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Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

Category / By Invitation

Ramadan 2015 on KYspeaks is just around the corner, so it’s about time to review another traditional buffet offering that is fast becoming a popular seasonal event in our country. Together with my colleagues Nik, Razi, & William, we went to JW Marriott last Tuesday to sample what they have to offer.

JW Marriott's "Kampung Dining Experience" by the poolside
JW Marriott’s “Kampung Dining Experience” by the poolside

Lets get the most important details out of the way – the prices:

Poolside (June 17, 2015 onwards)  – RM 95.00 nett per adult and MYR 48.00 nett per child.

4th Floor (June 17, 2015 onwards) – RM 85.00 nett per adult and MYR 43.00 nett per child.

on the menu - roast lamb, ulam ulam, chicken rice
on the menu – roast lamb, ulam ulam, chicken rice

Both locations essentially serves the same 130 (mostly) Malay delicacies from around the country, though you get to save RM10 dining on the 4th floor by sacrificing the pool view and not being able to see the chef expertly carving that beautiful roast lamb.

ulam, salted fish, sayur kubis goreng, satey, kari kambing, ayam goreng berempah
ulam, salted fish, sayur kubis goreng, satey, kari kambing, ayam goreng berempah

The menu didn’t seem to vary much from my last visit a couple years ago, which is a good thing. You don’t really need to change something that’s already good.

The food can be separated in a few categories, and to start with I usually head straight to the ulam station that comes equipped with some half a dozen sambals, including sambal belacan, tempoyak, sambal mangga, sambal nenas, cencaluk, and budu. A spicy and pungent start to a traditional Malay fair is never disappointing.

ayam lemak cili padi, rendang ayam, black pepper beef, ikan masin talang masak lemak, panjeri nanas, paru goreng, nasi briyani, Chinese mix vege
ayam lemak cili padi, rendang ayam, black pepper beef, ikan masin talang masak lemak,
panjeri nanas, paru goreng, nasi briyani, Chinese mix vege

Appertizer consists of jeruk, kacang botol, kerabu mangga & udang, acar buah, ikan masin, telur masin, as well as several types of keropok (including the all important papadom). For those who wants something a little more global, there’s green lettuce with dressing, Thai chicken & glass noodle salad, potato salad, seafood cocktail, potato salad, waldorf salad, and even coleslaw.

After you get your stomach warmed up, there are a few “gerai”, or live cooking stations to check out. Here you find satey, rojak buah, ikan bakar (including pari, keli, kembung), nasi ayam (chicken rice), tandoori, mee (laksa, mee kari, char kuih teow), BBQ (the all important roast lamb!), bubur, and soup (including sup ekor, kambing, and more).

desserts, fresh fruits, and kuih muih
desserts, fresh fruits, and kuih muih

Then of course there’s the all important main dishes such as ayam masak kicap, ayam masak merah, ayam percik kelantan, kari kambing, sambal udang petai, fried chicken with dried chili, daging masak halia, sweet and sour fish, kurma ayam, labu masak lemak pucuk manis, sayur campur, rendang ayam, redang daging, daging kunyit, paru goreng berlada, sotong goreng kunyit and more.

Dessert is offered in the form of quite a few variety of traditional kuih, pudding, sago gula Melaka, some pastries, and the really awesome bread and butter pudding.

William, KY, Razi, Nik, & our host, Natasya
William, KY, Razi, Nik, & our host, Natasya

My two Malay colleagues gave these a thumb up, while William was busy eating to register a response. I personally really like the fact that we are keeping our traditional Malaysian cooking alive via these type of buffets. No longer were the days when hotels only serve fancy Japanese or Western cuisines, we are once again proud of real Malaysian dishes.

Thank you Natasya for the invite.

map to JW Marriot KL

Address:
JW Marriot
183 Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur

GPS3.14765, 101.71372
Tel03-2715 9000

When I had my first full time job after graduating from university, I went to Kings Island in Cincinnati for the first time, and thought that it was so awesome I should get a season pass. I mean, being able to go to an awesome amusement park that’s only half an hour away at anytime, why not?

That dream never materialize due to me having lost the job (remember 911?) which subsequently meant that I had no money and having to move out of Cincinnati.

Well, that was more than ten years ago, and now I finally have season pass to an amusement park, and it’s every as awesome as my initial Cincinnati dream – a whole year’s unlimited entrance to Sunway Lagoon!

Sunway Lagoon!
Sunway Lagoon, here we come!

