Valentine’s Day promises to be an evening of gastronomy at Em Café in Hotel Transit, Kuala Lumpur. And it’s all because of Chef Pierre, who used to own Croisette Café in Bangsar. I was delighted to meet up with him again at Em by Tedboy downtown.
It was as if we were tasting his food at Croisette again as Pierre’s fine French touch was apparent in all the dishes in the five-course Valentine’s Day menu we previewed recently.There was a whimsical His & Hers menu, but the lines blur and both can eat off each other’s plate. It’s just RM168+ for a couple, and is totally worth it.
The Pink Lady Cocktail and canapés got the evening started on a rosy note. The cocktail is a mix of cranberry juice, lemon juice, triple sec and vodka. It was a burst of different flavours from the canapés comprising a spoonful of Fried Rice with Pesto Sauce, Mushroom Soup in a glass, Black Olive Tapenade on Bruschetta and Prawn with Mango Salsa.
Fresh Salmon Tartare with mirepoix in blood orange dressing is for her while for him is Beetroot and Feta Chantilly Millefeuilles with pomegranate dressing. It’s a couple dinner, so you can get to taste both.
I loved the delicate layers of thin beetroot with light and creamy feta Chantilly in between. The pomegranate dressing was dotted round the plate, with chopped black olives scattered on it. It was an assortment of sensations on the palate: sweet pomegranate and saltish cheese with a little tartness, then the salty bursts of the black olive bits. It was so lovely.
Salmon Tartare is chopped raw salmon combined with chopped onions, celery, laced with blood orange dressing and topped with dill. It was a mouthful of smooth textures, a little tartness to whet the appetite for more.
The Tomato Vodka Granite was a short heady interlude before we got to the mains. It was like a textured, frozen Bloody Mary, spicy, fragrant with oregano, with a generous shot of sweet vodka at the end.
If this was not a couple menu, it would have been a hard toss between the Butterfish Fillet with Red Capsicum Coulis , potato gratin and vegetable tian and the Panfried Duck Breast with Raspberry Sauce, potato gratin and vegetable tian.
I was pleasantly surprised by the Butterfish Fillet, crispy brown on the outside in the panfrying, and tasty, creamy fish on the inside. The sweet red capsicum coulis matched it well.
I have always enjoyed duck cooked by Pierre when he was at Croisette. The French like their duck breast to be pink and juicy. The Panfried Duck Breast was so flavourful, tender and moist. It sang with the tart, fruity raspberry sauce which was in tune with the richness of the meat.
Desserts were Em’s Signature Pavola and Mille-feuille with Strawberries. The Pavlova is striking with a ring of strawberry sauce, topped with kiwifruit and a variety of berries.
The light, crispy Mille-feuille with vanilla custard and strawberries was my choice. I can’t believe most of my choices on this menu came under “His”.
Book in early for this Valentine’s Day dinner at Em Café. You can opt to sit downstairs or upstairs laid out with a grassy green carpet, and a skylight offering a view of the stars in the dark night sky. (Hopefully the stars will come out on Valentine’s Day, 14 February).
On ordinary days Pierre cooks Mediterranean food with an Asian twist. ‘I do a paella using Japanese short rice and edamame to replace sweet peas. There’s traditional seafood and chicken paella, but I also ad seaweed.” He does the Middle-Eastern Tabouleh and put in fried dried shrimps and ikan bilis.
There are noodles and pasta, even Pho Ga or Vietnamese noodles in a hot broth. A set lunch is also served at RM24+ or RM26+ for two or three courses with pasta of the day or Indo China Beef Ragout with rice, or Roast herb Chicken with Couscous, among others. The café also does outside catering and events upstairs.
Em Cafe is at Hotel Transit, 42 Jalan Pudu, Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, tel 03 2022 2056.