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Sino Scene Chinese Restaurant,
Swiss Garden Hotel & Residences Kuala Lumpur, 
117, Jalan Pudu, Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03-2785 1111 (ext 1272)

AFTER spending two years in China, chef Alex Choong returned to Kuala Lumpur with hopes of sharing his love for Szechuan cuisine with his fellow Malaysians this Chinese New Year.

The executive Chinese chef said during his temporary stint overseas, he picked up an interest in learning to cook dishes that required Szechuan peppercorns.

The spice is widely used in Chinese dishes during the winter season.

Despite being away from home, Choong admits he has not lost touch with Malaysian food.

“I did cook a lot of Malaysian food there too and sometimes I mixed local flavours with Chinese food and my customers loved it,” he said.

Upon returning home, late last year, to take up a position with Swiss Garden Hotel & Residences Kuala Lumpur, a heavy responsibility weighed on his shoulders.

Swiss Garden Hotel and Residences executive Chinese chef Alex Choong will be presenting a variety of dishes this Chinese New Year.

Swiss Garden Hotel and Residences executive Chinese chef Alex Choong will be presenting a variety of dishes this Chinese New Year.

Not only did Choong have to come up with ideas for the Chinese New Year menus but he also had to create signature dishes for wedding banquets and prepare items for the hotel’s new Chinese restaurant.

Our lunch review had Choong cooking up a storm in the kitchen, starting off with the Szechuan Style Shark’s Fin Crab Soup and Braised Blossom Chicken with Soy.

Just as we thought he would be serving some of the usual Chinese New Year staples, the waiter brought out the Braised Lemongrass Beef Ribs.

It was rather unusual to have beef served for Chinese New Year but as a meat eater, I had no complaints.

Most of the guests on my table were also keen on getting a piece of the beef, which made the dish our talking point.

The 47-year-old took a good four hours to prepare this dish, making sure the beef was tender and its flavours intact.

Next, was his favourite Butter Prawns but with shredded coconut thrown in.

Fried Butter Prawns with Shredded Coconut.

Fried Butter Prawns with Shredded Coconut.

It sounded a little unusual but that was how Choong chose to add his local twist.

“In China, we cook with a lot of peppercorns but since I am a Malaysian, I try to incorporate some Malaysian ingredients into every dish,” said Choong who explained that coconut was a common ingredient in many local dishes.

To make things interesting, each dish was served in a claypot to ensure the food remained warm when served.

“We try to be a bit different here by serving all our dishes in claypots while also keeping to the Chinese traditional culture,” he said, adding that the Chinese liked having their food warm so the claypot was often used.

There are some cooks who say that the claypot enhances the flavour of a dish.

Other dishes served over lunch included Fried Wawa Cabbage with Black Vinegar and Wok-Fried Rice with Smoked Oyster.

We ended our meal with yet another creative dish, but this time it was a dessert – Vanilla Sauce with Three Layer Cream – consisting of pumpkin, yam and sweet potato.

Vanilla sauce with Three Layer Cream.

Vanilla sauce with Three Layer Cream.

It may sound rather confusing but surprisingly, the jelly-like texture of the cream was pleasant on the palate.

It is definitely a dessert to savour when visiting the hotel.

There are three set menus this festive season – Gold Prosperity (RM988 nett), Platinum Prosperity (RM1188 nett) and Diamond Happiness (RM1388 nett) for a table of 10. Each menu also comes with either the Salmon Yee Sang or Abalone Yee Sang.

Guests can opt to enjoy the festive menu for lunch or dinner.

These menus are available from Jan 15 to Feb 23 for private functions at the Grand Hibiscus Ballroom or Grand Lotus Ballroom and at the hotel’s Sino Scene Chinese Restaurant, which will open on Feb 3. Prior reservations are required.

This is the writers personal observation and not an endorsement by StarMetro.

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