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A Night to Remember: Kyujin x Eat and Cook Sarawak Soirée

A Night to Remember: Kyujin x Eat and Cook Sarawak Soirée

An omakase-style dining experience is more than just a meal; it’s a journey of culinary surprises and an exploration of a culture’s authentic cuisine. Given that there were 20 courses served in an omakase-style feast at the Kyujin, in collaboration with Eat and Cook, I had no idea what to expect.

The chefs had no idea what they were going to serve, either. Upon touching down in Kuching on Friday, June 9, chefs Lee and Yong had a week to firm up the menu for the dining experience across June 16 and 17. Yet for the first three days, none of the chefs talked shop. They swam in rivers, visited marketplaces, and stayed in longhouses, all while consuming tuak (local rice wine) throughout their stay (how much they drank likely depended on the time of day).


A week was long enough. What guests were presented with on June 16 and 17 was a kaleidoscope of flavours, an elegant tribute to the vibrant Sarawak culture that weaved together a tapestry of regional ingredients.


All 20 dishes had their merit, but three in particular left their impressions on me the most.




Three of the best dishes in the 20-course feast


DUO OF PRAWN

The first of the three standout courses was a captivating play on the humble prawn, spotlighting the freshness of local seafood. Resting in fragrant coconut broth, the prawn was cooked medium-rare to preserve its texture. It was served with caramelised potato and other herbs, all to showcase the prawn’s delicate flavours.


The chefs believed in using all of their ingredients and minimising wastage, with the prawn head being used to create a rich and punchy chawanmushi. Aside from being a visual treat, each bite was a symphony – the sweetness of the prawn harmonising with the creamy, slightly tangy broth, punctuated by an undercurrent of heat from Sarawak pepper.


A Night to Remember: Kyujin x Eat and Cook Sarawak Soirée

 

GNOCCHI SUKUN

The gnocchi was part of the beef-quarter course. Made from the humble and unassuming sukun fruit, the chefs masterfully turned it into a beautiful gnocchi. Unexpectedly light, airy yet firm, it almost mirrored the texture of its traditional potato counterpart but with a subtle, tropical twist. The sweet, slightly nutty flavour of the Sukun paired well with the angus beef, and added a depth that was beautifully offset by an Asian sauce made from Chinese rice wine and vinegar.


A Night to Remember: Kyujin x Eat and Cook Sarawak Soirée

 

SOUS VIDE CHICKEN

The final dish that stood out didn’t have its own name on the menu, being part of the first few bites pre-appetiser. It was simply introduced as a sous vide chicken, but it was a culinary nod to Manok Pansoh (chicken cooked in bamboo), which was the first thing that Chef Lee ate when he arrived.


The “bite” burst into a medley of flavours. You immediately taste the chicken infused with bamboo, followed by hints of lemongrass, and ginger flower among other herbs. It was designed to be eaten in one go, and the chefs managed to find the right balance of earthy flavours. While it was just a small dish, it spoke of the traditional hearths of Sarawak, an ode to the art of slow cooking often used by the Dayak people.


A Night to Remember: Kyujin x Eat and Cook Sarawak Soirée

 

An epicurean odyssey across Malaysia

Each of these courses, in their own ways, paid homage to Sarawak’s culinary heritage, a melting pot of cultures and cuisines. The dexterity with which local ingredients were married with avant-garde cooking techniques brought forth a sense of comfort intertwined with novelty, a testament to the constant evolution of food culture.


Coming up with this menu seemed natural for the talented chefs, as they revealed their innovative spirit through discussion and in their cooking.


If Chef Lee’s time could be condensed into a single sentence, it would be: harmony, stress-free, and good food. This dining experience at Kyujin was an excellent reflection of their experience. It was also a culinary love letter to Sarawak’s traditions and its abundant, distinctive ingredients.


For chefs Alex, Yong and Lee, the goal of this collaboration is to be a beacon of Malaysian culinary excellence. Oftentimes, friends from beyond the border will ask “what is there to eat in Malaysia besides nasi lemak?”


Not that there’s anything wrong with nasi lemak. Yet with so many ingredients and flavours across our islands, the talented young chefs want to tear down the walls and show there’s much more that Malaysia has to offer.


They continue their journey on July 1 and 2, this time with Chef Alex cooking with chefs Yong and Lee at Eat and Cook in Kuala Lumpur. More details at https://eatandcook.asia/eat-and-cook-menu/



– By Vincent Wong –

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