When Cumi and Ciki recently got an invite via Marian Eu, to dine with the lovely Jeanette of Elegant Inn, we were well chuffed. Dimsum was on the agenda.. plus a sneak preview on the Hairy crab promotion. Wow.. lucky us.
To me, Dim Sum is essentially a buffet in reverse. Instead of you going up to the steam tables and picking what you would like to eat, the steam tables are brought to you. Not bad huh? Kind of like being spoilt rotten at lunch time because you broke your leg at soccer executing an ungainly tackle. Not bad at all.
Anyway, to further elaborate, dimsum is not a specific dish, but a style of serving food. Tradition calls for tea to be served, as this aids digestion, because even though the little parcels of food seem innocuous enough, they really can pack a greasy punch of protein, carbohydrates and lard. The tea does the job of what dish cleaner would do in an average suburban kitchen. It washes the grease way and puts back the “ZING” in your utensils.. er, the squeak in your digestive pipes. Oh yes, we Chinese have definitely thought it through with regards to the efficient ingestion/digestion/elimination of Shrimp Har Kao, Siu Mai, Loh Bak Kao, Charsiew Baos, Wu Gok and what have you.
So here we are at Elegant Inn with the gorgeous, famished crew including Marian Eu, Boolicious of Masak-Masak, Paranoid Android, Aly of Red FM, Lil Chef of Senses KL Hilton, Chris of Pureglutton and Jeanette of Elegant Inn.
The Dimsum was divided into four categories, the Simple Start, the Crunchy Bites, the Special Eats and finally the Sweet memories, i.e. dessert.
1. Simple Start
Xiao Long Bao a.k.a. Shanghainese Dumpling RM8.40
Charsiew Bao a.k.a. Barbequed Meat Bun RM6.60
Steamed Australian Scallop Dumpling RM10.50
Why no Siu Mai?
Somewhere between the exotic and the under-exotic, is the Siu Mai. This dish, that at first glance, may seem interesting enough but upon inspection and in relation to everything else on offer, reveals a somewhat plain Jane of the Dim Sum carts. From a Dim Sum restaurant point of view, this is a relatively standard dish, one that should be available at most places. Much like it’s difficult to take a Mexican Restaurant seriously if they don’t have Taco’s on the menu, or an American diner without a steak or burger, it’s similarly difficult to take a dim sum restaurant seriously if they don’t have some version of the Siu Mai dish on their carts or other. And it was for this precise reason we were not served the Siu Mai. Too run of the mill, says Jeanette. We serve you only the ones worthy of accolades. Oo.., don’t you just love this woman.. she’s got a feisty viewpoint on damn near everything;)
My favourite .. the Xiao Long Bao
Trying to explain a Shanghai Dumpling is akin to trying to describe a security blanket or a favourite, worn out soft toy. Soft and delicate, it sits in a spoon like a fluffy cloud. If made well, it gives the appearance as if it will fall apart if someone gave it so much as a second stare. It also comes with a bit of a ritual about it, which makes it additionally attractive as a dish. Definitely no plain Jane’s here. A bit of vinegar must be placed within a soup spoon, a hot dumpling should be placed upon the vinegar, and a bit of shredded ginger should be placed upon the dumpling. It is then to be eaten immediately. Be careful as you sink your teeth into that flimsy pillow.. its hot, sweet sauces as a result of cooking the meat and that has been sealed inside, will come bursting forth like a mini, high pressured faucet leak, straight into your mouth. Fantastic! Ah, yes, the Xiao Long Bao, if they have not already, really should obtained or be awarded cult status. My absolute favourite under the “simple start” category.
Another winner.. the Charsiew Bao
What makes the dish a hit is the filling, with the succulent, yet sweet, barbecue pork. The sauce provides a sweet and salty mouth-feel that balances nicely with the texture of the bun, and works in concert with the taste of the swine. To me, this entire Bao is steamed to perfection because the bread is soft and fluffy it literally melts in your mouth. Full marks for the Charsiew Bao.
We also had some terrific home-made fish balls that had an awesome texture – not too bouncy but the aroma of fish was evident in every bite. Also when Jeannette said “Only the good stuff” she must have had the Steamed Australian Scallop dumpling in mind. A myriad of gastronomic sensations and tastes to assault your senses. I am talking the crunch of the scallop, the heady oceanic flavour of it hitting the roof of your palate meeting the soft, chewy skin of the dumpling. Superb and highly memorable to the last crunch.
Speaking of Crunch… on to the next dining phase..
2. Crunchy Bites
Wu Gok a.k.a. Deep Fried Taro Pouch RM6.60
A very fashionable Aly, crunching down on an Old Fashion Prawn Toast RM7.80
The amazing effectiveness of getting the balance of soft and crunch just right..
