Chef Steve Allen is my hero. Not only because his food is terrific, but because he also managed to survive, working more than 10 long years in the Gordon Ramsay’s kitchen at Claridge’s.
Talking to the new chef of Dish Kuala Lumpur, we found Steve to be down to earth and a really calm, cool and collected guy to talk to. He told us that Gordon Ramsey was not such a bad mentor after all. He did tell us one incidence where he was asked to make a Rabbit Ravioli with rabbit reduce stock, which fell apart every time he tried to put the finishing touches on it. There was this one huge food critic in the audience that night, and in the kitchen, nerves were frayed and emotions at an all time high. Steve could not afford to mess this one up. Being a little green behind the ears, Chef Steven chucked out his unacceptable rabbit ravioli attempt into a rubbish bin.. only to be caught red handed by Ramsay. Time was short and the Ramsay needless to say, went ballistic. That was about the only time Steven was at the center of what might constituted a rather loud kitchen upheaval, but he survived and went on to become an excellent Chef and to head Ramsay’s kitchen.
So why Kuala Lumpur?
As it turns out E&O’s managing director Datuk Terry Tham was a regular diner at the Claridge’s. As Chef Steve Allen and him got to talking, fate would have it, that this capable chef from East Sussex would soon get to spread his wings, travel to Asia and set up home in Kuala Lumpur. Steve is now the head Chef at Dish, Kuala Lumpur, and the rest as they say, is history!
Steve Allen started his culinary career at the exclusive Boodles Gentlemen’s Club in London’s St. James Street in 1996. He worked there for four years as an apprentice chef under Keith Podmore, developing his cookery skills before joining Cotto restaurant in Kensington under James Kirby as Chef de Partie in 2000. In 2001, Steve was a finalist in the competitive and sought after Gordon Ramsay Scholarship and joined the team at Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s soon after, working his way up to the position of Head Chef under Mark Sargeant. (Watch the video – A day in the life of a head chef at Claridge’s)
Steve attended the renowned ‘Academie Culinaire de France’ in Paris to cultivate and strengthen his kitchen abilities and in 2003 he was a finalist in The Young Chef of the Year Awards. Just one year later Steve entered once again and achieved second place. In 2008 he was a finalist in The National Chef of the Year Awards.
Here is what to expect from Dish, and the fantastic expertise of Chef Steve Allen..
Here’s Steve, banging the be-juices out of some unassuming tuna
This heavy pounding is just a special technique in creating a starter called the Seared and Marinated Tuna, Pickled Radish with Crispy Quail Eggs. Once plated the flattened tuna actually looks like a flat piece of watermelon. Pretty ingenious really, and characteristic of Steve’s trademark fusion cooking.
Seared and Marinated Tuna, Pickled Radish with Crispy Quail Eggs
On the plate, every item comes together harmoniously. The pickled radish confers a nice sharp contrast in flavour and it’s crunchy texture complements well the softer tuna and the runny eggs. Pleasing on the eye as well as tastebuds. I loved this dish.
Pumpkin Soup with Mushrooms, Parmesan and Truffle
Steve has actually just rolled out, an ala carte menu featuring 34 phenomenal dishes. This pumpkin soup is one of the must have’s on that list. Same goes for the scallops.
Sauteed Scallops with Cauliflower Puree
I died a dozen times over, eating this dish. This is one dish not to be gobbled up but rather to admire, ponder, turn over in your mind and your mouth, before you ingest it. A work of art that needs careful appreciation. I am now a huge fan of cauliflower puree. Who would have thought that such an ugly, bulbous vegetable that many children (and adults) struggle with at the dinner table, could turn out so refined, classy and subtle in flavour. Superb.
Vitello Tonnata, marinated veal, tuna mayonnaise and arugula
The star in this platter that looks like abstract art, is not so much the veal, as it is, the tuna mayonnaise. Chef Steve says that employing the oil form tinned tuna is the way to do it. The flavour is captured only in the oil and not water. What a remarkable dish. Another terrific way to enjoy arugula, I have to say.
grain fed steak
There is also a Lunch Set Menu, which comes in two courses (RM65) with a starter and your choice of either steak, duck of fish. You can also opt for dessert to be added on, at an additional RM10. The steak is superb – a juicy piece of 200g grain-fed meat on a chopping block which is served up with sides of rich and addictive truffle mac ‘n’ cheese, triple cooked chips, and an avocado, tomato, pine nut and parmesan chopped salad.
seared duck breast
If steak is not your thing but you still want some red meat, try the duck instead – this Seared Breast of duck on creamy potato puree and Braised duck leg with ginger carrot is not for the faint hearted. Very tasty, boarding on gamy – order this if you like a kick in your red meat. The Chinese style inspired stew that the seared duck is served with, is sweet and full of carrots and fall off the bone tender chunks of duck meat. The carrots add sweetness to the sauce.
The Lunch Set Menu is now in full swing, and gourmands will be happy to know that it changes every Wednesdays, bi-weekly.
Here is the starting point of the Salt Baked Cod, Red Pepper and Lemon Sauce from the ala carte menu. Baked inside a rather cool looking, but inedible salty pastry, this brilliant piece of white meat, is then placed at the centre of some sweet, juicy and plump peppers, oven-dried lemons, ribbons of zucchini and finished off with some red pepper puree. Super yummy!
Salt Baked Cod, Red Pepper and Lemon Sauce
Caramel Chocolate Delice
Loved this dessert of fresh raspberries, lime ice cream and candied lime rinds. The lime ice cream and the tangy raspberries lent a nice dimension to the rich dark chocolate dessert.
Pineapple Carpaccio, Coconut Sorbet and Tuille
And with this beautiful, bright and breezy dessert that looks great in a yellow theme, we conclude lunch.
Me and Chef Steve Allen
Now, with the winds of change, and a new and stronger force behind the kitchen, we are expecting better things to come, especially in terms of the revamping of the group’s iconic café chain, Delicious. We have great faith in Chef Steve Allen’s prowess and I for one, cannot wait to be wow-ed again, in the near future.
Add: Dish, Dua Annexe, 213 Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur, Tel: +603-2164 1286