Smartly dressed locals in the know, head for this casually elegant restaurant, which is in the middle of the down-town bustle, yet well concealed on the third floor of Imperial Sheraton. It sits in a nook, behind an opulent entrance where a lantern and striking red curtains hang in cascading fashion form the ceiling. From that entrance onwards, you’ll step into a classy modern-chinese world. It’s hard to find a more enticing repertoire of dishes than Celestial Court’s hot favourites as well as new creations on the menu.
Celestial Court has been part of the Kuala Lumpur dining scene for years now, and it enjoys a fine reputation among the city’s business crowd. Though I’ve mentioned that the modern décor is reminiscent of what one might call contemporary chinese, still the food is decidedly authentic. The dim sum here ranks pretty high in the city, and the number of choices is nothing to turn your nose up at. We were invited to a tasting menu of old and new favourites one lazy afternoon, and this is our experience at Celestial Court.
The dimsum platter consisting of Abalone Siu Mai Topped with Salmon Roe, Foie Gras Pot Sticker served with Crabmeat and Plum in Cherry Tomato, a Golden Puff with Scallop and Preserved Olive topped with Mango Salsa and Tobiko, and the Squid Ink Seafood Dumpling served with Sea Treasure Broth.
First up, the dimsum platter. Your first impression is that the dimsum is huge. Upon working your way through the quartet, you will notice a different sensation as you eat the Abalone Siu Mai. The skin that wraps it of an unusual texture. It’s neither shrimp nor fish paste. So what is it? Then Dimsum Chef, Chef Ken Liew tells us that the skin of the siu mai is fashioned out of fresh scallop, cut thinly to serve as a dimsum wrap. Wow. I am pretty impressed and no wonder I could not make out the texture at first. Biting into the springy textured skin, you will hit a shrimp and chicken paste studded with small pieces of abalone. Also the unmistakable flavour of salmon roe. Very tasty indeed but I could not get over the fact that the siu mai was obscenely huge, bordering upon unrefined. Still, the Chef says that that’s what the customers expect when you pay top dollar.
The Wor Tip was another unusual fusion dimsum creation called the Foie Gras Pot Sticker. The Wor Tip had the classic crispy skin and a flavourful minced chicken filling with foie gras in it. The cherry tomato filled with crab meat and caviar that accompanied it was tiny and completed the ensemble.
Though the Golden Puff looked like a Wu-kok, it was not made from yam. It had a fluffy, light crispy crust an a sticky, creamy centre with scallop and preserved olive. The pastry is salted egg yolk combined with shortening, tung meen fun or wheat starch flour, which again was rather unique and foreign to the palate. I guess the whole experience mimics the Wu-kok except that it is not yam. At the heart of the golden puff lies the scallop, prawn and asparagus filling. A mango salsa topping with chopped tomato and cucumber, and some tobiko completes the golden puff.
Last but not least is the Squid Ink Seafood Dumpling. This dumpling has a black squid ink wrap that at first glance makes it look rather unpalatable, however, once you bite into it, it actually tastes rather good. A little gold leaf on top adds some contrast to the black surface. The filling is shrimp and it is served soaked in a shot glass half filled with warm seafood broth with dried scallops.
Braised Fish Bone Soup with Fish Fillet and Crabmeat
I was not expecting this next soup to be good.
Me and Fu-kua (the bittergourd) have a love hate relationship. I love to hate it. Sometimes when it is not bitter at all, I actually like it. But then again, my husband says to me, why eat Fu-kua if you are going to remove the “fu” (bitter taste) from it. No point at all really. Besides, the bitter after-taste is what’s good for the body.
Anyway, this wholesome Braised Fish Bone Soup with Fish Fillet and Crabmeat was magnificent! My favourite dish of the day, though it was merely a soup. This gorgeous bowl of white, aromatic liquid was in fact, a concoction of old chicken, fish bones, kampung chicken, peppercorns and ginger, simmered for eight hours till it gets thick and sweet. Into this simmer pot goes the bittergourd that has had a quick fry in oil, then dunked in water to reduce its bitterness, and some wolfberries or kei chi. Oh, and I do like the fact that though the bittergourd is bitter, you can counteract it with an antidote of huge chunks of sweet fresh crabmeat and fish. Ingenious! I drain my bowl. My husband would be proud.
Wok Fried Freshwater Prawn with Oats and Crispy Curry Leaves
Next up, another one of my favourite high protein and cholesterol dishes. The Wok Fried Freshwater Prawn with Oats and Crispy Curry Leaves is a sight for sore eyes.
Never mind the fact that the prawn is massive – almost the size of my hand. I am more obsessed with the huge head bursting with roe. This has prawn been deep fried, then tossed in butter with oats, cili padi and Indian curry leaves. The smell is intoxicating. Taking a massive bite into the chunky meat, I find the texture exhilaratingly taut and springy. Another winner.
Braised Venison with Leek and Spicy Chilli
This next dish is for the meat and chili lovers.The Braised Venison with Leek and Spicy Chilli was super spicy and tender. It had been fried in a hot bean sauce with meen see (fermented soybeans) and nam yue or red fermented beancurd and was not something I’d order on a regular basis because I am not a fan of fermented anything.
Steamed Grouper in Portugal Style Curry
The Steamed Grouper in Portugal Style is in essence a fish curry that’s a bright orange color due to the turmeric employed. It’s really not as spicy as it looks. The Executive Chef of Celestial Court, Chef Ho Boon says that coconut milk and fresh milk, turmeric, cili padi, red chillies, curry powder and ginger all blended together is what gives this dish a great flavour. A massive slice of steamed grouper fillet sits in the curry, along with eggplant and French beans. This fish curry goes superbly well with a bowl of rice but all in all, I found this curry a little too sweet. I guess that’s what Portugal style curry is. It’s sweet.
Stir fried Ramen Sichuan Style
The Stir fried Ramen Sichuan Style is the grand finale to our meal. The fresh noodles are braised in a hot bean sauce with eggplant and minced chicken, then fried together, imparting plenty of “wok-hei” (breath of the wok). This dish needs to be pre-ordered. I like the noodles as they were cooked al-dente.
Here are dimsum Chef Liew and executive Chef Ho having a chat with us. I like them. They smile a lot. Chef Liew is always seeking out ways to create new dimsum and Chef Ho is constantly reinventing his menu and up-ing his game with an innovative approach to Chinese cuisine. Apparently he had once prepared a menu based on 8 different cooking styles for the Sri Lankan crab. What a clever man.
Chilled Avocado Cream with Coconut Ice Cream
No meal is complete without dessert. Here sits the Chilled Avocado Cream with Coconut Ice Cream, in a stemless martini glass, over a bowl of ice. This dessert is smooth, cooling, yet dense with aroma from both the avocado as well as the coconut. As the coconut ice cream melts gently into the avocado slurry, you will bite into bits of roasted freshly grated coconut shavings. Spot on in taste and texture.
All in all a great lunch. Do check the place out if you are in the area.
Address: Celestial Court, 3rd Floor Imperial Sheraton,
Jalan Sultan Ismail, 50250 Kuala Lumpur
tel: 03-2717 9900 ext 6988.
Monday – Saturday: 12:00 – 14:30 & 18:30 – 22:30;
Sunday & Public Holidays: 10:00 – 14:30 & 18:30 – 22:30 This restaurant is pork free. Google Maps