Unwind, Relax, Rejuvinate @ Traders Food Shop, Avillion Admiral Cove
Unwind, Relax, Rejuvinate @ Traders Food Shop, Avillion Admiral Cove, Port Dickson
“Unwind, Relax, Rejuvenate”. I looked at the invitation again. “You are invited to an Evening with Chef Ignatius, at Traders Food Shop, Avillion Admiral Cove, Port Dickson.” It didn’t say much more than that, apart from that the newly acquired Executive Chef would be introducing new dishes and spicing up the ala carte menu. We were also to enjoy a one night stay, courtesy of the Avillion Group of Hotels, to fully experience the facilities and atmosphere the hotel has to offer.
Unwind, Relax, Rejuvenate. Those words teased me, tempted me, over and over again in my mind. Food and relaxation. Who could resist such an offer?
Driving the 90 km down to Port Dickson was effortless, and we arrived about an hour after leaving the city. The town itself reminds me of sleepy seaside towns like Hastings in the UK, where life moves at a slower pace. Avillion Admiral Cove overlooks the marina at Port Dickson, where the British set up a harbour during the Straits Settlement era in the 1800s.
The hotel is a fairly new addition to the beachfront, yet it blends in with the feel of the place, teamed with unadorned colonial influence in its architecture.
The studio rooms are modern yet cozy, and very spacious, offering a kitchenette, small living area and king sized beds. We hurriedly dressed ourselves and headed down for cocktails and canapés on the verandah of Traders Food Shop. A warm breeze caressed my cheeks as I sipped on a refreshing glass of Avillion Admiral Cove’s Signature Non-Alcoholic Cocktail. The sun was setting in the horizon. It was time to begin our meal.
Comfortably seated at our table in the restaurant, I quickly learnt that Chef Ignatius De Silva, or Chef ‘Iggy’, as he is fondly known, is a born and bred Malaccan, straight out of the heart of the Portuguese Settlement.
That would explain why a lot of dishes on the tasting menu were authentic Malaccan dishes leaning towards Nyonya and Peranakan Cuisine. He comes from a family of Chefs, from brothers to uncles to long lost cousins. Cooking is in his blood.
We started off with the Muji Ceaser Salad, named after Sous Chef Muji who had creatively presented the dish with grated boiled egg as opposed to serving it in quarters.
Inventive and tasty, this added a different dimension to the texture of a familiar favourite.
A favourite amongst us was the Chicken and Yam in Preserved Soy Bean Soup, a typical Peranakan soup with Hokkien influences.
I slurped up a dark, clear broth with chunks of meat and yam, bursting with meaty flavour. The Portuguese Baked fish was served steaming hot in foil. Unwrap to unleash an array of spices into the air.
The sauce, made of blended onions, garlic, lemongrass, tomato roots, kefir lime leaf and lemon leaf, is particularly aromatic. It complemented the fresh white flesh of the Red Snapper.
Having grown up with Malaccan cuisine, till this day I make it a point to head over to my mother’s house at least once a week for a good dose of curry. What we tried at Trader’s Food Shop was one of Chef Iggy’s specialties, a Nyonya Chicken Curry.
This curry was spicy and fragrant, with just the right amount of coconut milk to give it that ‘lemak’ taste. Served with a side of soft Mantau Buns straight from the oven, it came in handy to mop up the gravy and the sweetness of the bun balanced out the savoury richness of the curry. Hmm… I thought to myself. Maybe I’ll drive here once a week instead!
I’m sure you’re familiar with another time-honoured Peranakan curry, the Prawn and Pineapple Curry. I was pleasantly surprised to find an imaginative variation served to us. This was the Baked Prawns on Caramelized Pineapple. Succulent tiger prawns marinated in curry and chili powder, and other spices.
As the name suggests the prawns are then baked with a garlic butter sauce and delicately placed on top of a pan fried, caramelized pineapple. Top marks for presentation and originality, and off the charts for taste, taking the sweet and savoury combination to a whole new level.
Bitesize pleasure and I poped one after another into my mouth.
I was happy. I’d had a good old fashioned Malaccan Nyonya and Peranakan cuisine. Chef Iggy proceeded to show us that his 25 years of experience was not limited to food of his hometown. We were treated to a delicious serving of Lamb Admiral, a house specialty named after Admiral Cove.
This was a dish of juicy lamb chops cook medium-well, soaked in meaty gravy and drizzled with a concoction of mint. The robust flavours were subtly complemented by a side of Potato Boulangere, braised in the oven with stock, bay leaf and peppercorn.
The remnants of the lamb, or lack of, were cleared away by our friendly and efficient wait staff. Along came another surprise, the Pasta Olio with Beef Roulade.
Now this, was Chef Iggy truly saying to us, “Look, I can cook. And I can Create. To me, what is important is on the plate.” Take a thinly sliced portion of beef, layer finely sliced crispy cucumber and carrots, season with salt, pepper and wasabi, roll it up and pan fry in oil. Succulent, tender meat, pink in the middle with the hints of wasabi sending pleasurable sensations up your nostrils. This was one of my favourite dishes of the evening. I say one of, because I couldn’t choose a favourite. I liked them all!
We finished off the meal with a Banana Crumble A la Mode, and applauded Chef Iggy for creativity whilst keeping simple, authentic flavours.
I ask him what the plans are for the rest of the menu and he replies, “Well, I would like to bring more of Malacca here. Traditional Eurasion, Peranakan and Nyonya dishes, and maybe even the sambal sandwich that is served at Malaccan Weddings!”
Dishes we had tasted that night would be on the new ala carte menu, and featured at least once a week on the buffet. I almost fell out of my chair when I was told the Trader’s Food Shop Buffet was only RM 38 ++ per person. Adjourning downstairs to the Sailors Drink Shop, I marveled at the quality of the food served, for the price you pay. Traders Food Shop at Avillion Admiral Cove is worth a visit. And while you’re there, why not just indulge yourself in the whole Avillion experience and stay the night. I know I did, and closing my eyes before falling asleep, I was already looking forward to breakfast.
To find out what I got up to the next day at Avillion Admiral Cove Port Dickson, check out my blog.
Try Traders Food Shop @ Avillion Admiral Cove for yourself! Starting Monday 19th October to Friday 23rd October, tune in to The Big Red Food Review, Eleven2Three with Aly to win RM 100 vouchers.
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