests with Chef Martin Yan, courtesy of Ms. Evelyn Ang Loo.


Overall, it was an eventful evening with Chef Martin Yan. Thanks Asian Food Channel (AFC) for giving me the opportunity to meet up with Chef Martin Yan. To the waiters and waitresses of BERJAYA University College of Hospitality (BERJAYA UCH), you all have done a great job!

Address: Level 14, East, Berjaya Times Square, 1 Jalan Imbi, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Contact: 603-2687 7073
GPS: 3.142152, 101.710618


The BERJAYA University College of Hospitality (BERJAYA UCH) recently held the 2nd Uhrenholt Young Chef Dinner 2012 (UYC 2012) on 25 April 2012 at its “Manhattan V” function room. The UYC 2012 fundraising dinner for the Chefs Association of Malaysia (CAM) Youth Chef Club was a huge success with distinguished executive chefs from several 5-star hotels namely Chef Rajesh of Sheraton Imperial, Chef Martin of Ritz Carlton, Chef Sabri of Royal Chulan Hotel, Chef Antoine of Le Meridien, Chef Andrea of Renaissance Hotel, Chef Rudolph of Shangri La and Chef Nikolaj corporate chef of Uhrenholt Food Service, mentoring 43 students from the Klang Valley (BERJAYA UCH, Legand International College, INTI, Malaysian Institute of Baking, KL Metropolitan University and Cilantro Culinary Academy) based on the theme “Teamwork & Mentorship” to serve invited guests. Amongst the VIPs in presence were Sune Uhrenholt, CEO of Uhrenholt, Helle Sejersen Myrthue, Danish Embassy personnel, Lars Kruse Thomsen, Uhrenholt Country Manager in Malaysia & Singapore, Mae Ho, COO of BERJAYA UCH, Chef Chern Chee Hong, President of CAM and Chef Billy Ng, CAM Youth Club President & BERJAYA UCH Junior Chef Lecturer.


Prior to the formal sit down 5-course meals, guests were served with canapés by two teams. The first 3 canapes came from Chef Rajesh’s team. The first canapé was the Slow Poached Beef Tenderloin with Tuna Sauce & Micro Grated Grana Cheese. It was one of the best canapé I had for the night. The rolled up beef tenderloin with some capers and parsley filling was served on a thinly sliced butter toasted baguette, topped with tuna sauce and finely grated grana cheese and garnished with micro greens. It was an awesome combination of meaty, cheesy with a light touch of seafood flavor.


The second canapé from the team was monitored by Chef Ellis, also from the Sheraton Imperial. It was the Steamed Chicken and Prawn Siew Mai (Chinese dumpling) with Tangy Peanut Sauce. I was a cross between Chinese and Malay cuisine. The dumpling was one of the best around with flavorful minced chicken and prawn filling, complemented even further with some mildly spiced up earthly and tangy flavored peanut sauce. It was also another hit amongst the diners. This dish was served with a lemongrass stalk for easy handling.


The third canapé was the Shoyu Marinated Watermelon with Wasabi, Cream Cheese and Spiced Salmon Tartare, under the supervision of Chef Bob, another chef from the hotel. The combination was rather unique as the spiced raw salmon tartare blended in real well with the cream cheese, a fruity squeeze from torched shoyu marinated watermelon cube, with a tad of spiciness from the mini wasabi ball and pickled ginger.


The next 3 canapes came from Chef Martin’s team. The first canape was the Sarawak Peppered Tuna with Compressed Yellow Watermelon, Feta and Coriander Drops. The canapé had Sarawak black pepper rolled seared tuna fillet slices topped on two slices of compressed red and yellow watermelon, dressed with some feta cream cheese and garnished with a leaf of coriander. It was a colorful presentation.


The second canapé was the “Pie Tee” Crispy Basket with Smoked Halibut and Ginger Flower Salad. The Pie Tee or commonly known as the Singapore “Top Hat” was crispy but had a fusion type of filling instead of the common carrot and jicama combination. It had smoked halibut with a mixture of herby salad more toward a stronger kaffir lime leaves flavor. These little finger food treats had some crunchy crumbles garnished on them. Somehow, they were on a salty side unless you couple them with a glass of beer or wine.


The next canapé which was the South Asian Spicy Prawn with Coconut and Crumbled Chili Oil had a state-of-the-art method of preparation. It had prawn fritters matched with a gelatin-like ball filled with oozy “tom kha” aka white tom yam broth, some chili oil and garnishing. The soft and juicy balls were using a food science method of shaping the algae based sodium alginate combination of “filling” into calcium chloride solution. This was an innovative way of presentation indeed.


