By Jeremy Say
After years of living in Malaysia, I finally found an amazing French restaurant reminiscent of my hometown, Montréal. Finding good simple French cuisine in Malaysia was never easy for me and it’s a godsend to find La Belle Saison in Kota Kemuning.
There will be a food review below, but first some background on the brilliant man behind La Belle Saison. Being able to sit down and talk to Head Chef Quah Jit Hu of La Belle Saison, I was able to learn about his amazing journey into the world of food.
Taking extra classes to learn French, it was only by happenstance that by peeking into pastry kitchen nearby that he was invited in to learn the art. Chef Karam, a pastry expert with over 40 years of experience, became a mentor for Chef Jit Hu as he eventually found his calling with a one way ticket and an invitation to learn in France.
Sharpening his culinary skills through many years of service at Lucien Casino Barrière Toulouse – Fouquet’s, his passion for food and skill did not escape the eyes of those working with him and was offered another placement to further his techniques.
Chef Jit Hu was to be referred to famed head chef Frédéric Anton at Le Pré Catelan, a 3 Michelin star restaurant in Paris. After a year of hard training under some of the best in the world, Chef Jit Hu was ready to set off on his own and test his skills.
Coming back to Malaysia only recently in 2016, a new French restaurant was born in Kota Kemuning. Now don’t expect high end dining or cuisine, but more homely French comfort food that the local French people would enjoy everyday. The restaurant evokes feelings of a nice cosy family restaurant that many of the locals in France would be proud to walk into. It’s a nice casual dining experience that doesn’t feel stuffy whatsoever and would make a nice place to go for a date or bring the whole family.
Complete with a view into the busy well kept kitchen and a functional coffee bar – they have a very big and impressive professional coffee maker, so don’t you get your usual Nescafé. The food is affordable; the staff polite, cheerful and attentive; the ingredients are fresh and locally sourced; and best of all the food tastes amazing.
Oh boy those years in France definitely paid off and I’m excited that Malaysia has another talented Chef. So now on to why most of you are here – the FOOD!
While many different plates were tasted and were amazing, I would like to highlight a few that really stood out to me.
Tropical salad with pineapple vinaigrette, pan seared chicken, garlic croutons,
and caramelised sunflower seeds
A colourful fresh crisp healthy salad that looks refreshing, unlike all those sauce soaked wilty ones you see at most local places. The vinaigrette is tart, tangy and just sweet enough to enlighten any Malaysian’s sweet tooth. Even the oven roasted pineapple was not overtly sweet and add that fruity refreshing feeling like being on the beach – pina colada style. What surprised me most was the crisp leafy greens and caramelized sunflower seeds that gave the salad a nice crunch.
Cream of potato and leek soup, parboiled potatoes and garlic croutons
My goodness, I was excited when I first saw this – I’m salivating just writing about the cream of potato soup in reminiscence. I love cream of anything soup, potatoes being one of my favorites. It was displayed elegantly with all the ingredients on full orderly display.
This beautifully warmed soup came with equally freshly baked soft bread that reminded me home. This is the epitome of what comfort food should taste like and can warm the soul of any person. The whole soft potatoes, the taste of leek with parsley oil and that beautiful crunch from the garlic crouton is heavenly. Nothing was overtly overpowering, the taste may be simple but there is nothing wrong with pure wholesome simplicity.
Filet of Halibut with cajun spice, cauliflower puree and roasted assorted vegetables (Aubergine, carrot, corn, red pepper, zucchini)
Now I’m not a massive fan of fish unless it is Sashimi, but this is Halibut! I’m sorry, but I must admit this one dish that hits all my food biases since I grew up eating Halibut back in Canada. This beautifully plated dish makes you feel like you are royalty, and the plate is actually filled with a proper “manly” sized fish and vegetables.
The cajun spice is superb and complements the well cooked Halibut nicely. The mild and slightly sweet fish was lean and flaky and when paired with the vegetables with puree, it feels like a nice hearty meal. The yogurt paprika was a nice touch.
Seafood (Chilean black mussels, Tiger prawns, Baby Squid) spaghettini in pesto sauce topped with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Now this green pasta dish might put some people off, but let me tell you – green is good! With a decent amount of mussels, Tiger prawns, and baby squid this is a dish that made my co-writer blush on first and second bite. She was literally speechless.
It was at this point I realised that my co-writer would no longer be of any help what so ever for this food reviews. She was a babbling mess of happy emotions and unresponsive for the rest of the food tasting. Which mreally proves the point on just how delicious the food was.
The pasta was perfectly cooked and slightly firm but not hard. There was a nice amount of saltiness and herb flavour which each bite. The sauce and oil was added in just the right amount as to not drench the pasta while still imbuing all the flavours needed. Too often these types of dishes are drenched in oil, thankfully this wasn’t one of those.
The warm Tiger prawns took the dish to another level as you can clearly see from the photo above. Words can’t describe it so you will have to do with the photo reaction. The mussels were great, however the squid was a bit plain. Then again it’s squid and is more for the texture than taste – unless you’re talking salted egg fried squid, but that’s an entirely different culinary genre. The texture was nice as it was slightly chewy and not rubbery from being overcooked.
60% cocoa Belgian dark chocolate mousse cake with a hint of lemongrass, espresso infused whipped cream
La Pièce De Résistance! A beautifully enticing slab of mousse cake. Yes I say slab as it was actually a decent size and not some one bite wonder. This simple looking dish with espresso infused whipped cream is more than meets the eye and especially the palate. Your taste buds won’t know what hits you till you put it into your mouth and your eyes go wild with disbelief.
It has a smooth, almost velvety texture with a rich dark taste that isn’t bitter. It is only slightly sweet and pairs beautifully with the equally non-assuming espresso infused whipped cream. Once again you’re treated to another whole host of flavours that you wouldn’t get from the cake alone.
Now, to put it all in perspective – the food was very impressive and I would say on par with food from France and my hometown of Montréal. Remember, this is not your typical fancy high end dining experience. This is what local people in France would eat on a normal night out with friends and family. So while the price is cheaper than those high end places, the quality and freshness is never compromised.
It was never going to be cheap as your typical cafe or your normal fast food joint, but it is definitely worth the price and is fairly reasonable. Head Chef Jit Hu has an amazing selection of choices, but don’t expect an overtly large menu. This is how a good restaurant is able to serve you fresh food.
The real shame is that the restaurant is a bit out of the way for some. It’s in Kota Kemuning, but he,y parking is easy to find, plus what self respecting Malaysian wouldn’t go out of his or her way for good food? If you’re on a budget and still want to eat French food why not check out their set lunch which goes for RM 24.50 (Main Course + Appetiser or Dessert or add on RM5.00 for all three).
Easily this restaurant deserves 4.5 stars out of 5. Now if only they were closer to my place in OUG.
Address: La Belle Saison – No. 4-1G Jalan Anggerik Vanilla BE 31/BE Seksyen 31, Kota Kemuning, 40460 Shah Alam, Malaysia
Others: Pork free, no alcohol, family friendly, outdoor seating available
Payment: Cash Only
Phone: +6 03-5131 1576
Hours: Monday: 11:30 am – 3:00 pm
6:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Wed-Sun: 11:30 am – 3:00 pm
6:30 pm – 10:00 pm