Chefs Justin Hor and Chef James Ho of the Oriental Group of Restaurants are masters at treading the fine line between tradition and innovation brilliantly, with delightful results. Their jointly curated “China & Nanyang” special menu is not to be missed at Noble House, Oriental Pavilion, Noble Mansion, The Han Room, Oriental Treasure, Ruyi Restaurant & Lounge, and other restaurants in the group, from now till August 30. This China & Nanyang menu took 6 months to plan, with each bringing to it their best dishes.
At Noble House last week, an array of six appetisers, from the piquant to the spicy, from crispy and crunchy to the succulent and meaty opened up our palates. First the pretty Pink Roses of Pickled Radish unfurled their sweet and sour essence with a little crunch. The radish ribbons had been tinged pink with purple cabbage juice boiled with sour plums, with their tangy flavour clinging to them. The classic Spicy Garlic Sauce Pork Belly spelt yumminess. Hunan Wax Meat & Dried Long Beans was hot and smoky, with Sichuan peppercorns and cili padi firing it up.
Sticky sweet and crunchy defined the sticks of codfish, drizzled with a sauce of butter, mirin and Japanese soya sauce. Jellyfish & Okra in Wasabi Sesame Sauce, with peanuts and lotus root, were a mouthful of textures, with a mustardy lift. I just loved tearing into the Zhenjiang Sweet & Sour Iberico Baby Pork Ribs. They were so good!
The best part of any Chinese meal for me is the soup and the Superior Shark’s Fin Soup with Morel Mushroom reigned supreme. It was a lovely soup, the superior stock steeped for eight hours from old chicken, pork ribs, dried conch Yunan ham, dried scallops – and morel mushroom — before putting in the six to seven-inch fins. The morel gave a deep and aromatic lift to this luxe soup.
It was quite a show with the Salt Baked 3 Head Abalone, Truffle & Kombu. The salt dome of the dish was set aflame, then lifted up to unveil two luscious abalones bathed in sauce inside! The abalone was tender and silky smooth; a little truffle oil and umami from kombu drew it altogether.
Roast Suckling Pig with Foie Gras Mousse was the centrepiece of our lunch, commanding attention. Foie gras mousse was sandwiched between a square of crispy suckling pig skin and a thin wafer. The textures and flavours hit all the senses. The skin crackled at the bite descending into soft, creamy foie gras mousse tinged with sweetness and lovely aromas and flavours. Later Chef Justin explained how the foie gras had been cooked with Sichuan peppercorn and spring onions, then blended with sake and mirin.
In the centre of this Roast Suckling pig with Foie Gras Mousse platter were small pieces of deepfried chicken that tasted delightfully like chee yau char or fried lard bits.
I liked it that in such a lavish menu we could still enjoy a fish in its entirety, just deepfried and served with a vinegar sauce. The Deepfried Yellow Corvina Shanghainese Style has my vote. It was so perfectly done, crispy with sweet flesh. I could just eat it on its own, though the sweet vinegar sauce with ginger was a good complement. It’s a fish brought in from Shanghai.
Baked Rice with Cheese & Crispy Rice in Baby Pumpkin is embedded with crabmeat, prawns, fish, fresh scallop, water chestnut, roasted pine nuts, topped with rice crispiesand baked over with cheese.
Dessert was Rainbow Bird’s Nest and Peanut Lava Carrot. The first was a refreshing light lemongrass jelly with bird’s nest, fruits like strawberry, blueberries and jackfruit and basil seeds.
The Peanut Lava Carrot was pleasing on every count – from the crispy, sticky skin tinged orange with carrot juice, to the flowy peanut filling that was so yummy.
The whole menu we had, from the six appetiser platters to all the other six courses, are at RM2,388 nett per table of 10. It’s a grand dinner to savour for new and unusual nuances, in classic Chinese cuisine. The dishes are also on the a la carte menu in all the restaurants in the group from now till Aug 31.
Oriental Group Executive Chef Justin Hor and James Ho, Corporate Executive Chef Ruyi, Malaysia will make special appearances at dinners in Oriental Pavilion (Aug 6), Noble Mansion (Aug 7), The Han Room (Aug 9), Ruyi Restaurant (Aug 10), Oriental Treasure (Aug 13) and Noble Banquet (Aug 14).
Call to book at the various restaurants. Visit also www.orientalrestaurants.com.my.