Dinner commenced an hour later with the first appetizer being served by Chef Sabri’s team. It was the Steamed Prawn Roll with ‘Otak-Otak’ Filling, Chilled Custard Flower with Crab Meat and Galangal Fish Floss. This was a very delicate presentation almost like those you get from fine dining as there were some sauce, mango cubes and micro greens used for lacing the plate. The steamed prawn’s filling of “otak-otak” was somewhat mild in herbs and spices unlike those you get from the authentic Nyonya cuisine. On the other hand, the chilled custard flower was the savory version of the Thai’s Tako Haew (Water Chestnut with Coconut Custard). It has ebiko (prawn roe) and bits of crab meat (I might be wrong but the bits tasted more like fish than crab meat), topped with coconut custard. The third appetizer was the baked phyllo pastry wrapped galangal fish floss. The filling had a nice aromatic flavor but it lacked a light touch of brushed butter on the pastry as it was rather dry.


The next dish under Chef Antoine’s team was the Asian Broth with Pacific Halibut, Vannamei Shrimps (Whiteleg Shrimps), Shredded Young Coconut and Diced Vegetables. With Chef Antoine’s experience in Thailand for many years, this soup was a sure win to boost up our appetite. The mild and flavorful soup based was almost like the tom kha (White Tom Yam). It was poured onto a dish filled with halves Vannamei shrimps, halibut fillet, cherry tomatoes, carrot slices, coriander leaves, sliced kaffir lime leaves and thinly sliced fresh young coconut meat, topped with some foam like garlic cream. It was an awesome dish! This dish was served with two side dishes which consisted of a slice of nicely Toasted Mantou with Basil, Plum Tomatoes & Various Cheese and a beautifully done Raw Papaya, Japanese Cucumber & Roasted Peanuts Salad with hints of flavors from nam pla (Thai fish sauce), Thai chili sauce, olive oil and chopped coriander.


Chef Andrea’s team came out with Cinnamon Sautéed Bee Hoon (Rice Vermicelli) on Fondue, Buah Keras (Candlenuts) & Prawns Terrine with Dry Longan Reduction. The cinnamon sautéed rice vermicelli was baked rather than sautéed and it was rather tough for our bites. If not, it would blend in real well with the Mornay sauce (Bechamel sauce + cheese) fondue. The prawn terrine was fine except a bit too soft. The candlenuts were sugar caramelized and the dry longan had the sweetness as how it should be. Somehow, this dish had a savory and sweet combination which some of us did find the combination a bit out of place.


The main dish from Chef Rudolph’s team was the Asian Style Slow Braised Angus Beef Cheek with Bleu Cheese Macadamia Crust, Kumara Mash and Eryngii Mushrooms, served with Five Spice Flavored Beef Jus Reduction was yet another perfect dish for me. The juicy and tender beef blended in real well with the slightly herb boasted bleu cheese baked macadamia nuts crust. The usage of kumara (orange sweet potatoes) mash was something different.


Finally it was dessert time and Chef Nikolaj’s team came out with an additional pre-dessert dish – The 5 Way Cheese Canape. It had a spoon shaped like canapé filled with cubes of Edam, Fontina, Cheddar, Bleu cheese and cream cheese with some jam and a sprinkle of Pumpernickel bread bits. Well, some of us were not used to the waxy flavor from some of the cheeses.


The dessert that excelled better was the Sweet Cream Cheese ‘Tofu’ in Gula Melaka (Palm Sugar) Consommé with Sea Coconut, Sesame Two Ways and Passion Fruit Curd. Everyone seemed to love this concoction. On top of those mentioned above, sago was added in too. The sesame two ways actually consisted of candied black sesame and sesame cake crumbles.


Everyone indeed put on their best effort to make this fundraising dinner a successful and memorable one. I would love to see more of this sort of opportunity given to other young chefs nationwide as well in the future. “It was a great experience for the participating students from the different colleges to be under the real life working experiences with respective executive chefs and to forge new bonds and friendships,” said Matthew Lee, a BERJAYA UCH student under the Diploma of Culinary Arts program. To all the participants and sponsors of the UYC 2012, it was a job well done! Congratulation!


Here’s a short video behind the kitchen scene by Chef Arif Maula. Do enjoy~ 🙂

Address: Level 14, East, Berjaya Times Square, 1 Jalan Imbi, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Contact: 603-2687 7073
GPS: 3.142152, 101.710618


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