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Fifth review on this buka puasa buffet 2014 series is the Seenak Citarasa Malaysia buffet dinner at Empire Hotel’s Kitchen Art Brasserie.

Located at Subang Jaya right next to the iconic Subang Parade, the hotel can be access directly via Empire Mall with the two sharing the same parking arrangements. Not having to pay more just because you’re in a hotel instead of the mall is surely a minor bonus.

Seenak Citarasa Malaysia buffet at Empire Hotel
Seenak Citarasa Malaysia buffet at Empire Hotel

Kitchen Art Brasserie is located at hotel’s level 2, which somehow translate to just a floor above the top floor of Empire Mall.

I like the whole set up, with a glass walls by two sides overseeing the ever busy Federal Highway and tastefully done interior decoration.

ulam, cold seafood, fruits, salad, salted duck egg
ulam, cold seafood, fruits, salad, salted duck egg

The Seenak Citarasa Malaysia buffet dinner is priced at RM 108++ for adults, RM 88++ for children and senior citizens. The buffet is available from 28th June to 29th July, 2014.

Interestingly, diners will also standa a chance to win a Hermes watch worth about RM 12k by taking part in a contest during this ramadan period.

traditional main dishes from different states in Malaysia
traditional main dishes from different states in Malaysia

The buffet spread at Empire Hotel celebrates each of the 13 states in Malaysia and features more than 60 different main dishes in addition to starters such as ulam, prawns, mussels, salted duck egg, clams, salads, and even cendol and rojak.

There’s also a Ghazal band performing nightly, in line with the whole local theme.

cucur udang, ikan bakar, nangka, and of course - roast lamb
cucur udang, ikan bakar, nangka, and of course – roast lamb

To make things simple, here are the list of 13 traditional flavors from the different states:

  • sup gear box (beef shank broth with spices) – Utara Kedah
  • briyani ayam dengan kismis (braised chicken with golden raisin – Johor
  • daging masak lemak dengan nangka muda (beef cooked in turmeric gravey with young jackfruit) – Negeri Sembilan
  • terong goreng berlada dengan ikan bilis (fried eggplant with chilli and anchovies) – Selangor
  • ikan masak asam pedas bunga kantan (braised fish in tamarind gravy with ginger flower) – Melaka
  • gulai kawah Terengganu dengan kantang (beef curry with potato) – Terengganu
  • ikan patin masak lemak tempoyak (fish cooked with spicy durian gravy) – Pahang
  • ayam bakar berempah (roasted chicken with Malay spices) – Kelantan
  • briyani kambing (mutton cooked in local spices) – Pulau Pinang
  • hivana roe fish – Sabah
  • braised chicken in bamboo – Sarawak
  • bubur gandum – Perlis
  • rendang tok – Perak

Pinky and I absolutely loved the sup gearbox, check out how huge it is
Pinky and I absolutely loved the sup gearbox, check out how huge it is

Of the various offerings, I particularly enjoy the sup gear box the most. The serving was huge, with the bone neatly saw off at one end and a straw provided so that you can suck out the marrow, absolutely fantastic!

The roast lamb here, as with the other buffet spread I tried so far, did not disappoint. I also really enjoyed the fish gravey with bunga kantan and of course, ulam with intoxicating sambal.

selection of western desserts and traditional kuih, including tapai
selection of western desserts and traditional kuih, including tapai

As for desserts, there’s a rather wide selection of local kuih as well as a selection of Western desserts. I picked tapai ubi and was obviously not disappointed. For those who fancy the traditional sweet drinks popular during Ramadan, there’s more than half a dozen colorful cold drinks to choose from, as well as teh tarik, of course.

Empire Mall map

Address:
Kitchen Art Brasserie, Level 2,
Empire Hotel, Jalan SS16/1,
Subang Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan
GPS: 3.082109, 101.582716
Tel03-5565 1228

Last week we attended the second buka puasa dinner buffet review session at Armada Hotel’s Utara Cafe, a place Haze and I went  earlier in the year for their Mother’s day promotion buffet and was largely left impressed.

We braved the pre-buka puasa traffic in town (should have taken the LRT) and ended up parking a couple blocks away from the hotel to get there in time to take these photos before they were on everyone else’s plates. Ramadan is a month with fantastic food offerings at the markets and hotels alike, but the traffic.. that part I don’t like nearly as much.

buka puasa at Armada's Utara Cafe - Sinar Ramadhan Al-Mubarak
buka puasa at Armada’s Utara Cafe – Sinar Ramadhan Al-Mubarak

Anyway, themed “Sinar Ramadhan Al-Mubarak“, the buka puasa buffet at Armada features over 100 dishes of traditional delicacies as well as some of the more familiar international offerings that wouldn’t be unfamiliar to those who has been to the Utara Coffee House.

