I walk past this restaurant almost everyday. That's because my workplace is right next door to One World Hotel and everyone here uses the walkway through the hotel to get to 1Utama. It's located on the Lobby Floor of the hotel and even from the opulent entrance you can get a pretty good idea that they didn't spare the dough on the deco.
I was told that "Zuan Yuan" in Chinese meant "a treasure trove of gems" and it certainly lives up to its name. The silver leaf ceiling, the stunning chandeliers, ebony doors, carved mahogany furniture and the many beautiful antique wine jars on display enhanced the sophisticated splendour of the restaurant. Traditional colours of red, silver and gold give one a sense of unmistakable old-world oriental charm the moment you step onto the plush peony-motif burgundy carpet.
The restaurant serves Cantonese and Teochew specialities, ranging from time-honoured traditional fare (if you want to impress your stylo-mylo business associates) to simple comfort food-type dishes that one can enjoy, without pretences, in the company of close friends and family.
The culinary creations of Master Chef Michael Chew are given a fresh "lift" every now and then. Thanks to the kind invitation of Marian Eu and lovely hosts Florence and Crystal, I recently had the opportunity to try some of Master Chef Chew's latest creations.
Mixed Green Bean Skin with Shredded Roast Duck in Chef's Speciality Sauce (RM18++ per portion)
The green bean skin is similar to the beanskin used in Vietnamese springrolls. The green bean skin used in this dish is imported from China. On its own, it's rather bland but when eaten together with the shreds of roast duck and spicy sesame sauce, the springy strands proved to be a refreshing appetizer. With our appetites duly whetted, we were so ready for the next dish...
Honey Glazed Boneless Chicken topped with Crispy Ginger Flakes (RM26++/RM36++/RM50++ for Small/Medium/Large portions respectively)
I loved the crispy ginger flakes. The good Master Chef kindly let on that the young ginger, sliced very thinly, had to be marinated with sugar and salt for one day before frying. You must also know the correct technique in frying them - the fire/heat cannot be too strong or too low. The crispy flakes, with just a hint of gingery flavour were excellent and complemented the sweetish boneless chicken chunks well.
Stir-fried French Beans with Minced Chicken, Olive & Scallion (RM18++/RM25++/RM36++)
This is a typical Szechuan dish and is available in most chinese restaurants. Master Chef Chew's version here is a tad on the "wet" side and my preference is for the drier version. Nevertheless, this popular dish is a sure rice-puller... you will definitely need a lot of rice to go with this!
Braised Grouper Fillet with Mandarin Orange Skin in Spicy Sauce (RM28++/RM42++/RM56++)
Similarly, this is another dish where lots of rice is needed to mop up the thick tasty gravy in the claypot. The generous slices of fresh grouper fillet braised with chinese mushrooms had totally absorbed all the piquant flavours of the mandarin orange peel and spices in the gravy. This is typical comfort food for me - fish and rice - staple food feeding our basic needs.
Poached Baby Bok-choy in Salted Soup (RM16++/RM24++/RM32++)
The soup, made from chicken stock was "salted" with the addition of pickled vegetables such as "cha choy" and "ham choy". A typical Cantonese style - simple and "ching", the baby bok-choy retained sufficient crunchiness despite being simmered in the soup. I recall back in my childhood days when mom was too busy, this would be the usual way soup and vegetables were cooked, effectively killing 2 birds with 1 stone. Soups are a must for the Cantonese and of course, vegetables are good for you, so combine the two for the best result!
Oh, if bok-choy is not your favourite vegetables, you can choose others on the menu, to be cooked this way.
Homemade Soyabean Tofu with Ginger Sugar Soup (RM8++ per person)
Made fresh every day, Master Chef Chew explained that the quality of the soyabeans is extremely important in order to produce the perfect "taufu fah"! If the beans are slightly "off", you can be sure your taufu fah can be discarded. That, and of course, the technique must play a very vital balance to ensure your taufu fah turns out silky-smooth and light.
Not satiated with the taufu fah, we requested for one more dessert...
Durian Combination (RM15++ per person)
The devilish trio of durian pancake, fried puff and ice-cream will please any durian lover! All made with fresh durians, the strong flavours of the king of fruits will leave you without any doubt that you have just eaten a dessert where quality was not compromised.
The above dishes were just a sampling of the new items being introduced in Zuan Yuan and can be ordered from the a'la carte menu.
Master Chef Michael Chew, a Malaysian, may look young (doesn't he look too young to be a Master Chef?!) but has vast experiences in Chinese cuisine in China, Germany and Brunei.
I also had the opportunity to meet their Dim Sum & Desserts Chef, the affable Chef Jordan Chin...
In view of Ramadhan, Zuan Yuan currently offers a "Eat All You Can" promotion whereby you can order from a selection of more than 40 mouth-watering dishes. This comes with unlimited offerings of appetizers, salads, soups and desserts...
So, if you are tired of the usual buffets serving international & local dishes, why not try a different Buka Puasa meal with exquisite Chinese cuisine in Zuan Yuan?
The Oriental Ramadhan promotion in Zuan Yuan is available from 11 August to 9 September 2010, priced at:
RM78++ per Adult
RM38++ per Child (4-12 years)
Zuan Yuan Chinese Restaurant
Lobby Floor, One World Hotel
Bandar Utama City Centre
47800 Petaling Jaya