Even though I have been to Lai Po Heen at Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur several times, each time I step in, I’m always riveted by the sight of the chefs bustling around in the see-through kitchen right next to the restaurant entrance. I really can’t help it… the sight of those white-clad busy illustrious chefs deep-frying, deftly cutting, slicing and preparing all those delicious-looking stuff… those scenes really build up the anticipation for the coming meal at this gorgeous restaurant.
As always, the restaurant set-up reminds me of being in some grand old manor. Those high ceilings with ornate chandeliers are perfectly matched with the classy black-white-gold theme of the well-appointed furniture in classic Oriental designs. The polished white marble tables and Blackwood chairs with plush cushioned sofas further enhance the feeling of dining in some Chinese tycoon’s mansion.
The elegant Lai Po Heen returns now with this fresh new look and of course, new looks call for some new and enhanced dishes on the menu too. Thus, we sat ourselves down to taste some of Chef Ricky Thein’s latest creations in the a la carte menu.
First to appear was the 7-Spices-scented Soft Shell Crab Rolls with Ginger Jelly. Two delicately-wrapped cornettes propped on rounds of watermelon and honeydew were set on a thin carpet of cucumber. Inside these crepes were slivers of crunchy deep-fried soft shell crabs which were so deliciously addictive that I wished there were more bites.
7-Spices-scented Soft Shell Crab Rolls with Ginger Jelly
Chef Ricky has always been a mean wizard with double-boiled soups and I say this again and again because his soups have never failed me. His brand of “Kung Fu” soup is one which has all those superb ingredients like fish maw, dried scallops, cordyceps, morel mushrooms, baby cabbage and of course, baby abalones! There was silence around the dining table when this soup was served as everyone just wanted to savour it with full concentration!
Double-boiled Kung Fu Soup
The Oven-baked Black Cod Fillets with Butter & Cheese Crust won hands-down as the Favourite Dish of the night. Those achingly tender chunks of sweet cod, topped with the divinely aromatic cheesy buttery crust were simply to-die-for. Flanked generously with crunchy thick fat asparagus tips, the plate was wiped out in record time.
Oven-baked Black Cod Fillets with Butter & Cheese Crust
To balance out the next rich dish, we had a plate of Stir-fried Seasonal Vegetables with Honey Crispy Preserved Olive Tree Leaves. This is the best and my favourite preparation of vegetables – simple stir-fry to bring out the natural flavours of the vegetables. I can finish one entire plate of this!
Stir-fried Seasonal Vegetables with Honey Crispy Preserved Olive Tree Leaves
The Jasmine Tea Smoked Chicken with Ginger and Spring Onion Dip was well-flavoured in its marinade but the jasmine tea aroma was a bit faint. It would have been stellar if there were stronger whiffs of the tea.
Jasmine Tea Smoked Chicken with Ginger and Spring Onion Dip
Seared Prawns in Spicy Lemongrass Sauce would go well with some rice. On its own, the strong nuances of the sauce could be a bit overwhelming. Prawns were fresh and succulent which explained why they disappeared so fast!
Seared Prawns in Spicy Lemongrass Sauce
Our dessert was the Lai Po Heen signature Durian Pancakes. Of course this is not a new item – it’s synonymous with Lai Po Heen since the restaurant opened, I think! But throughout the years, this item has remained a top hit and when you bite into those little golden pillows, you will understand why. Soft luscious durian mousse blended with fresh cream oozed out from the thin crepe pillows and one needs to eat this silently (much like the Kung Fu Soup) in order to savour it to the max.
A la carte appetizers and soup menu selections are priced from RM13++ to RM120++ while main courses are from RM10++ to RM350++. Besides the above dishes, some other top choices of their signature dishes are Deep-fried Crispy Eel coated with Honey Sauce & Roasted Sesame Seeds, traditional Peking Duck and Stir-fried Beef Tenderloin with Black Pepper.
Of course the restaurant still features their all-time popular Dim Sum selections for lunch. Price range for Dim Sum is from RM5.50++ to RM48++ per order. Check out some creative morsels like Deep-fried Prawn Wafer Rolls with Fresh Mango, Steamed Rice Rolls with Shredded Duck and Szechuan Vegetables and Pan-fried Dumplings with all manner of fillings!
Lai Po Heen is open from 12pm to 2.30pm for lunch (Mondays-Saturdays) and 11am to 3pm (Sundays & Public Holidays). Dinner is served daily from 7pm to 10.30pm.
For dining reservations, please call +603-2179-8885 or email [email protected]
Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur City Centre
50450 Kuala Lumpur
*All photos taken with my new toy, the Olympus OMD-EM5. I’m still experimenting with the features and functions of this edgy baby.