DEFINED by its contemporary décor and strong red-and-black theme, the Chinese restaurant at Pullman Kuala Lumpur City Centre Hotel & Residences is anything but conventional.
Previously known as Tai Zhi Heen, Red Chinese Cuisine has been refurbished and rebranded for a more updated look to provide a more refined dining experience.
The red hue symbolises good fortune in Chinese culture while black injects a sense of elegance and style.
The restaurant’s identity is further outlined by large-scale photographs of designer cheongsam, a collaborative effort between award-winning photographer Kenny Loh and couture fashion designer Carven Ong.
The restaurant makeover also included a re-engineered menu, which now specialises in live seafood, dim sum, traditional favourites and signature dishes created by Chinese head chef Mak Kar Leong and his team.
“The way we present our food is also Instagram-worthy, which will inspire diners to take photos and share with their friends,” said Pullman KLCC marketing and communications director Camelia Yim.
“They can sample and experience a variety of dishes as the individual portions allow guests the chance to try more things at the restaurant,” she added.
As part of the rebranding process, Mak and dim sum chef Jeffrey Kwan made a trip to Hong Kong to learn more about its cuisine, and this inspiration has been incorporated into local dishes.
Apart from creativity, the key takeaways for both of them were the freshness of ingredients, simplicity in cooking methods and the need for more natural flavouring so the food is less oily, clear and healthy.
One of the dishes I thoroughly enjoyed was the Whitebait with Spicy Crispy Garlic. It was crispy, light in texture, not oily and very addictive; I wished I could have had the entire bowl to myself!
The fish, Mak revealed, was air-dried for about five hours, then coated in flour and fried to get a crisp finish before being put into the wok for further frying with garlic and Chinese wine.
The Chilled Free Range Chicken with Black Truffle was next on my favourite list, after all, what’s not to like about black truffle?
The chicken is first poached, sliced and soaked in Chinese wine before sliced fresh truffles are added, and truffle oil drizzled to amp up the flavour.
One of Red’s signature dishes is the Stir-fried Prawn Fritter with Curry Buttermilk Sauce which is said to be popular among diners.
Mak said he added curry powder to give the buttermilk sauce a bit of a “kick”.
“Most Malaysians love their curry so I wanted to create something that would resonate with them,” he said.
The Poached Luffa Melon with Barley and Chinese Yam in Fish Broth dish stood out, with the broth being the highlight of the dish.
This is Mak’s own recipe, and he took about seven hours to boil fresh fish and bones to make the rich broth flavour.
The broth has just the right sweetness and tastes refreshing, thanks to the luffa and crispness of the yam.
As for the Crab Meat Dumpling with Chicken Consommé and Saffron, it was good comfort food, thanks to its flavourful clear broth.
The crab meat is extracted fresh from the crab, but the star of the dish, Kwan revealed, was the soup because of its complexity in preparation.
“The soup which contains chicken meat and bones as well as vegetables like carrot, asparagus and celery, is boiled up to six hours.
“After that, the content is removed and chicken breast added, to be boiled for another four hours before being filtered for a clear, non-oily soup,” said Kwan, adding that no seasoning was added.
Before serving, a touch of saffron gives the soup its orange-yellow colour and lightly flavours it as well.
Diners can also try other bestsellers such as Black Pepper Wagyu Beef with Yam Puffs, Squid Ink Prawn Dumplings, Steamed Dragon Grouper with Ginger and Scallion in Soya Sauce, and Lobster Meat Fried Rice with Edamame and Fresh Mushroom.
The Chilled Sweet Mango Soup with Sago and Pomelo dessert as well as the Crispy Custard and Avocado Mousse Roll are the hot favourites.
The former has been a bestseller since Tai Zhi Heen days, offering diners a refreshing end to the sumptuous meal with diced fresh mango and pomelo.
As for the Mousse Roll, Kwan cleverly combines custard and avocado so diners would not get earthy vegetable taste, but only a right amount of sweetness and warmth from the filling.
RED CHINESE CUISINE, Level 2, Pullman Kuala Lumpur City Centre, Jalan Conlay, Kuala Lumpur. (Tel: 03-2170 8888) Business hours: Noon to 2.30pm, 6.30pm to 10.30pm, daily; and 11am to 2.30pm (Saturday and Sunday (weekend dim sum brunch). Pork-free.
This is the writer’s personal observation and is not an endorsement by StarMetro.