[Food Review] Christmas Eve Dinner at Uncle Chilli’s, Hilton PJ

I took a little break from tech and cars to indulge in one other love – food. I accepted an invite from Hilton PJ for a food-tasting session with a dozen famous food bloggers (Ruth of Perut Besi, GoodyFoodies, Mei Yee aka Iamthewitch and Henry Lee aka Clever Munkey) at Uncle Chilli’s Bar. The agenda for the day? To sample their special Christmas Eve menu.

While I am no stranger to Uncle Chilli’s, I never particularly identified it with palate adventures, more so for its bar-type environment and its live music. Obviously my presumptions were skewed, and I was in for quite a surprise.

Uncle Chilli's - Ambience
Uncle Chilli’s – Ambience

Not known to many is a private dining area within the Cigar Lounge of Uncle Chilli’s. It offers a cool, contemporary ambience with a touch of panache. Thanks to its limited tables and arty decor, it exudes fine-dining without being overly pretentious. Being Christmas-themed, the deco was laden with Christmas ornaments, tea lights and candles.

Executive Chef Denis Vecchiato
Executive Chef Denis Vecchiato

Italian Executive Chef, Denis Vecchiato and his team prepared the special 4-course Christmas Eve menu which is priced at RM120++ per person. Vecchiato has been Hilton PJ’s Executive Chef for over two years and has over 13 years of culinary experience.

Gaga over Mocktails

Before we could even sample the food, we were already spoiled by champagne and a selection of mocktails. The complimentary Gosset Grande Reserve Champagne was something I didn’t sample as I opted for non-alcoholic instead.

Green sparkling mocktail
Green sparkling mocktail

The green sparkling mocktail was rather refreshing, made up of fruitade, sprite, mint leaves and lemon wedges. The red mocktail contained a blend of strawberry puree, sprite, soda water and grenadine.

I later also sampled the Walking Stick, strangely named perhaps, but my favorite mocktail of the night. It’s a concoction of apple juice, cranberry juice, lime juice and strawberry puree with a cherry on top.

We were generously served with warm bread and butter, something I relish being a bread lover. There’s nothing like warm, nicely baked bread to kick off the evening.

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Uncle Chilli's - bread
Uncle Chilli’s – bread
Amuse Bouche
Amuse Bouche

The Kickstarter

Officially first on our platter was Amuse Bouche which is goose liver terrine with port wine reduction. Executive Chef Vecchiato explained that while the terrine looks simple, it takes over 48 hours to prepare! Terrine is defined as a meat, fish, or vegetable mixture that has been cooked or otherwise prepared in advance and allowed to cool or set in its container. If pate comes to mind, terrine is a close cousin. Personally, I’m not much of a pate / terrine eater but found this starter pleasant. Light, flavorful without overpowering ‘duckiness’, for lack of better word to describe the strong meatiness that’s usually associated with this webbed fowl.

Ravioli filled with Alaska Crab in Lobster Bisque.
Ravioli filled with Alaska Crab in Lobster Bisque.

“To Begin…”

Being an absolutely Italian fan, I was pleased that the next course was pasta-based. Ravioli filled with Alaska Crab in Lobster Bisque. I’m quite fussy with how my pasta is always cooked. From experience, it is so easy to get it wrong. The ravioli, however, was cooked to perfection – al-dente, set against the well-seasoned, creamy broth. Biting into the ravioli rewarded with a generous serving of Alaskan crab meat which worked really well with the bisque. I left no trace of the bisque on my plate as I swabbed every drop with bread. Yum.

Porcini Mushroom and Truffle Soup with Melted Camembert.
Porcini Mushroom and Truffle Soup with Melted Camembert.
And there's nothing left....
And there’s nothing left….

Soupfull of Soulfulness

Nothing prepared me for the next course. Porcini Mushroom and Truffle Soup with Melted Camembert. What looked like a shallow bowl of mushroom soup, did not quite turn out to be any run-of-the-mill mushroom soup. Even before we dunked in our eager spoons, the aroma that was filling the room was incredible. The combination of porcini, truffle and a dash of camembert was exquisite. Pure genius even. It was flavourful, melt in your mouth goodness. The texture was smooth and balanced, had just the right consistency – not drainy and not too thick. Loved it. I wanted more. I’m not afraid to say that was probably one of the best, if not the best mushroom soup I’ve had. The other bloggers shared my sentiments about the soup.

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Turkey Roulade with Brussel sprouts, baby carrots & Rosemary potatoes
Turkey Roulade with Brussel sprouts, baby carrots & Rosemary potatoes

The Main Event

What’s Christmas without turkey? Next up was Turkey Roulade with Brussel sprouts, baby carrots & Rosemary potatoes. The presentation of the main course was enticing and showed attention to detail. A generous portion of turkey roulade arranged atop a spread of potatoes, sprinkled with baby carrots, asparagus` and Brussel sprouts. A little drizzle of gravy added some glaze to the entire presentation. I found the roulade a little too dry, but loved the crispy skin. The gravy did help to counter the dryness of the meat though.

The Chocolate Bomb with Wild Berries
The Chocolate Bomb with Wild Berries
The Chocolate Bomb with Wild Berries
The Chocolate Bomb with Wild Berries

Explosive Finish

I was already packed to the brim at this point, but who can refuse a good dessert? The Chocolate Bomb with Wild Berries was so creatively and meticulously prepared that I felt guilty to dig my fork in and destroy the masterpiece. The assortment of berries balanced the sweetness of the encased chocolate mouse, which also housed some berry surprising gifts inside its bulbous external form.

Fine-dining Experience for a Steal

At RM120++ per person inclusive of a complimentary glass of champagne, this special Christmas Eve menu offers surprisingly great value. Well-balanced, flavorful and meticulously presented, this 4-course package is perfect for two, or a family who appreciate a cozy atmosphere and a good menu. Patrons can adjourn to bar to enjoy the live band at 9.00pm.

Book early to avoid disappointment.

Uncle Chilli’s Restaurant
Hilton Petaling Jaya
Tel No.: +603-7955 9122 (ext 4063)
Website: www.zestpj.com

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