Amazing, just so amazing!

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GASTRONOMY; is it the art or science of good eating? That’s the experience four of us had etched in our memories after slowly working through a divine 10-course “Great China West Dinner” at Malamay.

The unique degustation menu took two months to create – planning, sourcing produce, testing dishes, re-testing dishes, choosing a great wine partner (Ocean Eight) and more refining. No joke.

Good eating – no, great eating – is Malamay’s raison d’être, which is why I want to write an encyclopedia covering every single dish, but that’s not meant to be. So I’ll touch on highlights to give you a flavour of why you need to book your own experience.

First, the inspiration. Malamay is part of the Chairman Group. And the Chairman Group includes Michelin-starred Chairman Hong Kong. Together these two restaurants decided to host this series of dinners and, not wanting to do anything by half measure, the Hong Kong team flew here to do so. Just like that.

Second, the theme. The team presents exciting dishes from an exciting food region, the great west of China, with its population of 20 million and rich food history.

Third, the ingredients. The team has hand-picked premium local produce and flown in items from around Asia, including fresh young ginger, a type only picked the second and third week of September when it is firm and crunchy, 15-year aged Chinese wine and Pu Erh Tea, the best available in China.

Fourth, the dishes. Where do I begin?

The king prawns with sweet chilli jam, presented in a tiny cone, was a superb start. The jam is made in-house as it is in mid-western China with dark palm sugar, tamarind and fresh herbs. To the side was crunchy witlof and tucked inside amazing chicken smoked in Pu Erh, which gets better (and more expensive) with age. The first mouthful is smoky and then the sensation gets stronger until you’re in another zone. This is “experience food” at its best.

Seafood lovers will fall for the fresh prawns, stir-fried with shrimp oil and shrimp roe as a seasoning, so no salt is required. The prawns were served two ways and the super crunchy prawn head was to die for. We applauded the ever-so-thinly sliced taro, finely formed into thin crispy chips.

The mud crab steamed in aged wine was amazing. The Szechuan roast duck was amazing. The oxtail stew, featuring tastes of the Middle East, was amazing.

And dessert? Earl Grey custard with coconut sago pearls and candy that caused a surprising popping sensation in the mouth. Told you this was an experience.

Malamay, 1 Burbury Close, Barton, will stage this exclusive dinner, at $150, as part of Good Food Month, on October 11-13 and 17-19. Call 6162 1220.

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Wendy Johnson
Wendy Johnson: Food reviewer for Canberra CityNews magazine since 2004, covering stories for true foodies to digest.

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