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Tham Jiak: April 2009
Tham Jiak means in some way "love to eat" in Hokkien. I am a Malaysian Hokkien and truly love to eat.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Extreme Fine Dining

It came and gone, the highlight of current year, the reunion of sorts with my ‘other’ family, in a span of 16 days which seemed like 16 minutes. Time flies when you are having fun, is the age old adage that sadly, is true. On cheery note though, we had amazing fun! CS, SH and RH flew here from UK and we had a short stint before gathering again all in Taiping along with CC who flew from Jakarta. What a reunion! We had a great time in Taiping, altogether another post soon, I hope, to pitch for you to visit my dear old town, which I recently discovered, can actually be so much fun!

What is this ‘other’ family anyway? Pretty hard for me to explain, as oftentimes when I do, people will roll their eyes up trying to understand the whole picture. CS, CC and SH is actually the children of my Lai Ma (which I had talked about several times) and of Lai Pa (which often times people will chimed in “lai-what?”, which then I had to explain that they are my Nanny and her husband) and then proceed to continues, so that’s why I usually refer to them as Kai Jie (god-sisters) and Kai Kor (god-brother) as they are indeed more than just friends, and I could not think of any other way to express them. Are your eyes looking at the ceiling yet?

We had such great times and spent about 80% of it eating (I swear this is so true, spurring CC to message CS all the way from Jakarta (as she flew home a week earlier), “oh gosh, all my clothes felt tighter already!”, and so you can imagine the rest of us with one more week of indulgences here in Klang Valley! Oh yes, indeed we enjoyed our tham jiak-ness, maybe this is the real reason why they are my ‘other’ family. At the end of our indulgence, U (my youngest Kai Jie who I mentioned before was also the other girl that my Lai Ma takes care of along with me (oh no, this ‘other’ family business is getting more complicated), with her ever thoughtfulness, arranged a night for all of us to enjoy extreme fine dining.

Why extreme? Imagine a beautifully decorated canopy with plush couch and cushions, with romantic lighting around a round table generously spread with amazing sumptuous exotic cuisine (exotic here by means for us Malaysian (where some stays in UK) eating Middle Eastern food) accompanied by flowing sparkling champagne while a sexy belly dancer mesmerizes you with her moves. So tell me, are you excited yet?

Here I am to introduce you to Middle Eastern fine dining that indeed entices me in many ways, after the delicious food of course, and it did help that I had great companies with me, those are priceless. I haven’t had much experiences in Middle Eastern fares, therefore could not compare the tastes nor prices with what I had, but as I know this indeed may be a bit heavy on the wallet (we are talking about fine dining here after all) and the tastes did suit me well and fulfilled what I had always imagine Middle Eastern fares should be from my food reading experiences.

We started our meal with Mezzeh (similar to appetizer) where it is an elaborate spread of small and tasty dishes to kick start our palate. We had the must-have hummus (pureed chickpeas, tahini (sesame paste) and lemon juice), which I found really good, as I judge against what I made for last year’s party, this one here definitely had extra hidden spices (guessing here) that I could not quite put my finger one (maybe I should do more researching and tinkering, and if I do come up with a hummus on par to this, I shall definitely share it here with you all). Another dip was the Labneh be Toom (creamy cheese, dried mint and garlic), which was sinfully delicious.

The next Mezzehs is Fattoush salad (vegetables, fried pita bread, sumac), which I find refreshing and surprisingly reminded me of Chilli’s Quesadilla salad (with crisp tortilla bread) but definitely different in tastes. Then I just had to order Tabbouleh (yes I have read about it countless times on the net, and I am a food geek as such) and enjoyed it thoroughly the way I imagine I would, after all I love parsley. We also ordered Muhammarah (thanks to me again, and I guess I do not need to explain why), which is actually breadcrumbs with crushed walnuts, olive oil and spices, just describing it made me want to eat it again, this was my favourite Mezzeh of the night! We also had, quite a mouthful, Zeytinyagli Biber Dolmasi, which is basically stuffed green bell pepper with rice and raisins and olive oil, which I find just alright. All these were accompanied by the platter of flat bread which was just right - soft and light to complement the Mezzehs, serving as real good wraps to hold the bountiful spread together.

Alright now on to the main dishes, what, you say you are already ‘full’ reading about all the Mezzehs? I thought we were just cleaning the palate, eh, well I was pretty full by now and I guess it was the plan as we just ordered to main dishes to share among ourselves. One which is a full platter of kebabs called Mashawi Mix Grill which consists of Lahem Meshwi (grilled beef), Lamb Kofta (grilled lamb with parsley and onions) and Shish Tawouk (grilled chicken breast). All in all I enjoyed the lamb kofta the most, featuring Middle Eastern grill at its best, the other two were just your typical kebabs suited to Malaysian taste.

Next we order something from the sea, which is the Cod Fish Pilaki, which is cod fish cooked in Turkish style with vegetable ragout. The cod fish as usual was soft and ‘creamy’, judging it does taste fresh, and the vegetable ragout complements it well enough. It was a tad too small for us to share, so we just had a bite each. I do like it though that it was served in a tagine dish, the lid open to unveil your meal in front of you.

Lastly, we end our meal with some Middle Eastern desserts, what there is still more, you ask? Oh yes, we do need something to seal all those goodness in right, and what more with more goodness of course! We all ordered something each and taste of each other’s dessert. From left was the Deep-fried Kunafah roll with Saffron ice cream (which tasted really exotic and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but not the Kunafah though), Cinnamon Pancake with cream and crunched nuts (the pancakes were surprisingly really soft and ever so lightly hold in the cream and nuts, definitely a light and refreshing dessert), and Mixed Nuts Pastille (crispy filo pastry stuffed with pistachio and hazelnuts) (which is steal a bite from SH, it was good but I am a nut lover so...). CS and me each ordered ice creams, which was Almond and Honey and Fresh Mint, they were good but not really something you expect from a Middle Eastern restaurant, so oh well, we do make wrong choices when we were filled to the brim.

Do go as soon as you can, if not now, to try this Middle Eastern fare (if price is not an issue), as there were rumours that it is closing down soon to make way for an Italian restaurant (I agreed with Lemongrass who mentioned “don’t we have enough of those already?”). If you need to know more before flying there straightaway, you can read some not bad reviews around, and then decide if you want to have Middle Eastern fine dining before the only choice left in Malaysia is Italian.

Le Meridien Hotel KL
Level 8, Le Méridien Kuala Lumpur,
2 Jalan Stesen Sentral, Kuala Lumpur.
603- 22637888

Note: I do really love Italian fares too, in case it came across as if I don’t, just that sometimes we do need some variety when it comes to food and especially for someone who is tham jiak.
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