Samplings on the Fourteen
14th, Floor East Tower,
Berjaya Times Square Hotel
Reservations: 03-2117 8000 ext 8131
Business hours: Monday-Saturday, 6.30pm-10.30pm
Closed on Sunday and public holidays
Asian influences lend distinct twists to the modern European fare at Samplings on the Fourteen at Berjaya Times Square Hotel.
HAVING gained a firm foothold in the fine-dining realm for 23 years, Chef Valmurugan Subramaniam is a firm believer that “if you love your job, money will never be a problem.”
The love for his job means that Valmurugan – Chef Val for short – feels an incessant need to upgrade and update himself in his capacity as sous chef at Samplings on the Fourteen, Berjaya Times Square Hotel Kuala Lumpur’s fine-dining pride and joy.
Working closely with Berjaya University College of Hospitality’s School of Culinary Arts director and consultant master chef Jochen Kern, Chef Val says he enjoys the exacting demands of presenting modern European culinary fare. It’s a task that calls on his invaluable experience and the skills garnered from stints at Kuala Lumpur’s fine-dining restaurants and top five-star hotels.
Interestingly, the concise a la carte selection at Samplings is subtly infused with Asian ingredients and influences, giving the signature specialities a distinct character. Conceived for possible pairings with wines to enhance the overall dining experience, the menu is unlikely to disappoint. A lot of passion, patience and preparation go into each dish.
Dulcet-smooth, the Seared Gooseliver on Candied Apple, Mixed Cress and Aged Balsamic Vinegar (RM58++) is faultless, as is the pristinely sweet Marron Crayfish with Asparagus, Artichoke and Cepes Mushroom Salad with White Truffle Oil Vinaigrette (RM88++). The mélange of matching textures and the divine flavours that come through definitely have us up on cloud nine.
That can be an expensive place to be – their princely prices quickly bring us down to earth.
The chef’s mettle shines through in the Duck Confit with Organic Lentils and Frisee Lettuce (RM58++). Cooked in its own fat until the meat turns meltingly tender, the duck is something to savour but it nearly gets upstaged by the toothsome lentils that complement it!
According to Chef Val, the lentils used for this dish are soaked overnight to soften them.
“The trick is to ensure the pulses remain tender to the bite, not mushy so I cook them over moderate heat whilst adding vegetable stock little by little. It’s something that simply boils down to experience,” he says.
If hearty broths are your kind of thing, you may want to sample the Clear Venison Essence with Mushroom Parisienne (RM28++) and the Porcini Liason with Chicken Farce (minced chicken stuffing) with Morel Mushroom (RM30++).
The former is an intensely concentrated brew of meaty savoury-sweetness, bowling us over with a voluptuous taste that lingers on long after the last drop has disappeared. We also warm up to the latter – a comforting foamy concoction of rustic woody accent that conjures up visions of hearth and home.
The Cioppino (RM38++) – a sublime Italian-style tomato-based broth amply flavoured with fresh shellfish, seafood and cilantro – is more “showy”, a tantalising blend of oceanic brininess and muted tanginess. All the mains are delivered with aplomb, but the chef needs ample time to weave his magic.
I’m sure discerning gourmands with deep pockets would gladly pay for the premium, grade-seven Wagyu Beef Fillet (RM118++) with baked potato, grilled vegetable and your choice of truffle oil beef jus, béarnaise, bordelaise, Sarawak peppercorn or porcini and morel mushroom sauce.
Personally, I’d happily settle for the lean albeit butter-tender Australian Venison with Potato Mille-feuille, Yellow Chanterelle, Fava Beans and Venison Jus (RM88++) anyday or even the tasty Papardelle with Slipper Lobster (RM48++). Cooked to al dente perfection and imbued with the deep flavours of fish and clam stock, the latter boasts silky pasta ribbons and sliced green zucchini in a light, nutty pesto sauce studded with chopped kalamata olives and Roma tomatoes. Truly exceptional.
Seafood enthusiasts will find satisfying succour in the Seared Rolls of Belgian Sole and Scallops with Champagne Trout Caviar Sauce, Green Asparagus and Saffron Potato (RM78++).
For the obligatory sugar rush to wrap things up, you’d do well to savour the house specialities: the Tiramisu (RM18++) sees coconut-flavoured mascarpone cream paired with cinnamon-tinged sponge lady fingers; the Panna Cotta of Kaffir Lime Pudding with Orange and Chilli Caramel (RM18++) and Earl Grey Chocolate Mousse with Hazelnut Snap (RM18++) are noteworthy too.
Let’s just say that an evening spent at Samplings on the Fourteen would be a gastronomic and visual feast, with impeccable service to boot. The restaurant’s unique circular layout not only accords diners a bird’s eye view of the city’s skyline but also the culinary team in action in the see-through kitchen. Definitely a place to impress that special someone, or even important business clients.