Review: 3-Course Dinner @ The Library, The Ritz Carlton Kuala Lumpur

There are a few circumstances where I’d be able to afford a meal at the glitzy, glamourous five-star The Ritz Carlton Hotel Kuala Lumpur.

  • a) I won the lottery
  • b) Media review

And then there’s c) : I got a voucher to dine there, like in this case.

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The initial plan was for the Moo and I to enjoy the three-course dinner for two, but we decided at the last minute to bring Pops along, and I’d foot the bill. Dinner was to be at The Library, the hotel’s cosy, lounge-restaurant on the 1st floor. As the name suggests, the main dining area features floor-to-ceiling bookshelves paired with polished timber floors and wood panelling. And yes, you can actually take the books and read them while you’re waiting for dishes to be served!

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The lounge area, where patrons can enjoy a live band playing over dinner.

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Freshly baked bread with truffle butter and salt was served, then a palate cleanser of yuzu and plum powder jelly. The tart, sour taste and refreshing hint of citrus cleared off any earthiness from the truffle, prepping the tastebuds for the dishes to come.

 

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We were told that the restaurant had just implemented a new menu, with East-meets-West creations crafted by YTL Corporate Executive Chef Wai Look Chow and Austrian Michelin-starred chef Johann Lafer. For appetisers, we had Scallop and Truffle With Egg Mollet Aioli. The scallops were fresh, meaty and sweet with a slight sear, while the truffle sauce was earthy and rich. The egg mollet had great texture – soft but creamy.

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Moo opted for the Blue Lobster with Nantua Sauce; made from a Bechamel-sauce base, cream, crayfish butter and crayfish tails. The lobster meat had a firm, springy texture that gave it plenty of bite.

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For mains, Moo had the Poulette de Bresse with Goose Liver and Truffle. The liver was extremely rich, with an explosion of fat in the mouth that melts onto the tongue with each bite, without being overly greasy, and the chicken was cooked just right so the meat remained tender and soft.

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Pops ordered the Hirame with Crustaceans Sauce, with four slabs of grilled sole topped with a pair of fresh oysters and a side of lobster claw. The sole had a flaky texture which made it quite dry, so good thing there was a sauce to go with it.

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My Turbot with Sea Urchin in a light cream sauce was also served with a side of asparagus and potato. Turbot is not a strong tasting fish so the light sauce was just right to bring out the delicate flavours; plus the salty, briny umami of the sea urchin.

Although I’m aware that fine dining portions tend to be small, this wasn’t enough as a main imho.

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Wrapping it up with dessert was the Mascarpone with Chocolate and Kahlua. The sweetness of the mascarpone cheese was balanced out by the liqueur’s slight hint of bitterness, which to me was divine because not a big fan of super sweet desserts anyway.

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The Abinao Mousseline with Pecan and Vanilla looked too good to be eaten, and was rich, dark and decadent. Wonderful textures as well from the soft, creamy mousse to the crisp tempered chocolate decorations and sponge biscuits.

Our three course dinner for two covered by the voucher was RM500; while Pop’s meal was RM150. I was a little taken aback because I thought water was complimentary and they charged me RM30 for it; cries, so the final bill with service charges etc. came up to RM210.

For those keen on a nice, intimate night out and have the money to splurge, the menu is a nice blend of European and Asian flavours, paired with a classy ambience and top notch service. Reservations are recommended.

THE LIBRARY @ The Ritz Carlton Kuala Lumpur 

168, Jalan Imbi, Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur

  • Operation Hours
    Two Chefs – One Cuisine at The Library: 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. (Monday to Saturday)
    Sunday Roast: 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. (Sunday only)
    Menu Du Jour: 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. (Sunday only)
    Drinks at The Library: 6 p.m. – 1 a.m. daily

Online reservations here or call 03-2142 8000.

 

Review: A Lunar New Year Feast @ Li-Yen, The Ritz Carlton Kuala Lumpur

Famed for its award-winning Cantonese cuisine, Li-Yen at The Ritz-Carlton Kuala Lumpur welcomes the Lunar New Year with a specially designed menu by Executive Chinese Chef Leung Kwai Hong, featuring the resto’s signature dishes alongside a seasonal selection of dainty Dim Sum. Was privileged to be invited to a preview tasting of some of the dishes they have on offer!

