Journey to the West.

Also guest blogging at Backseat Radio: Scotland’s Shameless.


The holiday weight continues to go up as we ease into another festive season to eat it out. You have had the bloating turkey at Christmas and the resoluting toast at New Year’s Eve. Now, we’re going into the Ox-spicious red for Chinese New Year. But never mind your cholestrol and blood pressure. As the saying goes: eat now, pay later. Or something along that line. Heh.

Our first stop is to West Lake Garden over at Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa. One of the participating restaurants for the Malaysia International Gourmet Festival, we clench our bellies as we wait for what’s on their Chinese New Year menus.

This year, they bring forth their 8- and 9-course sets with a mix of feng shui philosophy. Every single dish you savour in has a petty combination of yin and yang to better harness your chi for the New Year.

I will not lie to you. I have never been a fan of yee sang. There is this uncanny bitterness in it that makes me go for only the crackers when I was younger. It is no different for this case as I went straight for the salmon. The Master Chef for West Lake Garden, Chef Chan Choo Kean, has taken the liberty of showering his yee sang with some New Zealand manuka honey, which accentuates the sweetness of the meat, thus making the salmon more delicious.

My favourite would be the Pan fried lamb rack with smoked coffee savoury sauce. It is Chef Chan’s award-winning dish from the World Championship of Chinese Cuisine in Beijing, China. The sauce is top-notch and it complements the lamb well as it eliminates what most meat-eaters would call the “lamb smell”. It just makes you want to go real slow in all the pieces you put in your mouth, and will probably have you scratching for any chunks of meat left on the bone.

Next up is the Sauteed asparagus and prawn wrapped with water chestnut. Now, I am a big prawn fan – so big I can chomp down up to 20 prawns, and I do not mind getting down and dirty with the shell-peeling too – but I am a little disappointed with this dish. It probably has something to do with how the prawns are stretch real thin to compensate the water chestnut in its belly, and the taste of the meat is somehow gone because of that.

The Braised Szechuan beef shank with mandarin orange peel is an interesting dish. For one thing is the mandarin orange peel on the beef shank, a kind of yin element for this dish. It is a refreshing bit as the beef can get quite heavy and spicy with the sauce, so a tad of the orange peel balances up everything. The dish was just alright for me, since I am not really a fan of Szechuan cuisine.

Also available on their set menus is the Rainbow fried rice with seafood pine nuts. The rice is cooked with a few variety of nuts like sunflower seeds and walnuts to make up the yang factor. But all in all, it is just like every normal fried rice I had in my life.

For desserts, there is the Homemade almond tea with glutinous rice dumpling. Now, before you scrunch up your nose at the overwhelming almond tea smell, try it first. Chef Chan has curved this hard ball by adding a drizzle of papaya puree to tame the beast. Although the almond tea aroma still lingers, the papaya puree makes it more bearable and also adds that sweetness at the tip of your tongue. Munch on it with the red bean paste from the rice dumpling and you got yourself a pretty good finale.

Alternatively, durian enthusiasts can go for the Chinese New Year durian puff. Heh, I can hear echoes of ‘Now we’re talking!’ over at your end. Cheer as you may, but I have never been a fan of durians, not even if you have blended the durian meat with custard and milk and cooked it in a pastry. The barfing aroma is still there, and I cannot get my mind set to even let my tongue touch it. Heh. But if you are a durian lover, try it. I am sure you will love it as much.

To sum it all up, West Lake Garden did put quite a lot of effort in the whole feng shui idea for their food, but I did not really feel the whole Chinese New Year spirit because they have dishes of Western cuisine as well. As perfect as the lamb rack is, I feel like it is a little out of place being served in a Chinese restaurant.

I guess I still prefer the traditional style of having all dishes on the table, and chopsticks are having wars at the centre, fighting for the last piece without seeming too impolite to steal from your uncles.

But I would still have you give West Lake Garden the benefit of the doubt, as they have a bunch of other dishes available for their 8- and 9-course sets, as well as their a la carte menu. And I am just one man’s opinion too. Ring them up for a more comprehensive list of their menus, and see if they tickle your feng shui fancy.

West Lake Garden
Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa
Persiaran Lagoon, Bandar Sunway
46150 Petaling Jaya
Selangor Darul Ehsan
Opens Monday to Saturday @ 12PM-2.30PM, Sunday and Public Holiday @ 10AM-2.30PM; daily @ 6.30PM-10.30PM
T: +6 03 7492 8000 ext. 3181


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One Response to “Journey to the West.”

  1. xin Says:

    wow, the lamb rack! it is just so wow

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