To be honest, I didn’t know that Sunway Lagoon offers annual pass until I read it on Bobo’s instagram. I left a comment, one thing led to another, and thanks to the good people at Sunway Lagoon and Nuffnang, I got a pair annual pass for myself and Haze.

The pass is priced at RM 300 for adult and RM 240 for kids aged 11 and below. Compared to the entrance price at the gate of RM 150 per pax, the pricing of annual pass really offers great value.

the rides were not disappointing
the rides were not disappointing

We parked our car at Sunway Pyramid, had a meal at Texas Chicken, then went into the park.

First thing to do is to load some money into the entrance wristband that comes with a barcode. The wristband is used not only to identify that you did not sneaked into Sunway Lagoon illegally, but the barcode embedded on the band is also a form of cashless transaction you can use to purchase food, use the locker, or pay for premium rides (such as bungy jumps). Any leftover credit can be redeemed at exit.

Sunway Lagoon is now also practically a zoo
Sunway Lagoon is now also practically a zoo

Sunway Lagoon has five different major areas – waterpark, amusement park, wildlife park, extreme park, and scream park.

We managed three out of the five during this visit.

The amusement park has many rides that has no-bag policy, so a locker is pretty much a requirement unless you have someone in the group who wants to watch over them. Most rides don’t have particularly long queue, and the pirate ship now goes 360 degree! You’ve been warned.

We also ended up spending a lot of time at the wildlife park, which is actually a zoo in itself. There were tiger, panther, snakes, turtle, goat, rabbit, quite a few species of primates, a huge variety of birds, otter, raccoons, and more. I do wish that some of the habitats were bigger though.

of course, there's the waterpark
of course, there’s the waterpark

The waterpark was of course, where Sunway Lagoon got its name from, and when you’re there, you just have to try out the massive vuvuzela slide and the “5D” waterplex where you get to have water splashed on you in front of a cinema-like screen equipped with articulated chairs showcasing a wild ride.

In all it was a pretty fun afternoon, we will go back there again for sure. The annual pass is pretty neat!

Well, it’s that time again. The holy month of Ramadan starts on the 18th June, 2015, our Muslim friends fast during the daylight as one of the Five Pillars of Islam.

As a nation of people who loves our food, many restaurants and hotels also offer Ramadan buffet in this period to allow Muslims and also non-Muslims to enjoy a meal together.

Ramadhan at GTower
Ramadhan at GTower, Anura certainly enjoye

This year, G Tower started early and invited the media to have a sample of their buffet spread more than a month prior. I was happy to be part of the group.

First, the most important bit: the buffet will be held at GTower from 20th June till 14th July 2015 and priced at RM 95 NETT for adults.

traditional kuih muih on the spread
traditional kuih muih on the spread

Like many such buffet offerings, GTower will be serving traditional Malaysian cuisine with quite a few live cooking stations  under the direction of Chef Sherry, who has more than 20 years of experience in the kitchen.

ulam, salted egg, and salted fish
ulam, salted egg, and salted fish

Starting appetizer, there’s assortment of salad, kerabu pucuk paku, sambal, keropok, papadum, telur masin, ikan masin, jeruk, and a pretty good selection of ulam-ulam as well. I was slightly disappointed by the lack of tempoyak, but I’m hopeful they will have it on the actual spread.

traditional dishes that goes well with steamed or briyani rice
traditional dishes that goes well with steamed or briyani rice

Many main dishes are served in clay-pot to keep retain the freshness, and they comprise of rice selections such as nasi briyani, fragrant rice, nasi ulam, and so forth. Ayam panggang berempah, daging masak hitam, and dagang salai masak lemak cili api, sambal udang petai (i love this!), ikan pari, tenggiri masak asam, and more can be found.

The best dish of the night for me was their ayam percik istimewa, and for the fans of roast lamb, kambing bakar enak is available (seemingly every Ramadan buffet places now has roast lamb).

pastry, roast lamb, popiah, and other goodies
pastry, roast lamb, popiah, and other goodies

Not all the live cooking stations were available for this tasting session, but there will be mee rebus, mihun sup, rojak singapura, and popiah basah upon request. The rojak wasn’t something I enjoyed though, as I prefer the Penang version.