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Kicking off with a must-have at CNY luncheons/dinners – yee sang! Li Yen’s Prosperity Yee Sang comes with the option to include tuna, abalone or salmon. We were served the latter, made into two beautiful rosettes. Presentation was exquisite, with the different ingredients – purple cabbage, red and yellow pickled vegetables – forming a colourful tapestry on the plate. When it was time for the tossing, restaurant staff poured the crunchy flour snacks on top, drizzled a generous amount of sweet and sour plum sauce and a battle of chopsticks ensued. Lou hei! 

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Carnage – and a wonderful mix of salty, sour and sweet flavours with different textures.

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For starters, a trio of delicate dimsum: steamed siew mai with crab meat, steamed oyster with sea moss and deep-fried meat and minced prawn roll. My favourite was the siew mai, which had a smattering of salty crab roe on top. The thin, sweet egg wrapper perfectly encased a mix of crab and meat, perfectly seasoned. Also commendable was the roll, which was crisp and slightly crumbly on the outside without being greasy.

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Stir-Fried Prawns with Chili Paste came with green beans for added crunch.  Personally, I find the sauce lacking in spiciness and a bit too sweet/starchy for my liking, but the prawns were fresh and juicy nonetheless.

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Steamed Bamboo Fish with Sliced Chinese Ham had fresh, thin slices of seafood infused with the natural fragrance and sweetness of bamboo, as well as bokchoy swimming in a clear sweet broth, balancing out the saltiness of the cured ham.

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Li Yen’s Special Roasted Chicken was a crowd favourite: juicy meat cooked to perfection, with a thin crisp skin that crackled with each bite.

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A traditional Chinese New Year favourite is the Steamed Clay Pot Rice with Chinese Waxed Meat. Comprising various waxed meat cuts, such as pork liver, blood sausage, Chinese sausage and duck, it’s a rare treat to have this dish beyond the festive season! The Chinese sausages are specially flown in from Hong Kong, and the entire dish takes up to 45 minutes to prepare in order for the flavours of the vegetables, herbs and meat to fully infuse into the rice.

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After the filling meal, we wound down with something soupy, namely the Double Boiled Chicken Soup with Abalone and Mushrooms. 

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Huge, meaty piece of abalone, and the soup was lip-smacking-ly good. Could really taste the richness which can only be fully brought out by long hours of slow double boiling.

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Last but not least, wrapped up the meal on a sweet note with Black Sesame Dumplings in Red Bean Soup. I liked that it was not too sweet, and the dumpling had a lovely, chewy texture that contrasted well with the smooth mix of black sesame paste on the inside.

Li Yen is the perfect place to usher in the New Year and the flavours are well suited for all the family, since the dishes are very traditional and authentic.

There are three specially curated menus for lunch, so expect other dishes such as Chicken Simmered in Bouillon, Roast Duck, Deep Fried Glutinous Rice with Yam and Stir-Fried Prawns with Haw Sauce. Dinner will see a delectable selection of culinary offerings, including Braised Soup with Shredded Superior Fish Maw, Bird’s Nest and Minced Chicken, Sea Cucumber and Dried Scallop, Steamed Dragon Tiger Grouper with Cordyceps Flower, Deep Fried Prawns with Salt and Pepper, Braised Pork Knuckle with Dried Oysters and Sea Moss, as well as Barbecued Crispy Suckling Pig. For dessert, there is Fried Nian Gao with Deep Fried Sesame Balls, Double-Boiled Red Bean Cream with Glutinous Rice Balls, and Double Boiled Glutinous Rice Balls in Almond Cream.

The menu is available from 15 – 18 February 2018. Lunch set menus are priced from RM1,388 nett per table of 10 persons, while dinner set menus are priced from RM1,888 nett per table of 10 persons. Guests who wish to enjoy these menus before the stipulated period can do so by advance notice.

