THE inspiration for a three-course dinner to celebrate love and romance comes from the women in Sharus Mizal Salleh’s life.
The chef de cuisine of Urban Restaurant at Hotel Istana Kuala Lumpur begins with a self-styled amuse-bouche, presenting a half-boiled egg with a filling of chopped bunapi, portobello and shimeji mushrooms.
Sitting in a salt-filled egg cup and surrounded with garnishing of edible flowers, the order is to dig into the salty, whipped cream and go for the rich yellow yolk.
To Sharus, the humble but highly satisfying half-boiled egg is associated with the memory of his late mother, who made this for breakfast every day.
It evokes the warm affection he had for the woman who drummed into him that in life, one must be proper in all things.
Half-boiled egg with mushrooms on a nest garnished with edible flowers makes for a perfect starter. — Photos: IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/The Star
The first course, a medley of hors d’oeuvres, sees a juicy scallop bathed in Grand Marnier and butter lime sauce; a miniature cone filled with lemon and cauliflower cream and egg yolk crumbs cured with shoyu and mirin.
Carrying citrus hints, the well-buttered sauce is combined with the scallop’s sweet centre to remind diners of a seafood chowder.
To experience the unique combination of the four basic tastes, eat the scallop with some cured egg crumbs. For richer nuttiness, dip into the green pea veloute.
The cutest element in this dish is the mini cone which evokes memories of the childhood ice cream snack which Sharus used to buy for his younger sister.
Blended cauliflower enriched with cooking cream is used to recreate the texture of ice cream here.
To cleanse the palate is chopped lychee, sprinkled with kaffir lime leaves, and a raspberry sorbet.
Black mullet fillet on a bed of malabar spinach surrounded by clam, sago pearls, curry popcorn and drops of pureed beetroot for her.
The fruits must have been very ripe because the sorbet tasted like strawberries.
For mains, Sharus chooses a fish dish for her and grain-fed beef for him. From personal experience gained while courting his wife, he observed that women usually prefer to eat light while the men maintained their appetites.
Sharus adds a playful element to the fish dish by garnishing it with curry-flavoured popcorn.
This one element always brings back memories of Sharus’ courtship days as they often went on dates to the cinema.
There are sago pearls in the clams. Basil and the natural juice from the shellfish itself give the meat a deep flavour.
Curry powder sprinkled on the crisp skin of a pan-fried black mullet fillet adds a pungent aroma.
As this freshwater swimmer feeds mostly in tropical waters, it is easy to taste the river in its tender flesh. Served on a bed of malabar spinach, peppery notes from the vegetable combine with the fish for a savoury finish.
Grain-fed beef with visible marbling, sits on a bed of braised barley with carrots and mushroom puree.
Beef jus, herbed with parsley and thyme, accompanies this ensemble.
Tender to the bite, a sprinkling of ras-el-hanout, a Moroccan 12-spice blend mix, lends a macho, smoky and woody flavour to the meat.
For dessert, a story comes with the chocolate mousse.
Grain-fed beef on a bed of braised barley and mushroom puree enriched with a parsley thyme sauce for him.
Coated with a caramel glace and highlighted with edible gold dust, this confection was where a hotel guest had once instructed the kitchen team to hide a ring in.
Diners planning on a similar style of marriage proposal are advised to put in their requests as early as possible.
The Valentine’s celebration three-course dinner is priced at RM118 nett per person. URBAN RESTAURANT, Hotel Istana Kuala Lumpur, 73, Jalan Raja Chulan, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur. (Tel: 03-2141 9988). Business hours: Noon to 2.30pm (Monday to Friday), 6.30pm to 10.30pm (Monday to Saturday). Closed on Sundays and public holidays.
This is the writer’s personal observation and not an endorsement by StarMetro.