Fried beancurd roll with shrimp and cheese RM7.80
Ciki’s pick of the lot.. the Wu Gok (Taro Pouch)
Oh, why does something so tiny and harmless take so much work? I was told by Jeanette that after boiling the taro root, you mash it into a paste, and them wrap it around a filling of some sort, typically some savory ground pork. Toss the dumpling into the fryer, and the results are pictured above.
There are two distinct aspects at play that make this Wu Gok my favourite in this category. Flavor-wise you have the sweetness of the taro root contrasting nicely with the savoriness of the ground pork. Then you have the texture contrast, with the deep-fried crunchiness of the outside balanced against the soft, succulent (and piping hot) center. Wow.. totally ingenious. Totally gob-smackingly delicious. If there is one thing to get down on your knees and thank the Hong Kong Dimsum folks for, it would be this. Thank them for the Wu Gok!
What’s wrong with being Old Fashion?
Absolutely nothing, and with the Old Fashion Prawn Toast, Elegant inn has gone off the Charts with a huge winner. Well, in my books anyway. Comfort food, with aromas and flavours that bring back fond childhood memories of Mum slapping together a hearty snack after school, I really liked this dish and what it represented.
On to the special treats .. Now this part is just the Dimsum Chef and kitchen, showing off..
3. Special Eats
Glutinous Rice Parcel with Dried Scallop and Duck RM8.00
Loh Bak Kao (Stir fried Radish Cake with Chef’s sauce) RM12.00
Let me just say, that under the special eats category, I liked EVERYTHING!
The signature dish of this restaurant is the Crispy Vegetarian Rice Roll. A cross section reveals what a feisty chick should look like, should you carry out, that same cross section on her. A soft, rounded, fair and feminine outside.. , but with a crunchy, crackling interior that will send the less than worthy boys packing should they take on this “dish” with the huge personality. I LOVED the crispy roll! Totally bananas over it.
Love your Complex Carbohydrates.. Love your Comfort Food
Jeanette says that with the Glutinous Rice Parcel with Dried Scallop and Duck, the Chef is just showing off. I totally agree. Most restaurants give you chicken but here, it’s duck. Flavour-wise, it really takes the already wonderful starchy carbs up a notch.
Radish Cake is another unassuming dish, I think. It’s neither exotic, like Scallop Dumplings, nor pedestrian, like Chee Cheong Fun (Flat Hong Kong Noodles). I like to think of radish cake as dim sum’s version of a starch course with meat added for flavoring. These types of dishes offer a multidimensional texture vs. savory flavor to be interesting, while at the same time fulfilling our biological need for complex carbohydrates. I love the way the salty-sweet choy-poh meets the crunch of the beansprouts meets the starchy squish of the radish. It is, quite plainly, the essence of comfort food.
We break to wish, a very important person in our lives.. a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
4. Sweet Memories
Aww.. so sweet! Jeanette surprised Marian with a gorgeous handmade traditional Chinese Birthday Cake!
Happy Birthday to you , our lovely Makan Fairy Godmother.. Stay gorgeous Marian!
Steamed Custard Cake RM6.00
Banana Red Bean Pancake RM15.00
Baked Egg Tartlet (RM7.80), Black Sesame Glutinous Rice Ball in Ginger Soup (RM6.00), Icy Longan Sea Coconut (RM6.00)
Boiled Ginger Soup with White Fungus and Red dates and a Crunchy Nut Sesame Ball
Which Concludes the Dimsum Category.
There’s Something about Hairy..
.. well, He’s missing!
Soon to be revealed.. the Hairy Crab in all its splendor. Coming to the Elegant Inn near you in November 2010.
(The Hairy crab season is during the year end, but the fattest, plumpest most succulent ones are available in November. Obviously, Elegant Inn will only serve the best.. therefore we wait with bated breath.. another month;))
Yes, there might be no photos of Hairy himself but we do have a Sneak preview of the 6 Course Hairy Crab Set for you that comprises (from Top L – R in Collage) Smoky Prawn Cake Crunchy Nachos, A Spectacular double boiled Chicken Soup, Steamed live Tai Lake Hairy Crab, Seasonal Greens , Braised rice with Fish and Pearl Clam Slices in Abalone sauce and Boiled Ginger Soup with White Fungus and Red dates and a Crunchy Nut Sesame Ball.
This really is too good to be missed. So, come November, head on down to Elegant Inn for the meal of a life time. You will not be disappointed.Add:
Elegant Inn, 2.01, 2nd Floor, Podium Block,
Menara Hap Seng,
50250 Kuala Lumpur
Tel:03-2070 9399 Google Maps
L-R Pureglutton, Marian, Lil Chef, Aly, Jeanette, Paranoid Android, Boolicious & Jeanette in the main picture again playing host.
Elegant diners: Ciki and Aly
Elegant end: Lil Chef says, Let’s go