Monday, March 15, 2010

Mandarin Grill @ Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur

Along with the apparent recovery of the economy from the second half of 2009, Mandarin Oriental seem to have chosen the right timing to launch their interpretation of fine dining, elevating the scene to a new level with not one but two new high end restaurants.

Always known in my books as a place to go for dim sum since its near KLCC, our usual family hangout place, i admit i was and still quite clueless of the other dining opportunities that lie within the hotel.

Mandarin Grill caters for the business lunches and dinners, sophisticated without being overly too formal, a nice place to drop by for a good meal and focuses on their meats. Pacifica on the other hand remains as THE fine dining spot which focuses on seafood with its underwater theme.

A kind invite by Nicole from PR allowed me to finally understand what fine dining should and would be like.

In the correct sequence of events;

A warm welcome at the entrance and an escort to your table.

A napkin over your lap.

A waiter ready to get you a drink while you ponder over the menu.

Champagne? A chilled glass and a bottle for your inspection before the glass is filled.

Whet your appetite with an amuse bouche; a tuna tataki which had an asian inspired taste to it, the warm fennel dressing and the sesame seeds.

A variety of bread with sundried tomato butter or plain butter accompanies the meal throughout the night.

To start the meal off, we had their signature mandarin grill appetizer sampler; a jumbo lump crab cake with apple mikado, sundried tomatoes and basil coulis, the smoked salmon loin with fennel slaw, orange reduction and coriander sour cream and the slow cooked lobster with fennel, dill mayonnaise and balsamic.

The crab cake was a marvel as they managed to pack real fresh crab meat into a small cube which was neatly fried to a crisp outer wrap. While the salmon loin looked like it could pass off as sashimi, a slight nudge with the fork and a touch at the tongue reveals the familiar flavours. The lobster meat was cooked to perfection and the texture was alike any fresh crustacean.

I was told that The Pumpkin Veloute is a secret receipe by the chef which he guards dearly. If i had created such a delicious soup, i would protect it with my life because it was very lovely indeed, ranked as one of the top soups i had in my recent memory.

The Foie Gras Au Torchon was a late minute addition after the mention of foie gras during our conversation. After not having this piece of decadent animal organ for quite some time, i couldn't help but to get a taste of it. Although what i had in mind was the piece of liver itself, it came in the form of a pate (why, i had no idea what Au Torchon was obviously). The bread came in handy as the spiced piece of toast wasn't enough to spread the rich form of foie. The pear and ginger chutney was something new, mild with a hint of spice opposed the usual sauce or the accompaniment of a sweet or tarty element.

The Pan Fried Scallops with the Mango Salsa, Tomato and Paprika Risotto and Citrus Sauce is another of their Signature dishes. The scallops were ridiculously huge which was slightly undercooked in the middle served with a perfectly cooked risotto. I prefer my scallops to have a nice seared top. The tomato based sauce was intense along with what looked like dehydrated tomatoes. I felt the foam was more of a decor to the dish than a necessary component (tasteless (i tasted it first)).

The Grilled 1824 Beef Tenderloin was served with a gratin dauphinois, green jumbo asparagus and a morel (a kind of mushroom) sauce. After doing my own research, 1824 is a renown breed of cattle in Australia and it was certainly showed. However with the palate so used to a richer cut like the rib eye or the T-bone, the lean cut was new to me. I found the exquisite meat under seasoned and noticed an elementary mistake of not asking your guest how they would like their steak done. However a variety of salts (changes from day to day) are presented to you (which may explain the under seasoning) to be eaten with your steak. Out of the three, i remember paprika. Did i mention that you will be presented with a set of knifes that comes in a big leather case for you to choose from to carve your piece of meat?
Now, desserts are apparently their forte and if there was one thing you can't skip here, it has to be the last course of the meal. The Manjari Chocolate Ganache Slice served with chocolate sorbet and a coffee anglaise was breath taking. The richness of the chocolate was so welcoming and i couldn't have enough of the sorbet. If this had to be summarised in one word it would be in capital letters; C-H-O-C-O-L-A-T-E. For those who want something to cut through the chocolate elements, the coffee anglaise provides that option.

The Hazelnut Creme Brulee with Blueberry Compote and Yoghurt Sorbet was a play of sweet and sour flavours. However in this case, i felt the compote and sorbet did not serve a purpose other than to cover the delicate hazelnut flavour of the brulee. I am watering by the thought of having the brulee on its own.