Overall, the spread should satisfy anyone who loves Malaysian cuisine, and the pricing seems to be in-line with the location and dishes offered. So if you’re planning a buka puasa event, GTower should be in your consideration.

map to G-Tower, KL

Address:
GTower
199 Jalan Tun Razak,
50400 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.1590, 101.7200
Tel: 03-2168 1919

If you were to tell me 10 years ago that salad can make a healthy, hearty, and really delicious meal, I’d only believe you 1/3. After all, salad are for girls who wants to look demure and polite having meal in public, right?

Well, Chai Bar proved me wrong.

Chai Bar at Oasis Square, Ara Damansara
Chai Bar at Oasis Square, Ara Damansara

One of the Chai Bar’s co-owner, Dennis, is a close friend of Haze. So to be honest, we’ve heard of the concept and already been to the pre-tasting events before the restaurant was even opened.

It was a concept that isn’t completely new, salad bars such as these are already quite popular in Singapore and other countries.

salad isn't just lettuce with thousand island sauce
salad isn’t just lettuce with thousand island sauce

The concept is simple, choose from some 70 different ingredients such as freshly washed and cut vegetables to beans, cheeses, nuts, pickles, and roasted vegetables. Plus, you also get to add smoked salmon, shrimp, poached chicken or grilled beef (just in case you think salad is only all about greens). To complete the meal, pick from some 15 different dressings.

Voila, you have yourself an awesome healthy meal.

chicken rice, superfood, steakhouse, sombrero
chicken rice, superfood, steakhouse, sombrero

For the review session we tried 7 different salads with some from their “fab 10″ selections, basically ten different mixes of salad for those who doesn’t want to scratch their heads choosing your own combination from 70 different ingredients. These salads are priced from RM 16-20, a very good value for what you get in my opinion.

Chicken rice came with spinach, red rice, onions, cucumber, bean sprouts & poached chicken and dressed with Sesame Soy. Here the chicken is cooked sous vide so even though it’s breast meat (my least favorite but healthiest option), it was still very juicy and rather delicious.

Superfood had mixed leaves with sweet potatoes, beets, avocado, dried cranberries, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds & quinoa dressed in peanut sauce. A mixture of all the healthy ingredients you can think of. Very nice texture to munch on.

Steakhouse is a salad for the men, I mean, steak, kan? Baby spinach with baby potatoes, tomato, caramelised onions & grilled beef. I like the dressing in this one – blue cheese! If you’re not a fan of blue cheese, you can always opt for another dressing.

If you like a little bit of Mexican, try Sombrero. Mixed lettuce with 3-bean mix, corn, tomatoes, onions, mixed peppers, cheddar cheese, tortilla chips & grilled beef. This salad is dressed with avocado and topped with salsa.

bibimbap, caesar, california girls
bibimbap, caesar, california girls

Fancy Korean style salad? Baby spinach with red rice, cucumber, carrot, mushrooms, bean sprouts, hard boiled egg and grilled beef. Sweet Gochujang. Sprinkles of kimchi makes for a bowl of Bibimbap.

Caesar, the most common of all salad, turned out to be our favorite. The sous vide chicken that’s lightly grilled was superb, and the Green Goddess dressing compliments romaine lettuce, croutons, onions, hard boiled egg, beef bacon, Parmesan cheese and grilled chicken really well.

According to Dennis, California Girls is one of the most popular salads with the ladies. A bowl that’s inspired by Japanese cuisine, with mixed lettuce, red rice, avocado, carrot, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, hard boiled egg, pickled seaweed & kaori-hako. Wasabi Mayo. Dusted with roasted seaweed and ebiko. I thought the ebiko was a really nice touch.

refreshing drinks at Chai Bar
refreshing drinks at Chai Bar

Juices goes for RM 7.50 and smoothies RM 8.50. We had kaffir lemonade, watermelon & mint, and of course I went for avocado. They complements the food well, and I think make for good afternoon “snacks” on their own too.

KY, Haze, Dennis (co-owner), Cheesie & Junya
KY, Haze, Dennis (co-owner), Cheesie & Junya

Chai Bar is really a trailblazer for salad in this side of Klang Valley, I really hope they thrive and open up more restaurants, and hopefully one near my workplace. Good job Dennis!

map to Oasis, Ara Damansara

Address:
Chai Bar
G31, Oasis Village
Oasis Square Ara Damansara, 

2, Jalan PJU 1A/7A, Petaling Jaya
GPS: 3.114834, 101.574750
Webchaibar.my
Tel03-7832 3138

Every once in a while, I get invited to one of these fancy dinners that I imagined myself being a part of when I was working as a casual worker at a five star hotel in my high school days.

