Thursday, February 28, 2019

Chef's Table Tasting Menu: Jing Ze, PJ Section 17

Seated at the chef's table facing Jing Ze's open kitchen, we peer up from our plates to see the restaurant's founding chef Nicholas Scorpion slicing through a tomahawk steak, scarcely three feet in front of us. On Scorpion's left, his right-hand man David Tay puts the final flourishes on a duck dish that'll soon be dispatched to delighted diners. Beside and behind them, it takes a village to run this kitchen, with other brigade members busy torching, roasting, boiling, baking and braising.

This table might promise the best seats in the house, with its up-close-and-personal proximity to the chefs and intimate insights into their craft of cooking, but a look around the rest of the restaurant shows that everyone else is clearly enjoying the evening too, especially those of us trying out Jing Ze's new tasting menu, which sums up the core of this contemporary Asian venue in seven captivating courses, illustrating a natural but no less impressive sense of evolution less than six months after it opened.

Start with a beautiful union of bread and butter - Jing Ze's own sourdough offers a confidently luscious chew complemented by the silkiest house-smoked butter, defiantly decadent - before diving for Irish oysters, distinctively dressed in lacto-fermented cucumber water (a byproduct of the restaurant's fermentation program that it conducts upstairs) to add a dimension of acidity that snaps into focus beyond a plain lemon; the result is a punchy, piquant brininess with a finely calibrated hint of chilli oil heat that brings it all home in the end, perfect for patrons seeking a reinvigorating way to make oysters your world.

Our favourite courses of this tasting menu emerge early - firm-fleshed hiramasa is aged for a deeper character of flavour, seasoned with kelp oil for a subtle oceanic uplift, richly rounded out by burnt cream and a mustard sorbet that melts into this ensemble for an earthy-tangy fattiness - an unorthodox but revelatory approach to yellowtail kingfish, proving that there are still plot twists to savour in the secrets of sashimi.

Chef Scorpion has served up beef tartare at every one of his restaurants - when we first visited Jing Ze in October, the beef tartare with a Balinese basa genep spice mix was one of our most memorable highlights. That tradition of trope-smashing tartares is maintained with his latest take, mixed with fermented shiitake mushrooms and a tinge of truffles, buried beneath a garden's garnishing of wood sorrels and spring onions, once again offering a fresh perspective on a familiar recipe. Ancho-tossed chips on the side hail from an English Sunday-roast preparation that Scorpion brings from his home city of Singapore, evoking steak frites in this beef-with-potatoes duet.

The menu reflects Scorpion's diverse experiences, spanning Southeast Asia and farther afield. Court-bouillon cabbage hearts are lightly slow-grilled over coal for a caramel char, thinly veiled with pink pickled daikon to cut through a crowd-rousing sauce that pays homage to the coconut milk soups that accompany lontong, perfumed with Vietnamese coriander and partnered with fluffy turmeric pancakes, for a forward-looking interpretation of heritage ingredients.

Mulard duck is next (a hybrid of muscovy and Pekin ducks), fowl that feels nearly like steak with a red-meat robustness, complemented by charred leeks and 14-day lacto-fermented red cabbage; all pretty tasty, but the sauce steals the show, a French-style adaptation of Surabaya's rawon beef black soup, aromatically thickened with our much-beloved buah keluak.

We also fell head over fins for the piscine pleasures of Penang-farmed pearl garoupa - once more, the produce is taken to greater heights with enhancements that simultaneously reflect and revamp what many of us grew up eating, in this case an assam-esque sauce, fragrant with both galangal and olive oil.


This might be one of those meals that we wish would never end, but an intriguingly potent palate cleanser of coconut sorbet, cooled and warmed with a granita of lime and chilli, heralds the final course, a tribute to the tiny but energy-rich packets of glutinous rice and mashed-up pumpkin that Scorpion savoured during his two years in Bali, sold particularly at before-sunrise markets during the festival of Galungan, Bali's equivalent of Diwali. 


That inspiration is woven into the dessert of classic glutinous rice laced with palm sugar, brightened with a whipped sabayon of coconut and desiccated fresh coconut, crowned with three textures of pumpkin - roasted pumpkin seeds, a tempura of pumpkin, and an ice cream of pumpkin that represents Bali's reviving island breeze. A terrific, thoughtfully executed finish.

