Art of matching flavours

Turmeric Chicken Terrine.

Cottony-soft Almond Milk Bread paired with Mushroom Truffle Butter, served as prelude to chef Fred Choong’s culinary artistry at Nimbus in Damansara Uptown, Petaling Jaya.

That palate-teaser paved the way to his first course option of Seared Scallops with Tom Kha Emulsion, Capers and Ikura (extra RM15). The dish exuded well-balanced flavours with the scallops’ natural sweetness melding nicely with the bright Thai-inspired creamy emulsion. Intermittent bursts of tartness and savouriness from the capers and salmon roe added to the dish’s appeal.

Herbed Crusted Lamb Rack.Herbed Crusted Lamb Rack.

Another captivating first course choice was the escargot topped Turmeric Chicken Terrine sandwiched between thin, crisp puff pastry complemented by salted egg yolk cream. This playful textural combination served as the canvas to showcase the chef’s artful blend of familiar Asian flavours.

Choong’s adroit ability at mixing and matching different flavours and integrating various textures came to the fore in his speciality of Salmon and Cured Yolk with Smoked Capsicum Sorbet, Prawn Paste and Fungus; and the tantalising Octopus and Yam comprising grilled baby octopus atop an oblong chunk of yam pudding with dried shrimps and chilli.

Guinea Fowl Tortellini.Guinea Fowl Tortellini.

For the second course of Oyster Royale, he used dried oyster-infused oil and jus in addition to herring roe to bestow depths of flavour to dulcet-smooth egg custard. Much to our surprise and delight, there was a pair of plump oysters embedded within as well.

Two show-stopping specialities: Prawn Bisque Noodles (add RM28) and Herbed Crusted Lamb Rack (add RM98) made up the third course. The former left us smitten at first bite as the grilled river prawn was accentuated with zingy gochujang. Paired with toothsome squid ink wantan noodles cooked in prawn broth beforehand, the noodles tasted deliciously reminiscent of Penang-style prawn mee. Slivers of pickled torch ginger flower and ikura added the finishing touches to this splendid offering.

Seared Scallops with Tom Kha Emulsion.Seared Scallops with Tom Kha Emulsion.

The juicy, tender and medium rare lamb rack – Choong’s personal favourite – was good enough to be savoured on its own. Tricked up with enticing longan jus and roasted garlic alongside potato dauphinoise, the delectable dish was something to write home about.

No less compelling was Mushroom and Artichoke Risotto with capers, sun-dried tomato and noisette beurre blanc (hazelnut butter sauce). The sun-dried tomato’s delicate tangy accent lent a nice balance to temper the risotto’s creamy richness. Lightly grilled king trumpet mushroom lent the ensemble a slight meaty texture.

Octopus and Yam starter.Octopus and Yam starter.

By the time we sampled the Guinea Fowl Tortellini with seaweed beurre blanc, cordyceps flower and goji berries, this dish was eclipsed by the earlier and more stellar offerings.

Not many chefs have the talent for rustling up savoury and sweet dishes as well, but Choong proved he was a dab hand at both. The proof in the pudding was evident from his dessert creations of Sesame and Matcha with toasted sesame, summer berries and vanilla ice cream; Hazelnut and Chocolate, Strawberry and Cream; and Orange Pudding.

Strawberry and cream.Strawberry and cream.

The key flavours and distinct lusciousness of each dessert were so enchanting, we had a hard time deciding which was the most outstanding.

Chef Choong certainly has a knack for leaving his diners up on cloud nine known as Nimbus.

The four-course menu is priced at RM388+/2 pax.

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