In the heart of KL, just a stone’s throw away from the iconic Twin Towers, down a sleepy driveway, lies one of the capital’s most dreamy French restaurants – Maison Francaise. Translated simply as ‘French House’, this pristinely converted bungalow boasts three spacious floors, warmly lit by polished chandeliers which evoke an almost enchanted feel. Colourful paintings depicting modern art adorn the white washed walls, while a combination of hardwood and granite floors lend an air of understated, chic elegance to the interior.
It is in this most intimate of eateries that the MIGF2015 Publicity Dinners swung into action, bringing together a group of 20 gourmands, hosted by MIGF Organising Chairman Dato’ Steve Day. Among the ritzy guest list was the longest serving MIGF Festival Advisory Committee member, Tunku Dara Tunku Tan Sri Naquiah Binti Al-Marhum Tuanku Ja’afar, Petrosains CEO, Tengku Nasariah Tengku Syd Ibrahim, Prince Court Medical Centre Consultant Thoracic & Cardiovascular Surgeon, Dato’ Dr Ghandiraj Somasundram, Melewar Integrated Engineering CEO, Uwe Ahrens and Bakhache Luxuries MD, Antoine Bakhache.
Lai Voon Hon, Iain Lo, Sainy Chun, Datin Su Wai Fun and Lisa Lai
Dato’ Steve Day, Datuk Rosaline Ganendra, Sainy Chun and Pat Liew
Sabah Bakhache, Daniela Somasundram, Andrea Ahrens and Lisa Lai
Uwe Ahrens, Dato’ Dr Ghandiraj Somasundram, Aaron Soo and Ms Zi
Andrea Ahrens, Sainy Chun and Uwe Ahrens
Sabah Bakhache, Antoine Bakchace and Dato’ Kee Hua Chee
The evening began with pre-dinner drinks at the main bar and as guests trickled in one by one, it was a reunion of old friends and acquaintances, warmly greeting each other as they stepped through the glass panelled doors. ‘Cava Torelle Brut’ made its way around the group while they caught up with one another, exchanging stories while eagerly anticipating the French feast that lay ahead.
Iain Lo, Dato’ Steve Day, Stefan Kocsis and Tengku Nasariah Tengku Syed Ibrahim
After all of the guests assembled, Dato’ Steve called for the restaurant team, introducing owner Sainy Chun, culinary artist Chef Thierry Le Baut and Restaurant Manager Sam. Having opened her restaurant some three years ago, it was Ms Chun’s ardent dream to establish an independent, fine dining restaurant that offered exquisite European fare. Maison Francaise has taken KL’s dining scene by storm, with Brittany-born Chef Thierry at the helm, creating classical French dishes with the utmost of grace.
Sainy Chun and Chef Thierry Le Baut – the masterminds behind Maison Francaise
Following the customary group shot – a time-honoured tradition in these dinners, guests made their way to the rear of the restaurant overlooking the pool, where a classically decorated long table revealed itself.
As guests took their places, the kitchen kicked into gear with Chef Theirry firing away the taster of his seven course menu – the Chef Delight Amuse Bouche, quickly followed by the foie gras ballotine. The creamy pate mingled effortlessly with the accompanying Beetroot jelly and green apple mille-feuille to create a dish that finished long and smooth with complementing sweet notes. A sublime combination which most diners found to be the highlight of the menu.
The jovial Chef Thierry in his element
Foie Gras Ballotine, Home-Smoked Eel, Green Apple Mille-Feuille, Gratinated a la Minute Beetroot Jelly
A gorgeous garden of scallops, herbs, flowers, carrot and wasabi foam came next – a plate delicately put together with the lightest of touches, the creative presentation every bit as manicured as a detailed Japanese garden.
Graden of Scallops, Herbs, Flowers, Carrot, and Wasabi Foam
In between courses, Dato’ Steve gave introductions of each guest, going around the group and divulging often humorous bits of information on each diner. The short bio’s have become a hallmark of the dinners, always eliciting gales of laughter as each individual is introduced.
Dato’ Steve giving his introductions
To cleanse the diners’ palates, a hibiscus granite emerged from the kitchen, paving the way for the main course of the night – lamb prepared in three ways, with basil sauce and glazed chestnuts. Mr Lai gushed over the dish, noting that the taste was equalled only by the exquisite presentation – a plate that looked almost too good to tuck into.
Hibiscus Granite Presentation of Lamb in 3 Cuisson, Basil Sauce, Glazed Chestnuts
Last but not least, the sweet ending of the night came in the form of jivara mousse, raspberry heart, chrysanthemum jelly, garnished with a mojito sphere and raspberry sorbet – a dazzling array of ingredients that perfectly capped off the French feast.
Jivara Mousse, Raspberry Heart, Chrysanthemum Jelly, Mojito Sphere and Raspberry Sorbet
Eminent surgeon, Dato’ Dr Ghandi, a seasoned traveller that has dined in Michelin-starred restaurants around the world, compared the experience to some of the best he came across in his travels.“The French food here has an Asian feel to it…it’s very exciting and very different and sets it apart from what you would find in Paris for example. It’s interesting and makes people want to come back”, he remarked.
The highest praise of the evening came from none Tunku Dara herself, who was asked to say a few words on behalf of the diners: “It’s been a long time since I’ve had such wonderful French food. In fact, it’s been one of the finest meals I’ve had in my 15 years of MIGF dining,” a comment that received a raucous round of applause as the group clapped in agreement.
Tunku Dara giving praise to the team for one of the best meals in her 15 years of MIGF Publicity dinners
On a final note, Dato’ Steve graciously thanked the team for an exquisite meal, both in terms of food and service – a bar set incredibly high to begin a month-long gourmet journey through some of KL’s best restaurants. To end the night, the group retreated to the bar below for nightcaps, and under the warm cast of the spherical lights illuminating the pool area, the first of the MIGF publicity dinners drew to a close.
To savour the city’s finest French cuisine, the full Festival Menu (without wine) at Maison Francaise costs RM380 + per person. To view the menu, click here and to read more about Chef Thierry, click here.