Monday, October 11, 2010
Lafite @ Shangri-la Kuala Lumpur, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur
tart of Hokkaido scallops
Another picture laden post that I hope will not kill your network connection but hopefully pull you out from your post weekend coma. I've been biding my time with Lafite, very slowly and surely. After I had a taste of the new chef aka Georg Schroppel's culinary talents during a leisurely and extremely enjoyable lunch, I've been plotting to return for their night pleasures. This October proved to be the perfect excuse since Lafite was participating in MIGF this year (a rare occurence indeed and one that should be savoured completely) together with their sister outlets: Zipangu and Shang Palace.
Lafite menus look like albums, French Laundry inspired cornet of salmon, steamed duck egg custard
Lafite has always been on top of my list for those special occasion dinners. You know, the ones we celebrate with our loved ones whether it's an anniversary, birthday, a marriage proposal or just something meaningful. Most importantly for me, Lafite has been around since I was a young girl where as a family we'll gather to celebrate occasions like my parents' wedding anniversary. In those old days, Lafite was heavy wooden furniture, superplush carpets and etc. I remember tasting duck ala orange for the first time with pomp and ceremony as it was served with heavy round trays that were whooshed away by waiters. Even their dessert buffet (now renamed a showcase) was etched in my memory as I distinctively remember they once crafted a chess set in chocolate that I was so tempted to eat piece by piece (I didn't if you're curious).
four colour tomato salad: a melange of four colour tomatoes, tomato marmalade, white tomato mousse, tomato sherbet and honey-yuzu vinaigrette
Nowadays, the decor has now gone all modern casual with a more open setting where tables are placed in a circle around the dessert centrepiece with a fountain within. However, one thing never changes as people especially couples love to celebrate here (we spied a girl with a huge bouquet of flowers and a cake the night we dined here). I suspect all the wait staff are probably well trained in the art of romance especially the ever popular hiding the ring trick in the dessert.
Lunch appetisers: cucumber and dill soup, poached quail egg with asparagus spears
Georg's Luncheon (as it is called) for the weekdays is a steal in my opinion with its generous portions. You are given two choices: a "watch your waistline" choice by taking the appetiser and a main course for RM82++ or a "throw that diet out of the window" choice with two appetisers and a main course for RM108++. Both choices came with the dessert showcase and coffee or tea to help alleviate the food coma situation after lunch. I recommend that it is best you take the day off after the lunch unless you have perfected the art of keeping those eyes wide open minus the toothpicks (or just fake a meeting after lunch).
sturgeon with roe
The four colour tomato salad was my choice that day. I'm partial to tomatoes especially unique varieties ever since I first had my taste of heirloom tomatoes in the Corn Exchange at Rapid City, South Dakota. There seemed to be various dimensions of taste plus textures ranging from the smooth tomato sherbet to the white tomato mousse and the slightly piquant honey-yuzu vinagrette. The chilled cucumber soup with dill, scallop and smoked salmon was refreshing and weirdly enough, it gives you a clean tingly mouth feel that reminded me of toothpaste!! That day we dined here, there were two similar asparagus dishes - one came with a decadent poached egg and a Bernaise sauce while another was paired with a beautiful corn sherbet. The yellow fin tuna tartar is equally impressive as it comes stacked in layers for you to enjoy starting from a black sesame crisp, crushed avocado, cucumber salad, the tuna tartare and a ginger yuzu vinaigrette. A risotto made from duck bolognese and a divine homemade creamy tagliatelle pasta rounded up our appetisers. The risotto was creamy and portions were generous while the creaminess of the pasta was balanced with a tangy kumquat compote.
white truffle risotto
The mains that impressed us was the braised short ribs with its fork-tender texture served with crispy celeriac sticks, young broccoli, corn and thyme sauce. My other friend gave his thumbs up to the duck confit - crisp on the outside but tender - served with almond potatoes, red cabbage, Brussels sprout and green cardamom sauce. The golden brown seared Atlantic cod fillet is a large chunk with a gorgeous melt in the mouth texture that comes with baby potatoes, young carrots and truffle foam. I especially loved the soft roasted garlic nibs served with it as they were full of flavour. Everything paled in comparison with my choice of stuffed organic chicken breast with a young leek, chive sauce and king oyster mushroom ragout. Desserts was a hit and miss from the showcase. Some were way too sweet for us hence we picked the piquant ones like the light lemon curd tartlet and the passionfruit marshmallows. They also serve Shangri-la's own made chocolate bars in the showcase. My favourite is the caramel fleur de sel one, a divine combo of slight saltiness to uplift the sweet notes of the caramel. You can also purchase the bars from their cafe cum bakery Lemon2Go.
