Void by Shawn Shum

One bright evening, I walked pass a glass walled unit at Citrine Hub and saw the sign above its entrance which read: Void by Shawn Shum.

The glass-walled facade of Void at Citrine Hub,
in Sunway Iskandar
This name rang a bell. My thoughts flashed to this young chef whom I met at a restaurant review some years ago.

“So he’s here now and with his name boldly linked to his own restaurant…” I thought to myself with a tinge of admiration.

I don’t think I’ve come across any restaurant here that bears the chef’s name. This added a further spurt of admiration and spiked my curiosity to discover more.

These thoughts lingered at the back of my mind because I know it takes a great deal of confidence for a chef to attach his name to a restaurant.

Busy with my book project, other pressing matters took over my mind until a few days later when I received an invitation for a private dining experience at Void with Chef Shawn Shum.

A range of crockery and cutlery
hand-picked by Chef Shawn Shum
A quick check with my calendar assured me that I could accept this invitation and soon, it was all set for a few of us to meet at Void for Chef Shawn to impress us with an Omakase dining experience.

Armed with the attitude of, “Get ready to be surprised!” I’m ready to be wowed by how the chef would serve “something special on the plate” in the Japanese tradition of omakase.

Its late evening when I arrive to meet my friends at Void. In the rays of the setting sun, I can see that the restaurant’s glass walled fa├žade is tinted to shield from the glare.

Later I learnt that the restaurant design was dreamed up by the chef himself and he personally went shopping for the crockery and cutlery to create the desired ambience and dining effect he wished to present to diners.

I like the spaciousness inside the restaurant.

A few tables are arranged to one side of the restaurant while the opposite side is occupied by glass-walled wine cellar.

Diners sit at a counter that border
three sides of the open kitchen
Then we are invited to take our seats at the counter that bordered three sides of the open kitchen.

I spot Chef Shawn in the kitchen – working in full view of diners seated at the counter.

As I settled into my seat and watched the activity happening in the kitchen, I thought it’s a bold and courageous choice for the chef to let diners watch as he designs the dishes and welcomes them have a more complete experience of their food.

While I sit back to “enjoy my show,” a young lady approaches and politely enquires with each one of us, if we have any food allergies.

She introduces herself as Sunny and in her equally sunny disposition, she invites us to enjoy watching our food being prepared and explains that the restaurant’s open layout and long dining counter encourages diners’ interaction with the chef.

Sunny pouring the wine to serve
The Omakase is a leisurely dining experience of an 11-course meal so I watch the chef and his team as they work together to whip up the dishes while Sunny is on hand to describe each item as it was served.

But first, Sunny serves up a delightful Chilean red wine.

Eagerly anticipating the dishes that Chef Shawn has lined up to surprise us, we raise our glasses for a toast to good food and great company.

Sunny keeps up a lively chatter, answering my questions about the restaurant name and its dining concept that feature Japanese-French fusion food and clarifies that it is the brainchild of Chef Shawn himself.

At Void, Chef Shawn is not just filling a void in the culinary scene but he’s also not boxed-into a space that may limit his creativity to serve dishes that matches the diners’ discerning tastes.

While the dinner menu is a little more sophisticated with choices in an ala carte menu and a selection of Omakase experiences that feature various choices of meat, Void also serves good-value Brunch meals with options in a Vegetarian menu.

As she describes the delightful desserts, Sunny smiles modestly.

Chef Shawn [Right] in action in the open kitchen
When she moves to chat with the next diner, I head over to the dessert showcase to admire the cute but edible art that she has crafted for snacks and dessert.

Then the first course of our Omakase dinner – a warm and savoury tart for an appetizer – is ready to be served.

I pause because there is no cutlery to use and Sunny gently offers some helpful advice.

“Just use your fingers and pop it into your mouth,” she said.

Following her tip, I do just that and taste the savoury tart as it crumbles in my mouth. It’s an unusual but tasty morsel in a blend of cheese with marshmallow and seaweed.

