It’s exactly a year ago that I wrote about Chef Debbie Teoh and her delightful Nyonya specialities. It was also at the same venue – Chatz Brasserie at Parkroyal Kuala Lumpur. Read about my post one year ago here. The authentic Nyonya fare served up by Chef Debbie must have been such a hit that Parkroyal Kuala Lumpur has decided to bring her back again this year and timely too – for the upcoming Mother’s Day celebrations!
I had a sense of deja vu as I walked into Chatz Brasserie – everything seemed almost the same as last year. Even Chef Debbie herself. She looks exactly the same as when I first met her last year. The same welcoming smile, that warm demeanour and her signature kebaya top with the sarong-turned-harem pants bottom … something which is so totally unique.
“I can’t be running around the kitchen in the tight sarong kebaya, you know, so I have adapted it to something more practical!” explained the enterprising Chef Debbie with a laugh.
To whet our appetites, we had the Nasi Ulam which is cooked rice tossed with a variety of local herbs. Very thin shreds of daun kunyit, lemongrass, shallots, kaffir lime leaves, bunga kantan, chillies are mixed with fried dried shrimps and bits of salted fish and these are tossed together with rice, resulting in a super aromatic dish. This is such a laborious dish as all the herbs have to be sliced by hand. Back in the old days, Nyonya matriarchs used this to test out potential daughters-in-law… the finer they can slice the herbs, the more qualified they would be!
I love the Ulam Platter as this particular version has mint leaves in it. Taking a stick of fresh cucumber, I wrapped it with some mint leaves together with some of that delightful sambal, popped the bundle into my mouth and I had this refreshing crunchy textures doing a tango on my tongue. I did the same with the four-angled beans and thoroughly enjoyed the affair.
The Aubergine/eggplant fried with a sambal made from chillies, shallots and dried shrimps calls for white rice, and a lot of that is needed as dinner progressed. That’s because I realise all the rest of the dishes served were so good that one simply has to add on the white rice.
The Itek Tim – duck soup is so well flavoured by the salted mustard leaves and bombay onions which impart a sweetness to the soup. I can finish off a big bowl of this, all by myself.
There’s such a contrast of flavours in the Lemak Nenas Ikan Sepat which is essentially fresh pineapples cooked in a coconut curry with salted fish. The sourish tangy pineapples balances out the creamy sweetness of the coconut milk and the ikan sepat just adds on that “more rice needed” factor.
The Ayam Buah Keluak is the only repeated dish from last year’s repertoire. The repeated feature is justified as this is such a typical Nyonya speciality. The “buah keluak” or Indonesian black nuts is somewhat scarce here and Chef Debbie actually sourced her supply from Melaka. As Chef Debbie explains it “You have to soak the buah keluak overnight before you can crack them open to dig out the dark brown filling inside”. It is the dark filling that gives this dish its special identity: the taste of the filling is a mix of earthy mushrooms and rich chocolate, as strange as that may sound! This particular dish is best eaten, not freshly cooked, but should be kept for a couple of days, so that the buah keluak flavours can truly infiltrate the gravy and chicken!
Chunks of stingray cooked in a spicy sourish gulai (gravy) is really irresistible.
One of my favourites for that night is the Otak-otak. Instead of the usual fish slices, Chef Debbie has put in chunks of succulent squids, prawns and fish fillet. All these encased in a rich spicy coconut custard and wrapped up in banana leaf parcels – really good. I had 2 of these aromatic leafy parcels all to myself.
Chef Debbie really spoiled us with her delightful desserts. First up, we each had a bowl of icy Chendol in thick creamy coconut milk and gula melaka. The chendol here is of a dark green hue, thanks to the thick freshly-made pandan juice used. It’s a far cry from the anaemic-looking chendol we usually get elsewhere.
Then we had this basket of Kueh Seri Muka which is very unique. Instead of the usual coconut cream layer on top, Chef Debbie used mashed taro (yam) instead. I wish I was not so stuffed then that I could only manage to eat two pieces of these because they were just absolutely yummy.
We had this plate of petite Pulut Panggang served before us and the lovely chef explained that she scaled down the size so as not to overwhelm her guests. How thoughtful… and as it turned out, those banana-leaf-wrapped-and-grilled glutinuous rice rolls filled with spicy shrimp sambal were such a blast that most of us took 2 pieces each! As a special treat, each of us also got to take home a Nyonya Bakchang made by the Chef herself.
Now, if you want to get a taste of all these Nyonya delights, be sure to head over to Chatz Brasserie @ Parkroyal Kuala Lumpur from 11 May to 10 June 2012. From Mondays to Fridays, you get to indulge in Nyonya cuisine in Buffet Lunch priced at RM62++ per person while Buffet Dinner is available every day at RM82++ per person. For weekends, there’s the Nyonya Weekend Hi-Tea priced at RM59++ per person.
For Mother’s Day on 13 May, there is the Mother’s Day Brunch priced at RM68++ (adult) and RM34++ (child). With an additional RM10, fathers and kids can cook for mothers in a cooking session assisted by Chef Debbie.
Guests staying at Parkroyal Kuala Lumpur and Parkroyal Serviced Suites Kuala Lumpur are entitled to 20% discount off the Nyonya cuisine promotion while senior citizens above the age of 55 enjoy 50% discount. UOB and CIMB cardmembers also enjoy special discounts.
Lower Lobby Level
Parkroyal Kuala Lumpur
Jalan Sultan Ismail
50250 Kuala Lumpur