To satisfy the most discerning diners, it is a common practice for restaurants to refresh their menus regularly. Toh Yuen Chinese Restaurant of Hilton Petaling Jaya subscribes to this practice diligently and its recently-refreshed menu promises some excitement.
Master Chef Lee, the person behind the exercise, retained one main concept from the previous menu in the new dishes: the dishes must be healthy, using only the freshest ingredients and Chinese herbs. From his extensive travel and culinary learnings in China, Master Chef Lee holds firmly to the belief that good food should get their flavours only from the natural ingredients and artificial preservatives or addictives have no place in his kitchen.
Chilled Pacific Clams with Salsa
In a recent tasting session, I had a chance to check out some of Master Chef Lee’s new refreshed dishes. From the Appetizers range, we had Chilled Pacific Clams with Salsa (RM28), Deep-fried Softshell Crabs with Garlic & Chicken Floss (RM22) and Deep-fried Lamb with Cumin & Dried Chillies (RM28).
Deep-fried Softshell Crabs with Garlic & Chicken Floss
The pacific clams with a Latin twist in the salsa look appealing and should wake any palate with its tangy zing. I would have preferred the deep-fried softshell crabs to be served without the chicken floss as the crustaceans are already tasty on their own. Well, generally I don’t really like meat floss in dishes – I think it works better in breads and pastries or simply eaten on its own.
Deep-fried Lamb with Cumin & Dried Chillies
Soups… I love soups. That’s because I’m Cantonese and the Cantonese people love their soups, I tell you. I could not fault the 2 bowls of soups (at RM32 per bowl) we tried: Double-boiled Chicken with “Shi Hu” and Double-boiled Village Chicken with “Chong Cao Hua”. You can never go wrong with double-boiled soups, especially when free-range chicken and Chinese herbs are used! You know how good the Chinese herbs are for your blood circulation, your heart & lungs, your liver and everything else! The soups were heart-warmingly sweet and every delicious sip on the tongue was like cleansing and rejuvenating the spirit.
We tried 6 main courses from the refreshed menu. I have the say not every dish is a new invention, like the Braised Sea Cucumber with Mushrooms & Abalone Sauce (RM80) or the Saute’ed Fresh Prawns with Salted Eggyolks (RM50) as these can be found on most Chinese menus. These are general favourites and at Toh Yuen, while not spectacular, they are executed well.
Braised Sea Cucumbers with Flower Mushrooms & Abalone Sauce
The Steamed Canadian Black Cod Fish with “Yu Feng” Ginger Sauce (RM32/100g) is differentiated by its sauce which the chef has mastered from his culinary experience in China.
Steamed Canadian Cod Fish with “Yu Feng” Ginger Sauce
Saute’ed Fresh Prawns with Salted Eggyolks
What stood out for me was the Deep-fried Smoked Duck with Fruit Sauce (RM38). The skillful deep-frying gives it an edgier finish, resulting in slices of smoked duck that were delicately crispy on the outside – just a very thin layer, almost indiscernible – without compromising the grittier smokey flavours of the duck. The tangy fruity sauce is a perfect accomplice in this wicked dish.
Deep-fried Smoked Duck with Fruit Sauce
Master Chef Lee has a fondness for cumin – a deduction I gathered from the 2nd dish that evening which had this spice incorporated. Undoubtedly, cumin is a strong spice that helps to disperse any gaminess in meats such as lamb and venison. I found the cumin worked better in the Saute’ed Venison Slices (RM50) than the Deep-fried Lamb appetizer. Possibly because the too-generous sprinkling of it in the lamb dish resulted in a overpowering appetizer… whereas the amount was just right in the venison claypot.
Saute’ed Venison Slices with Chinese Croissants & Cumin
The Yam Ring (RM60) we tried was a vegetarian version – the “gong bao” chicken pieces were actually made from gluten and bean sheets. I like the soft fluffy texture of the mashed yam but the diced vegetarian chicken was a tad salty.
Yam Ring with “Gong Bao” Vegetarian Chicken
I must admit I was a bit perplexed by the single dessert we tried that day. I felt it’s an unholy union of local and western entities… Deep-fried Banana with Strawberry & Cheese Cake (RM20). I think it’s an acquired taste to truly appreciate a “pisang goreng” with cheese cake inside it but if you are game on superfushioned stuff, go ahead and rock this!
Deep-fried Banana with Strawberry & Cheese Cake
There are still many items on the refreshed menu which we were too full to try. Dishes like Pan-fried Lamb Rack with Mongolian Sauce, Xinjiang Fried Rice with Diced Chicken and Steamed Fish with Mandarin Skin Sauce all sound very interesting.
For reservations, please call 03-7955-9122 ext.407/4.
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