I thought that it’d be pretty awesome sitting down having a number of different courses of almost bite size food served in plates that are unnecessarily large, and wouldn’t it be even more cool if they have different drinks for each dish?!

That’d really be living the life, won’t it?

Senja at Saujana Hotel
A Premium Wine Affair, Senja at Saujana Hotel

Well, last Friday was one of such days, and yes, that’s another teenage-hood dream come true moment (though not the first time).

I was invited to “A premier Wine Affair of the Saujana Hotels & Resorts Wine Collection“, a private event hosted by the Saujana to unveil its new wine collection.

Charcoal's Australian Chef Robert Johnston
Charcoal’s Australian Chef Robert Johnston

The wines were specifically made from Frankland Estate, Margaret River, Western Australia, a well-renowned winery with an approach to winemaking that values the importance of soil and environment.

In the kitchen was Charcoal’s Australian Chef Robert Johnston who prepared a distinctive five course menu to pair with the wines for a night of, well, wine and dine.

By the way, you can only get these wines from The Saujana

Note: Instead of paraphrasing the note and pretend that I know exactly how to describe these wonderful wines, I’m going to include the tasting note here verbatim, and by the way, most media/writers do get tasting notes for wine/whisky, we can’t magically come up with fantastic descriptions that are all pretty much the same.

lightly cured salmon, pomelo, cucumber, verjuice jelly
lightly cured salmon, pomelo, cucumber, verjuice jelly

After socializing a bit with the crowd, we sat down and dinner began, our first dish was the lightly cured salmon, pomelo, cucumber, verjuice jelly to be paired with Souvignon Blanc Semillon 2014. Refreshing and easy on the palette.

Tasting note: On the nose it shows exotic fruit aromas, lychee, mango, rose, quince and spices. On the palate it exudes a powerful, burst of fruit, flattering and round with lightly spicy finishing. 

poached chicken and crispy noodles, shitake tea
poached chicken and crispy noodles, shitake tea

Second course was poached chicken and crispy noodles, shitake tea. Paired with Chardonnay 2013, Miles from Nowhere.

The shitake tea makes an interesting base with its slightly bitter after taste, reminding me of chicken essence in a way. Crispy noodle provided interesting texture to the otherwise quite muted poached chicken. Very Asian-ish.

Tasting note: Butterscotch and ripe stone fruit flavours, with a rich and luscious creamy mouth feel. A complex wine with a spicy oak finish

char grilled duck breast, sweet onion puree, apple and radish, balsamic reduction
char grilled duck breast, sweet onion puree, apple & radish, balsamic reduction

Third dish was char grilled duck breast, sweet onion puree, apple and radish, balsamic reduction. Paired with Merlot 2014.

Really love the duck breast with the hint of charred taste. The Merlot carries mulberry and red plum fruit aromas, a touch of earthy complexity that went well with duck.

Tasting notes: Medium ruby red in colour. Alluring strawberry, mulberry and red plum fruit aromas with subtle hint of French oak spice and a touch of earthy complexity.

Black Angus tenderloin, roasted pumpkin risotto, oyster mushroom, bone marrow and parsley sauce
black Angus tenderloin, roasted pumpkin risotto,
oyster mushroom, bone marrow and parsley sauce

The main dish was black Angus tenderloin, roasted pumpkin risotto, oyster mushroom, bone marrow and parsley sauce. Paired with Cabernet Souvignon 2012. While the Wagyu from Hanaya a couple days ago was heaven, I still enjoy Angus beef with its more profound texture.

Tasting notes: A powerful yet elegant wine. Soft and rich with full body. Well rounded tannins on the palate with concentrates fruit flavours and provides a great length on the finish.

Coconut rice, caramelized banana, candied coconut and chili
coconut rice, caramelized banana, candied coconut and chili

Coconut rice, caramelized banana, candied coconut and chili as dessert to end the night. Good food with excellent company, what a great way to start the weekends.

great company and awesome food with delectable wines
great company and awesome food with delectable wines

The other wines we tried were  Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2014 from Grape Expectations Estate, Margaret River, and Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc from Frankland Estate.

map to Saujana Kuala Lumpur

Address:
Senja
Saujana Golf & Country Club,
Jalan Lapangan Terbang SAAS,
40150 Selangor
GPS3.106865, 101.575285
Tel03-7846 1466
emailinfo@thesaujana.com