January 24, 2019
Oolong tea to propel the pure flavours of chicken, jasmine tea to fuel the natural fragrance of prawns: Purple Cane Tea Cuisine has made masterful use of tea in cooking for years in KL, propagating tea-infused food that's healthy and hearty, tasty and tolerably priced. Its latest menu for Chinese New Year and beyond illustrates how it continues to improve with age, showcasing a mature sense of creativity and confidence for contemporary customers.
Every recipe here imbued with the twist of tea for a reason: The tea's responsibility is not to steal the spotlight but to enhance and elevate the ingredients, enabling the food to shine even brighter.
Tea-based cuisine isn't bitter; it's buoyant, as projected by Purple Cane's Health-Tea-Licious Yee Sang, a lusciously uplifting medley of passion fruit, pomelo, melon, carrots, cabbage, red ginger, jellyfish and snow fungus, rounded out not only with a potently tangy house-made passion fruit sauce but an oil that's steeped with Longing green tea, making it feel less greasy.
We tossed with the triumphant Norwegian Salmon Yee Sang, teeming with thick and tender slices of the fish (from RM68); other options include an Abalone Yee Sang and a Vegetarian Yee Sang. One version of the Yee Sang can also be found in each of Purple Cane's Chinese New Year multi-course set meals, which range from RM328 nett for four to five persons, reaching RM888 nett for 10 persons, with a completely vegetarian menu at RM468 for six to seven persons.
See facebook.com/purplecane.tearestaurant for more details of the TEALICIOUS Imperial Blessing Prosperity Tea Sets, which are also offered at Purple Cane's outposts in Shaw Parade and The KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall.
The Prosperity Vegetable Treasure Pot is the kind of creation that would cause even carnivores to reconsider, a meat-free interpretation of poon choy that remains filled with vibrant flavours and luxurious textures. The broth is double-boiled, providing a powerful base for a bevy of vegetables blended with oolong tea that lends delicious depth and a bit more complexity. Chunks of pumpkin, mushrooms, broccoli, shan yao (Chinese yam) and a bean curd wrap comprising minced vegetables and tofu bring lovely dimension and layers of dynamics to the entire ensemble, for a soulful feast that families and friends will enjoy sharing.
A la carte options are also available for many other Chinese New Year set meal temptations. In pursuit of poultry? The Salt Steamed Chicken (from RM68) is worth the chase, marinated in sea salt and oolong tea, then steamed with herbs and more oolong tea, resulting in a clearer taste of supple chicken flesh that feels like it was cooked purely without oil. Fowl at its finest, showcasing Purple Cane's respect for its produce.
Sauteed Prawns in Nan Yang Sweet & Sour Sauce (from RM68) should be a smash across all generations, particularly children who prefer rich, robust nuances. The mix for the sauce is cooked together with lychee black tea, combining a fruity sweetness with a smidgeon of bitterness to make this more intriguing than the typical sweet-sour preparations, while still not overwhelming the crustaceans.
Even a seemingly simple and familiar vegetable platter is taken to tea-riffic new heights: The Braised Malabar Spinach surfaces in a unique vegetable-and-jasmine-tea-based Superior Soup that's double-boiled for over three hours, with the vegetables inserted post-cooking for the freshest flavours possible (RM35). If you like greens, you might go gaga over these.
Tired of conventional fried rice? Purple Cane's Fried Tea Rice with XO Sauce might make your New Year celebration more memorable, aromatically concocted in the kitchen's unmistakable style. Its full-bodied flavour emerges as the rice is wrapped in Longjing green tea leaves after being fried halfway, then steamed for 30 minutes and served piping-hot for a rush of boldly pleasant earthiness (RM48). Carbs are rarely this guilt-free, so dig in and indulge.
Purple Cane Tea Restaurant's regular menu remains entirely available, so even if you head here after Chap Goh Mei, there's no lack of captivating possibilities. Recommendations include the Sauteed Prawns, cooked in a brew of of hot water, oyster sauce and jasmine tea, the third of which simultaneously puts the focus on the prawn's inherent sweetness while accentuating the aromas of the recipe on the whole, garlanded with juicy broccoli and pine mushrooms (RM49).