These dishes are the brain child of Executive Chef Chew Teik Chye and his team of chefs.

ulam, kuih, rice, and even western style pastry too
ulam, kuih, rice, and even western style pastries

To start, there are kerabus, lemang, seruding, traditional kuih, and ulam with 4 different types of sambal, but unfortunately no tempoyak. Western style pastries are available as well, and if you are a fan of kerabu, they have kerabu mangga, kerabu sotong, kerabu kacang botol, and kerabu soo hoon.

lamb, beef curry, salad/rojak bar, roti jala, roti canai
lamb, beef curry, salad/rojak bar, roti jala, roti canai

There are also a few dishes from Middle Eastern cuisine that made their way into this buffet line up, you can find  Qara Be Lahm El Ghanam (Pumpkin with lamb and cumin), Dajaj Mehawar (chicken with aromatic onion), Samkeh Harra Bil Kozhara (spicy fish with coriander), Fatet Dajaj (scented chicken with saffron rice), and Bayd Bil Forn (baked egg with spinach)

To be honest, those aren’t food I’m familiar with, but I did try a bit of them and my experience is a positive one.

satey, otak-otak, ikan bakar, roast lamb, nasi briyani, gulai with paku
satey, otak-otak, ikan bakar, roast lamb, nasi briyani, gulai with paku

Classic dishes such as gulai lembu (beef curry), ayam golek, pucuk paku, kambing masak merah, and many more are all present as well. Roti canai, satey, otak-otak, ikan bakar, briyani rice, and whole roast lamb too are some of the other dishes you can find. It is impossible to list them all down.

Oh, there’s also a stall where you can pick your own raw seafood and get the chef to cook it right there and then with the sauce of your choice. My advice is to try not to add bamboo clams into the mix cos the shells sometimes break and you end up having to pick them off the squid/prawns, troublesome!

sweet and sour beef, prawns, mussels, vegetables, and even duck
sweet and sour beef, prawns, mussels, vegetables, and even duck

Other than the more “typical” Middle East and Malay food, there’s also raw oysters, sushi, smoked duck, steamed fish, and an assortment of dishes representing cuisines from all over the world. The 100+ dishes can actually be a little bit intimidating if you are those sort of people who always want to try everything at a buffet.

I took about 4 plates of food (not very full lah!) for dinner, and while not everything was 100% super fantastic, they were generally pretty good, and I particularly like the duck, steamed fish, and beef curry. Oysters were plenty fresh too.

steamed fish, raw oysters, sushi, and dined with some Muslim friends
steamed fish, raw oysters, sushi, and dined with some Muslim friends

This Ramadan feast is priced at RM 85++ per person, and there’s also a 10+1 promotion applicable for voucher purchase (to be redeemed till 31st Oct 2012). There’s also a competition at  www.facebook.com/HotelArmadaPJ that you might want to check out.

map to Armada Hotel

Address:
Utara Coffee House
Hotel Armada Petaling Jaya
Lot 6, Lorong Utara C,
Section 52, 46200 PJ, Selangor
GPS3.104199, 101.640964
Tel03-7954 6888 (ext 4557)

Utara Coffee House

Most of us know Alicafe as the tongkat ali infused canned coffee drinks. In fact, it is my favorite driving companion to keep me awake whenever I’m on one of those balik kampung drives on the highway.

There’s more than just drinks when it comes to this brand, now there’s an Alicafe TigaRasa restaurant. I was one of the lucky few who was invited to get a taste of what they have to offer just a few days ago.

Alicafe Tiga Rasa restaurant, at USJ Taipan
Alicafe Tiga Rasa restaurant, at USJ Taipan

Located at USJ Taipan, Alicafe TigaRasa restaurant offers Malay cuisine in a contemporary setting and pretty good range of menu. The restaurant is tastefully decorated, giving it a bit of a kampung feel, but of course, dining area’s air conditioned.

The kitchen area is separated by glass, you can actually see your food being cooked (side effect: they always have to keep the place spotlessly clean).

here's the tiga rasa secret - sambal lemak, gulai lemak, and hebi-hiam
here’s the TigaRasa secret – sambal lemak, gulai lemak, and hebi-hiam

Now here’s how this restaurant got it’s name, tiga sara (three flavors) – from the three different traditional Malay sauces:

  • Gulai Lemak – the creamy coconut based sauce with kunyit, sambal, and lemongrass. Rich and flavorful
  • Sambal Lemak – a classic with plenty of chili, garlic, some coconut milk, and other spices
  • Sambal Hebi-Hiam – now this one is interesting, hebi means dried shrimp and hiam translate to spicy in Hokkien. So yah, this is  inspired by Nyonya cuisine and prepared with dried shrimps, curry leaves, onions, garlic, and more.

ikan pari, grilled lamb, and grilled chicken in different sambal, vegetable too
ikan pari, grilled lamb, and grilled chicken in different sambal, vegetable

You can then mix and match the three sauces with ikan pari (stingray) or ikan selar (yellowtail scad), grilled lamb chop, grilled chicken, mixed grill, or mixed vegetables. For those who like it even hotter, you can always customize the order with added chili padi too.

