Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Nepali Private Kitchen Is Now Open!!! - With A Special Appearance Post By the Legendary Lyrical Lemongrass aka Thamby

A few months ago, knowing my love for Nepali food, good buddy and bro John (who owns Han Woo Ri Korean Restaurants) introduced me to this wonderful Nepali family, the Sherchans.  (same name as Robin Sherchan  who used to run the Restaurant Nepal in the days of yore).

After a sumptuous meal at the Sherchans with the family, and numerous meets after that, it came to my knowledge that John  had suggested to them to start a Nepali private dining, since underground supper clubs are all the rage, or at least they were.  Are they still?  I see quite a number of active ones.  Anyway, I also then heard they really lapped up the idea, and was rather excited about executing this plan, so I also encouraged them to quickly do it.

So, as a preview, I got together some blogger friends, together with the legendary LYRICAL LEMONGRASS of "A Whiff of Lemongrass" fame,  for a sampling of what the private dining spread would be like.  This was in October 2016.....

As Lyrical Lemongrass (aka Thamby) has all but retired, she has kindly agreed to grace this humble post with her precious words. (Her words in Bold Italics)

I rarely get invited to events these days. As FBB has correctly pointed out, my blog is deader than disco, but this oversized belly lives on, because man cannot live on bread alone; man needs char siu and rendang and escargots de Bourgogne and PORK MOMOS.

So when FBB asked me if I’d like to join the Serchans for a Nepali feast, a prelude to their private dining kitchen, I was ecstatic. After the closure of Robin Sherchan’s restaurant, Restaurant Nepal – Himalaya Cuisine at Plaza Damas, I felt like a part of me had disappeared into the belly of a yak on the Himalayas, never to return again. Where would I find food steeped in timmur and coriander, teasing the palate with flavour combinations that are alien to the average Malaysian’s tastebuds? Of course some flavours are familiar, like coriander and cumin, but others are different and distinctive, screaming Nepal from the first tasting. On an aside, when I think about screaming Nepal, I think about the Dalle Khursani or Akabare Khursani, a round cherry-like chilli native to Nepal that on first bite, seems harmless enough with the fruity sweetness as its primary aroma…and then the heat hits you and pummels you until you keel over and you scream, I surrender. Spare me. Let me die now.

I was captivated by the warmth and kindness of the Sherchans when I first met them. They felt like old friends, happy to share their stories about their food journey and their journey to these lands, far away from Nepal. Private kitchens thrive not just on serving good food, but also on the personalities of their proprietors. Guests need to understand that they are dining at someone’s home, and revel in this very unique experience, an experience of amiability and relaxed enjoyment of each other’s company.

To the children who grew up missing the disco generation, you can visit it here at
http://www.awhiffoflemongrass.com/



Mr Sherchan prides himself on his GURKHA BBQ, which is really a fantastic spread of bbq meats, accompanied by Mrs Sherchan's AMAZING chutney, that makes everything better.  However, this is not part of the regular menu, but is available upon request at added cost.

Nepalese men can cook! In my next life, I want to marry a Nepalese man who can cook a Gurkha BBQ and feed me till I explode on the mountains of the Himalayas.



Sadeko Badam - A refreshing salad of toasted peanuts, refreshing cucumber, onions, all in a secret herbal recipe dotted with herbs and spice from the Himalayas.

The Sherchans bring in their spices from Nepal, because they want their guests to experience authentic Nepalese food. This salad, as is with most Nepalese salads, is refreshing with a hint of spices.

This lovely combination of bitter gourd, with our local addition of ikan bilis (anchovies) is a melody of flavours, with the bitter counteracted by the sting of the onion, and the saltiness of the anchovies.  Perfect beer food.  Speaking of beer, you can bring your own alcohol.



Alu Ko Achar, pickled potatoes - well, it's not quite pickled the way we think of pickled, all shrivelled up in vinegar, but more like pickled in that lovely sauce which again is a unique taste.  This would go well as a starter or as an accompaniment with rice.

Whilst not new to me, it certainly was new to a number of people there, these voluptuous innocent looking cherry like chillies...which is guaranteed to give a kick to even the thickest of tongues.

Kill me now.

At this point in time, the Sherchans had yet to acquire their gorgeous Thali sets, which are made from brass and exude that authentic Nepali feeling, so we ate off normal crockery.  But this was essentially what made up the Thakali set.

Incidentally the Thakalis are a tribe in Nepal renowned for their fine cuisine, reputedly one of the best in Nepal.

I first learnt about the Thakalis when I dined at Restaurant Nepal – Himalaya Cuisine. Like Malaysia, rice is a staple in Nepal, and the Thakali thali consists of rice as the centre of the universe, and a variety of vegetables, daal, and, sometimes meat in the orbit.

Another item not on the menu, cooked by Mr Sherchan, is the Gurkha Messing...a delicious almost currylike pork dish that the Gurkha officers in his Singapore outfit used to whip up.  It is the ideal partner for a glass of good Scotch Whisky, and a boys night out.