Indian red orange sherbet
On our second visit, we both decided to do a face off challenge between the MIGF menu and the brand new (and seasonal) white truffle menu. There's almost the same number of dishes except the white truffle menu has one extra dish. There seem to be more items in the MIGF menu versus the published one on the Net and the guidebook. In terms of looks and taste, the MIGF's cold starter of Hokkaido scallops tart won hands down. Scallop tartare mixed with a little yuzu shallot cream is sandwiched between lime squid ink polenta and topped with reddish globules of caviar. Lovely contrast of colours. My French Laundry inspired cornet of salmon tartar with cream cheese was lovely and light but felt a little lacking. Even the MIGF steamed duck egg custard was gorgeous and smooth when paired with the sweet Maple cream with salty bursts from the caviar and a fried sage leaf.
grilled beef with black truffle
I guess I should have opted for the MIGF menu but never mind, I did get to eat wafer thin shavings of white truffles from Alba. They're tossed in my salad leaves and shaved over a creamy zvi cohen hen egg omelette served with black trumpet mushrooms. Keeping it in balance is a small creamy risotto that uses carnaroli risotto rice for a creamier texture and abundantly covered with shavings of white truffles. I thoroughly enjoyed each spoonful of the risotto. My truffle fix even comes in a form of a lollipop d'alba - white chocolate paired with the truffle. The white chocolate seems a little too overpowering and sweet compared to my truffle. There's a pretty heavy influence of French Laundry in my white truffle menu probably because the chef used to work there before. For my mains, the grilled beef (to perfection) is served with a black truffle sauce on the side and a salad with a Bernaise sauce.
glowing ball of flowers...they're everywhere in Lafite as you get purple ones and even box shaped ones
While the white truffle menu was decadent, we both felt that the MIGF menu won hands down in the shoot out in terms of looks and etc. There's a few similarities also with both menus: the sturgeon served and the dessert of a warm Valrhona chocolate souffle.
sous vide lamb encased in parsley mousse
Following the creamy steamed egg custard, it was the warm starter that highlighted Brittany ingredients like the butter poached lobster paired with foie gras, cherry tomato confit and white truffle foam. I've had a taste of this in MIGF's Gala Launch and it is wonderful rich pairing. The sturgeon was also interesting as it came with sauteed yabbies, pea mousse, chanterelle mushrooms scattered around with marinated baby fennel and sturgeon roe. My sturgeon dish bore a strong resemblance to this dish except I felt my fish had a strong fishy smell. After the first bite, I ate it with my ginger carrot emulsion and that unpleasant taste dissapeared.
lightly grilled cheese with quail egg brioche and pine nuts
To cleanse our palates, we were both given a tart Indian red blood orange sherbet that came drizzled with whipped creme fraiche and crispy rosemary. Each spoonful of sherbet was topped with a dark chocolate piece to make it go down better.
Just before desserts, it is our main courses. My grilled beef even done to perfection was no match to the MIGF's spectacular parsley mousse encased lamb. The lamb was cooked sous vide to tender perfection. It was surrounded by a micro ratatouille, capers and a black olive gnocchi with a thyme sauce.
Lunch dessert showcase: light and tart lemon curd tartlets, passionfruit marshmallows and the artistic multi-layered dessert showcase layout
Last but not least was dessert served ceremoniously together - a black slate platter of individual treats such as the warm Valrhona chocolate souffle and a cup of Tahiti Vanilla cappuccino. Scattered around the blackness was an avocado puree, verbena ice cream (just like my L'Occitane soap!), a not too tangy pineapple ragout. I loved picking up the cocoa nibs crisps scattered all over with a bit of chilli powder to add a tingling sensation to my tongue.
Even though dinner was great with a few hiccups (plating does look a bit different from some other pictures I have seen) and I would definitely highly recommend it to friends, I'm quite appalled with the service here and don't think it fits their "fine dining" moniker. Last week, we have been bandying around what was the definition of fine dining and one such reference was Michelin's for their own guides. For them a fine dining restaurant was service good enough for the king with silverware and an ambiance to give them a royal treat. Sadly, for Lafite this seems to be completely lacking even from the front of their door. First, we got ignored when we walked in (they were busy ushering in an imporant man I often seen grace the newspapers' business section), then we were not served any bread (we didn't ask since we were quite filled up with our lunch) but I thought it was weird they had the aioli on the table but no bread (maybe they ran out?). More misdemeanours followed, they got our main courses mixed up and no explaination was given for our dishes. The straw that broke the camel's back was when we paid the bill, they even forgot to bring the pen. Tsk tsk tsk...I hope they do buck up. I vaguely remember my lunch service was efficient but not very warm and kinda impersonal. I guess I have been spoiled with Cilantro, Sage, Senses and Mandarin Grill.
Nevertheless, do go experience the MIGF menu if you have the opportunity and hopefully someone from the hotel reads this and service bucks up or else it's going to be one painful occasion.
Jalan Sultan Ismail
(Pork free. Booking is advisable. The MIGF menu is RM380++ per person without wine and RM580++per person with wine pairing. Full detailed menu is here. Note that Lafite serves additional items also that were not listed. The white truffle menu is RM450++ for an 8 course set menu and additional white truffle is charged at RM25 per gramme. For more pictures, see my Flickr set.)
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here is entirely based on my personal tastebuds and may vary for others. This review is time sensitive; changes may occur to the place later on that can affect this opinion. The reviewer also declares that she has not received any monetary or non-monetary compensation from this place for writing the review.