KUALA LUMPUR, March 31 — First we had a chance to gawk at a ginseng root that’s 133 years old, from Guangzhou, China. Then it was an introduction to the various Chinese herbs from Eu Yan Sang, with each identified, at the Shang Palace, Shangri-La Kuala Lumpur.
Its Chinese executive chef Tan Kim Weng had prepared a lunch cooked with a variety of these herbs for us, at the launch of this “Health is Wealth” food promotion recently.
The Double-Boiled 6-Flavour Soup got us off to a nutritious and delicious start. We imbibed the goodness of the soup derived from yuzhu, huai shan, dried longan, lotus seeds, ginseng and pak hup or lily bulb, and chicken. I loved the natural sweetness of it, with the aroma of ginseng coming through. It was supposed to open up all our senses, help in digestion, and improve blood circulation. Yuzhu or yok chok is a tuber that you can eat up in this soup, and it improves your spleen.
I was lucky to sit next to Dr Patrick H.M. Loh, plant scientist and chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of Eu Yan Sang International Ltd, who gave me all this useful information of each herb in the food. “You can slow bake yuzhu in the oven and eat them as chips,” he said.
My digestive juices already flowing, I could easily tackle the Sauteed Sliced Lamb with Dang Shen and Bei Qi. The lamb had been lightly poached in a herbal stock and sautéed, with the essence of the herbs clinging to the very tender meat. Dangshen or tong sum as we call it, nourishes the blood and improves the circulation, while Bei Qi or pak kei is for energy. “All the herbs here balance the yin and yang,” said Dr Loh. “For someone recuperating from an illness, lamb is good.”
Well balanced, we moved to the Steamed Codfish with Chen Pi and small black fungus. The fragrance of dried mandarin peel or chen pi embraced the fish, which also had red dates, ginger strips and black fungus steamed with it. The creamy fish collides with the smooth, slightly crunchy fungus, which picks up a little heat and aroma from ginger and a subtle sweetness from red dates. One has to remember that premium herbs are used in every dish on the herbal menu, so the flavours of each come through brilliantly.
This fish and herb combination nourishes your spleen, improves digestion in the alimentary canal (the gastrointestinal tract). Black fungus contains polysaccharides which are anti-cancer; mandarin peel is good for the lungs.
More of these polysaccharides are in the mook yee or wood ear fungus which appeared in Prawns in Ginseng Wine with Dang Gui. You get a strong aroma of the dang gui in the prawns, and a hint of ginseng, with fat goji berries and ginger tempering a slight bitterness in the soup. Prawns always taste good in a complex herbal stock like this.
I loved the tart and sweet strawberry and hawthorn sauce on the Vegetarian Chicken. Why not real chicken, someone asked. I didn’t mind this lighter version of “chicken”, paired with fresh lily buds and red capsicum. Hawthorn or san char improves the spleen and clears your arteries. Occasionally I boil a pot of dried hawthorn to drink, as it’s believed to help you lose weight. Strawberries are good for the cardiovascular system.
The Wok-fried Organic Charcoal Noodles with Yu Zhu and Basil were amazing in their flavours and were so good to eat. Our only issue with it was their texture, and the fact that the noodles had been cut into short lengths. It would have been better if the noodles had more bite and were longer.
Lunch ended with the Herbal Dessert Combination of American Ginseng Jelly with Aloe Vera Ice Cream, Chilled Jujube Cake with Osmanthus and Dang Gui Glutinous Ball. All three were simply scrumptious. The ginseng jelly had lots of oomph and so delightful with the aloe vera sorbet. I loved the springy texture and the light floral aroma in the jujube cake while the glutinous ball was so smooth and sticky, oozing out creamy lotus paste tinged with dang gui.
The Health is Wealth promotion at Shang Palace is on from now till the end of April. The six-flavour soup is RM32, the cod RM118, the lamb RM68, the prawns RM58, the noodles RM36, the ginseng jelly RM12, jujube cake RM12, and dang gui glutinous balls RM8. Call 03-2032 2388 to book.