Steamboat can perhaps be considered the epitome of social dining, and the first name on every diner’s lips when asked about the cuisine in Malaysia is Yezi. The elegant outlet at Bandar Utama’s The Roof complex has not been open long but has already carved its name as the premier steamboat destination in the country.
A wildly popular method of serving food in China, the steamboat concept involves a bubbling broth in the centre of the table, to which numerous ingredients are added. Yezi’s niche comes from their delectable coconut-based broths (the restaurant’s name itself means ‘coconut’ in Mandarin) and the fact that all ingredients used have been freshly prepared on-site earlier that day.
HE Carlos Ricardo Martins Ceglia, Ambassador of Brazil, admitted to never having eaten steamboat before the night. Nevertheless he entered the dinner in keen anticipation as he was joined by Dato’ Kok Wee Kiat, Chairman of Kok & Associates; Dato’ Simon Wong, Chairman of Asia Vision International; Chairman of Shell Malaysia, Dato’ Iain Lo; Estee Ng, Country Manager Malaysia for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines; and Festival Advisory Committee member Dr Beh Chor Kim, Director/Consultant Cardiologist, HeartScan International.
Dr Beh Chor Khim, Soon Poh Lin, Dato’ Simon Wong, Datin Michelle Shu, Dato’ Iain Lo, Datin Sainy Chun, Anastasia Martins Ceglia, HE Carlos Ricardo Martins Ceglia
Cheong Dik Hau, Jen Lin Wong, Abraham Ch’ng, Dato’ Kok Wee Kiat, Datin Poh Thiam, and Ann Ch’ng
Datin Michelle Shu, Dato’ Simon Wong, Dr Beh Chor Khim, Dato’ Kok Wee Kiat, Estee Ng, and Fam Yoke Lei
As guests congregated for a pre-dinner cocktail at The Roof’s spectacular Stratosphere bar, a converted helipad, a clear night sky offered magnificent vistas of the distant KL skyline. The rooftop has been recently revamped to resemble a garden with hedges and patio furniture aplenty and it was the ideal setting for the guests to mingle, catch up among old friends and admire the breathtaking sunset.
Stratosphere @ The Roof is the perfect setting for a pre-dinner drink
Dato’ Simon Wong, Datin Michelle Shu, Dato’ Kee Hua Chee, Katrina Wong, and Andrew Tan Yan Hoang
Cheong Dik Hau, Jen Lin Wong, and Datin Su Wai Fun
Dato’ Steve Day, Organising Chairman of MIGF, took the sky-high opportunity to welcome the guests for the evening and introduce their hosts – partners and founders of The Group, Dax Lee and Cheong Dik Hau, and Yezi Director and General Manager Katrina Wong as well as the chef for the evening Pan Chee Meng.
Dax Lee greeting the guests and promising a memorable dinner
As the guests arrived at their tables and found their seats, their appetites were whetted with a trio of appetisers – Tong Sum century egg, so named because due to the length of its preservation; homemade Yezi hand rolls stuffed with otak-otak; and deliciously moreish salt and pepper mushrooms.
As the doors to the guests’ private dining room swung open, all heads turned to see two enormous bowls of broths brought to the tables ready to indulge the eager diners. The specially-created wild forest truffle mushroom broth provided a fascinating difference to the traditional steamboat broths, which are made with plain water letting the ingredients take the flavour. This fact was not lost on Abec Technology CEO Abraham Ch’Ng, who said: “The broth has completely turned everything I thought I knew about steamboat on its head – it is just delicious.”
Steamboat cuisine involves a giant bowl of soup in the centre of the table
The first of the fresh ingredients to be introduced to the bubbling liquid was the glorious Alaskan snow crab, whose exquisite appearance was matched only by its flavour. The many seafood fans around the table delighted in seeing the crab’s stunning claws enter the broth to kick-start the feast.
This seafood theme was kept alive with the introduction of a geoduck – a large clam found commonly off the Western coast of North America. That didn’t prevent the unique ingredient from being a major hit when introduced to traditional Asian cuisine however, and guest lauded the combination with the truffle mushroom broth.
Alaskan Snow Crab and Geoduck
The following pair of meats – a Japanese Matsusaka beef and Spanish black pig both came presented in floral form as their arrival piqued the interest of the animated diners. This anticipation was deserved as the meats’ introduction to the broth revealed the tenderness of the meat and the succulent flavours received further appreciation from all.
Japanese Matsusaka Beef and Spanish Black Pig
Squid balls and black truffle balls were the next items to be inserted into the pot as many diners could hardly believe the magnitude of the banquet they were enjoying. Renowned food connoisseur Dato’ Kok remarked that a Frenchman may have balked at the idea of using black truffle in a soup but that the flavourful balls meshed perfectly in with the other ingredients.
Black Truffle Balls and Squid Balls
The Black Truffle Balls being introduced to the bubbling pot of broth
For many diners, the highlight of the gastronomic adventure was the next item – lobster salad balls. Exploding in the mouth, the lobster balls left many diners clamouring for more as the juicy seafood flavours remained a hit.
Lobster Salad Balls and Pork Mui Choy Balls
Dato’ Simon Wong leaning in for another bowlful of the delicious soup
The final trio of ingredients – Mui Choy pork balls, a prawn paste and coconut dumplings finished the dinner in style. With the broth at the centre of the table now barely recognisable in flavour from that which was first brought to the table, diners were continually surprised by the myriad of ingredients introduced to the bowl and savoured every last spoonful.
Finally into the broths were added very traditional Chinese elements – seaweed fish noodles, mixed vegetables and mushrooms. With diners full after countless bowls of the delicious soup, Chef Pan unveiled his dessert of coconut with avocado – prepared inside a hollowed out coconut in keeping with the restaurant’s namesake.
Mixed Vegetables and Mushrooms are an essential part of every steamboat
A dessert of Coconut and Avocado
Dato’ Steve began the post-dinner speeches with thanking the whole team at Yezi for affording the 22 diners such a spectacular meal in a stunning location and was full of praise for Chef Pan’s choice of ingredients and preparation methods.
A delighted Dato’ Steve Day thanking the team at Yezi for an excellent Publicity Dinner experience
HE Carlos Ricardo Martins Ceglia remarked that on his first taste of steamboat, he had been immediately won over. “I have only been here in Malaysia for a couple of months and I must say that the amount of amazing food here has totally astounded me. Tonight has been a fascinating insight into Chinese culture and this is a restaurant which I look forward to coming back to again and again,” he said.
Steamboat debutant HE Carlos Ricardo Martins Ceglia giving his closing remarks
Festival Advisory Committee member Dato’ Kok Wee Kiat closed out the evening’s speeches, saying: “Tonight, I feel as though I have been culturally slapped in the face. I have been eating steamboat all over the world for many years but I can honestly say that I have never tasted anything quite like this.”
Dato’ Kok Wee Kiat speaking on behalf of the Festival Advisory Committee
The elite diners of Yezi’s MIGF Publicity Dinner
The full steamboat experience is available at Yezi for RM228 per person without wine, or RM288 with wine pairings included. To read the full Festival Menu, click here.