We're also in lust with the Mixed Vegetarian Curry Pot With Tea, creamy and spicy, with a base of cashews instead of coconut milk, making this a surprisingly lighter effort for folks who ordinarily find curries bloating. And of course, there's a reliably practical element of tea in this, with lychee black tea enlivening the proceedings further, bolstered by fibre galore that crowns the pot (RM33). Some of the newer specialities on Purple Cane's expanded repertoire are exclusive to this stylish flagship branch at The Gardens, which reopened in September following a beau-tea-ful refurbishment.
Desserts prove tea-licious too; make your year with the Four Seasons: Autumn Jelly with Dong Ding oolong tea base, Winter Jelly with its jasmine tea base, Summer Pudding with a green tea base, and the Spring Pudding with a caramel custard base that's infused with rose tea (individual puddings for RM5.90 each, or a set of four for RM19.90). Each elegant in its own fashion, the quartet photographed here surrounds a signature centrepiece of Crystal Peach Resin in black tea (RM9.90)
If you favour further desserts, there's a parade of passionate pleasures in the nutty Almond Beancurd with black tea (served cold; RM7.90) and the trifecta of Green Tea Peanut Paste (RM8.90), Black Tea Red Bean Paste (RM8.90) and Rose Lotus Seed Paste (RM10.90), turning on a modern take to traditional classics. For a fun chewy experience, the Green Tea Glutinous Rice Balls with a black sesame filling, crisply coated in peanut bits, might be the ideal sweet snack to conclude the Purple Cane experience (RM13.90).
Of course, as far as beverages are concerned, Purple Cane takes pride in offering premium whole tea leaves in each serving. The hot teas are served in a 'Duo-Pot Hot Brew Method,' heated first in one pot and kept warm in the second, to maintain the optimum level of boiling without overpowering the tea leaves. A dozen varieties of whole tea leaves are featured, including Green, Black, Pu'Er, Oolong and Flower Tea, with their own distinct subtleties that have entranced tea enthusiasts for centuries.
Purple Cane Tea Cuisine also offers a Fresh Brew series that refers to made-to-order tea, maintaining the full-on freshness and foam of the tea in the Ice Honey Black Tea (RM9.90) and the Ice Honey Green Tea with Plum (RM9.90, with mint). Tea fans who want something more strongly flavoured could meanwhile pick the juicier possibilities, such as Strawberry Oolong Tea (RM12.90) and Mango Oolong Tea (RM12.90), bringing the crowd-pleasing harvest of the orchards to The Gardens.
Frequent visitors to The Gardens might have noticed a new neighbour that opened alongside Purple Cane in September: Sister brand Tea+ is a fresh-faced, high-tech tea bar that conveys a 21st-century, experimental take on tea, well worth investigating if you're already exploring Purple Cane.
Tea+ Artisan Tea Bar's highlights include the Nitro Tea, with nitrogen infusions that help preserve the fragrance of the tea and endow it with an exceptional sense of creaminess. Available as Nitro Honey Pu'er Tea (RM15.90) and Nitro Lemongrass Black Tea (RM15.90), both equally invigorating to perk us up on hot, sultry afternoons.
Note that from now until 31 January 2019, Purple Cane Tea Cuisine is offering Prosperous Gift Vouchers of up to RM168 with any confirmed booking of its Auspicious Fortune Reunion Set (RM688) or Imperial Blessing Reunion Set (RM888). Additional RM50 cash vouchers will be given away with the Imperial Blessing Reunion Set booking.
If you're plotting a visit to Purple Cane and Tea+, take note that our favourite Malaysian meat-free lifestyle platform is running excellent discount promotions this month for both brands, including 10 percent off numerous selected items of Purple Cane's tea cuisine and 10 percent off from Tea+'s artisanal tea selection. Share the deal on social media and they'll double your discount, equivalent to a 20 percent discount! No booking or prepayment necessary; the KindMeal deals run through Feb. 19.
Check out KindMeal's Purple Cane promotion: https://www.kindmeal.my/PurpleCane/deal-638.htm
Check out KindMeal's Tea+ promotion: https://www.kindmeal.my/TeaPlus/deal-639.htm
Purple Cane Tea Cuisine
Lot LG206, Lower Ground Floor, The Gardens Mall, Mid Valley City, Lingkaran Syed Putra, 59200 Kuala Lumpur.
Daily, 10am-10pm. Closed 4 and 5 February for Chinese New Year. Tel: 03-2283-6090