A Malaysian Masterclass with Ping Coombes, Chi Kitchen

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No secret I love South East Asian food, and no secret I am a fan of MasterChef. Thus a  combination of these two makes up a perfect evening in my books. With my good friend Mondo Mulia I joined a Malaysian Master Class at Chi Kitchen with none other than Ping Coombes, the super friendly winner of Master Chef 2014.

Chi Kitchen is a recently opened Pan Asia restaurant within Debenhams premises in Oxford Street, owned by the same group as Mango Tree in Victoria.

The menu is created by Group Consultant Chef Ping Coombes. Since being crowned the winner of MasterChef in 2014, Ping has embraced the chance to spread her knowledge by promoting Asian food around the UK and abroad

Sipping a cocktail and sampling some canapes (including sushi, pop corn shrimp which I could not possibly try, here is why, and salted squid), we then watched Ping demoing two traditional Malaysian classics: Roti Canai and Kerabu Salad.

Ping Coombes
Ping Coombes, 2014 MasterChef winner, introduces the dishes

While I was familiar with the salad, a beautifully aromatic, fresh salad made with glass noodles, fresh leaves (curry, mint and chili and shrimp paste), I had never tried, made or seen a Roti Canai made. When Ping asked ‘who wants to have a go’, myself and Mulia jumped at the opportunity. Ping showed us how to make the dough, using regular flour, sugar and salt to create contrast, a bit of condensed milk and butter. It’s actually really easy, and once ready, the dough needs to rest for at least 6 hours.

We then watched in awe as chef Veera, using rested dough balls, made the actual roti, spinning the buttered balls into flat disks, swooshing them competently in the air, then flattening them and folding until finally cooking them in a dry pan… then, forcefully squashing them into their shape and serving them. Really fascinating, and very easy (so it seems), I can’t believe I have not had these before in Asia! I will sure attempt to make them, and as Ping suggested, they go really well with lathers of condensed milk and I presume, anything sweet for breakfast.


Roti Canai
Roti Canai, ready


After the rest of the team made the salads tossing all the fresh ingredients and the noodles, we sat down to eat what we had prepared and also savour a selection of dishes from Chi Kitchen, most of them supervised by Ping. I loved the Marriage Laksa, so called by her as it’s mixing two traditional laksa, Assam and Nyonya. We also tried a couple of interesting desserts, both very light in flavour despite looking a little bright: Pandan and coconut pannacotta and Pandan jelly. I love pandan!

I had the great opportunity to pick Ping’s cheffy brain on some Malaysian cuisine tips, such as how to use condensed milk, squeezing pandan leaves and even a new way of eating my favourite strange fruit, salak.

Chi Kitchen menu is really good and, should I find myself in Oxford street again, I would definitely come back here for some good asian food; it is an halal restaurant which for me, for personal reasons, is not ideal. I guess I will need to steer away from meat!

Laksa and Kerabu salad, delicious food
Fresh ingredients such as curry leaves, turmeric and the smelly but umami rich shrimp paste (belacan)
Tossing the salad
roti canai
Great skills
Roti canai
Cooking the roti
Kerabu salad
Book launch
Ping will launch her book on 4th May at Chi Kitchen
Preparing the roti


I was a guest of Sauce Communications on this occasion; I was not asked to write this post, opinions are my own.

4 comments A Malaysian Masterclass with Ping Coombes, Chi Kitchen

GALINA V says:

What a fabulous Masterclass! I have never heard of the fruit salak, will have to google it. The flat bread as well as the other dishes all look delicious. It sounds like a perfect evening.

pastabites says:

It was really good fun, Galina – the salak is impossible to find here in Europe sadly, and not even easy in Asia! I love it 🙂

thoma says:

It was really good fun, Galina – the salak is impossible to find here in Europe sadly, and not even easy in Asia! I love it

pastabites says:

Actually.. I have found it in London! very rare.. and with mixed quality unfortunately. Such a delicacy! Thanks for your comment

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