Culinary treats from all over the globe at Chef Choi
KUALA LUMPUR, April 28 — We started with a Zucchini Salsa and crispy tortilla chips and couldn’t stop. Then the Spit Roasted Whole Spanish Milkfed Lamb was brought in, and immediately commanded our attention.
It’s typical of our meals at Chef Choi in Kuala Lumpur, that it would be a combination of Western and Chinese, even Thai dishes. Its chef/owner Chan Thye Seng is adept at cooking all three kinds of food, and his worldly and excellent palate ensures he gets it right.
First of all, you wouldn’t expect zucchini in a salsa, but it works with the tomato, red pepper and cilantro, in an adequately tart and fresh combination.
While the lamb, after being presented, went back to the kitchen to be cut up, we had a Pig’s Stomach with Pepper Soup. Now, who would have thought of that? We loved this -- the aroma and heat of peppercorns in the soup hit our senses and warmed our insides. The stock was so good; the slices of pig’s stomach too, especially the irregular shaped and chunkier bits of it.
The Spanish lamb was served and a wonderful aroma wafted up from it. For those of us who got a rib, the meat fell off it, so tender it was, and smooth and juicy too. There was no lamb smell at all. A yoghurt and mint sauce was served with this, but we enjoyed the meat as it was, so sweet and flavourful. Where there was skin, it was crispy, as a result of the spit roasting, and the meat at the neck was especially smooth.
The Spanish lamb weighs five to six kilogrammes. You can order portions of it, at RM300 each, and this is enough for six to seven people.
We had Boulangere potatoes with the lamb too, which made this a complete Western meal, together with the colourful salad of lettuce, cucumber and cherry tomatoes with a sesame shoyu dressing. The potatoes are scrumptious – they had been boiled in stock in the oven and finished with cream.
We went on to the Traditional Roasted Crispy Goose marinated with Chinese herbs. The goose was from Ipoh, which surprised us; we thought it was an imported one. It explained why the goose meat was packed with flavour, not having been frozen. The skin crackled at the bite, so crispy it was, releasing some amazing aromas as it continued into the rich, luscious and complex meat. The goose has to be ordered a day in advance.
The Barbeque Crystal Prawns tasted almost ordinary after the goose, though we knew these were very good prawns.
The Barbeque Cuttlefish was a little sweet and sour, and very hot, and I liked it. It had been marinated with Thai chilli sauce, lemon juice, fish sauce and coriander, and the cuttlefish had soaked in all these. And the cooking had been halted at the right moment as the cuttlefish stayed supple, soft and smooth.
After all these, could we take in the Fried Rice with Mini Abalone? This was a mound of rice studded with small pieces of crunchy kai lan stalks, black mushrooms, chicken and prawns sitting in superior stock and topped with a mini abalone. The rice was a mouthful of textures, enhanced by spurts of complex sweetness from the silky abalone; the soup was superb.
Dessert was Crepe Suzette, done tableside. We watched Thye Seng caramelising the sugar and swirling it in the pan, then adding the orange juice and the butter, then Grand Marnier, and flambéing it with XO brandy.
I picked up all these heady, buttery and citrusy nuances as I ate the soft crepes in the lovely sauce. They were just perfect. Now that the Chalet in the Equatorial Hotel is no more, here’s the place to come for this classic French dessert.
Chef Choi is located at 159 Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, Tel: 03-2163 5866. It’s non-halal.