By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen

With Chinese New Year (CNY) around the corner, it’s time to start booking restaurants or suffer the consequences of tardiness. Of course, we know that all the good Chinese restaurants will be full to overflowing and if you haven’t yet booked your reunion dinner for Chinese New Year’s Eve on February 4, now is the time to pick up the phone.

 

One restaurant that is well ahead in its planning is the Yuk Sou Hin at WEIL Hotel. The whole Chinese kitchen is being moved to their ballroom where they can easily accommodate 600 people. Packages priced from RM668 for four and beginning at RM1288 to RM2998 for a table of 10, the latter offering two head Australian abalone, American lobster and Australian coral grouper, (all high-value items). All packages naturally feature Yu Sheng and their famous Tea Smoked Duck, with its light crispy skin, the delicate lichee wood smoke permeating both the meat and the skin, dipped into a mildly sweet plum sauce, is heaven in a mouthful.

I had my first “Lo Hei” (Yu Sheng) of the season here, the tossing of fine tendrils of white radish, carrots and a cornucopia of other titbits including a choice of Pak Fan Yu (whitebait) salmon fish skin, jellyfish, soft-shell crab and abalone starting with salmon at RM78/98 S/L, and going up to abalone at RM148/RM228. Affable and chatty KC Tong, who is back in charge after a long hiatus (hurray!), was waxing lyrical about Chef Chan’s new offerings for CNY.

I had just returned from Hong Kong, touted to be the zenith of Cantonese food and I have to admit that without pork (pork-free restaurant), Chef Chan Kong Tung has curated dishes on par with any of the top ones there.

There is an indefinable taste, texture, aroma and mouthfeel to superlative Cantonese dishes, relying primarily on the freshness of ingredients, skill of the Chef and the “wok hei” or “spirit of the wok”; unlike other regional Chinese cuisines which tend to be heavier on their saucing, spices and other devices. This is achieved by Chef Chan, especially when I tasted their Crystal Prawns, ocean fresh and umami, with pine nuts, celery, carrots, cloud ear, water chestnuts and celery, lending contrasting taste and textures.

For fish with a difference, instead of the usual steamed fish, KC suggested the Lo Dun or giant grouper slices steamed with garlic and interestingly, thinly sliced dried tangerine peel, lending a novel zest to the otherwise bland fish, prized for its velvety thick skin.

Waxed meats are de rigueur at this time of the year and surprisingly, all the waxed meats in the Fried Rice are specially ordered and made from duck, lending its sweet smoky flavours to the rice which was fried to grain by grain perfection.

To end the meal we had the Nian Gao only served during this season, a glutinous rice cake sandwiched between taro and sweet potato slices and fried to oozing yummydelicousness. A “died and gone to heaven” dish that I couldn’t resist having a second portion. Be careful of biting down too soon as the melted rice cake is a volcanic eruption in the mouth and it can burn!

So don’t wait, eat these dishes before CNY.

Yuk Sou Hin @ WEIL Hotel, 292 Jalan Sultan Idris Shah. Tel: 05 208 2103