A thoroughly Lord Bobo-esque dining experience!
Step into Four Seas Contemporary Chinese Cuisine and you wouldn’t suspect that it’s a Chinese seafood restaurant except for the few auspicious-coloured paper lanterns hanging above the bar and four small fish tanks by the glass partitioned kitchen. The real giveaways are the Lazy Susans, bowls and chopsticks placed on the tables. Other than that, the restaurant is tastefully decorated with a more contemporary Western colour scheme that shies away from the bright red table cloths and wall-mounted pictures of illusionary waterfalls with sparkling neon fairy lights often expected of a traditional Chinese restaurant.
Our LoyarBermakan session was upon the invitation of one of the restaurant’s owners, Edward Soo, a fan of the most awesome Blawg. Ed really pulled out all the stops in hosting us – we even had a customised menu! The descriptions of each of the dishes in this review are lifted directly from that menu, which included the following welcome note:
To the venerable and most excellent Lord Bobo Barnabus, Lord of the glorious Webdom of LoyarBurok, and his devoted minions, Marcus van Geyzel, Fahri Azzat, Lim Ka Ea and Andrew Yong, greetings and bonds of friendship. His most humble servant Ed Soo wishes his Lordship a happy life through long years, as well as a continuous increase in his glorious reputation. In observance of your humble servant’s oath and fidelity due to his Lordship and to him, your humble servant tenders his service with all respect and honor, and beseech his Lordship to partake in this most humble of fares, unworthy of his Eminenceness.
Reading up on the Four Seas beforehand, we discovered that it had a menufesto. Yes, you read that right. Listening to Ed during dinner, it is obvious that the menufesto is no gimmick – he really does care a lot about community, national unity, and nation building. Do read the whole thing.
Four Seas used to serve Western-style seafood which is primarily grilled, with fresh lemon slices as the only acceptable condiment. The owners decided to convert it into a Chinese restaurant after discovering that Malaysians’ penchant for Asian spices and sauces trumps butter, pepper, salt and lemon juice anytime.
It wasn’t until we tasted our first course, the steamed soup of the day, that we realised how serious the transformation was.
Four Seas Steamed Soup of the Day
For LoyarBurokkers who work till late hours and miss Mum’s home made soup
The peppery clear soup with pieces of pig stomach, chicken feet, black chicken, dried shitake mushroom and pickled mustard really reminded us of how Mom used to make it. According to Ed, the secret ingredient was the mineral water that was used as the base of the soup. Perhaps it was a psychological effect but the soup did taste noticeably smoother and clearer. Some of us thought that the soup was too peppery; others relished the bite that the pepper added.
Four Seas has a different soup everyday, each one specially chosen to remind Ed of homecooked soups that are full of all the healthiest and heartiest ingredients.
Salt and Pepper Squid and Mushrooms
For LoyarBurokkers who are kept in the dark and fed bullshit by their clients like mushrooms, so much so they turn into blur sotongs
What an introduction! And the dish itself did not disappoint. The salt and pepper squid with enoki mushrooms was unanimously picked as one of the better dishes that evening by our team. The batter was fresh, not at all greasy, and seasoned just right. The mushrooms were surprisingly meaty and flavoursome, which made an interesting contrast to the crispy dry batter.
Four Heavenly Kings
For LoyarBurokkers who have to appear before judges who think they are one of the Four Heavenly Kings
Although atypically Chinese, stir-fried long beans, asparagus or kangkung with belacan is a dish commonly seen to grace any table at a Chinese restaurant in Malaysia. At Four Seas, they do things differently. The Four Heavenly Kings is a combination of aubergines, ladies fingers, four-angled beans (kacang botol) and petai cooked with belacan.
For a change, the belacan was subtle and not overpowering. The only possible reproach might be the presence of the customary petai, which may not appeal to those with a more delicate disposition. As LoyarBurokkers are rarely of a delicate disposition, we loved the petai.
Lam Yue Pai Kuat
For LoyarBurokkers who are worked to the bone by partners in their practice
For pork lovers, the pork ribs coated with preserved bean paste is a must. The ribs were not the thin miserable offerings often encountered, but generously meaty and juicy. The bean paste went well with the pork, and there was a subtle sweetness and tanginess to the crispy coating that was fried to perfection.
This is quite a traditional dish, and it is very rare to find a restaurant that serves up a version as impressive as this – from the quality of the meat to the excellently balanced flavour of the preserved bean paste, this was another firm favourite. (Note: Fahri of course abstained from eating this. No, really. Eh, really lah.)