For reservations and enquiries, call +60 3 2782 9122 or send an email to liyen@ritzcarlton.com.my.

LI YEN 

Level Two, Ritz-Carlton Kuala Lumpur, 168, Jalan Imbi, Pudu, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur

*I was invited to this review session as a member of the media. Views here are entirely my own.

 

Champagne and Wine Flavoured Mooncakes @ Shanghai JW Marriott KL and Li-Yen, Ritz Carlton Kuala Lumpur

After Chinese New Year, the Mid-Autumn Festival/Mooncake Festival is probably the next most important celebration in Chinese culture. Held on the 15th day of the 8th month in the lunar calendar, the festival has origins dating back thousands of years and is rooted in moon worship.

Today, it is celebrated in many parts of the world where there are Chinese communities, including in Malaysia.  Families come together to admire the moon, drink tea, play with lanterns, and of course, tuck into mooncakes.

I was psyched to try out the mooncakes from Shanghai@ JW Marriott KL and Li Yen@Ritz Carlton KL at the latter’s venue, where they had set up a special tasting session for us. Aside from traditional favourites like black bean and lotus paste filling, both restaurants are offering innovative new flavours that include – get this – Moet Chandon champagne and port wine with cream cheese.

First, we sampled some of the items from Ritz-Carlton’s award-winning Li-Yen restaurant. Making a comeback this year thanks to popular demand is the Mini Snow Skin Cream Cheese with Port Wine Mooncake (in purple). The skin was sweet and delicate, infused with the rich flavour of port wine, while the cream cheese added a hint of saltiness that balanced everything out well.

Its easy to see why the Mini Snow Skin Moet & Chandon Rose Imperial Champagne Mooncake (in pink) is a bestseller: there is an elegant and distinctive aroma of champagne, coupled with a silky lotus paste centre.

Traditional variants like White Lotus Paste with Double Egg Yolk, Red Bean Paste, Lotus Paste with Single Egg Yolk are also available, as well as the Li Yen Kam Tui which is filled with nuts and Chinese ham.

A box of four baked mooncakes is priced from RM88 nett, while a box of eight mini mooncakes is priced from RM104nett. They can also be purchased individually at RM13 nett per piece. The promotion is available from September 5 to October 4 2017.

We moved on to sample the painstakingly handmade creations from  dimsum chefs at Shanghai @ JW Marriott KL, which featured more baked varieties on top of the usual snowskin offerings. Flavours are decidedly more traditional/Oriental, with the likes of Snow Skin Fermented Black Garlic with Salted Egg Yolkdelicate Snow Skin Shiro Umeboshi with Green Tea and the Snow Skin Custard Paste with Mint. I enjoyed the custard paste with mint – it was like eating a light cake with a refreshing hint of mint.

Other new creations this year include the Baked Pandan Paste with Salted Egg Yolk and Baked Green Tea Paste with Salted Egg Yolk. Durian lovers should definitely not miss out on the popular Snow Skin Durian Paste with Truffle, made with fresh Musang King durians. Of course, one can’t go wrong with gifts of Baked White Lotus Paste with Salted Egg Yolk, Baked Black Sesame Paste, Baked Bamboo-Charcoal Paste with Salted Egg Yolk and Deep Fried Crispy Yam.

Available from 28 August to 10 October, a box of 6 mini mooncakes is priced from MYR 93.28 nett and a box of 4 large mooncakes are priced at MYR 178.10 nett.

After the tasting, we had a mooncake making session with the chefs. Of course, it wasn’t really cooking since all the pastes/ingredients were ready – all we had to do was roll and stuff the snow skin mooncakes with filling and fit them into pretty molds overlaid with Chinese characters. Brought two to take home!

Numbers/info for both restaurants:

Li Yen: +60 3 2782 9033 or send an email toliyen@ritzcarlton.com.my.

Shanghai: +60 3 2719 8288 or email shanghairestaurant@ytlhotels.com.my.

*Photos not watermarked courtesy of Shanghai JW Marriott and Li-Yen Ritz Carlton KL