Bold flavours from Hunan

Chai presenting the newly launched Hunan set menu at Summer Palace in Putrajaya Marriott Hotel. — Photos: CHAN TAK KONG/The Star

NEW beginnings herald a fresh start.

This holds true for Putrajaya Marriott Hotel when it welcomes guests to experience the elegant interior of Summer Palace following an extensive renovation.

To celebrate the restaurant’s reopening on Saturday, executive Chinese chef James Chai Chuan Siung decided on Hunan cuisine for guests’ enjoyment.

“Hunan cuisine is celebrated for its bold and complex flavours as well as its hot, sour and salty appeal,” he said.

“The heavy use of dry chilli pepper, vinegar, shallots and garlic gives this cuisine depth in flavour which is different from other styles of Chinese cooking.

“Each dish on the menu is an exploration of tastes – from robust spices in the appetisers to refreshing desserts.”

Wok-Fried Rice with Preserved Vegetables and Lobster Tail is a main course on the Hunan set menu.Wok-Fried Rice with Preserved Vegetables and Lobster Tail is a main course on the Hunan set menu.

The Hunan promotion showcases the use of fermented and pickled ingredients, aromatics as well as Sichuan peppers for heat that Hunan cuisine is known for.

The gastronomic journey begins with an array of flavousome appetisers setting the stage for what is to follow.

Pan-fried dumplings stuffed with tender minced chicken is best enjoyed with a touch of tangy black vinegar and spicy ginger.

It is temptingly good that one dumpling is often not enough.

The Chilled Jellyfish Flower with Sesame is another starter that combines the crunch of cucumber with the nuttiness of sesame and subtle heat of Sichuan bean sauce.

Each bite is a revelation, and a testament to the chef’s skill in presenting the vibrancy of Hunan dishes.

We also relished the clear and hearty Double-boiled Fish Maw Soup with Long Cabbage.

Pan-fried Dumpling with Black Vinegar and Ginger.Pan-fried Dumpling with Black Vinegar and Ginger.

This dish combines the delicate texture of fish maw, cabbage, shitake mushrooms and chicken pieces to reveal umami richness.

The soup warms the body, which is particularly helpful while dining in an air-conditioned room.

The main course features Deep-fried Spicy Chicken with Crispy Chilli and Peanut stamping a presence on the taste buds.

The tender chicken is crispy and spicy while the peanuts add a satisfying bite.

A Chinese meal is incomplete without fried rice.

During our visit, Chai made sure the wok hei (“breath” of the wok) in the Wok-Fried Rice with Preserved Vegetables and Lobster Tail impressed us.

The freshness and delicate sweetness of the lobster alongside preserved vegetables adds a medley of flavours in each bite.

We also had Steamed Yellow Croaker Fish with Preserved Chilli Pickle and Minced Ginger, with the latter two ingredients offering the white fish pungency and heat.

As with any sumptuous meal, a dessert is a must to end the night on a sweet note.

Chilled Jelly Fish Flower with Sesame and Cucumber.Chilled Jelly Fish Flower with Sesame and Cucumber.

After all that chilli, spice and pickles in the preceeding dishes, the creamy Chilled Mango Puree with Pomelo is soothing on the palate.

Made using fresh local mangoes, full cream milk and fresh vanilla beans, it is slightly sweet but definitely refreshing.

For those eager to embark on this gastronomic adventure, Summer Palace’s Hunan Set Menu is priced at RM101nett per person.

It is available for lunch and dinner until May 31. The dishes are also available as ala carte items.

Reservations are recommended. Chai has planned for a Dim Sum Set Lunch from June 1 to June 14, priced at RM88 nett per person.

Summer Palace Restaurant, Putrajaya Marriott Hotel, IOI Resort City, IOI Resort, Putrajaya. (Tel: 03- 8949 8888/ 011-5685 5608 [WhatsApp]). Business hours: 11.30am to 10pm.

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

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