Archives: Malaysia International Gourmet Festival 2014 (01-31 October 2014)

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Zender's Restaurant & Bar
A Symphony to Savour
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First-time visitors to the beautiful Zender’s Restaurant and Bar are often captivated by its breathtaking panoramic view of Kuala Lumpur, a sight even more exquisite by night with the familiar landmarks lit up against the dark sky.

This, coupled with Zender’s elegant country-luxe décor, trendy live music and top-notch gastronomy, promised a spectacular evening in store for guests of the young restaurant’s inaugural MIGF Publicity Dinner.

Datin Su Wai Fun, Albert King, Dato' Nik Gee S.Y and James Beltran

Dato' Richard Teo, Datin Winnie Loo, Nadia Wong Abdullah and Joe Ghazzal

Tiny flames danced atop the many candles dotting the veranda as a cooling breeze swept whimsically past the guests, laughing and chatting as they enjoyed their welcome drinks and admired the impressive night vista.

A sugary molecular concoction of Midori and pineapple juice crowned with ‘bubbles’ of pure Midori caviar proved particularly popular, personally created by owner Ehsan Chabok specially for this occasion.

John Langan, Paul Stadlen, Glenn Chan and Ehsan Chabok

Illuminated by an ornate candelabrum, MIGF Organising Chairman Dato’ Steve Day briefly introduced some of the evening’s party before they were seated, including Managing Director of Dsiegfried Block (M) Sdn Bhd, Dato’ Nik Gee S.Y; A Cut Above Hair Salon Founder and Chief Creative Director, Datin Winnie Loo and spouse Dato’ Richard Teo; Chief Executive Officer of Anovation International (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, Chris Robinson; and Chief Operating Officer of Gryphon Energy Group of Companies, Dirk Quinten.

Dato' Steve Day opening the night's festivities

Dirk Quinten, Simone Quinten, Emilia Robinson, Dr Kimberley Chan and Rocio Beltran

“A dish is my song, the full course is my album, and my menu is my concert,” said the musically-inclined Chef Hasmeet Chaal – and now that the stage was set, it was his time to shine.

Look at this red hot chef in action!

His opening act was a delicious piece of buttery foie gras, sandwiched between a crispy piece of toasted bread and tart prunes marinated in red wine reduction before being garnished with salty-sweet strips of fried leeks and finished with dashes of lamb sauce.

Pan Seared Duck Liver, Red Wine Reduced and Marinated Prunes

Next was a complimentary bowl of tomato soup with cream that soon stole the show, its modest appearance belying a depth of flavour to earn it star status in the eyes of many guests.

Founder and Partner of Massive Collective, John Langan, labelled it as his favourite dish and said it was “rich and creamy but had a really nice zing to it.”

Tomato Soup with Cream

A duet of pan seared tiger prawns in roasted bell pepper puree with mix sautéed vegetables in jalapeno sauce came after – “two dishes that work in harmony together”, said Chef Hasmeet, stressing that “it doesn’t have to be complicated” for ‘simple’ prawns to be made fine dining.

Pan Seared Tiger Prawns with Roasted Bell Peppers Puree and Mix Saute Vegetables in Jalapeno Sauce

Intermissions in the gastronomic gig were filled by Crystal and Brendon Dellow of CrystalNotes, who serenaded the party with classic favourites, while Dato’ Steve’s humorous guest introductions produced much merriment.

Cheers to a good time!

Chris Robinson singled out the ‘party drink’ palate cleanser of fizzy mango and lime granita for its ‘pure fruit character’ and said, “A lot of the palate cleansers are irrelevant but tonight’s was really good.”

 Emilia Robinson and Chris Robinson  Sunlight in a glass: Mango and Lime Granita

The evening reached a crescendo as the first main course arrived – cod fish marinated for three days in jalapeno puree, honey and vinegar, then blowtorched for a smoky flavour with grilled zucchini, eggplant and red capsicum as accompaniment in a green jalapeno sauce.

Inspired from the virtuoso’s experience working with a chef in England, the delicate blend of flavours gave the dish spice without being overwhelming, and the varied textures of smooth fish and soft vegetables produced a ‘whole map of beauty’, as he proudly described it.

Creamy Honeyed Green Cod, Crisp Leeks

His next offering of chicken roulade stuffed with baby spinach and sliced oyster, shiitake and button mushrooms was a hearty dish, presented with coriander and spicy tomato puree to give it some kick as well as sautéed asparagus.

No oil was used for the pan-roasted fowl, with the spinach sautéed on a dry pan and the asparagus only quickly blanched to create a healthy entrée.

Chicken Roulade stuffed with Baby Spinach and Wild Mushrooms on a Spicy Tomato and Coriander Puree and Sauteed Asparagus

Most great musicians close out their concerts with their hit singles for a memorable finisher, and this maestro was no different. Out came the servers for the final hurrah, bearing plates of Zender’s signature dish – an aromatic cigar infused pudding with red wine caviar and fresh blueberries.

Zender's Signature Dish: Aromatic Cigar Infused Pudding, Red Wine Caviar, Blueberries

With molecular gastronomy employed to create the acidic red wine caviar and the unique cigar flavour achieved by boiling the cigar and infusing the resulting water into the pudding, it was clear that the dessert was a composition of uncommon effort and ingenuity. Meant as a multi-sensory experience, Chef Hasmeet explained that one would only notice the subtle aroma through the nose and not the tongue.

As the curtain fell on another successful performance, the staff of Zender’s emerged to take their bows as Deputy Chairman of Melewar Holdings Sdn Bhd, James Beltran, lauded their efforts and spoke of being grateful for the opportunity to discover another hidden culinary gem.

"It's 6 minutes away from my house," said James Beltran

For Ehsan Chabok, it was a symphony that hit all the right notes.

“I’m very happy to see people enjoy being at Zender’s. Appreciation comes from the expression. It really means a lot to me. And that’s what my main focus was – to make people happy when they come here. So I’m amazed with the experience.”

For great food with excellent views, try the Full Festival Menu at Zender's for RM389++ per person with one bottle of wine and RM299++ without, whereas the Light Festival Menu is RM199++ and RM99++ respectively.