The Duo of Maine Lobster, Wild Mushrooms and Shao Xing Cream had me looking for a spoon to drink up the exquisite sauce. There was none, so I mopped it up with bread. “The lobster is fried using Chinese yellow rice wine together with girolle mushrooms,” said the redoubtable Chef Justin Quek later. “It changes the taste of the lobster.” Indeed it did, exceptionally.
The Crispy Scale Blue Cod Fillet with Clam and Herb Fondue amazed with crispy scales on its skin, while its tender sweet flesh flaked out as I touched it with a fork. It’s a culinary feat, achieving two textures on opposite sides of the spectrum. The chef said it right: “It’s like keropok!” Again the delicious fondue of clams and herbs – including a fresh cordycep — had me looking for that elusive spoon again.
We were at a luncheon preview of Franco-Asian Cuisine by guest chef Justin Quek at The Library in the Ritz-Carlton Kuala Lumpur. Sauces are obviously the chef’s forte who thinks French with Asian food and who deals a winning hand with “natural, simple and tasty”. For him it’s the ingredients that matter.
The French-trained, award-winning chef from Singapore presented one of his Signature Starters — Cauliflower Puree, Oscietra Caviar and White Chocolate. “It sounds weird but tastes nice,” he said. The creamy puree was a fine blend of subtly sweet and salty.
This was followed by the Mushroom Cappuccino , Ceps Cream and Duck Foie Gras Xiao Long Bao. It’s a mushroom latte cooked with cep (porcini) and button mushrooms. “It’s very simple – just water, cream, milk and of course mushrooms.” The Xiao Long Bao is an explosion of flavours, spilling out truffle consommé and duck foie gras.
Nam yue, fu yue — two types of fermented bean paste – were used together with star anise and garlic to braise the Angus beef for two hours, for that melt-in-the-mouth feel, in the Asian Braised Angus Beef and Seared Wagyu Beef with Oriental Greens. It was a different melt in the-mouth with the creamy, seared Wagyu which I loved. I pounced on a sweet chestnut. Siu pak choy, broccoli, asparagus and carrot made up the greens.
The Chocolate and Mint Floating Island, Caramelised Crispy Rice was perfection in its frothy, minty lightness. A crispy chocolate tuile leaned against the “brick” of soft meringue for some textural contrast.
The chef had a hand in matching the wines with his Franco-Asian cuisine. The starters paired with the Canard-Duchene Cuvee Leonie Brut. The lobster soared it the J. Moreau & Fils Fourchaume, Chablis Premier Cru.
The spice in the beef clicked with the Knappstein Shiraz Clare Valley, while we revelled in Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry with the dessert.
The chef had a platter of Salted Almond Tuile served to us as we chatted outside The Library. It was so good!
Justin still enjoys creating his own style, even after 35 years of it. Sky on 57 in Marina Bay Sands may have just closed, but the chef has Justin Quek’s Flavours of Asia sauces and dips. Besides, he has new restaurant opening — JQ Mon Asia — next March or April, in MBS.
Justin Quek’s Franco Asian Cuisine at The Library is from now till Saturday July 15. It’s RM300 nett for the four-course dinner, RM450 nett with wines. For reservations call 03-2142 8000, email firstname.lastname@example.org.