Soleil, DC Mall: Chef's Table with Goulburn Valley Beef
March 4, 2020
When more than a dozen of KL's respected chefs and restaurateurs flocked together to feast on Australian beef this past month, Soleil hosted a special Chef's Table to create an evening that's fit for the professionals who know their food best.
Meat from the agricultural heart of Australia's Victoria state was paired with fine bottles from French vineyards, as conversations about the future of food flowed freely among kitchen maestros from independent establishments and leading hotels, ranging from DC Restaurant, Copper, Jake's Charbroil Steaks and Werner's Group to The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur, Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur, Banyan Tree, and YTL Hotels.
Thanks to gourmet products supplier Classic Fine Foods, we seized the opportunity for a seat at Soleil's Chef's Table, savouring a multi-course tasting menu of Ralph's Goulburn Valley Beef, conceived by Soleil's Belgian-born head chef Evert Onderbeke, whose culinary artistry we have admired in KL for more than a decade.
This pasture-fed beef boasts a lineage that harks back more than a century, as the Ralph's family business has watched its cattle graze by the Goulburn River since 1908, in lush farmlands more than a two-hour drive from Melbourne; the company has also showcased its beef at South Melbourne Market since 1950.
Beef like this demands care and consideration - Soleil's Vietnamese-born sous chef perfected the vibrant opening salvo of a beef salad that shone with herbs and spices, channeling the harmonious sense of balance in his homeland's cuisine, contrasting the full-bodied complexities of aged striploin cubes with sparkling-fresh greens, cherry tomatoes and nuts in what looks like the lovely springtime harvest of a colourful garden on our plate.
The chefs who swapped their kitchen aprons for a relaxing night out, being fed themselves instead of feeding others, seemed to truly relish the flank steak tartare that emerged next - each bite yielded a natural chorus of bovine textures, some sturdily lean and others sumptuously buttery, accentuated by the nutty pop of sustainable white sturgeon caviar, lushly rounded out in each spoonful with the mellow tang of a pecorino cheese sorbet.
From the striploin and the flank, we move next to the intercostals - the meat found between the ribs - for our exploration of different, distinctive cuts of Goulburn Valley's beef. The meat's versatility is evident here, braised to a beautiful succulence that requires little more than a fork to pierce it, like a painstakingly cooked stew, lightened with the bright earthiness of beetroot and Jerusalem artichokes, delicately delivered at the centre of an otherwise pristine-white plate.
If tenderloin is your most coveted cut, the medallion that ensues might linger in your memory for many months to come, a powerhouse of supple, sensual pleasure. We'd happily have it on its own, but Soleil offers this with a triumvirate of rustically flavoursome dynamics - Rome's Giuda-style fried artichoke, chanterelle mushrooms, and black garlic, aromatic and alluring.
The show-stopper of our beefy banquet was this carnivorous platter that transformed our chefs into cavemen, lusting after a bone-in OP rib in its medium-rare glory, grilled over binchotan charcoal for a clean, clear smokiness - its fragrance proved so pronounced, the chefs could predict its presence even before it reached the tables.
Each of the courses in our journey through Goulburn Valley had led up to this climax, building up from subtly exquisite grace notes to this no-holds-barred knockout punch of beef at its prime, with a crusty bite that surrenders to a firm, fleshy chew, rich in red-meat robustness, proudly Aussie, partnered with Asian-inflected complements of Thai bearnaise and ginger-sesame marinated vegetables.
After nearly three hours of bingeing on beef, our taste buds were ready for a revivingly sweet conclusion - the Valrhona Passion Fruit Inspiration provided precisely what we needed to usher us out at close to midnight, a multifaceted expression of chocolate and fruits, assembling white chocolate and milk chocolate cream with passion fruit mousse, pineapple ice cream and coconut crumble.
Throughout the evening, our spirits ran high with a curation of cocktails and wine. Visiting mixologist Iskandar Lough from Singapore's High Society Spirits event bartending services conjured a sprightly concoction, Peat Around The Bust, blending a medley of Scotch whiskies with roasted lemon syrup for a lusciously smooth, toasty-tart sensation.
Also pouring was a Burgundy to begin the proceedings, a 2012 Pommard 1er Cru Les Arvelets that lightly conveyed lively blackberries and blackcurrants, while the Chateau Tronquoy-Lalande 2012 Saint-Estephe was a more commanding vintage, densely delectable, holding up headily to the final half of our courses.
Many thanks to Soleil for having us here.
Lot 13A & 15, Second Floor, DC Mall, Damansara City, Jalan Damanlela, Kuala Lumpur. Daily, 1130am-1130pm. Tel: 03-2011-8261