Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur
Jalan Pinang, Kuala Lumpur City Centre.
Tel: 03-2380 8888
Business hours: Noon-2.30pm, 7pm-10.30pm.
Chef Benjamin Halat loves playing with ingredients and gets satisfaction knowing that food he creates, leaves a lasting impression.
“I want diners to have a memorable dining experience because for me, everywhere I go, I always remember tastes and presentation of the food, rather than the restaurant’s ambience,” he said.
As Mandarin Grill’s new chef de cuisine, Halat is eager to discover local ingredients and Asian dishes, to create exciting meals using his culinary knowledge gained while working in Europe.
Halat’s experience includes having worked at Arabella Sheraton Grand Hotel, Munich and later at the Grand Hotel Bellevue, Gstaad, Switzerland.
The St. Moritz Gourmet Festival in Switzerland, a world renowned event in which Halat participated in 2007, gave him the much needed exposure as he worked with various Michelin-starred chefs and saw their intensity and passion towards cooking.
“The experience was really invaluable as I was exposed to working with some of the greatest Michelin star chefs in just five-days,” said Halat who worked at Mark’s, a one Michelin star restaurant in Mandarin Oriental, Munich before moving to Kuala Lumpur.
To introduce their new talent, Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur hosted us to private dinner with Halat designing a spectacular eight-course menu that was meant to tantalise.
For the appetiser, Halat worked with lobster medallions to offer a harmonious balance in flavours by incorporating the piquancy of lime, calamansi, lemon and pickled ginger in a citrus gel that was paired with quinoa and mango for added texture (top pic).
Not only did the appetiser look gorgeous, it was also sumptuous and quite generous in portion size.
A lone smoked duck ravioli was made complete when a thick and aromatic Creme de Champignons filled the plate in the soup course.
Halat does not complicate his mushroom soup, keeping it simple with champignons(mushrooms), onions, white wine, chicken stock, cream, butter and truffle oil.
While the soup in itself was toothsome, the trick in taking this dish to higher heights is to scoop up the soup and a little bit of tasty ravioli for its depth in flavour. The truffle oil, needless to say, gave off an enticing aroma and lent its earthy notes to this presentation.
Having tried the soothing surprise of a xiao long bao at a Chinese restaurant in the Bukit Bintang area, Halat borrowed the idea from this delightful dim sum to feature an unforgettable pouch of foie gras ravioli in madeira foam.
Although the creation had a combination of white and black truffle among its ingredients with five-spice powder to pep up the foie gras, it showed itself as a European treat rather than an Asian flavour.
To give us a little breathing space before the main course, Halat’s fine white lemon sorbet on pomelo beads was refreshing and most welcomed.
The Wagyu Ribeye M8 with Bean Cassoulet, Potato Pralines and Portwine Jus presented itself as a clean dish, with a slight crust and lovely medium doneness revealing the meat’s pink insides that was juicy and tender.
By this time, we were overwhelmed not only by the number of courses savoured but also by Halat’s creative use of ingredients. But we were far from over.
The Comte Gratin with Avocado and Pear featuring Comte cheese from Switzerland was up next.
Just a whiff of the dish suggested that a strong flavour sat before me, but the cheese had a slight sweetness that made up for its sharp taste.
Halat’s use of avocado and pear is clever in helping to balance out the flavours.
Who can refuse chocolate, especially Valhrona chocolate? A Duet of Valhrona Chocolate with Forest Berries and Chocolate Glaze for dessert convinced us to find space for this lovely creation and think about the calories, some other day.
Halat’s dishes are presented on the restaurant’s new menu. To savour some of his elegant dishes, the five and seven course degustation menu are ideal options, priced at RM398++ and RM498++ per person, respectively. A la carte menu creations are priced from RM35++ per dish.
This is the writer’s personal observation and not an endorsement of StarMetro.