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Prime, Le Meridien Hotel, KL

Saturday, 6 August 2011

When my family offered to take us out to Prime in Le Meridien Hotel to eat some of the best steak in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, one does not simply pass it up. Especially if one is still a Kobe beef virgin. Needless to say, I was very excited about this opportunity to finally sample one of the world’s best breeds of steak to eat in one of KL’s best steakhouses.

Shortly after we were seated, some nice warm bread was brought out. There were two types, a cheesy white with some peppercorn (I think) and a dark wholegrain of some sort. While I really liked both breads on offer, I wasn’t too big a fan of the any of the three butters (seaweed, salted, tomato) as they didn’t seem flavourful enough and was too soft, more like mousse, for my taste.

Prime, Le Meridien Hotel, KL - bread

Prime, Le Meridien Hotel, KL - butter

While devouring the bread, we were fortunate enough that Chef Antoine came walking by and he took our order. We explained that we would like to try a couple different types of his beef and we quickly sorted that out (to be covered later). He was also nice enough to show us the raw beef while we were choosing them.

Prime, Le Meridien Hotel, KL

He also arranged for a sample starter of sorts for us each to get. I didn’t see this sample trio on the menu but it had the signature crab cakes as well as the truffle ravioli from the menu and a Portobello mushroom with some greens. The crab cake was surprisingly nice, loaded with crab meat within while the slight mango dressing and cubes gave it a little extra sweetness. The ravioli had a significant truffle aroma wafting from it and was otherwise decent if unremarkable.

Prime, Le Meridien Hotel, KL - starters

Now onto the meat of the review (hehe): the steaks. Chef Antoine explained that the Blackmore range of cattle were all originally shipped from Japan to Australia where they are raised in the highest standards as expected from Kobe-quality beef. Incidentally, these were all BMS Grade 9-12 beef and you can very clearly see the difference in marbling between the Grade 9+ beef and the “normal” beef.

So anyway we tried the “Blackmore Wagyu Chuck Flap Tail”, “Blackmore Wagyu Cube Roll”, “Wagyu Prime Rib” and “Master Kobe oyster blade steak” and a 200-day grain fed Australian Black Angus rib eye. Suffice to say that all the above were cooked medium rare and exceedingly tender and juicy. Even the cuts known to be leaner and tougher such as the chuck and oyster blade was still very tender and oozed beef drippings on biting. I could literally feel the beef oil being squeezed out between my teeth, so not for the faint of heart.

Prime, Le Meridien Hotel, KL - beef
From left: Blackmore cube roll, 200-day Black Angus, chuck flap tail, oyster blade.

For the extremists there is the “Cube Roll” (Grade 12), also known by its more familiar name as the rib-eye and it was almost like eating beef-flavoured butter. While definitely flavourful, it was almost a bit too much fat and we were all thankful we were sharing it to be honest as eating more than a couple of bites of nearly-almost-pure-beef-fat can get a bit tricky.

Prime, Le Meridien Hotel, KL - blackmore wagyu rib eye
Blackmore Wagyu Cube Roll

Prime, Le Meridien Hotel, KL - blackmore ribe eye
Blackmore Wagyu Cube Roll

The Prime Rib meanwhile was much easier to eat even though it should consist of the same rib-eye cut as well, so maybe it was a Grade 9 instead.

Prime, Le Meridien Hotel, KL - prime rib

As if all that wasn’t enough, we also had a 200 day old Australian rib-eye on the table, just to compare with the wagyu. The difference in marbling is clear, even after cooking, as there is much less fat on this one and hence it is slightly tougher and chewier.

Prime, Le Meridien Hotel, KL - beef 200 day

Along with our steaks came some side orders too. I quite fancied the big fat chunky fries while the truffle mashed potato was sinfully creamy and they definitely didn’t skimp on the truffles. There were some sauces too, but I didn't try any of those as I wanted to eat with mustard instead, unfortunately it didn't arrive, so I ate everything plain.

Prime, Le Meridien Hotel, KL - sides

For desserts, we shared amongst our table, a brownie (despite the menu’s claims, not the fudgiest ever, it was more like a chocolate cake with lots of chocolate sauce), a rich hot chocolate cake, a mango cheese cake, a tiramisu and a crepe Suzette. Most of them were reasonably good if not particularly eye-opening or delicate (except for the brownie which I mentioned already which was quite poor).

Prime, Le Meridien Hotel, KL - desserts

Prime, Le Meridien Hotel, KL - desserts
Left: rich hot chocolate cake; right: brownie

Finally, I have to say that for a fine dining restaurant in a top hotel chain, the service was decidedly lackadaisical. For example, my glass of water was half full for pretty much half the meal before a waiter decided to come around and refill the table’s water then stopped at my part because his bottle ran out of water and never came back again. However, Chef Antoine was very accommodating for our meal; he showed us the cuts of raw beef; he helped us organise our meal by making us a starter compilation (that isn't on the menu as far as I know); he took us around to show us the kitchen after our meal and showed us his grill, custom made to his design from Germany and fuelled by charcoal from Korea.

Prime, Le Meridien Hotel, KL

To summarise: the grade 12 beef was amazingly marbled and tastes really good if you like it fatty and some cuts like the rib-eye (Cube Roll) is so tender its like eating butter. However, it lacks in terms of beefy taste compared to Hawksmoor for example. The beef was actually cooked pretty well here, perfectly medium-rare and with enough charring over the surface. For a better balance of fats/texture and flavour, we both preferred the oyster blade and prime rib.

Prime, Le Meridien Hotel, KL

Level 5, Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur Hotel
2 Jalan Stesen Sentral
Kuala Lumpur Sentral
Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603 2263 7434
Official website

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