One clarification here: Genting Highlands, renowned in Malaysia/Singapore for nearly half a century for its casino-resort, is technically *not* in Kuala Lumpur, but rather a 1-hour's drive into the highlands of the neighbouring state of Pahang. But this premier gambling capital of Malaysia even shares the same IDD code as Kuala Lumpur, rather than its home state of Pahang, and its main clientele are the denizens of KL, functioning much like Macau does for Hongkongers.
Confession: Though I'm about the same age as the casino-resort itself, and lived in Singapore, only 1 hour's flight from KL, I'd actually *never* been to Genting Highlands before (despite having been to Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Monte Carlo and even Macau).
So, it was rather exciting when 3 of my KL friends suggested that we traipse up to Genting Highlands yesterday evening to check out the much talked-about Ming Ren (名人) Restaurant, one of the few spots in town which offered Xinjiang cuisine.
Genting Highlands has a collection of 5 hotels (the largest, One World Hotel, has more than 6,000 rooms!) and a largish collection of eateries - though many appear to be fast-food outlets or casual snack-bars. I think Ming Ren (名人) is one of the top three Chinese restaurants up there, together with top-dog Genting Palace (Cantonese) and Good Friends (Hakka) restaurants.
Ming Ren's menu is actually about 70% Cantonese (to satisfy KL's largely Cantonese-Chinese populace) and 30% Xinjiang. What we had:
- Pork-balls and Napa cabbage soup: thick, tasty soup, with a heavy sweetness from the pork and Napa cabbage. Besides the plump pork-balls and finely-shredded Napa cabbage leaves, the soup also had glass noodles, finely-julienned carrots and chopped scallions.
- Stir-fried lotus roots and mixed fungus vegetable platter: a wonderful mix of crunchy lotus root, asparagus, bitter-ish lotus seeds (love those!), squiggly wood-ear fungus and crisp lily buds.
- Xinjiang Lamb Skewers: long kebab skewers of cumin-flavoured lamb cubes, so tender, one could have mistaken them for chicken dark meat.
- Roasted Chicken with Chilli-bean crumbs: very tasty crisp-skinned yet moist chicken, covered with salty-spicy soybean-Sichuan peppercorn crumbs. It actually tasted more Sichuanese than Xinjiangese (I'd expected the restaurant to serve the Xinjiang "big plate chicken"/大盘鸡)
- Special Xinjiang Almond & Pistachio Ice Cream with Minced Lamb: perhaps one of the more unusual desserts I've tried, and reminiscent of Turkish dessert "tavuk göğsü" where the sweet pudding included chicken-meat. This Xinjiang cold dessert has an almond-pistachio ice-cream with minced lamb-meat incorporated in it, though I hardly discern the savoury component. The cube of ice-cream sat on a layer of mashed pumpkin, which lent a sweet dimension to the salty dessert. Crisp, slivered almonds on top provided a nice textural contrast.
Ming Ren (名人) Restaurant
Level 2, Maxims (formerly Highlands Hotel)
Tel: +603-6105 9879