The Oriental Group of Restaurants: 2023 Annual Guest Chef Celebration of Ah Soon Kor's classic cuisine

August 25, 2023

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Over six decades ago, Kampar-born Chef Wong Ling Soon began labouring at the age of twelve in restaurants in Singapore, learning new skills from chefs who hailed from as far as Shanghai and Sichuan before mastering the soul of Cantonese cuisine.

A lifetime later, the 76-year-old Wong - affectionately known as Ah Soon Kor - is blissfully retired, residing with his wife in the Klang Valley. 

But Malaysia's latest generation of diners now have a once-in-lifetime opportunity to taste his creations once again, thanks to The Oriental Group of Restaurants. 

After more than a decade of retirement, the legendary Ah Soon Kor makes a limited-time return this month, teaming up with The Oriental Group of Restaurants' Senior Chefs Wong Chin Leong and Paul Lee for the Group's Annual Guest Chef Celebration.

Ah Soon Kor, esteemed as one of Malaysia's 'Four Great Heavenly Chefs,' is presenting his popular classics from the last century - meticulously crafted recipes of time-honoured skill and flair, spanning Abalone Rolls & Duck Tongues Braised in Special Sauce, Fengchang Style Pork & Liver Rolls and 'Peacock's Nest' Suckling Pig Skin with Century Egg & Honey Dew.

Taste Ah Soon Kor's artful specialities that recall his signature memories, including a dish he served to visiting foreign dignitaries at Beijing's Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. 

A choice of an 11-course set menu is available at RM269 nett or RM389 nett per person (with a minimum party of four persons) or RM2,688 nett or RM3,888 nett for a table of ten persons. Both menus will be served at Noble Mansion, Noble House, Oriental Pavilion, Oriental Sun, Oriental Treasure, Oriental Star, The Ming Room and The Han Room till the end of September 2023, with a pork-free version available at Ruyi. 

While he's no longer in the culinary scene, Ah Soon Kor says he enjoys mentoring young chefs, showing them how to put together traditional taste profiles with patient techniques, from  tolerant braising to bring out the tenderness of meat to fine-tuned seasoning to perfect a sauce.

His exquisite expertise is embodied throughout Ah Soon Kor's Menu, kicking off with the Crispy King Prawn Balls, a treat for all generations, concealing soft, savoury prawn paste in lightly crisp batter, subtly crunchy with water chestnuts, for a blast from a pleasurable past.

The Abalone Rolls & Duck Tongues Braised in Special Sauce hold a nostalgic place in Ah Soon Kor's heart - he conceived this preparation while working as one of the main chefs in the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. It's a platter worthy of royalty, spotlighting surprisingly sumptuous tongues that rival the lusciousness of top-tier poultry meat, cushioned with springy jellyfish for a divine duet of land and sea, a harmonious contrast of taste and textures. Abalone rolls encircle the ensemble, lively and lovely, decadent but delicate. 

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Ah Soon Kor recognises that culinary trends have evolved rapidly in this current millennium, but he believes that 20th-century classics can stand the test of time.

These include the Fengcheng-style Pork & Liver Rolls, painstakingly layered like a captivating canapé, with strips of succulent pork meat bundled around a centre of lip-smacking liver, and the Stuffed Old Style Chicken Wings, authentically recreated from a bygone era, deboned and deftly packed with minced pork and carrots within golden-brown chicken skin.

If Cantonese cuisine is all about comfort for you, Ah Soon Kor's menu will nourish your spirit with his soups, such as Foie Gras in Supreme Soup or Double-boiled Duck & Tangerine Peel Health Soup. These come crowned in crackly, buttery-flaky puff pastry crusts, reminiscent of the 1980s when French and European influences impacted KL's Chinese restaurants.

Also channelling the soulfulness of Cantonese culinary customs, the Braised Goose Web is gently, gloriously gelatinous, compellingly complemented by Stuffed Rare Morel Mushroom with its distinct wild woodsiness, all bathed together in a rich, aromatic sauce.

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Ah Soon Kor's artistry charges to the forefront for two climactic masterworks.

The 'Peacock's Nest' Suckling Pig Skin is convincingly crisp to the bite, commandingly juicy to the chew, courtesy of honey dew at its base and century egg on top, flourishing with celery for the peacock's 'tail feathers,' while the Deep-Fried Pomfret & Stir-Fried Scallops with XO Sauce convey the treasures of the sea in striking fashion, framed with fish fins and cartilage that are brittle enough to munch on moreishly.

By now, we're feeling as stuffed with Ah Soon Kor's chicken wings, but there's more - the Baked Glutinous Rice in Fragrant Coconut leads us into carb territory, guided by fabulously firm grains made ambrosial with the natural tropical perfume of coconut.

Desserts demonstrate how some delights should never go out of style - 'Dang Ying' Red Bean Pumpkin Balls with nectarously ripe bananas at their core and Lemongrass-infused Bird's Nest, rejuvenating the palate after an epic journey, jazzed up with basil seeds and mixed fruits.

Note that Ah Soon Kor will personally attend a series of Grand Dinners to mark this menu across The Oriental Group of Restaurants' venues. He has so far graced evenings at Oriental Star, Oriental Mansion, Noble Mansion, Oriental Treasure and Ruyi, with future appearances to come at The Ming Room, The Han Room, Oriental Sun, Seafood World and Noble House. 

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