[编辑 Editor 吕大人 英译 Translator 刘大人 摄影 Photographer 刘大人]
The folks at Taman Sentosa may have been left bewildered by choice of the previously popular seafood establishment to vacate this landmark location along Jalan Sutera for other pasture green. Moments later “rumour” has it that another household name will soon take its place and shake up the ever-changing F&B scene with cuisines worthy of at least a single Michelin Star *. The question remains: WHO?
BINGO! For those of you who enjoyed good homestyle food at reasonable prices in Taman Johor Jaya since 1994, you will be glad to know that Kitchen Stories will now up the ante to serve modern Chinese cuisine at this new location. Aptly titled KS Treasures, the restaurant has a bounty of delicious dishes crafted with effort, skills, quality ingredients and helmed by a new head chef. Not yet a month since opening for business on 19 May 2018 and without any media shout out, sheer curiosity and the usual word-of-mouth have indeed travel fast in attracting both the traditionalists and hipsters alike!
Overall bright, modern, casual and of course with a new concept, we would expect KS Treasures to have something completely different in store, so we are here to taste dishes from the latest additions to the old signatures. Upon arrival, we are warmly greeted by May at the entrance and led to our table. True to our expectations, KS Treasures presents itself with traditional fine-dining opulence that catches our attention immediately when we walk in, with pops of colour and warm decorative touches that brighten up the place.
As if to prove the point that the new establishment is not “all the glitz and no substance”, there is guaranteed freshness here as the ingredients used are literally right outside the restaurant, with tanks of live seafood lining the outer perimeters. And if we do wish, we can witness the catching even choosing our own “victims”, attesting to the freshness that goes into our dishes.
The brainchild of Jeremy (owner of Kitchen Stories) and Benson (head chef & co-owner), the new 380-seater KS Treasures doesn’t just shallowly feature a particular cuisine in each dish of its meticulously-designed menus but delivers a timeless hodgepodge of contemporary Asian elements to present a seamless journey. Hailing from Segamat and a proud Anak Johor, Chef Benson‘s culinary experience span over 18 years that took him to Singapore with the Tung Lok Group and Marina Bay Sands Hotel, as well as stints in the award-winning Michelin Star Cantonese restaurant Hakkasan in Miami (USA) and the Ritz Carlton in Shanghai. With such glowing credentials under his belt, we expect to meet a gentleman approaching his fifties, only to be greeted by a youthful looking dude who showed a maturity far beyond his young age!
While waiting for our dinner to be served, just as Chef Benson and his culinary team are in action in the kitchen, we helped ourselves with some crunchy potato appetiser that pairs well with some curry powder (upon request) and took our sips of red wine specially brought along by our host.
Chicken Soup, Peach Plum, White Fungus, Coconut
The first of our three starters was served in a hollowed out coconut shell, the flavourful soup consists of chicken and an assortment of peach plum, white fungus and Chinese herbs which was double-boiled to seal in the essences to provide a nice mixture of sweet coconut & herbal taste. Overall, a yummy & healthy combination, this refreshing Chicken Soup which yields the real fragrance and natural sweetness from the coconut flesh turn out to be an excellent thirst quencher for this hot and humid June. Soup is always good, and we very much enjoyed this to the last drop.
Deep Fried Duck Salad &
Chilled Cherry Tomato, Sour Plum
Moving onto the second dish, the Deep Fried Duck Salad was undoubtedly an exciting starter. Shreds of succulent, deep-fried duck accompanied by wild-rocket, pomelo beads and pine nuts were tossed thoroughly before each serving has a delightful balance of meat with greens, might just be what we need to get our evening boost. With more duck meat than salad greens that are actually delicious, we are definitely not complaining!
One of the dishes that tickled our interest was such a simple, yet lovely Asian appetiser – lightly pickled and Chilled Cherry Tomatoes uniquely served “on the rocks” (on a large mound of shaved ice). Sweet, savoury, tart and juicy, the cured Sour Plum added a tangy pop of sweet juiciness to this bite-size hors-d’oeuvre, packed with flavours waiting to explode in our mouths – a divine way to getting us ready for the upcoming dishes.
