Saturday, December 18, 2010

Nee's Birthday at Raintree Restaurant BCCK

Kuching is really running out of good places to dine in.

"Western Cuisines" in Kuching revolve around Aussie and/or American-influenced, huge chunky plates of typical BBQ, roast, deep fried meat, sausages, fish with mash potatos and garden salad. And it is always ceasar salad, and they can't even do one properly (Ceasar sauce suddenly becomes thousand island or worse; plain mayo). Once in a while, we would get a place with a slight fusion of Japanese or Thai or Vietnamese-infused western cuisine.

Every year, at this time of the year (I don't mean Christmas), when my birthday is just around the corner, Greg gets very nervous. This year there's no more Sarah from Magenta to depend on, nor is there a romantic island getaway (which makes the food part inconsequential). This year there's only Kuching & Greg can do Junk & Blablabla only so many times & it doesn't work anymore. Four Points & Pullman feel the same.

But guess what, the last-minute Greg managed to pull another rabbit out of the hat. If this one wasn't good, he would have been in trouble but it was good. Either God really loves him, or maybe it's just a case of good timing; happened to be looking at the right page of the newspaper when Raintree happened to do a press release on its Christmas promotions, and atoms subsequently collide.

This is Raintree Restaurant at the new Borneo Convention Centre in Kuching. The modern building structure itself is a sight to behold on its own, not to mention the interior. Greg didn't take a photo of the building exterior, so this is what you'd have to contend with.

Excellent use of the Orang Ulu Design on the ceiling. This completes a whole 360 degree environment that envelopes you as soon as you sit down.

Nice use of moving projection. Somehow it worked here. I think normally this is a risky thing to do in a classy restaurant cos it may backfire & the whole place can turn into a seedy karaoke lounge. But those guys did it well.

It's always a pleasant surprise to find a musical trio. There's another female pianist hidden somewhere behind the wall off-frame. And the best thing was this wasn't a group of old musicians playing cob-webbed John Denver or Cliff Richards. And the guy with the guitar sings.

The restaurant takes the shape of a semi-circular stucture, with panoramic windows that look out onto the courtyard & the wide river below. In fact, the BCCK sits on an island-peninsula-like plot of land in the middle of the huge Santubong River.

Although it may look like Tiger Beer Garden at night, but I'm sure you can see the vast expanse of the mighty river & be in awe during the day. I can imagine a Western outdoor wedding out here.

So with the music playing & our stomachs drumming, we began to do what we came here to do.

Sesame bun ~ served warm and soft.

Our appertisers: juicy scallops pan seared to the just-right tenderness. Topped with tapenade and water crest salad. Presentation is delicate and pretty.

Cream of asparagus soup with chicken potato quenelles (dumplings). Served piping hot which is what it is supposed to be. Maybe being Chinese, I don't have a thing for lukewarm soup. The soup was a little runny though. Then again, thicker, creamier ones would probably be an overkill. Quenelle was yummy in the soup.

I had the turkey gallantine. This is excellent stuff because it is always hard to cook edible turkey. The chef, Virginia Kedit (whom we had an opportunity to chat with later), had done a excellent job by doing a roulade with thinly sliced apple, chestnut and sage stuffings. Very tasty, tender, definitely not the usual tough and bland turkey meat that needs lots of cranberry and brown sauce to cover up what's lacking. The cranberry sauce and pumpkin potato puree add to the layering of flavours. I didn't know I could do it but I walloped the whole thing to a knockout.

Greg had the roast rack of lamb with the potato hash and spinach, instead of the cod fish which I advised against (otherwise he would have to make very good friends with the toilet when we get home). 

We had the meat done medium rare, which came as nicely juicy with a crispy outer layer, probably from the honey, and served with a dollop of your choice of English, French mustard or mint sauce. See, this is what I'm saying. There's none of that need for the usual pepper or mushroom or brown gravy as cover-ups. Serving a dish as it is tells you a lot about the skills of a good chef in the kitchen. Virginia  is one chef who knows how to bring out the original flavour in her meat. Oh, the hash is really good.

Ok. I should have expected this since it's done before but I was surprised again. Greg must have put something in my drink.

Raintree arranged a special treat of ice cream cake coated with meringue for this occasion. We find the staff attentive, polite and generally friendly. No As for the singing though, but they did try. TQ Raintree for making the effort.

I've always been intrigued by this thing. I've seen it in restaurants several times now. Apparently it's called gooseberries & they're imported. Anyone knows where we can get this in Kuching?

And finally, the dessert: Christmas pudding with cinnamon ice cream. Thumbs-up for this. The pudding was coated with chocolate. It had the right sweetness and very rich, and it went  really well with the cinnamon ice cream.

The Raintree Restaurant is the definitely the place to go when you have functions. It has the right environment, the right space, the right music & most importantly the right food. We'll definitely recommend this place to friends & family & we'll be back for more. We also hope that the quality stays consistent.

Thank God there's one more place to go to in Kuching. That should help us pull through the next year.


derby said...

happy belated birthday nee! i think the orangey fruit is also known as 'physalis'or chinese lantern. they remind me of those 'pok pok zhi' that grows wild on weed/vine.

Nee said...

I think if I can't find the physalis, I might have to substitute with the pok pok zhi. Honk if you see an auntie picking pok pok zhi by the roadside, It might just be me!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your kind comments about our restaurant. In Europe we call those gooseberries; physalis. It is not easy to find in Kuching but you can sometimes get them in Cold Storage.
Happy Christmas from the team at BCCK
Trevor McCartney, CE

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