Chef Bao @ Essence, Hotel Imperial, Kuala Lumpur


    It was my first time to the newly refurbished Hotel Imperial (Hotel Sheraton Imperial formerly) upon an invitation from Food Street. The revamption has brought to us a not only a whole new luxurious hotel, but also a hot spot for the epicureans – Essence.

    We were seated at a table set amid lush greenery that makes one feel like being in a suspended garden. Taking a few steps more reveals a whole new dimension – a dimly lit place brightened by colourful cushions, eccentric neon lights and sleek red walls.The all day dining restaurant offers ala carte as well as international buffets to tantalize one’s taste buds.

    Those seeking a tasteful, culinary adventure are sure to find it in the restaurant’s exciting spread of buffets. However, my sole purpose here was to meet Michael Huynh (aka Chef Bao). He was making his first appearance here in Malaysia to share with us his unique culinary experience featuring a special taste of Vietnamese cuisine, but with a twist of New York.

    Fusion ya mean? Many have been arguing whether globalization is good for the earth or the economy, but I’m pretty sure that the influx of various foreign flavours has definitely enlivened the gastronomy world. Chef Bao is daring in introducing bold flavours or new ideas in his cooking. He brings together ingredients from different cuisines in imaginative juxtapositions, through the methods of preparations and presentations.




    Lamb nem on lemongrass skewerSpicy beef and pomelo

    Tamarind tomato gazpachoPan roasted quail

    From Top Left

    Lamb Nem on Lemongrass Skewer (RM34)

    Lamb Nem on Lemongrass Skewer arrived in an eye catching display. Tender pieces of lamb are cooked on a lemongrass skewer and drenched with a delicious home made satay sauce. The side of star fruit, red onion and orange in kalamansi vinaigrette was really appetizing as well.

    Spicy Beef Cube and Pomelo (RM30)

    Alternate layers of beef cubes, pineapple cubes, and pomelo slices are arranged alternately on a ring of pineapple. Intensely spiced, sharp and tangy, the beef cubes have won our hearts over.

    Tamarind Tomato Gazpacho (RM26)

    In the mood for something light yet flavourful, we opted for the chilled Tamarind Tomato Gazpacho. The cool, seasoned tomato soup is served with huge slabs of marinated bay scallop and garnished with diced grape tomatoes and pineapples. Thinking of this sourish cold soup makes me shallow my saliva again and again.

    Pan Roasted Quail with Duck Confit, Quail Egg, Sweet Soy and Daikon Hash (RM40)

    Tender, slightly sweet and delicious, the quail meat is simple and satisfying because it is done perfectly. I love the flavourful duck confit, the delicate quail egg, the daikon hash (raddish cake slices) and the sweet soy sauce which did a good work in tying all the flavours together.

    Fermented bean curd lacquered roasted black cod

    Fermented Bean Curd Lacquered Roasted Black Cod with Heart of Palm Puree (RM65)

    An unusual twist from the usual miso cod fish, the immaculate square fish slice is slathered with creamy sweet palm puree. Credits to the chef for the perfectly cooked fish, it was succulent on the inside and crispy on the skin.

    Ginger honey crispy barramundi

    Ginger Honey Crispy Barramundi (RM65)

    It was spreaded with a generous serving of caramelized endive, cherry tomato and sausage herb vinaigrette. The seared barramundi’s delicious crispy skin reveals flaky, succulent, tender meat. A lift of fork is enough to set the fish flakes apart.


    Lemongrass crusted lamb chop

    Lemongrass Crusted Lamb Chop (RM70)

    I was attracted to their diminutive appearance on the plate, like little meat lollipops. The lamb has very intense flavour of lemongrass and fantastically delicious. The pears add a note of fall and match up with squash for sweet, full-flavored gravy.



    While the freedom and creativity lies on the chef’s palate, we had a great satisfying Vietnamese meal, fusion Vietnamese meal to be exact. Do jump at the chance to savour on Chef Bao’s cooking with a modern riff before 13th April. You’ll eat so well and drink so deliciously you’ll forget your whereabouts.


    Michael Huynh (Chef Bao, left) – Best Chef of 2003, by New York Magazine

    First Floor
    Hotel Imperial Kuala Lumpur
    (formerly Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur)
    Jalan Sultan Ismail,
    50250 Kuala Lumpur.
    Opens from
    6.30am – 1.00am

    Bao @ Essence – 4 – 13 April 2008

    Buffet hours:

    Breakfast: 6.30am – 10.30am RM55++ (adult) / RM27.50++ (6-12 yrs)

    Lunch: 12noon – 2.30pm RM68++ (adult) / RM35++ (6-12yrs)

    Dinner: 6.30pm – 10.30pm RM88++ (adult) / RM44++ (6-12yrs)

    Sparkling Sundays Champagne Brunch 12noon – 2.30pm

    RM198++ per adult (inclusive free flow of champagne) / RM98++ food only & children Rm49++ (6-12 yrs)



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