Dining at The Chef’s Table is a whole new experience for me. Traditionally, the Chef’s Table is reserved for a special group of diners where they get to taste special dishes concocted by the chef. And usually this table is located near the kitchen, for closer attention by the chef. Apparently this is very popular in the UK, with many fine restaurants in London offering this concept – the noteworthy ones are those run by the likes of Gordon Ramsay (Maze, Claridges) and Marcus Wareing.
Recently, I was privileged enough to be invited by the Fairy Godmother of Makan to join her at The Chef’s Table in The Chalet at Hotel Equatorial Kuala Lumpur. I had no idea of what was in store at the dinner and that is precisely what a Chef’s Table dinner is all about. You will be delighted and surprised by every little meticulous preparation that adds up to the whole dining experience.
It started even before we stepped foot into the restaurant. Greeted by our gracious host, Carol Chin (Director of Marketing Communications), we sipped on champagne and chatted while waiting for two other dining companions. When they arrived and after some pleasantries, it was time to move on to dinner. But… before we stepped into The Chalet, we were stopped… and out came some aprons and chef hats which we had to don… for a photography moment! We were even given kitchen stuff to pose with… so there we were, all posing with ladles and whisk in hand!
We were then showed to our table, in a private corner of The Chalet. There’s a special card on the table, showing not only the menu, but also the names of the guests for that evening. Little personal touches like these make a difference, I tell you.
We started off with the amuse bouche – Smoked Beef with Rock Melon… thin slices of smoked beef (almost like parma ham!) … a little on the saltish side but it blended well with the sweet rock melon.
Fresh rolls were served with 2 types of butter… the regular butter and a herb butter. I definitely prefer the latter – the herbal aromas were really lovely. While we buttered our rolls, the soup was served… a creamy concoction of Spanish Black Mussels, chorizo with leek and potatoes, sprinkled over with crunchy garlic croutons…
Adding a dash of freshly-ground black pepper to the soup brought out the delicate aroma of saffron which not only gave it a dreamy yellow colour but also tantalised the palate. I adore the plump succulent mussels which had this lovely marine sweetness to them. The chorizo lent a subtle hint of saltish smokiness and somehow all these different flavours blended superbly together… I wished the soup bowl was deeper!
We had a starter of Slow-braised Angus Beef Cheek and Pacific Oysters cepes, herbs and Cabernet Sauvignon sauce.
The rich red wine reduction sauce was smooth and velvety – deliciously binding the soft tender beef cheeks with the slippery silky texture of the oysters. It was really an effortless indulgence – eating this starter!
A passionfruit sorbet was served to cleanse the palate before the mains were served.
For the mains, 2 options were offered: Pan-roasted Duck Breast & Foie Gras…
Foie gras is foie gras – what more can I say about it? Plump, smooth, deliciously decadent! Push aside this glorified liver and dusky pink slices of tender duck breast greet the eye. These are Muscovy duck breasts, no less, specially flown in from France, I was told. Leaner than most, Muscovy duck breast is meaty, tender and flavourful. Of course, the Marsala wine reduction sauce together with caramelized sweet cherries and apples camouflaged any gamey undertones of the duck and enhanced the whole dish altogether.
… the other option was Grilled Barramundi & Calamari with Cannellini Bean Puree, Clams & Parsley Veloute… this is obviously the “lighter” version of the mains. Personally … give me foie gras and Muscovy duck any day and I’m the happiest camper ever
The Chalet still practises the charming way of serving mains… all came with shiny dome-like dish covers and everyone has to wait until all mains were served and then the service crew, on cue, would lift the covers simultaneously with great flourish! “Dinner is served, ma’am/sir!”
Dessert was Molten Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Icecream & Strawberry Compote… a sweet refreshing end to the meal.
Hmmm….actually, that wasn’t the end of the meal. We were lucky to be treated to an additional dessert – their famed Sabayon which comes with a performance by their service crew. You really have to order this dessert when you are at The Chalet… the sabayon performance is not to be missed! At the end of the almost 5-minute performance, you will be served with this delicious bowl of eggy yummy sabayon… gorgeous and resplendent with swirling “mist” all around it!
The man behind the new innovative dishes is none other than Chef Hafizzul Hashim, the Chef de Cuisine…
Chef Hafizzul specializes in Continental and French cuisine. With his cooking knowledge gained from the West London University and having worked in 1-Michelin star restaurants in Mayfair London as well as some top fine-dining restaurants in Kuala Lumpur, Chef Hafizzul cooks with great passion, and definitely from the heart!
Oohhh…did I say we were privileged? In addition to the Sabayon, we were also treated to some Iced Pralines… (those people at The Chalet really know how to spoil us! but who’s complaining, huh?)
The Chalet has recently introduced a Degustation Menu (at RM198++ per pax) which changes on a weekly basis. Working closely with the Executive Chef, Anthony Edington, Chef Hafizzul will be offering exciting new dishes with a slick contemporary slant to diners. The new menu focuses on what’s fresh and unique and what’s seasonal from every corner of the globe. The dishes we tasted at this Chef’s Table dinner are just some of the new offerings available.
The dinner ended on a sweet note as each guest is presented with this…
The ladies get a stalk of rose too – a charming and sweet momento to bring home
Hotel Equatorial Kuala Lumpur
Jalan Sultan Ismail
50250 Kuala Lumpur
Many thanks to Marian Eu and Carol Chin for this lovely experience!