Do you consider yourself an adventurous foodie? Are you constantly on the look out for fresh flavours and exotic recipes to try?
If you are, you’re in luck as Nook at Aloft Kuala Lumpur has welcomed a new executive chef into its midst, and along with her, 2 brand new ethnic-inspired menus of novel styles and bold flavours. Originally from Ghana, Chef Phoebe Donko-Hanson cooks with food influences from Haiti, Jamaica, South America, Vietnam, Korea and more.
Chef Phoebe's 2 new menus are made up of an a la carte menu featuring colourful dishes from equally varied backgrounds and cultures, and a special chef's tasting menu called the 'The Ethnic-Inspired Collection' that consists of 6 gastronomic courses created by her.
Get very excited as here is a chef who describes food as “love”. She has also made the time to tell us more about her cooking in an interview below.
What encompasses 'Ethnic-inspired' cuisine?
To me, ethnic cuisine is reflective of any type of cuisine that is indigenous to a cluster of people sharing the same ethnicity or cultural background. My inspiration is grounded in Ghanaian cuisine which I grew up eating. We use a lot of spices like birds eye chilies, ginger, cloves, and more.
What are some of these foods you grew up with that are now in the menus?
Peanut soup, eggplant, plantain, sea bass are some that you can find on the tasting menu. On our a la carte menu, starting in November, you can find prawns, mushroom, clams, brussel sprouts, spinach, sweet potatoes, mussels and calamari to name a few.
Grilled Eggplant with Lamb
The menus put a lot of focus on spice. Where did your relationship with spicy food stem from?
I spent the majority of my childhood in tropical Ghana where, much like Malaysia, the sun shines quite fiercely. Most tropical ethnicities tend to lean towards spicier cuisine which also helps cool you down, as contradictory as that might sound. It was mostly bird’s eye chilis and ginger which tend to have gradual heat that creeps up on you.
What are some of the must-tries from both menus, and why?
There are flavours there that will be familiar but different to Malaysians, such as the peanut soup and the eggplant dish on the tasting menu. On the a la carte menu, I have a mushroom pesto pasta which I would recommend having with Papardelle. There is also an eggplant and quinoa with soy caramel dish. For the carnivores, we have a braised short-rib sandwich which is packed to the rim with succulent, meaty goodness and topped with a red cabbage slaw.
Beetroot Panna Cotta
What can diners expect when they dine at Nook and taste your food?
They can expect to taste the love that my amazing kitchen team puts into the food. We have a very passionate and dedicated brigade of Chefs here at Aloft and you can taste it on the plate.
'The Ethnic-Inspired Collection' tasting menu is priced at RM168 nett per person. The 6-course menu includes a beetroot panna cotta, tuna tartare, peanut soup, grilled eggplant, beef tenderloin and milk chocolate dessert.
For more information or to make reservations, please call +603 2723 1188 or visit the official website here.
(Photos: Aloft Kuala Lumpur)