Food-wine pairings at Hakka Republic
Lot 2.05, 2nd Floor,
Menara Hap Seng,
Jalan P.Ramlee, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2078 9908
Business hours: Monday to Friday
– kitchen opens at 7.00pm and
last orders at 10.00pm).
HAKKA REPUBLIC, which takes its name after the old Lanfang Republic in West Borneo, doesn’t really serve Hakka or Chinese cuisine for that matter. But their menu for Christmas and New Year eve boast excellent food-wine pairings for those looking to dine out on these two nights.
The dimly-lit red-and-black interior, with a replica of the famous Hakka round-houses seen in China, complement the Shanghai jazz tunes playing. Jazz legend Lewis Pragasam plays there regularly with other musicians as well. They will be playing on Dec 24 and 25 and Dec 31 and Jan 1 as well.
Hakka Republic’s lunch and dinner menus are primarily fusion, with heavy Japanese influence. Executive chef Abdullah Saidi Md Radzi, who worked at famed Fujimama’s restaurant in Harajuku district before moving to the restaurant’s Hawaiian outlet, started out working with Japanese cuisine from the beginning of his career, although he also had a training stint in St. Moritz.
We were given previews of both the Christmas Eve and New Year Eve menus. Beginning with an amuse-bouche of Tuna Tartar with Avocado Mousse, accompanied with a flute of Tenimenti Prosecco di Prosecco from Italy. The dry but soft character of the sparkling wine nicely complements the raw tuna and blandly sweetish mousse, which came wrapped in a sweet-savoury rolled crepe.
The chef’s Japanese culinary background was very evident throughout both menus, the Foie Gras Katsu with Truffled Ponzu being a case in point. The foie gras, breaded in fried in Japanese style, is paired with a Gewutzraminer, an Alsatian wine with a “spicy” character that offsets the oily character of the dish. An unusual, but effective pairing compared with the usual foie gras-Sauterne combination.
The same wine also goes well with the New Year Eve dish of Miso Glazed Foie Grasa with Fig Compote, especially since the sweet taste of the figs help offset the dry character of the Gewutztraminer. The home-made champagn
Next on the menu was Green Tea Soba infused with truffle oil and foie gras. Our dish, although tasty, was a touch too salty, and one could not really smell the truffle oil over the soy and mirin broth.
For main dishes, diners can choose on both evenings to go with fish, lamb or beef. The pan-fried Pepper-crusted Kampachi with Seared Asparagus and Grilled Mixed Pepper Salsa is on offer for Christmas Eve, paired with an easy Hanging Rock Chardonnay of 2009 vintage. The bell pepper salsa, with its sauce of olive oil, basil and sushitse helps offset the black pepper taste. The New Year fish dish of Barramundi with Black Olives, Pinenuts and Anchovies agreed with the chardonnay as well.
For Christmas Eve, those hankering for lamb can try the Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb with Duck Fat Potato and Mint Jelly. The pepper seasoning was a touch heavy, but one cannot go wrong with mint jelly to accompany the tender lamb. The accompanying Tuscan Le Macchiole Bolgheri Rosso (2008 vintage) really provides a bold and spicy counterpoint to the lamb. One really needs to let the wine “breathe” first, according to the chef.
The New Year’s Eve lamb rack’s Asian touch is very evident. Lemongrass Lamb Rack with its accompaniment of wilted spinach sprinkled with sauteed garlic in Chinese style, and mint mayo go well with the recommended Bodega Muga Rioja Reserva 2006, which was lighter though still complex compared to the Tuscan earlier.
One of Hakka Republic’s strong points is its Blackmore Wagyu dishes, accompanied in the New Year’s Eve menu with sides of truffled polenta, confit cherry tomato and asparagus. With the 120gm slab’s marbling on the scale of nine, the chef’s recommendation for cooking temperature is medium well done. The strong tuffle oil-infused polenta and cherry tomatoes balance each other out, accompanied by the Tuscan red mentioned earlier.
For dessert, the Christmas Eve menu consists of a home-made fruit cake with brandy sauce and accompanied by the traditional German “Glühwein” — a spiced, warm wine.
According to Abdullah Saidi, the cake is painted with brandy coating every day over a month, then rewrapped after each coating to absorb the flavours. For New Year’s Eve, a simple Mango Gratin with Sabayon (a Mediterranean custard of egg yolk, sweet wine and sugar) after the excesses of the earlier courses.
The Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve dinners will cost RM200++ and RM250++ a diner, with an additional RM100++ for the wine pairing consisting of three glasses.
This is the writer’s personal observation and not an endorsement by StarMetro.