Throughout this month, you can get a taste of special tea-infused dishes at Zuan Yuan, the Chinese restaurant in One World Hotel. Chef Michael Chew has concocted a variety of dishes using premium Chinese tea leaves like “Loong Jin”, “Wu Loong”, “Ti Kuan Yin”, Jasmine and Chrysanthemum.
In a special preview recently, I got to taste some of Chef Chew’s creations. Before the tea-infused dishes were served, we had our appetites whetted by a Speciality Platter of fried yam puff and smoked duck breast sitting on a pile of crystal mungbean noodles. I like both items: biting into the crispy-skinned yam puff revealed a succulent bouncy scallop which I happily chomped on! That piece of smoked duck breast was done just right – just look at that beautiful shade of pink and you’d know that it was executed with precision… tender gamey meat with a good layer of fat and skin. The mungbean noodles had thoughtfully been added a dash of chilli oil so that it’s tasty and slightly spicy.
The first of the tea-infused items served was the Double Boiled Sharksfin Soup which had dried chrysanthemum petals added in. Technically, there’s no tea in this dish actually, because chrysanthemum is a flower but then this flower is widely used to add fragrance to Chinese tea and in a way, I guess, it has been incorporated as a “tea” item. Anyway, back to this soup… even before the waitress placed the bowl on our table, we all could sniff the fragrance of the chrysanthemum! With Chinese pears added in, the soup tasted refreshingly sweet. If you are against eating sharksfin, you can opt for this soup to be served without it.
The Stir-fried Prawns infused with “Loong Jin” tea were not overwhelming, the aroma was pretty delicate which is not surprising as Loong Jin is a fresh green tea, harvested mainly from Hangzhou. I believe the “before Cheng Beng” Loong Jin tea was used as the fragrance was delightfully “green” and delicate. Loong Jin tea is broadly categorized as either “before” or “after” the Cheng Beng period (Chinese celebration of “All Souls Day”) and generally tea harvested before Cheng Beng is valued higher as those would be the early young leaves of the tea plants. As compared to the more matured leaves harvested after Cheng Beng, the younger leaves are more fragrant and delicate.
The Tea Smoked Spring Chicken was a much-anticipated dish as I was keen to taste a smoked chicken, compared to the usual smoked duck. I must say while the chicken looked impressive on the plate, it was a bit of a let-down in terms of flavour. It could have done with a little bit more salt and perhaps a stronger tea could have been used for the smoking process. Chef Chew mentioned that Ti Kuan Yin tea was used … but the tea aroma was hardly discernible.
Braised Fresh Beancurd Skin with Baby Spinach infused with Jasmine Tea was a dish which had Chef Chew carefully balancing the soft flavours of the vegetables and beancurd skin. The beancurd skin was intentionally not fried so that not an oily tinge tarnished the “fresh” floral taste of the dish. Jasmine tea is my favourite Chinese tea and I love beancurd skins – I definitely enjoyed this dish.
The Green Tea Cake isn’t a very common cake served in a Chinese restaurant – I had expected a more traditional Chinese dessert. However, taking a bite into this huge slice, I was won over because it was simply very good. The sponge layers were soft and moist and very importantly, not overly sweet… and the green tea powder was very fragrant with none of the usual bitter after-taste. Despite being very full from all the earlier dishes, I actually polished off this entire piece and believe me, it was really a big slice!
The above items can be ordered a la carte (with prices starting at RM18 per dish) or you can opt for the Tea-Infused Set Menu priced at RM98 per person. For the set menu, in addition to the above Speciality Platter, Double Boiled Sharksfin Soup and Green Tea Cake, other dishes included are Pan Grilled Marinated Cod Fish with “Ti Kuan Yin”, Stir-fried Scallop with Wolfberries in “Xiang Pin” (jasmine) Tea and Fried Rice with Diced Scallops, Crabmeat and Vegetables.
All these are available for both lunch and dinner; for reservations, please call 03-7681-1159.
Zuan Yuan Chinese Restaurant
Lobby Level, One World Hotel
First Avenue, Bandar Utama City Centre
47800 Petaling Jaya