When it comes to good food, there are few restaurants like Skillet At 163 in Frasers Place that has been able to produce an experience as such in Kuala Lumpur. Serving a fare which is a really contemporary fine dining in the vein of bistronomy, this restaurant is very clearly able to divide be the best of both worlds, catering to a much affordable contemporary menu of classics, and a degustation for those seeking for an elevated dining experience. For the month of December, this eatery humbly ganders into the modernist takes on Christmas classics.
As it is the festive season, where autumn menus turn into winter ones, we start to see Christmas menus appear all over town. The Christmas Degustation Menu at Skillet At 163 is very traditional in flavours, yet, has a pronounced modern twist. We sit down with Executive Chef Raymond Tham and asked him what inspired this Christmas menu, which he said: –
“When I was in the UK, we tend to use a lot of the game meat, game birds, and lamb during winter. Skillet is a restaurant that source the best seasonal produce available locally and abroad. We use local duck and quail to pair with autumn and winter seasonal ingredients such as Brussels sprout; root vegetables such as parsnip, Jerusalem artichoke, and onions (one of the appetiser on the la carte menu is to feature the humble onion), carrot, cranberries, and wild mushrooms. We use cooking techniques such as charcoal burnt aubergine (in our Lamb dish) which reminds me of the fire in the fireplace during winter.” — Raymond Tham, Executive Chef at Skillet At 163.
The Christmas menu is very obviously influenced by Chef Tham’s personal experience, and this is exemplified by the use of a combination of French techniques, Asian flavours and British and Japanese traditional ingredients. When asked what influenced his choices for this Christmas menu, he said: –
“Mainly, it was my nostalgic memories. As a pastry chef and chocolatier, when crafting a menu, there shouldn’t be any limitations. Some of the taste of the dishes brought back my nostalgic memories while I was working abroad and traveling. Food and senses do bring back a lot of memories. For example, the fresh pine in Texture of Chocolate reminds me of my first skiing trip in Avoriaz in the French Alps with a group of good friends who exposed me to French eating culture. Humble ingredients such as kedondong on the Alaskan King Crab reminds me of how my mum would juice or pickled the kedondong when our generous neighbours gave us the fruit from their garden. The fermented cranberries, we encounter it accidentally last year when there were some cranberries left out to ferment and it actually obtained more character and taste after few months.“
The first dish, an amuse bouche, was the Salmon & Mango, consisting of fresh salmon, balsamic caviar, mango cream and salsa in an Asian dressing of lime, chilli, pickled torch ginger and kaffir lime leaves. This dish was packed with flavour, where the sweet creamy taste of the mango with minimal acidity, cuts through the salmon chunks while the burst of balsamic added a nice savoury touch. The pickled torch ginger and kaffir lime leaves added a nice play of textures and tang.
The second dish, an appetiser, was the King Crab, consisting of Alaskan king crab, kedondong granite, nashi pear, avocado cream, and ikura. The king crab had a delicate sweetness, which paired well with the sharp sour tang of the kendondong granite. The fruity sweetness of the nashi pear complemented the briny sweetness of the crab, with the avocado adding a creamy layer of fat and the ikura, a tiny burst of umami. A great homage to seafood and winter ingredients.
This dish was paired with the Veuve Cliquot Yellow label Brut, Reims, NV, a champagne which light and effervescence complemented the dish.
The third dish, a rice dish, was the Truffles & Gold, which was a mushroom risotto with 24 karat gold leaves, kampung soft boiled eggs and Gran Padano cheese. The risotto was infused with different types of mushroom and Gran Padano, bursting with umami flavours. The kampung soft boiled egg added a nice creamy touch with its runny yolk, flaked with luxurious gold leaf. What was most impressive about this dish was the homage to the humble Chinese congee, cooked in an earthen pot and served with a half boiled egg. The egg used was also a kampung egg, which has a stronger but more delicate flavour.
This dish was paired with a Sauvignon Blanc, Daisy Hill, New Zealand 2014, a white wine which was sweet, making a great complement to the delicate risotto.
