Ending A Fine Chinese Dinner With Canned Longans Anyone? @ Toh Yuen, Hilton Kuching, Malaysia

Date of Visit:  September 18 2013

Toh Yuen is the in-house Chinese restaurant in Hilton Kuching.  I am guessing this restaurant is very popular with the business set (expensive) and had won quite a few tourism awards judging from the certificate it displayed very prominently on table at the entrance foyer.


Toh Yuen’s Signage


Entrance: Wall paper in Chinese calligaphy and little Chinese figurines flanking an tourism award certificate

Not a fan of dark dimly-lit restaurants, I worried that I might trip over uneven carpeting (again) – as I am still nursing my cut knee and ‘bruised wound’ of my ripped 3.1 Phillip Lim sandals that I’ve only worn for under 5 minutes  from the fall I suffered the other day (wounding more for sandals though).  Squinting my eyes to evaluate the interior design of the restaurant, I see red fabrics busily draped from the ceiling to the walls.    Some may call it ‘Chinoiserie-chic‘, but for the more imaginative – imagine a fabric-dye factory straight out a scene in a Chinese kung-fu movie where a swordsman come flying out from nowhere.   To further enhance the Chinoiserie-chic experience, lanterns with tassles and calligraphy-patterned wall-covering are used.


Interior of main restaurant

Thank goodness we had a private room for dinner.   A brightly-lit festive room with a huge table with lazy-suzy, underneath a huge red lantern and calligraphy-patterned wall-covering for uniformity with the rest of the restaurant.  Even the red napkins and place setting evokes festivity in the room.  I instantly perked up.

On the table are the usual condiments of freshly chopped garlic and assorted chopped chili- red chili,  vinegared green chili, chili-padis.  We are also given sweet cooked soy sauce peanuts to snack on while waiting for the others to arrive.


Place setting

First up, a Combination Platter of jellyfish, ham, rolled squid in beancurd skin, a salad of seafood mixed with melon topped with mayonnaise.  I am allergic to shell-fish so did not try the salad, not a big deal for me since I don’t like mayonnaise.  The things that I enjoyed most in the platter are the crunchy jellyfish and fresh cucumbers.


Combination Platter


Close-up of a few pickings from the assorted Combination Platter

We also had Chicken Soup with a few tough chicken pieces, red dates, fungus and ginseng.  It came piping hot and very tasty.   Something is telling me that this dinner is going to be very healthy… so let’s wait out!


Chicken Soup

Steamed Cod in light soy sauce came next.  Our host asked whether we want rice to accompany our dinner.  None of us wanted any, and it seems that everyone is on a low-carb diet nowadays!  (Even older gentlemen! 😈 )


Steamed Cod in light soy sauce

We also had Asparagus with whole garlics and fish jerky, which continued the health-vibe of our dinner.


Asparagus with whole garlics and fish jerky.

Unfortunately for me, I could not try the Signature Buttermilk Prawns.  These are prawn balls deep-fried in buttermilk and very delicious I was told.  I did take a bite of the deep-fried basket the prawn balls came in to taste, let’s just say it’s for decoration.


Buttermilk Prawns

Since dinner started late, at 8pm, we were very relieved when the dessert arrived.  Wait for it – Canned Longans in syrup added with coconut strips and fungus!  I find it very puzzling for a fine dining restaurant to be serving canned fruits.  Then again, I presume canned longans and canned lychees are made very popular  in Malaysia where the climate here is not inclined to producing these exotic fruits.


Canned Longan

We also picked up a Hilton Kuching Red Bean Mooncake (RM24++).   A pretty pair of gold-fish embossed on salty baked skin infilled with sweet red bean paste and melon seeds.  It was ‘moreish’ – well, we were at Kuching airport, the Starbucks there didn’t cut it and we were hungry…


Hilton Kuching Moon cake


X-section: Hilton Kuching Moon cake

Shang Palace @Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

Date of Visit: February 4, 2013

The Lunar New Year will fall on February 10 this year which is less than a week away. And rightly so, Kuala Lumpur is buzzing with the festive air. Cue the red Chinese latterns, cherry blossoms and ever-so-annoying Chinese New Year music on the loop. The coming year will be the Year of Water Snake which is ‘yin’ and not a particularly good sign.

I was told that today is the first day of Spring in the Lunar Calendar and that the farmers go back to work after their long hibernation since Winter Solstice. My lunch today was at Shang Palace in Shangri-La Hotel. It is also my first Chinese gourmet meal in yonks. What is different about Shang Palace is that it is the only Chinese restaurant in a hotel in KL that is not ‘halal’ and they can serve pork.

For convenience sake, as we are a rather large group, we ordered the Chinese set lunch. The meal was ordinary but very filling. I had to struggle to stay awake for the rest of the afternoon.

ONE: Dim Sum (steamed prawns in basket and BBQ pork in pastries)

TWO: Roast duck with sea jelly

THREE: Pork consommé with figs

FOUR: Fish

FIVE: Fried e-fu Noodles with chicken and mushrooms

SIX: Bean curd dessert

My only complaint was that the food were all very sweet and overpowering. I felt very uncomfortable and bloated after the meal. I learned that high-end Chinese restaurants are using sugar and hoi-sin sauce in place of MSG to make their good tasty.
Auspicious decoration on the table. The yellow fruit symbolizes family unity and harmony, its literal translation in Chinese is ‘3 generations living under 1 roof’.

During the 15-day long Chinese New Year celebration, the first greeting that we utter when we meet our friends and acquaintances will be ‘Kong Hei Fatt Choy!!’, this means ‘Wishing you fortunate prosperity!’. The ancient Chinese gold ingots ie money