Many thanks to the Jing Ze team for hosting us for the food component of this meal; the tasting menu is currently priced at RM180, a very reasonable bargain for creations of this calibre (a la carte options are also offered for larger portions). Lively, lovely wines and cocktails are also available to accompany the occasion.

Jing Ze Contemporary Asian Restaurant
22A, Jalan 17/54, Section 17, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Tel: 03-7931-4801


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La Sqala, Casablanca

Set in an 18th-century port bastion fronting the Atlantic Ocean, La Sqala is popular for its garden setting, one of the most soothing spaces in the Moroccan city of Casablanca for a meal of goat tagine, washed down with a blended beverage of milk, dates, almonds and orange blossoms.


Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Ten37 Sky Pool Bar, Hyatt House Mont Kiara

By EDKL Writer A.A.

Perched on the 37th floor of the Hyatt House, this bar is view-tiful, promising a bird's-eye perspective of everything from the extended-stay hotel's pool to the verdant hills that surround Mont Kiara.

It was too hot to sit outdoors when we visited on a recent afternoon, but the HH Signature helped, with its refreshing ice-blended mix of kiwifruit, rambutans and calamansi (RM15). 

Cocktails are not available so far, but some classic German Beck's lager beer ensures that this is a bar in more than name (RM21).

If you prefer to retreat to air-conditioned comfort, Hyatt House also has a separate lobby-level bar, H Bar, with a similar selection of beer, mocktails, coffee, tea, juice and basic snacks.

Ten37 Sky Pool Bar
Level 37, Hyatt House, Arcoris Plaza, Jalan Kiara, Mont Kiara, 50480 Kuala Lumpur. Daily, 11am-10pm.



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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Faroz Cafe, TTDI

By Aiman Azri

Outfitted in ornate opulence, Faroz Cafe strives to transport customers to a gilded place where timeless art and architecture charmingly weave their spell; it's clear that this two-storey restaurant is a labour of love - Faroz fuses the first names of its founder, Puan Sri Faridah Idris, and her husband, Tan Sri Rozali Ismail, inspired by the cuisines they cherish from home and abroad, spanning kampung cooking to steakhouse specialities.

The versatile kitchen relies on the talents of chef Shaik Rhyszard, who lives in Taman Tun Dr Ismail himself and has sharpened his skills at several of KL's most respected eateries over the past decade. He reinterprets both Asian and Western flavours with a confident flair, transforming familiar favourites into revitalised recipes.

Soto Ayam, the traditional breakfast staple, is available all day at Faroz, with a playful twist. The chicken soup is served separately in a clear teapot, kept warm by a candle, so customers can choose whether to drizzle or drench their noodles, chicken, bergedil and bean sprouts with the broth. It's a striking but suitable way of serving soto ayam; the broth conveys clean-tasting subtleties, best relished with some lime and Faroz's house-made sambal blend to punch up the flavour.

If you enjoy the classics, rest assured Faroz's repertoire is filled with everything from lempeng to lontong, nasi dagang to nasi kerabu, bubur lambok to bubur lemak.

For your fix of Sup Tulang Merah, Faroz offers hearty, carnivore-loving chunks of lamb bones in the tell-tale red gravy that's sweet with a spicy edge - the luscious marrow can be slurped up with a straw, while the meat on the bone can be relished with steamed and fried mantou buns to lap up the thick sauce. It's a family favourite for the founders' family, so they highly recommend this.

We like how the kitchen not merely promotes local dishes but makes the initiative to utilise local ingredients widely - the nasi kerabu contains budu (Kelantan's fermented anchovy sauce), the ulam and kobis bakar showcase geragau (krill from the Straits of Malacca), and even the pasta marinara highlights prawns, squid and clams from Pulau Besar.

East meets/meats West with Faroz's Lamb Rack Bakar, with the cutlets meticulously marinated in soy and garlic for Asian nuances before being seared over an open grill, resulting in a delightfully smoky char that complements the juiciness of the flesh, rounded out with roasted zucchini and mushrooms, mashed peas and potatoes, and a choice of house-made mint or pesto sauce. Inform the crew that you'd prefer this prepared medium for optimally tender results.

If you're searching for further splashes of creativity, they're peppered throughout the menu, from a Sarawak umai-inspired squid temptation to steak that promises a nod to Moroccan spices.

Many thanks to Faroz Cafe for having us.

Faroz Cafe
39, Jalan Tun Mohd Fuad 3, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, 60000 Kuala Lumpur. Open 9am-9pm; closed Sundays. Tel: 03-77279068


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