I tried the three sauces with pari, mixed vegetable, and lamb, and it is pretty difficult to pick a favorite. Each one offers a different experience, but they share the same characteristic of being rich and flavorful. I like the fact that terung (brinjal) and other vegetable is added onto the meat/seafood dish too. Goes well with steamed rice.

siakap tomyam, curry fish head, and fried chicken
siakap tomyam, curry fish head, and fried chicken

Other than dishes prepared from those three sauces, Alicafe TigaRasa offers dishes such as siakap tomyam, curry fish head, fried chicken and more.

Saikap tomyam (barramundi) is deep fried but served with spicy tomyam sauce, and the curry fish head reminds me of my mom’s style of cooking, the Nyonya version of curry that is slightly milder (unlike some Indian style would) yet plenty delicious.

The fried chicken has a hint of belacan to it, a very different style from some of those “KFC copycats”, and definitely a taste that I’m familiar of from the mixture of Nyonya-Chinese style of food we get in Penang.

this whole set for 4 can be had for RM 69.90
this whole set for 4 can be had for RM 69.90

To be honest, I’m quite impressed with the food at Alicafe TigaRasa, they do fill a niche by offering mostly traditional Malay cuisine with some mixture of other tastes that is still very close to home.

For the puasa month, there’s special promotional set that starts from RM 10.90 that includes a drink, kurma dates, a main course, and Hokkaido cake as dessert. For family of four (or 5), a RM 69.90 set gets you siakap fish, fried chicken, scrambled egg, TigaRasa mix grilled vegetable, Hokkaido cakes, kurma dates, and Alicafe’s homemade Pati Kurma Madu drinks.

the desserts, and the leng lui is of course, Hanis
the desserts, and the leng lui is of course, Hanis

I can’t wait for  them to have more branches!

map to Alicafe tiga rasa restaurant

Address:
Alicafe TigaRasa Restaurant
No.8, Jalan USJ 10/1H,
Subang Business Centre,
47620 Selangor
GPS: 3.04817, 101.68677
Tel: 03-8011 9412

Alicafe TigaRasa

Hello and selamat berpuasa to all my Muslim friends.

To me, Bulan Puasa is always the best time to get yummy Malay food in great variety that you otherwise would not find in a single location – the ramadan bazaar that pops up everywhere and lasts only until Hari Raya.

pasar ramadan kelana jaya
pasar ramadan kelana jaya at Jalan SS 6/1

The first pasar ramadan I went to is the one at Kelana Jaya. The bazaar is situated opposite the small Giant at Kelana Jaya on Jalan SS 6/1. When we reached there at around 6 pm on Sunday evening, the place was already jam packed with a lot of people. My best estimate is that there were at least 50-60 stalls offering just about every Malay food you can imagine.

rendang, curry, kuih, keropok lekor
rendang, curry, kuih, keropok lekor

There were a few stalls offering beef rendang, lamb curry, or chicken curry to go with nasi kukus (steamed rice). We bought a packet of beef curry for RM 4 with easily enough tender meat to feed 3 full grown cats.

Coconut and sugar cane juice were going for RM 4 per jug too, and they are fresh and 100% without any additives. I doubt you can find better tebu for this price, I used to pay RM 2 for a small cup, or worse, those dried sugar cane drinks.

nasi tomato, lemang, roast lamb, ikan cencaru
nasi tomato, lemang, roast lamb, ikan cencaru

The ikan cencaru goes for RM 5, 6, or 7 depending on size, and the uncle gives some extra sambal during packaging too. We bought one, and regretted not to have bought more. We also tried satar (in banana leaves with ikan tenggiri fillings, RM 2.50 for 4), RM 1’s worth of keropok lekor, chicken wings (RM 1.50 per piece), a very good beef murtabak, a some kuih too.

nasi ayam goreng, satar, sotong bakar
nasi ayam goreng, satar, sotong bakar

Lucky for us, there’s another 3 more weeks or so to go before bulan puasa ends, I still have quite a lot to try – the whole roast lamb, fried chicken, mee soto, laksa, sotong bakar, and more. yums.

pasar ramadan kelana jaya, map

Address:
Jalan SS 6/1
Kelana Jaya, PJ
Selangor
GPS: 3.104714, 101.601595

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