Foie Gras Mousse served in an egg-shell set
within a small egg-case
Besides the next course of a hot bread roll – and it’s really hot-to-touch – with a side of melted butter (that needs no explanation!), Sunny is walking up and down along the counter to help describe each item as it was served.

I savour the next course of deep-fried Buttermilk Chicken served on a skewer, lightly marinated – crispy on the outside and juicy on its inside.

Next is Oriental Shrimp in chilled avocado mousse spread on a crispy cracker and resting on a burnt sheet of oil paper (No, please don’t eat this piece of paper!)

I like how the chilled avocado mousse tastes like semi-freddo dessert and shamelessly lick stray droplets off my fingers. [Yes, there is still no cutlery to use!]

The next item is presented in a small egg-case.

A serving of steaming hot French Onion Soup
I open it to discover a tea-spoon [finally!] and a soldier [toasted bread stick!] to dip into Foie Gras Mousse made with mashed potato and egg mousse sprinkled with truffle, served within a medium-sized egg-shell with an open top.

Ooh… the mousse is so smooth and tasty… and I’m glad there is a tea-spoon for me to scoop to the bottom of the egg-shell for the last delicious drop…

At the sixth course, there is cutlery to eat a salad created with multi-colour heirloom tomatoes drizzled with droplets of balsamic reduction dressing.

Steaming hot French Onion Soup is next. Topped with a generous layer of Gruyere Cheese, its savoury flavour is the perfect foil for the sweetness of the caramelized onions. Yes, I also finished the soup to its last drop…

Chef Shawn [Left] creates dishes in full view of diners
When the next item is served, it’s back to “pop it into your mouth” and I’m ready to use my fingers again.

I pick up the pink-coloured Almond Meringue which (I’m told!) to have a closer look at the topping of a square of cured pork fat and sprinkling of Pork Snow.

I’m not a great fan of pork fat but this time – just this time – I will brave it.

So I pop it in (my eyes are shut!) and chew to slowly savour an interesting explosion of flavours in my mouth. The sweetness of the crackling meringue in stark contrast with the salty cured meat…

When I open my eyes, I spy Chef Shawn working with strands of pasta and safely conclude that the next course must be a pasta dish.

Chef Shawn lends a hand to Sunny to serve the desserts
As Sunny serves the Unagi Angel Hair in a bento box that comes with a pair of wooden chopsticks (traditionally wrapped in cloth), she mentions that this is among the most popular items in their menu.

I can tell why. Fans of unagi – freshwater eel – will fall in love with the strong unagi flavour in this perfectly prepared pasta, tossed in butter and olive oil with a hint of chilli spice.

Then I’m reminded that we are ready for course No. 10, the main course item of either Mackerel (fish) or Iberico Pork, and I choose the latter.

My portion looks grilled with charred bits outside but when I slice through the meat and sink my teeth into the first bite, I know that this tender tasty pork was initially prepared by the sous vide method.

Finally, it’s time for dessert.

I can see that Chef Shawn has pretty much completed his task for the day so he moves over to the dessert section to lend a hand to Sunny, whose forte is in desserts.

Chef Shawn [3rd from Left] with some members
of his culinary team at Void
Our leisurely Omakase meal ended on a high note with a serving of Aerated Chocolate Mousse with a side of Hazelnut Snow and Orange Foam. Using a dessert spoon, I lift the light chocolate off the dish and see salted caramel oozing out. Mmm…

Situated in a relatively new development within Iskandar Puteri, Chef Shawn and his culinary team are certainly doing well in serving up an exciting dining experience at Void.

Restaurant Void by Shawn Shum is at A: 1-20 – 1-22, First Floor, Citrine Hub, Sunway Iskandar, 79250 Iskandar Puteri, Johor. [Non-Halal]

Open daily 10am to 10pm to serve Brunch and Afternoon Tea till 5pm and Dinner will be served from 6pm. Reservations recommended for dinner, Tel: +6011 – 5502 6828.

For promotions and updates, check out Facebook: @restaurantvoid.

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