Kuala Lumpur - Peking duck dinner at the Shang Palace, Shangri-la Hotel
Shang Palace is one of those rare non-halal hotel-based Chinese restaurants in mainly Muslim Kuala Lumpur, where pork is usually banned from hotel kitchens.
But we're there this evening to try out the restaurant's oft-mentioned Peking duck, reputedly one of the best in KL.
- Traditional Peking duck served two ways:
- Crisp skin sliced table-side and wrapped in a pancake with cucumber and spring onions: the skin was not served as hot & crisp as I'd have liked. But the hoi sin sauce had a strong flavour which complemented the skin, pancakes and condiments very well. *This* is one of the best in KL?!
- Duck meat fried with noodles: braised egg noodles with finely julienned duck-meat, mixed vegetables and black pepper sauce. It was a tad heavy for me, but one of my dining companions loved it.
- Mapo tofu with minced pork: pretty bland version here, with not enough hot pepper to pep up the dish. The tofu was also fried first before being braised - *not* the correct way for Mapo tofu which features soft, white tofu. But I'm a sucker for tofu, so polished off this nasty version nonetheless.
- Stewed pork ribs with Chef’s specialty gravy, served with fried mantou buns: best dish for this evening - sweet-ish, meltingly-sork, fall-off-the-bone pork-ribs. Absolutely delicious. The mantou buns were dry-ish though.
- Stewed assorted vegetables and mushrooms in “Nam Yue” sauce. Very average rendition here, and certainly *not* enough "Nam Yue" to give the dish its trademark "umami" flavour. Not impressed.
- Crepes filled with fresh durian and whipped cream - the cream tasted fake, and the durian weren't fresh, but defrosted.
- Almond milk with black sesame-filled rice balls. Average rendition.
Service was top-notch though, and the decor was over-the-top fabulous, as the Shangri-la Group can be depended upon to deliver. Pity about the cooking.
1st Floor, Shangri-la Hotel Kuala Lumpur
11 Jalan Sultan Ismail
50250 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603-2074 3904
Still couldn't pull it off even without the limitation of being halal, eh?
The rice ball looks like it has a particularly dodgy texture, almost as if it can't make up its mind whether it's set or not.
Shame as Shang is one of KL's name Chinese restaurants, the more so due to its association with Shangri-La.
re: Julian Teoh
When I mentioned this to my KL colleagues, many of them were incredulous - because, according to them, Shang Palace used to be one of the *best* Chinese restaurants in the Malaysian capital. But then, many of them had also not been back there for years,
But then, so many talented Chinese-Malaysian chefs have left for greener pastures overseas: Michelin-rated Hakkasan, Yauatcha and Kai Mayfair in London all have Chinese-Malaysian chefs, so does Hakkasan in New York.
re: Julian Teoh
Precisely! Why work for a pittance in KL when one can earn at least 3 to 6 times the amount in Singapore and elsewhere.
I remembered reading about Chef Emmanuelle Stroobant who first hit the big time in KL, then decided to move to Singapore with his Malaysian wife, Edina Hong, back in the late-90s. I first tried his cooking at the now-defunct Fig Leaf in 2000. It was a group dinner organised by a couple of foie gras-loving foodie friends who raved about this new chef who "does French-Japanese fusion cooking". And Stroobant never looked back since.
re: Charles Yu
MYR118 or about USD40 for a whole duck.
All Malaysian hotels need to maintain a halal kitchen, unless they want to be excluded from *any* Malaysian government contracts for conventions/seminars, etc. Malaysia's government is Islamic and is quite strict about this.
A few hotels, like Shangri-la KL in this case, obviously maintains a separate kitchen for its Shang Palace Chinese restaurant. But its other restaurants, Lafite French, Zipangu Japanese and the cafe, are halal, so no pork or other non-halal-certified products.
Independent Chinese restaurants in KL are usually non-halal and serve pork to the non-Muslims.
Metropolitan KL has a population of about 5 million - about 45% Chinese population (mainly Buddhists/Taoists/Confucianists or Christians), 42% Malays who're all Muslims, and 13% other races - a mixture of Muslim-Pakistanis, Indians (Hindus/Muslims or Christians), Arabs, Indonesians, etc.
There are only 2 public food centres in KL that I know serve pork: Hutong @ Lot 10 and EAT Food Village in Publika @ Solaris Dutamas. Others all maintain a no-pork/halal certification.
BTW, Charles, did you read that sharksfin and foie gras are now banned in California. So, don't hope to try any dishes containing the two when you're chowing in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, etc.
re: Charles Yu
While I am not in KL enough to feel the pork withdrawal symptoms, it is still possible to visit a pork-free restaurant without feeling the lack: simply order dishes which do not require pork as part of the original recipe! (as opposed to adaptations such as chicken siew mai, etc.).
Granted that you may find yourself ordering the same dishes over and over again...
I haven't been to Shang Palace, but there are a couple of pork-free places such as Celestial Court at the Sheraton Imperial which I think produce quite good food.
re: Julian Teoh
I've heard quite a bit about Celestial Court @ the Sheraton Imperial, but haven't been there. I must confess that, because of the halal requirements in KL, I try to avoid any cuisine which is normally associated with pork whilst I'm in KL, as the substitute will probably taste different. Hence, I normally avoid French, Italian, Japanese, hotel-based Chinese restaurants, Brazilian churrascarias, etc. Instead, I'd patronise the Indonesian, Lebanese-Arabic, Iranian or Pakistani restaurants as the food will be fairly authentic.
I'd never been to the KL branches of Singaporean-based Italian chains like Garibaldi or Il Lido, simply because the need to maintain "halal" certification meant not only pork products have to be excluded, but the cooking cannot contain any alcohol - so no red wine or marsala wine in sauces, and any imported items which do *not* have halal certification, e.g. capers, dried peppers, seasonings, will also be banned and replaced by local produce. The end-result will taste significantly different from what we get back in Singapore.
Some hotel-based Chinese restaurants have turned non-halal in the past year or two, e.g. Lai Ching Yuen @ the Grand Millennium, and Five Senses @ the Westin KL. But, by and large, Chinese KL-lites still largely go to independent Chinese restaurants, of which there are legion, for their Chinese meal fix.
For Malay food - home-cooking is the best - so I always relish being invited by Malay friends to their homes for dinner. I find KL's Malay restaurants, especially "fine dining" ones like Songket, Bijan, Enak @ Starhill, and Bunga Emas @ Royale Chulan to be over-priced and offer food not much different from street-side stalls: ikan panggang, rendang, gulai ayam, ulam, kacang goreng, sambal petai, etc.
re: Julian Teoh
Thanks for the heads-up. I'm often perplexed by the "no pork, no lard" label used by *many* restaurants in KL - are they targetting the "nominal" Muslim consumer, i.e. those who "don't mind" eating non-halal food as long as no pork was used? Do such people even exist?
But you're right - although I'm a long-time patron at Garibaldi and Il Lido back in Singapore, I've no compulsion to try their KL outlets here. My next dining destination here is most likely Hadramawt at Jalan Raja Chulan for Yemeni-Arab cuisine.
Just came across this thread--too bad about the food! The picture of the Mapo tofu doesn't look like any other Mapo tofu I've ever had. We're actually planning to have Peking Duck at Shang Palace in the Shangri-la in Taipei, on the recommendation of a friend who says it's the best. Hopefully that location will be better!