By the end of the night, with a few glasses of Champagne (Moet and Chandon by the way) and a glass of red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile), I was very satisfied with the whole experience. Eventhough one can find faults with the meal, very normal since the meal was not cheap in any way, the service and ambience makes up for it. The waiters knew their dishes, knew when to come and ask how was everything, and knew when to come with another drink.

I also trust that with or without Nicole's presence; the friendly restaurant manager would have been equally as attentive to your needs and opinions while the Chef Cedric Darthial would have as usual given his 100% to cook your meal.

If you are looking for someone to impress, business or personal, your money should be well spent in Mandarin Grill.

Address and contact details:

Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur City Centre

Tel: 03-21798960

Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars. Somehow at the back of mind, i can't seem to comprehend how a normal man on the street could have had a meal like mine for close to RM500++ even if it was on a blue moon basis. Then again, that is what fine dining is all about, exclusiveness and pampering at a level where not everyone can afford. If anything, i would be back for their desserts and also start to put money in my piggy bank for a redux.

PS. Just in case if everyone wants to know the prices, the starter is RM125++, the soup is RM32++, the foie gras is RM82++, the scallops is RM110++, the beef is RM125++ and the desserts are RM32++ each. However, i am not sure whether the portions served are actual portions or have been downsized so we could sample a variety of dishes.


J said...

How much?? O_o
Looks so delicious but a bit too rich for my blood (and wallet) I think.

Unless you know any nice ppl who want to belanja a poor chocoholic? :)

CUMI & CIKI said...

wow! lucky you..!
the variety of 3 herbs thing is really cool! time to pay this place another visit. Have not been back since pacifica.

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

j: my dear, u obviously didnt read till the end, did u? the prices are right at the end.

c&c: lucky me i suppose! oh yeah its salt and not herb la!

J said...

I did see the prices!
That's why my eyes opened so big (WAH SO EXPENSIVE) and I asked whether you can recommend any kind ppl to belanja me.... :P

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

j: hahaha im sure there are people out there waiting..maybe just ask?

Sean said...

ahhh, i gotta check out that pumpkin veloute! looks thick and creamy enough to be a mousse! :D
the portions all definitely look like the full-sized servings. a very hearty meal! =)

fatboybakes said...

hmmm, who can i whore myself to, to solicit an invite like this!
looks marvellous. i also havent been since its pacifica.

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

fbb: i hope nicole from MO will b readin this then, i dont mind another round too!

sean: yes go again, haha since u are already well recognised there, no?

J said...

*waves* Me too me too... !

UnkaLeong said...

Non-Foodies need not apply hor? *shucks*

Chloe Teah said...

Mind if I tag along as well?? =) haha..

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

chloe: haha not up to me =)

unkaleong: needless to say lor hor..

j: wave only ok? hehe..

babe_kl said...

*sniff* looks like i cud just look at the yummilicious pics on yr blog

lotsofcravings said...

babekl: hint hint to captain hook!!

J said...

Wah lau wei. Then what else do I need to do lah?? :p

Bernsy said...

walau ... the price is shocking, and I wonder how much business they actually get.

Its really just food that you don't eat everyday, but I think it is a good price to pay, considering the fact that they actually fly in the beef, and you no need to fly out to eat this stuff...

it looks really nice...

superwilson said...

Secret recipe pumpkin soup. Dat must be awesome

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

superwilson: awesome awesome lor.

bernsy: there was a few tables but all foreigners that nite.

j: one wonder?

eiling lim said...

wow this is definitely going to burn a hole in my pocket. the food all looked too beautiful to be eaten!

qwazymonkey said...

Everything looks so beautiful! Guess one's gotta pay for art eh?

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

qwazymonkey: yeah esp artsy fartsy ones..

eiling: yeap burn real bad heh..

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

I think I shall take my hubs there as a surprise one day. Food looks pretty amazing. I dropped by Mandarin Grill once, but the kitchen was already closed, so I'll just have to wait for another opening to surface. :-)

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

ll: yes it would b quite a surprise..cant wait for that to happen.

Life for Beginners said...

"The Pumpkin Veloute"? Oh, but pumpkin soup by any other name will still find favour with me. :D