Poached Seafood Rice with Supreme Bisque
Now onto the always loved and much anticipated Poached Seafood Rice with Supreme Bisque. A stellar dish of the restaurant and one of Chef Benson’s signature dishes, this fan favourite serves up a generous amount of protein with fresh clams, jumbo prawns, live whole crab, crunchy vegetables, fragrant rice and rice crisps adding many layers and oceanic freshness into this soup. Seriously, there’s nothing like tucking into a bowl of rice drenched in a rich seafood-y stock that had us sweeping the pot for the last remnants, and this has become our new-found favourite dish as well.
Sauteed Grouper, White Pepper, Trilogy Onion, Cast Iron Plate &
Signature Homemade Spinach Beancurd, Enoki, Shimeji Mushroom, Oyster Sauce
We always know when the next dish is about to arrive from the intense peppery aroma that wafts our way and accompanied by the sound of the sauce bubbling on the hot cast iron plate. Still sizzling from the heat, the chunky slices of Sauteed Grouper were firm but tender enough to taste the natural sweetness, and we could appreciate the subtle spiciness from the white pepper and onions, especially with the extra chew from the you-char-kway that soaked up all the goodness.
On the other hand, the Signature Homemade Spinach Beancurd was amazingly sublime with soft, rough skin on the outside, and a smooth and creamy texture on the inside. We were glad the tofu has a clean and neutral taste since we find the Oyster Sauce a tad salty, so the beancurd certainly helped to cut through the saltiness. Coupled with Enoki and Shimeiji Mushrooms and hopefully more greens, this dish can definitely add even more nutrients to our meal.
Smoked Spare Ribs with Longjing Tea Leaf
By far one of the best ribs we’ve come across, the Smoked Spare Ribs were soft enough to cut through like butter even with chopsticks. The robust, savoury marinade was layered with a unique “musky” taste made possible from smoking it with a right amount of Longjing Tea Leaves, causing each chunk of tea-infused meat to be a burst of flavour with each mouthful. We devoured all eight ribs until the only thing left were bones!
Sauteed Sea Prawns with Sweet Ferment Rice
With our inner carnivore awakened by the time we wiped the last morsel of meat off the bone, we were overjoyed upon realising that the next dish was a hearty plate of Sauteed Sea Prawns with Sweet Ferment Rice. With prawns that are sweet and fresh, we almost overlooked the slightly tangy sweet savoury sauce, which tastes mildly alcoholic till we realised there’s more than meets the eyes. As it turns out, we began enthusiastically scooping up the sauces with the sakura-shaped mantou (fried buns) to soak up all the sweet fermented rice gravy. Someone commented that the mantou here has a different texture compared to those at other Chinese restaurants, only to be informed that they were made by the Chef’s wife, May – who first greeted us on our arrival.
Note to Jeremy: Do make these mantou available as ala-carte or side order, we would gladly order or even tapao some home. 🙂
Braised Assorted Treasures, served in Pumpkin
And finally, for our finale, we were treated to a wealth of Braised Assorted Treasures, served in Pumpkin. A long-handle ladle was provided so we could actually scrape the flesh off the pumpkin and have it together with the rest of the “treasures” that include slices of dried fish maw, dried sea cucumber, shellfish and braised mushrooms, pretty much like a mini “Poon Choy” that will touch the hearts of the elderly (and young) alike!
Overall, it’s clear that Chef Benson is extremely passionate and knowledgeable when it comes to Modern Chinese cuisine. The food plating is exquisite and filled with details, as expected of a fine dining establishment. More importantly, the taste and experience reflected that. Do check out KS Treasures next time you are in the mood to treat yourself to some traditional, yet contemporary Chinese fine dining. We can almost always expect to have to queue for a table soon (like the good old days with the former restaurant), so you might want to get there early or make a reservation to avoid disappointment. Cheers!
KS TREASURES 美楽軒
📍 155 & 157, Jalan Sutera, Taman Sentosa, 81050 Johor Bahru, Johor
📞 +607-665 1133
🕚 Daily from 11.30am – 3.00pm; 5.30pm – 10.30pm
📱 KS Treasures Restaurant 美乐轩
🍽️ NO PORK, NO LARD