In a quiet and leafy suburb of Petaling Jaya Section 17 sits a row of bustling and vibrant restaurants, the centrepiece of which is the exquisitely modern Soleil restaurant, headed up by renowned Belgian Chef Evert Onderbeke. With spectacular seafood, sumptuous meats and some of the best desserts anywhere in Malaysia, Chef Evert’s Modern European Festival Menu was the latest to be enjoyed by 20 of the country’s most distinguished gourmands in an MIGF Publicity Dinner.

Lee Clarke, Robert Gerald Clarke, Dato’ Steve Day, and HE Christophe Penot

Dato’ Kee Hua Chee and Patrick Goi

Among the guests were HE Matti Pullinen, Ambassador of Finland; HE Christophe Penot, Ambassador of France; Pantai Hospital Cardiologist Tan Sri Datuk Dr Ridzwan Bin Abu Bakar; Tan Sri Michael Yeoh, Chief Executive Officer and Director, Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute; Malaysian Celebrity Food Ambassador and Festival Advisory Committee member, Datuk Redzuawan Ismail, better known to the world as ‘Chef Wan’; and Dato’ Wei Chuan Beng, Group Managing Director of REDtone International Bhd.

Chef Evert Onderbeke, Simon Wee Howe Yew, Datuk Redzuawan Ismail, and Loh Mei Mei

Roger Peter Koch, Datin Su Wai Fun, and Jean Marc Lafosse

Dato’ Steve Day, Dato’ Wei Chuan Beng, Datin Choo Yeh Fung, and Patrick Goi

Jolene Lee, Yukimi Penot, and HE Christophe Penot

As the ice was broken between the assorted guests over pre-dinner welcome drinks and canapes of Belgian waffle with smoked eel, momotaro tomato and mozzarella, and foie gras crème brulee with rhubarb, the excitement in the air for the meal ahead was palpable.

Canapes of Foie Gras Creme Brulee, Belgian Waffle with Smoked Eel, and Momotaro Tomato and Mozzarella

Dato’ Steve and Tan Sri Datuk Dr Ridzwan Bin Abu Bakar enjoying some pre-dinner canapes

Festival Organising Chairman Dato’ Steve Day introduced Chef Evert and Simon Wee Howe Yew, Director of Sungei Wang Group – the company which owns the restaurant – to excited guests while the chef promised a highly memorable culinary feast.

Chef Evert welcomes the guests to Soleil

Roger Peter Koch, HE Matti Pullinen, and Tan Sri Michael Yeoh 

“Tonight we are lucky to be trying the food of one of the finest chefs in the world and we all very much look forward to what you have in store for us,” said Dato’ Steve.

And, with that, the diners took their seats amid much animated conversation, with several guests meeting one another for the first time and others catching up among old friends.

The first course was then served with the first of Chef Evert’s many seafood speciality dishes – Dutch herring with cucumber, razor clam and radish. The finishing touches to the dish were added right in front of guests’ eyes as the restaurant’s excellent service team came around with teapots filled with a distinctly Japanese Dashi consommé. Dato’ Wei Chuan Beng was among the diners with heavy praise for the dish, saying: “The dish was very special and highly unique, with just the right amount of consommé so as not to overpower the taste of that delicious fish.”

A Dashi Consomme is added to the Dutch Herring with Cucumber, Razor Clam and Radish

A wave of underwater delicacies washed up on guests’ plates for the next dishes: a Hamachi, apple, smoked mackerel and cashew nut served with a delightful calamansi broth was followed quickly by a dish of squid, paprika and Tierenteyn pickles. To present a contrast in textures, the latter dish was brought out with heavenly mini charcoal burgers, containing squid tempura, avocado cream and salad in a lively change of pace.

Hamachi, Apple, Smoked Mackerel and Cashew Nuts served with Calamansi

Squid, Paprika and Tierenteyn Pickles

Mini Charcoal Burgers filled with Squid Tempura, Avocado Cream and Salad

With guests eagerly enjoying every last bite and the on-site sommelier’s wine pairing continuing to be on point, the fourth and final of Chef Evert’s ‘starter’ courses arrived. A dish of oyster, baby spinach, mud crab and truffle foam kept the ‘food of the ocean’ spirit alive and many guests agreed it was one of the outstanding dishes on a menu full of them – the light and fluffy foam juxtaposing the resplendent shellfish perfectly.

Oyster, Baby Spinach, Mud Crab and a Truffle Foam

Looking to refresh and restart, the Hoegaarden beer and yuzu palate cleanser washed away the previous seafood courses like the ocean’s wave. 

While guests were enjoying their palate cleansers and giving their stomachs a respite, Dato’ Steve went around the table introducing each of the guests with his hilarious trivia about each diner a highlight of the evening as always.

The fifth course on the menu, and the last of the seafood offerings, saw a pollock prepared with garlic, fennel and verbena – a tribute to the beautiful herbs and flavourings of the chef’s Western European homeland. Evert is a passionate supporter of using local ingredients and preparing them in a modern European way, and this dish truly epitomised this spirit.

Pollock served with Garlic, Fennel and Verbena

Finally, it was time for the last of the savoury offerings – lamb, zucchini, couscous, chorizo, Miso and eggplant – presenting a globetrotting mix of different foods and flavours from all over the world. Regular Soleil diner and keen MIGF gourmand since the very first edition, Tan Sri Datuk Dr Ridzwan had particularly high praise for the dish. “The lamb is so juicy and it is the perfect complement to the seafood that has gone before it. I can hardly wait for dessert now,” he said.

Lamb, Zucchini, Couscous, Chorizo, Miso, and Eggplant

And his wish was quickly granted as an early contender for MIGF’s Most Outstanding Dessert was served – combining banana, caramel, chocolate and a tangy bergamot sorbet, the blend of sweet and sour ingredients gave diners a final course to savour.

Chef Evert plates up his dessert

A dessert of Banana, Caramel, Chocolate and Bergamot

With bellies full and continued chatter and laughter in the air, Dato’ Steve took the chance to kick off the evening’s closing speeches. He thanked Chef Evert and all of his team for creating such a wonderful menu, admiring the hard work and preparation that had gone into each dish. Many diners nodded in agreement when the Organising Chairman stated that he would certainly return to the tranquil and elegant restaurant for a second sitting of the sumptuous Festival Menu.

The delighted diners applaud the whole Soleil team on a job well done

Dato’ Steve thanks Chef Evert and his team on behalf of all the diners

Next to take up the microphone was the amiable and eloquent Chef Wan who, as Celebrity Food Ambassador to Malaysia, particularly appreciated the work of his culinary colleague in creating the fabulous menu. He said: “Everything that you have served to us tonight has been beautifully presented and perhaps even better tasting. It is obvious how carefully you have thought about putting this menu together and it is that attention to detail that shines through the most.”

Datuk Redzuawan Ismail, better known as Chef Wan, gives his closing remarks after an excellent meal 

The Soleil team get a big thumbs up from Chef Wan

Finally, it fell to HE Christophe Penot to give his closing remarks, as he congratulated Chef Evert and his team on one of the finest European menus he had tasted during a career that has taken him all over the globe. “I loved the progression of the starters and every course has just been delicious. We thank you all for a fantastic dinner from start to finish.”

HE Christophe Penot, Ambassador of France, has the final say on a fantastic evening

The eclectic group of distinguished diners at the elegant entrance to Soleil

The full Festival Menu at Soleil is available for just RM295++ without wines or RM445++ with wines. A ‘light’ version of the Menu is available at RM205++ without wines and RM315++ with wines. Click here to learn more about Chef Evert and here to view the full menu.

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