By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen
A first for Ipoh and a first for the Dome Restaurant at Meru Valley Resort, celebrity chef Greg Farnan fired up the kitchen as well as invited guests at an exclusive dinner hosted by Dorper Lamb Malaysia and Meru Valley Resort.
With the title of Celebrity Chefs' Showcase 2016, the evening was a gastronomic affair with a degustation menu and wine pairings seldom seen in this town.
Greg Farnan who hails from Perth Australia was in town for an action-packed two days sourcing and preparing for the gourmet meal together with Dome’s own fusion expert Desmond Wong. The event featured a four-course meal crafted by the talented duo with wine pairings specially selected by Meru Director Chris Bock who has an extensive background in hotels and food and beverage management.
Greg was born and bred in Auckland and travelled extensively before deciding to settle in Perth. During his travels (including trips to Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Malaysian Borneo, Hong Kong, France, Italy, Greece, the UK, the US and most of the Australian capital cities), Greg is a chef who believes in “using great local produce and letting it speak for itself”. Hence in the exciting menu at the Dome, Greg produced an Udang Galah Bisque on par with the best lobster bisques in the world. Using our local freshwater prawns for which Ipoh is famous, he and Desmond crafted a creamy, savoury, yummilicious ‘soup’ that left diners craving for more.
One of the guests of the evening, Terence Knight, had this to say about the Bisque, “I don’t like seafood bisque or soups as they often tend to have a too strong seafood flavour. However, I loved the river prawn bisque this time around, as it had just the right amount of prawn flavour but not too much that it was overbearing,” he added.
Chef Greg was particularly excited about his Tomahawk Steak, a massive 1.4kg to 1.7kg rib-eye that is carved at your table right in front of your eyes, and usually shared between a few people. Greg strongly believes it’s the quality of the produce that is critical and these steaks, brought in by Dorper Lamb Malaysia, which makes the classic dish one to savour. For the evening, Greg carved the steaks personally and handed the bone to VIPs including Lim Pui San (see pic) to either wield as a weapon or to chew on, a feat which she performed with grace and savvy.
The evening kicked off with a cocktail reception of hors d’oeuvres. Dinner began with the harmoniously smooth, creamy river prawn bisque, followed by a mouth-watering appetizer of seared scallops and tuna tataki with avocado and mango timbale, on a bed of seared pomelo and caramelized pear.
Then came the delectable meats with a choice of the Braised Dorper Lamb Banjo Cut Shoulder, an exclusive cut of Australian Dorper Lamb slowly roasted on the bone. Served with sweet potatoes, crisp green salad and roast beetroot; and or the Grilled Margaret River Wagyu Tomahawks, rib-eye fillet on the bone with grilled asparagus, roasted baby potatoes, green beans and bacon confit garlic. Guests had the opportunity to watch the artistic demonstration of meat carving techniques, adding to the anticipation and excitement before sinking their teeth into the delectable meat of this Margaret River Wagyu special.
Said Ms Yeoh Chew See, “Both entrees were delicious and my personal preference was the Wagyu beef as it was done to perfection.” “I enjoyed the evening and I loved the dinner set-up which was lovely; not forgetting the courteous and attentive staff around us,” she added.
Dessert was a decadent, gorgeously silky mousse made from local passion fruit, served with mango compote and finger sponge. To continue with the theme of taking the best of local produce and elevating it to gourmet status, the final treat of the evening was Malaysia’s national drink, Teh Tarik, made from black tea, condensed or evaporated milk.
The wine pairings that came with each course was superlative beginning with a Domaine Pinson Chablis Premier Cru, 2010, De Bortoli Deen Sauvignon Blanc, 2013, Reserve De La Comtesse, 2008, Mitolo Shiraz, 2003 and ending with the glorious Baron De Rothschild with dessert.
While Chef Greg brought in his inimitable style, recognition and credits would definitely go to the in-house executive chef and his team who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to prepare the sumptuous dinner. Chef Desmond, of Meru Valley Resort, is an expert of Japanese and Fusion Cuisine. Despite his humble beginnings, his love and passion for culinary art has brought him to a level of excellence that is now creating for the Dome a reputation for serving some of the best food in town and fans are now travelling into Meru Resort to wine and dine there. His philosophy is a sound one, “Cooking everything with respect will lead to amazing tasting experiences.”
Guests had the rare opportunity to interact with the participating chefs throughout the evening and given the opportunity to ask questions and get a true ‘behind-the-scenes’ glimpse of the culinary world.
A magical culinary evening was had by all and guests left looking forward to more events of this standard and quality and expressed the wish for Meru Valley Resort to put on more of the same.
More comments from Mr Terrance Knight
We (my wife, mother-in-law and I) truly had a great time. From the decoration of the overall restaurant to the table set up, everything was above expectations and there were a lot of talk pieces, for example, the paddy place mats for the entrée, to the vase with the fish. The wines were wonderfully paired and complemented the amazing food that was served. It was an amazing overall experience to all the senses as even the music was paired well. We enjoyed both of them, the lamb and the beef were truly a treat for the taste buds as they had perfect sides to accompany the perfectly cooked meats.