Tilapia braised with bitter gourd
For LoyarBurokkers who appreciate the bitter sweet flavour of practice
Next, we were treated to a recipe that is uniquely Four Seas; Tilapia braised with bitter gourd cooked in claypot. With any fish that is freshly fished out from a tank, you can’t really go wrong with any recipe except for the bitter gourds which have to be cooked to precise timing.
According to Ed, who is quite the food connoisseur, the bitter gourds should never be cooked for too long to ensure tautness. But be prepared for the bitter gourds to be properly, well, bitter.
Four Seas Shark Bone Yee Tau Mai Fan
For sharky LoyarBurokkers to hone their teeth
Our last main course was the fish head vermicelli commonly known in Cantonese as yee tau mai fan.
Do not be fooled by its modest origins – the one served here has fangs. Instead of the milk commonly added by less reputable cooks to supply a milky hue, here it was instead just good stock, made from shark cartilage bones no less. Ed explained that the traditional method was to boil the fish until the white comes from the bone, but the modern-day shortcut is to just use milk. No such thing here of course. Apart from its potential to spark off heated conversations on the ethics of eating protected animals (Ed explains that the usual protests about shark-finning doesn’t apply here – this is using even more of the shark instead of finning it and throwing it back into the sea), this dish successfully grabbed our attention.
Instead of just eating the dish as you would of any other yee tau mai fan, this one challenges those with sophisticated tastebuds to discern the sharky goodness in every sip. To be honest, the difference was probably a little too subtle for our crude palates, but we definitely noted the absence of any fishy taste. For those who do not like milk in their soup, this will definitely tempt you to have that second and third helping. The garoupa was accompanied by the usual salted vegetables and tomatoes.
Purple Bananas with Vanilla Ice Cream
Especially for His Supreme Eminenceness Lord Bobo Barnabus
Ed, being the attentive host that he is, gave us a surprising treat at the end of the meal (well, it wasn’t really a surprise for those of us who read the menu obviously!). We were served “purple bananas” (for those not in the know, one of His Supreme Eminenceness’ favourite foods) with vanilla ice cream. This was no doubt the piece de resistance. Although we were a tad disappointed that the bananas were not actually purple, the chef had intelligently whipped up a red dragon fruit coulis served on top of two generously sized banana fritters, giving them an intense purple colour. As before, the batter was dry and light (the chef is obviously skilled in the art of batter), although the fritters could have done with more purple coulis to give them a more refreshingly purple kick.
Ed says he hopes this humble dessert served in style will eventually gain popularity and earn a place on the menu with the name “Lord Bobo’s Purple Bananas” (he’s such a tease, isn’t he?).
As the menu for our tasting was customised as a tribute to the LoyarBurok crowd (and came complete with a printed purple menu that doubled as an ode to His Eminence the great bonobo), some of the most popular dishes from the Four Seas offering unfortunately had to be left out (these include the French smoked duck, which we have been told is a must-try).
Four Seas is not your ordinary Chinese restaurant, and for us, some the most interesting dishes we tasted were the ones that leant towards a “fusion” of Oriental and Western cuisine. We were told by Ed that Four Seas was still developing its menu, and would be experimenting with individually-plated dishes that could be served Western-style and that would go with the impressive (and reasonably-priced) wine list.
Four Seas is the kind of restaurant you can expect quality, ambience and personal customer service. For discerning wine lovers, the restaurant also guides you on how to pair your glass of wine with the food. For the moment, the menu is wide and varied (we would say perhaps too wide and varied) and caters for all comers, and the food is reasonably priced for the quality that is provided.
And if you’re lucky, you may be able to find Ed there, beckoning you into a conversation on philosophy, food, drinks and on how to be socially responsible. We thoroughly enjoyed our dining experience, no doubt thanks in part to our gracious and intelligent host, and left with stomachs full of good food and wine, and thinking of the Four Seas’ motto: Eat well, live brave, have fun.
The LoyarBermakan team were Andrew Yong, Fahri Azzat, Lim Ka Ea, and Marcus van Geyzel.
Soup of the day – RM12-15/portion
Chicken and duck dishes – RM18 – 28/portion
Pork dishes – RM12/portion
Beef and lamb dishes – RM25 – 37/portion
Vegetables – RM18 – 20/portion
Lunch special – RM48/2 pax. Comes with 2 dishes, 2 daily soup, steamed rice and Chinese tea.
Four Seas Contemporary Chinese Cuisine
65, Jalan Bangkung, Bukit Bandaraya Bangsar, 59100 Kuala Lumpur
03 2092 1222
Opening hours: Mon – Sun, 12:00 – 15:00, 18:00 – 00:00