As the founder and owner of Les Sense, a modern Chinese restaurant that sits neatly along Damansara Kim, Chris Chew is a man on a mission. “Most dim sum in today’s restaurants are made in a factory,” he reveals. “Dim sum is an endangered species and a dying art. I want to hold onto this art and take it to the next level.”
You won’t find a single animal-shaped dumpling throughout Les Sense’s eight-course omakase menu (from RM180), which adheres to the Japanese custom of featuring seasonal produce. In fact, Chew takes it upon himself to source all of their ingredients directly from suppliers in Japan, and has Wagyu, seafood and vegetables flown in twice a week exclusively for the restaurant.
Combined with his near-encyclopaedic knowledge of dim sum—the ideal ratio of skin to filling, the way different flours (rice, tapioca starch, and potato flour) can be made into skins, down to the skins’ thickness in millimetres—the difference is palpable. Each course typically consists of a plump, generously proportioned dim sum dumpling crafted by Chew’s chef, who has been making them since the age of 18, and every one of them is an exercise in balance and refinement.
The deft, delicate pleats of Les Sense’s xiao long bao hide finely minced meat laced with the flavour of Alba truffle, while a palm-sized Chinese abalone simmered in dashi stock sits atop a siew mai pedestal. Each har kau encases three prawns selected for their respective sweetness, creaminess, and springy texture in a skin so delicate and translucent that you could easily shine a light through it.
There are no gimmicks accompanying Les Sense’s dim sum. With expert techniques and ingredients this good, there needn’t be, an approach that Chew attributes to his Cantonese heritage, “I get very emotional when I talk about ingredients. I don’t like sauces or any foreign interference that attacks the purity of our flavours. If I taste a scallop from Hokkaido, I want it to transport me there. All I want is freshness and minimal cooking, that’s it.”
Is there any room for frivolity at all in Les Sense? Well, those with large appetites can try the extra Wagyu course on offer, which is often sourced from the Tottori or Kagoshima prefectures and can be cooked in four different ways. Chew also recommends that customers take full advantage of his zero-corkage policy by bringing a champagne with crisp acidity—his favoured beverage pairing with dim sum—to heighten the flavours of the dim sum. “After their dinner, customers will leave with the taste still lingering on their palate,” he says. “That’s the experience I want for them.”
Photos: Fady Younis