Kukhura Ko Masu - The lovely Nepali curry chicken, not like ours, this is very light, I think devoid of coconut milk, but so so very tasty.

Alu Gobhi, which is potato and cauliflower.

Mula Ko Achar - I'm trying to pick up a linguistic trend here, and trying to figure what Ko means.  Achar probably means pickle, like it does here too.  This is a white radish pickle.  The sum of the parts is greater than the whole, really.  Eaten together with all the other stuff on the thakali set, each flavour is magnified.

DAAL - organic lentils soup.  Whilst dhal is commonplace here, this type of dhal is really something I've never had before, not even in Nepal.  Creamy, thick, rich lentils, you almost think there was cream or butter added.  But nope, it's just from the quality of the dhal, Organic lentils from Nepal.  I could drink a whole soup bowl of this.

This was so good that I shamelessly asked for a takeaway portion. Like FBB described, it felt like there was butter or cream in the dish, but no, it was just a bowl of lentils cooked perfectly. PERFECT.

Unquestionably, one of the highlights... That amazing Momo which is the best I've had this side of Nepal, and actually, if I really think about it, maybe the best I've had, period.  The ones at Restaurant Nepal were great, but these are filled with PORK.  And that amazing chutney, as I mentioned earlier.

I LOVE MOMOS. Period. These are painstakingly made from scratch, and seriously among the best that I’ve tasted. I could probably eat two plates of these. If you haven’t tried momos, think of them as the less oriental, rustic sister of the xiu long bao. They’re hearty food, meant to be chomped down with gusto.






Dahi, yoghurt with Mango Cubes and Almond Topping.

Since FBB has done an excellent job in describing every dish, I suppose it is only apt that I write the closing paragraph. For both us, Nepal brings about different thoughts and memories. In FBB’s case, he has visited Nepal several times, and has formed close bonds with brothers and sisters from Nepal. In my conversations with him, it is clear that a large part of his heart is with them, and from the responses on Facebook, it is clear that they love him immensely. For me, Nepal evokes a different set of memories. I have never been to Nepal, but I have been eating Nepalese food since 2008, and every experience has been somewhat spiritual. The first experience was at The Khukri located on a street that has become what Malaysia has evolved into – a land of diversity and opportunity. We’re no longer a country of just Malays and Chinese and Indians. Isn’t it time we embraced change and looked at the positive aspect of being part of a land of manifold options?

Then came the REAL deal.  Three months later, and the gorgeous Thali sets have arrived, bronzed and beauteous.... And I gather my first paying group to attend.  I manage to muster up an enthusiastic crowd of 9, but in the process, forgot to invite Lyrical Lemongrass...although one of the guests did ask me to.  Ah well, she can jally well get her own group.

At RM70 per head, we get three starters, a Thakali set, (not to take home of course), and dessert.  And since it's BYO, you can accompany your meal with any alcohol of your choice.  With special arrangements, I suppose traditional Nepali drinks can be pre ordered.

The sight of freshly steamed Momos is a beautiful sight to behold.

In Nepali culture, the kitchen is quite a sacred place, and it's not a stranger's place to simply saunter in and out, but ahem, since I am virtually family, I can...

Each diner is given a plate of these to start with....ALMOST TEN MOMOS per person.  Thamby would have been happy, but alas, I forgot to invite her.

Kukur Dani - In the dry run, Mrs Sherchan used bitter gourd.  Replacing that this round was a lovely organic shoot, equally bitter...that really complemented the ikan bilis and other stuff.

Pyazi - Crispy Onion Fritters...a Man's food actually, cos it goes well with beer and booze, ...or for a woman who drinks.

Alu Ko Achar, Pickled Potatoes, same as before...

Something like this goes very very well with all the food...obviously this is NOT inclusive in the RM70....

For the mains, a Thakali Dahl Bhat set, comprising....

Machha ko Jhol, a mustard fish curry....very different from anything I've tasted, neither Indian, Malay or Chinese fish curries taste like this.  To replicate the type of fish you'd get in Nepal, (it's landlocked, so no sea fish), Mrs Serchan used Siakap for the texture.


Kukhura Ko Masu - Her lovely curry chicken which we've already mentioned earlier on.  Absolutely delicious.



So the Thakali Set comprises Bhat (rice), Daal, (that fantastic creamy lentil soup), Chicken Curry, Mustard Fish Curry, Alu Gobhi (Potatoes and Cauliflower), Sabji (Green Leafy Veg), Mula Ko Achar (pickled radish), Timur Goldbheda Ko Chutney (Authentic Nepali Tomato Sauce), and Lapsi (a unique sweet and sour pickled Nepali plum specially made by Mrs Sherchan's mother in law...so I don't know what they'll do when they run out of supply).

And for dessert, Dahi.





