Enhancing natural flavours of food


Yee sang with salmon to usher in the Lunar New Year at Elegant Cuisine. — LOW BOON TAT/The Star

PRECISION plays a big role in steaming ingredients.

Eight minutes on high fire is all the steaming time needed for the 2.5kg river farmed Hoven’s carp (ikan jelawat).

“Steaming fish is about precision. Take it out 10 seconds earlier and the tail part will be undercooked. Take it out 10 seconds later, certain parts will be dry.

“The idea is to achieve a tender and juicy consistency from head to tail,” said Saw Eng Nee, 57, the owner of Elegant Cuisine, a Chinese restaurant in Kota Kemuning, Shah Alam.

Showing off their fine menu of Malaysian Cantonese dishes are Saw (left) and Loh.Showing off their fine menu of Malaysian Cantonese dishes are Saw (left) and Loh.

The carp arrived at our table covered in its own scales.

Restaurant head cook Gary Loh, 51, had refrained from using ginger, fermented beans as well as soya sauce to flavour the fish.

“The idea is to optimise the natural flavours of the fish by making a sauce out of superior stock and its own juices. This way, diners are able to savour its entire goodness,” said Loh.

Soft and silky, one could taste the natural oils in the flesh which was devoid of any fishy hints.

“The only way to enjoy fresh water fish is to order one in the two kilogramme range. Only then can one taste the oils in the flesh,” said Loh.

Offering a menu specialising in Malaysian Cantonese dishes, this restaurant opened more than a year ago.

Saw, a chemist and a good cook himself, met Loh as a regular customer while the latter was working at another restaurant in Shah Alam.

The hot and cold combination presents a variety of starters such as steamed prawn paste, breaded shrimp paste, fried shrimp and fish paste balls.The hot and cold combination presents a variety of starters such as steamed prawn paste, breaded shrimp paste, fried shrimp and fish paste balls.

The two decided to venture into business together after the movement control order.

“Why? The guy is a good cook,” said Saw.

Saw, who is also an art collector, chose to adorn the restaurant’s walls with his collection.

His current favourite artist is modern and contemporary painter Lui Cheng Tak, known for his light and shadow techniques, where his paintings glow in partially darkened rooms.

The restaurant maintained that it uses only free range chickens mainly for their flavour and texture.

The claypot chicken with abalone with its heady fragrance of sesame oil and oyster sauce is one of the signature items here.

The vegetables are mostly from a farm in Bukit Tinggi, Pahang.

The qing long chai or dragon vegetables is another recommendation here.

Better known as garlic chives, they are best served stir-fried in garlic and oyster sauce.

The hot and cold combination featuring a variety of starters like steamed prawn paste, breaded shrimp paste, fried shrimp and fish paste balls make an impressive start to any meal.

The delightful grilled freshwater tiger prawn is highly recommended.The delightful grilled freshwater tiger prawn is highly recommended.

Seafood scrambled egg of crabmeat, water chestnut and sea prawns and a spicy, piquant and citrusy squid dish with ladies’ fingers followed next.

Ingredients like plum sauce, torch ginger and coriander are responsible for the uplifting herbal notes in the dish.

To give the ladies’ fingers added crunch, they are stir-fried on high heat, then blanched in icy-cold water.

Two other dishes that come highly recommended are the charcoal roasted Iberico pork ribs and freshwater tiger prawns.

Fall off the bone tender, the pork ribs are cooked sous vide at 80°C for five hours.

The ribs are then charred on a charcoal roaster for a smoky finish. A marinade of black pepper, soya sauce and honey is used for flavour.

For the grilled prawn dish, the restaurant requires a half day notice to secure the crustaceans.

To enhance flavour, drops of soya sauce are drizzled on the roe.

Sprinklings of ebiko came with the side salad, a coleslaw.

ELEGANT CUISINE, 56G, Jalan Anggerik Vanilla W 31/W, Kota Kemuning, Shah Alam, Selangor. (Tel: 03-5131 6369) 11am to 3pm, 5pm to 10.30pm. Non-halal.

This is the writer’s personal observation and is not an endorsement by StarMetro.

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