The fourth dish, an appetiser, was the Foie Gras, consisting of a pan seared duck foie gras, madras salt, curry leaf tempura, cardamom scented prune compote with a brioche. The foie gras was pan seared perfectly, with a blush of pink still on the inside. Madras salt was added to the foie after the pan-frying process, further releasing the oils from the foie. The curry leaf tempura was cooked perfectly, where the crispness of the leaf is still in tact. The cardamom scented prune compote was purposefully paired with the brioche, a nice toasty texture reminiscent of a sticky date pudding. The best element about this dish was the plating which resembles the leaf and berries of the holly plant.
This dish was paired with a Late Harvest Viognier, Roustabout, Australia 2013, a white which was a little stronger, but with its hints of pine, was a great pairing for a Christmas inspired dish.
The fifth dish, a main dish, was the Duck, made from a spiced duck breast, duck rillettes and foie gras croquette, parsnip purée, carrot, Brussels sprouts, black trumpets and fermented cherries. The duck was marinated in soy and Chinese 5 spice, an homage to the chef’s heritage, cooked sous-vide and quickly pan seared. However, in an unusual portrayal of duck, the skin was intentionally cooked rubbery. This gave the duck quite an interesting consistency as you ruminate through the skin. The duck rilettes and foie gras croquette added a nice crunchy bite with a flavourful punch which you almost wish you had more of, but was decidedly in the right portion. The black trumpets also added a complex flavour to the dish, which was greatly complimented with the sides of the parsnip purée, and fermented cherries, which had a rich flavour and an almost alcoholic note. This was one of the more interesting dishes that Skillet At 163 has created.
The sixth dish, a main dish, was the Lamb, which is the alternative main course on the Christmas menu. This dish consisted of pan seared lamb loin in cocoa butter, charcoal burnt aubergine purée, miso, fermented cranberries, gobo chips, parsnip purée, carrots and Brussels sprouts. The lamb was cooked well, still pink on the inside. The sauces that accompanied this dish however, were outstanding. The three accompanying sauces delivered a different experience, where the burnt aubergine purée had an earthy and smoky flavour; while the parsnip purée had an earthy and spicy one; and the miso adding an earthy and umami punch. The gobo chips were a nice change from potato chips.
Both the meat dishes were paired with a Cabernet Sauvignon, Grand Reserve, Rey Sol, Curico Valley Chile 2012, a red, which had an intense aroma and spicy notes, perfect for serving with red meats.
The seventh dish, a dessert, was the Textures of Chocolate Christmas Edition, consisting of white chocolate “popcorn”, peppermint and a raspberry coulis in a chocolate shell, liquid nitrogen and cocoa soil. When presented, a mist of pine is sprayed before the dish is finally presented in a giant golden chime bell, only to reveal the dessert surrounded in a wreath of pine. You then are invited to experience the chocolate through your five senses, and is instantly reminded of a certain mint dark chocolate you had as a child. This dish is quite the spectacle, and is meant to appeal to your 5 senses. As chef Raymond puts it: –
This idea came out by end of December 2015 for 2016, which was almost a year ago. I wanted to do something that brought me back to my first skiing trip in the French Alps. The 5 senses are that of the fresh pine forest: with touch (when the sphere is hammered), sight (presentation of fresh Pine from Norway), sound (popping of the mint “popcorn”), and taste (Grand Cru single origin 65% chocolate from Grenada). Because of the volcanic soil in which the cocoa is grown in, the single origin chocolate has the hints of spice and mint. That‘s why I paired it with mint popcorn. This also reminds of the After Eight chocolates which was an unwritten tradition to enjoy during Christmas season.
This dish was paired with a Hennessy V.S.O.P, Congac France, a cognac, a perfect end of the meal to send you into a chocolate slumber.
The Skillet At 163 Christmas Experience
Skillet At 163 has once again managed to create an extremely well thought out menu, both paying tribute to traditional Christmas menu items from British cuisine, Malaysian cuisine as well as a the use of the best winter ingredients, with hints and nods to Japanese cuisine. The winter menu items change as the season, as autumn truffles are replaced with winter truffles in the month of December.
Skillet At 163’s Christmas menu will run until the first week of January 2017.
For more information about our previous review, see our review of Skillet At 163.
Lot 163, 10, Jalan Perak,
50450 Kuala Lumpur.
+603 2181 2426
10.30 am to 10.00 pm
| PHOTOGRAPHY BY: NICHOLAS NG | WEBSITE: SKILLET AT 163 |