When I received the email about my invitation to Poh’s second and amazing cook book launch at Longrain, I gotta admit, I let a pretty manly yelp of excitement in the computer room which I was studying in. But can you really blame a guy? One of the coolest celebrity chefs from 2009’s MasterChef who runs her own show now invited ME to share this incredible moment with her. Well don’t mind if I do, and yes, there was food: Walking into the bar I had no idea how both intimate the dinner would be and how spoilt I would be with both the food and fantastic company I had. Hosted at the brilliant and 2 Chef Hat restaurant Longrain in Surry Hills, I was greeted by faces all around the food industry. With fellow bloggers like Grab Your Fork, Confessions of a Glutton and Nessy Eater, executive chefs like Anna Polyviou from Shangri-La Hotel and even the past MasterChef contestant, Kumar Pereira, it was a night full of stories and happy times already. Oh did I mention there was champagne greeting me? That’s always good. After we stood and had our talks, it was time to be seated and greeted by the woman of the hour, Poh! As she introduced the quirky stories behind the inspiration of the books and the way it was structured, you can’t really help but break a smile and even a laugh. Did I mention how intimate the dinner was? Just take a look yourself!
But of course along with the presentation of her beautiful book, she also introduced something else to us; the menu for evening and all its glory. We were spoilt that night. Really spoilt. With a jam-packed night of seafood, to meaty goodness, to veggie goodness to dessert goodness. Man. Talk about a food coma. And knowing that some were from the book and some were from Longrain..mmmm.
To start off the meal we were greeted by this plate of deliciousness. And what a fresh dish this was. Not just from that quality tuna which was scattered on top but the dressing of the citrus-y mandarin and ginger. On top of this it was scattered by a small cucumber salad with hints of black salt, giving it a nice crunch but also a hit from that salty vs sweet combination. And below? Nashi pear, haven’t really thought of those two together but can I tell you something? It’s awesome. With the fresh nashi pears giving it a beautiful crunch and slight sweetness but not too overpowering flavour to the dish. Yummy. We had 1sts, and then seconds and then by the 3rd it was a battle of who grabs it from the plate first. Talk about a starter! Now what was next…
As I told myself, and Poh, and all of you tonight. Pandang is literally one of my favourite dessert based ingredients. Maybe it’s the Asian in me. Or maybe it’s that strange attraction to the green colour it has. So instantly, you know it was a winner. The rendang beef was nice and spicy, perhaps a bit dry but definitely soft enough to melt in the mouth. Now picture that with a sweet and incredibly soft and moist pandang crepe. Not convinced? How about a fresh cucumber salad on top as well, to just add the extra component of freshness. Delicious. Can’t really say anything more. And look at it! It was too good looking to eat! (almost…:D)
You know what delicious green curry is? The type that isn’t too runny and isn’t too creamy. The one that’s perfect between spicy and soothing. The one that melts in your mouth with that coconutty spicy flavour. Was this that kind of curry? Hell yes! And of course with any curry, I absolutely submerged my rice in the sauce. And no complaints. With the chicken tender as can be and that sauce being smoky but so full of flavour. Please can you come over and cook me another batch, Poh?
Such a simple but a classic favourite for me, the Chinese Broccoli with Oyster Sauce was a nice lifting palate cleanser to the meal. A light dish and nothing too complicated. Great to follow up, especially after a heated rendang and curry.
Did someone say pork? My all time favourite unhealthy meat (when it’s paired with its fatty parts). This one was part of Longrain’s selection and it was so good. The meat at first looked incredibly hard and rock-like but take that first bite and as you crunch through that skin and fat, you hit that tender meat inside. Especially with their sweet sauce, after being drizzled over by a chilli vinegar mix; what a combination! Definitely have this with rice though. And go easy on the sauce. It can get overpowering. Other than that. Yes. Melting pork fat in the mouth with crispy skin yesyesyesyesyes. So after my mouth has been burnt and cooled and burnt again with the flavours of sweet and spicy and tangy and everything, it was time to put it to rest. With a nice closure of dessert. I don’t have the sweetest tooth in the world, you should probably know that about me. I’m the guy that eats a bar of chocolate and needs a glass of water or tea after 3 or so bites. But oh yes. These really hit the spot, little bit of sweet, little bit of salt. Lets start with the kuih koci’s.
For those unaware, this is very much a sticky rice dumpling served in Malaysia (and similar to other variations served in other South East Asian countries). Unwrapping the dumplings like it was a present on Christmas is always fun and inside was this green dumpling of amazing. It was sticky and slippery on the outside but once you got a hold of it and took the first bite, so good! With the sticky pandan rice protecting the inside so very well (+1 for pandan again), the centre had this sugary but salty coconut mixture. With salt always complimenting a good coconut so well, the flavours worked great together. And the colours were great too! Green on the outside, brown on the inside (you can see it in the background on the bottom picture).
Finally we have Longrain’s layered dessert goodness. So nice and refreshing. From top to bottom we had a silky smooth coconut jelly, a vanilla tapioca pearl mix (like a sago pudding), seasonal fruits, coconut sorbet and dry crunchy coconut pieces. And what a simply refreshing dish. From the bottom up it was soft (like really soft, the jelly was almost like a silk tofu), some chewy, some crunchy but together, they were just great. And considering it was served last, I couldn’t think of a better finishing and refreshing dish.
So lets sum it up. I was lucky enough to be invited by the amazing Poh. I was lucky enough to eat an amazing set of dishes from both her book and the great Longrain. And I was lucky enough to have wonderful viewers like you to support and read the content. You guys are awesome. The night was awesome. And can I just say, taking a look through the book, Poh and her book is awesome. Thank you for the great opportunity HarperCollins and congratulations to Poh for her second book! If you’re into the family-style cookbook with an incredibly funny and quirky layout in pairs (Same Same pairs…but Different) and pictures for all your asian grocery confusions, check it out now (hell, I’ve even labelled things I want to cook already):
And of course, what kind of talk about Poh is complete without a bonus selfie?
NOTE: Fight The Craving was a guest of ABC Books with my opinions being all my own.