And in case anyone missed Lyrical Lemongrasses Concluding remarks in the middle of the post, I'll repeat them again here since it's such lovely prose:

Since FBB has done an excellent job in describing every dish, I suppose it is only apt that I write the closing paragraph. For both us, Nepal brings about different thoughts and memories. In FBB’s case, he has visited Nepal several times, and has formed close bonds with brothers and sisters from Nepal. In my conversations with him, it is clear that a large part of his heart is with them, and from the responses on Facebook, it is clear that they love him immensely. For me, Nepal evokes a different set of memories. I have never been to Nepal, but I have been eating Nepalese food since 2008, and every experience has been somewhat spiritual. The first experience was at The Khukri located on a street that has become what Malaysia has evolved into – a land of diversity and opportunity. We’re no longer a country of just Malays and Chinese and Indians. Isn’t it time we embraced change and looked at the positive aspect of being part of a land of manifold options?

Reservations at least a few days in advance are necessary.  The location is somewhere in Sunway, and they cater for groups of minimum 6 and maximum 12.  RM70 per head for 3 starters, Thakali set and dessert.  Options for additionals are available.

For now, you may direct your enquiries to me, at 012-3240988 or John Sonam at 012-4152512

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Ushering the Rooster at Dynasty Restaurant, Renaissance Hotel Kuala Lumpur

I always enjoy eating at the Dynasty Chinese Restaurant in Renaissance KL, because, WELL, the food is consistently good.  It was with eager anticipation that I came for their CNY review.  By eager anticipation, I mean with empty stomach, and arriving on time, so as not "miss out".  Chef Kok Chee Kin's menus are always something to look forward to anyway.

From the myriad sets that are available for the choosing, we were given the Fortune Set, priced at RM2088 nett per table of 10.  Over and above that, we were lucky enough to have a special "guest star appearance" by a dish that truly is one of the piece de resistance of the night.

Despite "lou sang" being done to death during the CNY Period, I have to say that there is a certain amount of bon viveur in celebrating and communing over this dish.  For starters, I can't think of any dish that requires communal participation, in chinese cuisine.  Steamboats don't really count, cos that's more like everyone for himself kinda thing.

The tossing of Yee Sang is an action packed routine, starting with the various condiments being strewn over the dish, much like an elaborate salad dressing.  Whilst this is done, utterance of prosperity, good health and all things good are said, usually by the server, and this is again regurgitated during the communal toss.


Whoever devised this dish is pure genius.  Almost every conceivable flavour and texture is present. Sweet, sour, bitter, crunchy, soft, mushy, slimy.....

And there we have it, lift off.....At my age, the most important auspicious utterance is probably SUN TAI KEEN HONG....good health.  Of course the Sang Yi Heng Loong (business prospers) is a close second.


The Fortune Combination Platter, a generous potpourri of plump scallops, delicious moneybags, and the usual deep fried fritters with salted egg yolk, and an elaborate vegetable sculpture ...this particular one of the longevity old man I think.


Ying Yang Scallop Soup With Dried Seafood...The flavour of the bamboo pith was a bit overpowering, which some of us didn't care much for.  I do know of some who do like that pungent flavour.  But I think it would be wise to tone it down a notch as I felt it overpowered the goodness and sweetness of the seafood broth.



Steamed Live Tiger Dragon Grouper  with Scallions and Ginger.  Lest it be miscontrued, I think what they mean is it was swimming live before it met it's fate on the plate, not that it was steamed alive.

It's always a challenge to get a good shot of steamed fish, because let's face it, a dead fish is hardly the most photogenic thing.  Gone are the colorful hues that one sees underwater.



And the bonus dish for the night, POON CHOI, the prosperity pot of goodness.  Scallops, abalone, big prawns, siu yoke, and that's just the top layer.  Beneath that opulent layer was duck, chicken, mushrooms, cabbage, ...the "lesser items" of the food kingdom, I suppose.  Mirroring life in general, I suppose.



Wok fried glutinous rice with waxed meats.... A good ratio of meats to rice... and very tasty, but so very filling it's impossible to have more than a few spoonsful, especially with a decadent menu such as tonight's.



One of my favourite dishes here, the Braised Pork Knuckle with Sea Cucumber.  That stewy goodness of pork skin, fat, cartilage, and meat which melt in the mouth.  Hog heaven.

Golden Prawns with Spicy Minced Garlic.  It was interesting to see how most of the women on the table were too lazy to peel prawns, so this was by far the least popular dish based on that alone, until the gallant and chivalrous respective partners were forced into the task.

Double boiled bamboo cane, aloe vera and fungus with Tong Yuen. It's always a welcome end to the meal to have that piping hot sweet soup, often gingery, with a couple of balls filled usually with nuts or seeds, to wash down the heavy dinner.

Dynasty's fortune pastries.  I have to say, the nian gao was outstanding...Perfect texture, and not too sweet.



 The dashing Executive Sous Chef Kok Chee Kin....hosting a question and answer session.

Sets start from as low as RM288 nett  for 2 persons, RM1088 nett for 6 persons, and RM1688 for 10 persons, while the Treasure pots start from RM428 nett for 5 persons.  ,

For Reservations, please call
Tel: 03-2716 9388

Renaissance Kuala Lumpur, Corner of Jln Sultan Ismail and Jln Ampang
Tel : 03-2162 2233