The ambience in Tao Chinese Cuisine is regal. The dark interiors of InterContinental Kuala Lumpur’s Chinese restaurant are peppered with quintessential oriental decor pieces comprising tea-making equipments and glass panels patented with cherry blossoms. But when it comes to its menu, it is vibrant.
Executive Chinese Chef Wong Lian You knows what good flavours are as proven with his signature Peking Duck as well as the seasonal favourites like mooncakes and Chinese New Year offerings. He comes in with comforting dishes stemming from his childhood memories. Treading on the idea of home-style cooking, Chef Wong has recently revamped the ala carte menu with new creations like Blue River Prawn with Garlic Butter, Flamed Cod Fish and Sautéed Seafood with Egg White and Truffle.
And to complement these signature dishes, the team at Tao has also created the Abundant Dim Sum Basket that’s meant for sharing. The set is served in a large bamboo basket measuring two feet in diameter and filled with beautifully handmade dim sum in all shapes and colours. Oh, and it is absolutely flatlay-worthy too.
11 varieties of dim sum
The excitement builds up as the server places the huge bamboo basket on the dining table. He slowly lifts the cover — with multiple smartphones arrow at his direction — unveiling a garden of colourful dim sum creations, each hand-crafted with care by Chef Lo Tian Sion, the resident dim sum chef at the restaurant. On the basket are 43 pieces of delicately handmade dim sum, a total of 11 varieties of both savoury and semi-sweet offerings.
Dim sum is best served hot — it is a cardinal sin to leave it to cool as the texture and taste could change tremendously. Three things to look out for good dim sum; how it looks, the right texture and delicious filling. All of these combined create a palatable mouthfeel that makes dim sum or ‘yum cha’ culture very much celebrated all over the world.
Looking at the ones offered at Tao, it is clear that the presentation scores extra points with its extravagance. The portions are generous and enticing. Take your first bite on the Bamboo Charcoal BBQ Chicken Bun that’s easily identifiable by its colour — the black bun is painted with edible golden paint for extra aesthetic. The filling is tasty but tad bit too mushy; it could do with more texture like any good ‘char siew bao’.
But it only gets better from here. Chef Lo makes sure that the classic variations are well highlighted with an interesting spin-off on the usual har gaw and siew mai. The Black Truffle Black Dumpling and the Chicken-Muril Mushroom Dumpling are both flavourful with plenty to celebrate — the former is lightly scented with truffle oil while the latter has a nice bite to it.
Also on the menu are four unique creation that combines modern flavours with a traditional Cantonese-style dumpling skin recipe. Unlike the crystal skin of Chiu Chow dumplings and the wheat-based skin of xiao long bao, this version uses glutinous rice flour to create a chewier texture — almost similar to some steamed Nyonya sweet snacks like onde onde or ang ku kueh. The batter is mixed with natural juices of pumpkin and carrot to give its vibrant colour.
When it comes to the two meat-free items in the cluster, Chef Lo focuses on two popular ingredients, red bean and purple sweet potato. The red bean paste fills up a bun that is shaped like a mushroom while the purple potato filling is mixed with pine nuts for extra texture and taste. The dim sum fare is complemented perfectly with Tao’s Signature Black Tea, perfume with a sweet scent of rose.
Collectively, these morsels are delectable — each with its own individual taste. However, the kitchen team has to be very careful not to overcook the dumpling skin as glutinous-based ones turn limp very easily — leaving a starchy aftertaste and unpleasant mouthfeel. Timing plays a big role as these intricate dumplings straddles on a fine line of being exceptionally tasty or a total mess.
Tao’s Abundant Dim Sum is available on weekends for lunch and dinner, priced at RM200.00 per basket and can be shared with four persons or more. Reservations are highly recommended because each dim sum is made a la minute.
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