Chopsticks amok - a Thai inspired Yee Sang at Samira by Asian Terrace
With Chinese new year approaching in a few days, Yiga and I were invited to sample a special Chinese New year menu offered by Samira by Asian Terrace, a Thai restaurant which is located at Sentul Park next door to the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC).
I haven't partaken in Yee Sang for many, many years so I was quite eager to have the opportunity to try it out. After getting stuck in the usual KL evening traffic, it was a relief to finally arrive at the restaurant which is a mere 15 minutes drive from the city centre.
We arrived a good hour before sunset and walked in through a cobbled pathway to reach the restaurant. The walkway is framed by tall majestic bamboo trees which happen to be a favourite of mine!
Upon arrival, we were enchanted by an emerald green pond filled with huge colourful koi fish. swimming happily inside. Apparently this is part of a koi fish center next door where one can purchase koi fish, food and all types of koi-related apparatus.
I enjoyed looking at the lush greenery and fauna filled surroundings of the restaurant, together with the sounds of running water. I couldn't help myself taking pics of the various flower pots filled with floating lilies and foliage to try and capture the mood of the restaurant venue.
Greeting us at the door was Josephine Tan who runs the establishment together with her sister Joanna Tan. They happen to be old colleagues of mine back in the day when i worked in the food and beverage/hospitality industry and we've managed to stay close friends after all these years.
They have 17 years in the f&b industry behind them and are highly knowledgeable when it comes to Thai food and culture. Many times a year, they both travel to Thailand spending alot of time learning about the food, attending cooking classes with the locals, visiting food and art markets and choosing artifacts for their restaurant.
What I found interesting was that Joanna's daughter Annabelle, who is 9 years young, has been thrusted into the Thai culture from a young age. Joanna says she used to strap Annabelle in a carrier when she was a baby and traipse through the Thai markets on her buying trips. As a result, Annabelle has inherited a strong interest in Thai culture and is always seen accompanying her mother and aunt to Thai related events and holidays when she is not at school. Joanna has even enrolled her daughter into Thai language classes so they wont get caught out by Thai vendors on their shopping trips and be charged "tourist" prices!
After ushering us to our table in the outside area named Samira Garden, Josephine presented us with their new Chinese New Year menu which is on promotion until February 22nd.
One can choose from two different menus based on the number of persons in your group. The first menu is based on 4 persons in a group and is priced at RM 608++ per table whereas the other menu is based on 10 persons and is priced at RM 1028++ per table.
As there were only two of us that day, we decided to try some of the signature dishes from the menu ; the Samira Thai Yee Sang with Jellyfish, deep-fried Prawn and Crabmeat cake, Saigonese Seafood and Pomelo Salad and Steamed Sea bass with Chili and Lime juice.
For those of you not familiar with Yee Sang, Yee Sang (also known as Yu Sang or Yu Sheng) is a type of Malaysian-Chinese raw fish salad which is served up in the days leading up to Chinese New Year. It consists of various ingredients which represent prosperity, wealth and abundance for the new year. What happens is that you together with your family, friends or colleagues stand around the table with the Yee Sang in the centre of the table, each holding a pair of chopsticks. Then everyone starts tossing the salad as high up in the air as possible, all at the same time, while shouting wishes for the upcoming year.
Apparently this tradition is only practised in countries such as Malaysia and Singapore and it is said to have been introduced to our country sometime in the 1940s. I'm really not sure why other Chinese countries have not picked up this tradition as it's alot of fun for everyone involved and of course there's nothing wrong in wishing for some good luck in the coming year!
Our Samira Thai Yee Sang consisted of chunks of raw salmon, pomelo, carrots, red lettuce, pineapple, glass noodles, white cabbage, lettuce, nori seaweed, deep-fried wanton wrapper and white radish . The salad is then topped off with a spicy tom yum paste sauce and olive oil, chili padi, black pepper, lime juice and roasted peanuts.
Yiga and I then proceeded in our own rendition of tossing the salad however we made a little bit of a mess on the table as we were trying to toss up as high as we could while smiling at the camera! A feat we newbie bloggers are grasping at.
It was highly enjoyable and we enjoyed tasting the Yee Sang which was sweet and sour with crunchy tangy notes. We noted that the Tom Yum sauce did give a spicy twist, lending a truly authentic Thai flavour to the dish.
After sampling the Yee Sang, we tried some of Samira's cocktail and mocktails from their long list of drinks. Yiga tried "View of the Deep" which is a sweet and sour blend of white wine, gin, cointreau and Campari while I had the "Halia Halia" which is a mix of fresh ginger juice with ginger ale. Samira by Asian Terrace offers an extensive list of cocktails and mocktail together with a comprehensive wine list from the Old World and New World.
Soon after that, a soft drizzle began to patter down so we quickly grabbed our belongings and rushed into the indoor dining area, aptly named Inner Peace.
Once seated, our waiters soon came in with our appetisers, deep-fried Prawn and Crabmeat cake and Saigonese Seafood and Pomelo Salad.
The Prawn and Crabmeat cakes were both moist and flavourful. Sometimes fishcakes can come across as too oily and over fishy however Samira has managed to deliver just the right combination with their ingredients and texture. Fortunately we did not have to fight over who got the last piece as the portion of the dish was generous and there was plenty to go around for us hungry individuals!
The Saigonese Seafood and Pomelo salad was crispy and sour with succulent pieces of squid and prawns intermingled with red onion and basil. I also loved the surprisingly salty crunch of the baby shrimps which were added as a garnish to the salad.
Lastly we were served the highlight of the evening, the Steamed Seabass with Chili and Lime Juice.
Now this is a dish that I simply cannot stop raving about! A large portion of fresh seabass teamed with lime, lemongrass and chili which was simply a delight to the senses. I can honestly say that the flavours transported me back to times when I have dined in Thailand and I am happy to say that the tastes were exactly the same and bona fide. The owners have made a commitment in keeping the flavours authentic to the country by choosing chefs from Bangkok and the Isaan region in Thailand which is something I can certainly appreciate.
Yiga and I both being dedicated chili-addicts were very content with the fiery spiciness of the dish however others may prefer their fish a tad less hot and can advise the waiters accordingly when placing their order. However we would advise readers not to adhere to this as it takes away the authenticity of the dish but we do understand that everyone has different thresholds!
Unfortunately we couldn't squeeze in a dessert as we were so full from the main meal however I have been told that one should try out their Jackfruit in Coconut milk and Thai Rice Ball with Ginger soup which are indeed the perfect way to end a perfect meal on a sweet note.
It was at this point that the rain started to fall down even heavier which added to the serene and peaceful mood of the evening. A calm cooling breeze wafted through the restaurant which was appreciated in the hot and balmy night. The calm, friendly and attentive service by the waiting staff only added more charm to the restaurant and made our evening a definitely pleasant one to remember.
If you're looking for a venue to celebrate Chinese New Year or just happen to be at KLPAC for a show, do stop by Samira by Asian Terrace to sample their Thai delicacies or enjoy a cocktail and simply chill in the serene ambience.
The owners tell me they have plans to build a roofed terrace in their outdoor section later on in the year which will definitely attract more diners who wish to spend a special lunch or dinner outdoors with loved ones and friends.
Samira by Asian Terrace is located at Lot 268, Sentul Park, Jln Strachan, off Jln Ipoh, 51100 Kuala Lumpur and is open daily from Monday to Thursdays (12noon - 3.30pm, 6.00-10.30pm) and from Fridays to Sundays (12noon - 10.30pm) . For bookings, please call (012) 9213880 or (03) 40423880 or visit their website www.samiraasianterrace.com for more information.