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SAMPLINGS ON THE FOURTEEN,
Berjaya Times Square Hotel,
14th Floor, East Tower, 1, Jalan Imbi,Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03-2117 8000 ext 8131
Business hours: 6.30pm to 10.00pm
(Closed on Sundays and public holidays).
GPS location: 3.14238, 101.71027.
Web: www.berjayahotel.com

Photos by CHAN TAK KONG

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SAMPLINGS of the Fourteen Restaurant at Berjaya Times Square Hotel is the new kid on the block participating in the 11th instalment of the Malaysia International Gourmet Festival (MIGF) themed “It’s Raining Chefs”.

The restaurant, which opened in April this year, offers an elevated dining experience with the finest classic Western cuisine (pork-free) complemented by an impressive collection of vintage wines and bird’s eye view of Kuala Lumpur.

3C71F297EC244F748E9EAAE2820DCC29Focused: Chef Valmurugan preparing for the 11th installment of the Malaysia International Gourmet Festival 2011.

Chef S. Valmurugan, who hails from Segamat, Johor, has painstakingly designed an innovative menu with the assistance of his culinary team focusing on Western classic fine dining.

He spent almost 10 days coming up with four festival menus, which comprise a good blend of exquisite ingredients and refined cooking styles.

“It was quite exciting coming up with the dishes this time around with a new team of chefs. I missed taking part in MIGF last year as I had just joined Samplings,” said Valmurugan, who has 22 years of culinary experience under his belt.

He has competed in food festivals in Switzerland, Vietnam and Malaysia, most notably receiving three medals in gourmet competitions in KL between 1995 and 2007.

1C508892DABD406EA330D06321937404Just right: Light Smoked Duck Essence with Ginseng Root and Raviolini stuffed with duck.

Valmurugan also came first in the culinary arts competitions organised by Food & Hotel Malaysia. With firm plans to broaden his career in fine dining, Valmurugan is helming the project to build up Samplings on the Fourteen as one of KL’s most popular fine dining restaurants.

With a festival menu that includes roasted Australian pistachio-crusted baby veal rack and Cajun spiced black cod, he seems to have a toehold on his ambition to promote the restaurant among Malaysia’s fine dining fraternity.

“It’s not all about using expensive and fancy ingredients. There has to be a balance and the flavours have to complement one another. Our menu this year combines Western and Asian influences fit for the most discerning customer to those who prefer a simple and elegant menu,” he said.

The four menus at Samplings consist of a Beer Pairing menu (RM280++ per person with beer), the Full Festival (with and without wine pairing) and Light Festival menu.

The Full Festival menu with wine pairing (RM350++ per person, RM180++ per person without wine) starts off with an interesting appetiser — a combination of Seared Foie Gras, Tomato and Onion Tart and US Scallops with Yellow Mushrooms and Chive Salad. This is paired with Cloudy Bay Chardonnay.

“We only use high quality goose liver for the foie gras,” said Valmurugan. The decadent foie gras simply melts in your mouth.

I particularly enjoyed the soup — Light Smoked Duck Essence with Ginseng Root and Raviolini stuffed with duck. Fear not, the ginseng provided just the correct amount of back-up flavour and did not steal any thunder from the duck.

Why ginseng? “I wanted to experiment with different flavours. Ginseng is cleansing and comforting. I could have easily gone with a cream-based soup but it would be too overwhelming right after the foie gras,” said Valmurugan.

After an intermission palate cleanser of Celery Mint Sorbet, you can choose to have the Roasted Australian Pistachio-Crusted Baby Veal Rack served with Spinach Puree, Potato Confit and Truffle Jus (paired with Nicolas Catena Zapata, Malbec) or Cajun Spiced Black Cod with Seared Prawns, Vanilla Oil and Escarole Risotto (paired with Puligny Montrachet). I chose the former.

With veal, one can expect a juicy and succulent cut of meat prepared at its best — medium rare. If you prefer it be cooked a notch higher, the doneness should not go beyond medium. The pistachio crust had a hint of caramelisation, which was delicious.

Dessert was Ricotta Cheese Cake with Chestnut Mousse, Raspberry Coulis and Almond Crisp (paired with Peter Lehmann Barossa Art Late Harvest Frontignac) and your choice of coffee or tea. The portion is just nice for one person but if you are too full by now, sharing would be perfect.

The Light Festival Menu (RM100++ per person) comprises appetiser — Smoked Salmon Balic Style with Fresh Dill, Potato Salad and Mustard Mayonnaise Sauce, a soup of Porcini Liason with Chicken Farce Stuffed Morel Mushroom and the main consisting of Grilled Free-Range Spring Chicken served with Cous Cous and Tarragon Whole Grain Mustard Sauce. The dessert is Tiramisu with Coconut-Flavoured Mascarpone Cream and Cinnamon Lady Fingers as well as coffee or tea.

Samplings seats 60 pax in the main dining area and 20 pax in two private dining rooms.

This is the writer’s personal observation and is not an endorsement by StarMetro.

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