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Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

Tag / umai

Nook at Aloft KL is a pretty funky all-day dining restaurant that serves international and Asian cuisine.

The restaurant set up reminds me of those futuristic movies back in the 80s, little squarish pods that has a bench, chairs, and even come complete with artificial turf. Among the three Starwood hotels at KL Sentral area, this one is definitely the most hip.

Nook at Aloft, playful & hip
Nook at Aloft, playful & hip

Earlier this month, together with a couple other reviewers, we were invited to sample the MIGF (Malaysian International Gourmet Festival) menu at Nook.

MIGF is about bringing the best out of the world class chefs who are already working at the restaurant (instead of one off “import” from overseas). It is about paying a little extra to get a more pleasant fine dining experience with quality ingredients and first class service.

At Nook, Chef Steven Seow flexes his creative mind and came up with this very interesting set of dishes. The festival runs throughout the entire October, 2013 (yes, this blog post is way late.)

smoked scallop umai sushi, duck confit, Villa Maria Chardonnay, NZ
smoked scallop umai sushi, duck confit, Villa Maria Chardonnay, NZ

The starting dish is smoked scallop umai sushi, duck confit with pomegranate and yogurt sphere. A two part dish that is served with the soya sauce on the little plastic drip thingy.

The sushi rice is coated with a fine layer of ebiko, and the scallop prepared with method inspired  by umai (a traditional Sarawakian seafood preparation method, I had it over Mabul/Sipadan trip thanks to Irene). Duck confit with yogurt sphere provided a different texture and savoury taste, I particularly liked the bit of fried duck skin on top.

We had Villa Maria Chardonnay from New Zealand to start the dinner. Lovely pairing.

Sarawak lobster and ablone laksa, Leffe Blonde
Sarawak lobster and ablone laksa, Leffe Blonde

Next up was the Sarawak lobster & abalone laksa with organic soba noodle. This was a dish unlike any I’ve tried, a sort of traditional hawker dish meet fine dining.

The soup is sourced all the way from Sarawak to ensure that it was authentic and just right. Lobster and abalone definitely provided a huge dose of luxury to this dish, and I thought the use of soba noodle was a clever touch to lighten up the dish a little bit too. Some of us asked for extra soup cos it was so delicious!

A glass of cold Leffe Blonde went well with this spicy dish.

p/s: the hawker version at Bangsar is one of my favourites.

wagyu beef cheek rendang, Madfish Chiraz, Australia
wagyu beef cheek rendang, Madfish Chiraz, Australia

Continuing with the same philosophy, the next dish was Wagyu beef cheek rendang with farm vegetables, archar jelatah, and turmeric coconut rice.

Last I had something similar to this dish was the big lunch box at EEST, Westin back in 2009, and this definitely brought back the memory. The beef cheek was superb and as per Wagyu standard, super tender and flavourful. The turmeric coconut rice carries a nice and not overly strong fragrance, with two quails egg sitting on top of some sambal should you want to spice it up a bit.

Red goes well with beef, so we had Madfish Chiraz from Australia to wash down the meat.

Chef Steven Seow with the 8 treasure ice kacang
Chef Steven Seow with the 8 treasure ice kacang

Concluding the dinner was another playful invention by Chef Steven Seow – the 8 treasure ice kacang. Basically shaved ice with 8 different ingredients such as lychee, blackberries, nangka, peanuts and so forth with 5 different syrup served on the side in syringes. Mix and match it the way you want and be responsible if you ruined your own dessert.

We had fun with this but my advice is to mix it up quick cos the ice tends to melt and create a hardened outer layer if you spend too much time taking photos.

me with Trixha & other food reviewers at Nook, Aloft KL
me with Trixha & other food reviewers at Nook, Aloft KL

The menu is priced at RM 280+ per set for what you see here. The version without alcohol is RM 180+ per person, and for those with smaller stomach, you can go light for RM 160+, which exclude the wagyu dish but does come with a glass of Chardonnay. Every set comes with coffee or tea too.

I’d want to check out Nook’s normal menu too.

Aloft KL map

Address:
Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral
No 5, Jalan Stesen Sentral,
50470 Kuala Lumpur
GPS3.13295, 101.68619
Tel: 03 2723 1188

I didn’t know I was going on my 3rd diving trip this 2-6 February until about a month ago.

It was Irene who mentioned that she’s going to Mabul/Sipadan with her sisters and 2 other guys, since she sounds like a crazy person who is fun to hang out with, I decided to tag along despite not having met anyone face to face prior to this trip, Irene including.


rather refreshing to be flying a non-budget airline for once

So I logged into both AirAsia and MAS for flights to Tawau and decided to take the non-budget route since the price difference was not more than 10% in this case.

RM 434 paid for the return fare, including 20kg luggage allowance, pretty delicious meal (the nasi lemak is just as good as those served on Air Asia, and comes with Ferrero Roche too).


Tawau to Semporna, at Dragon Inn

When I reached Tawau at 11+ in the morning, Irene, Lynn, Jen, Chan, and Gun had already been waiting there for some three hours after flying from KK. We chartered a van (RM 250 both ways) to our destination for the day – Semporna.

The 90+ km journey from Tawau (nearest airport) to Semporna took just over an hour. Instead of lush pristine Borneo jungle that I had envisioned, it we were greeted with rows upon rows of palm trees with the occasional village houses instead. Not a whole lot of visual treatment going on.


Semporna, at the lion’s lower jaw

Semporna is often the stopover town for divers and travelers alike heading to Mabul/Sipadan islands. Located at the southeastern corner of Sabah (the lion’s lower jaw), Semporna has a population just over 100k, with a rather tiny town center that isn’t even as big as SS2 in PJ. You could walk the whole downtown area in 15 minutes or so.


the view from Dragon Inn Floating Resort

We checked into Dragon Inn Floating Resort to spend the night. Since there were 6 of us, we chose the dormitory style accommodation for the night to give everyone a chance to chill together. At RM 20 per person per night it was really cheap, but unfortunately the lack of air conditioning proved to be a major problem not for being too warm, but for having too many mosquitos making a feast of us.

Speaking of mosquitos, here’s quiz from Lynn (answer at the bottom of the page): What’s the difference between a mosquito and a fly?


Umai – a traditional Sarawakian delight

Irene brought a packet of Umai all the way from Kuching for me (thank you very much!).

Umai is a traditional Sawarakian food that is best described as a sort of raw fish salad. A packet of raw fish (white fish) that is pre-marinated with lime juice and onion that is served by mixing with red chili, fresh lime juice, and probably some salt and pepper.

Give it a few tosses ala yee sang style and you’re ready to roll. It was actually quite refreshing, kinda like the cross of Japanese salad and Chinese yee sang but with a heavy lime juice taste and a hint of spiciness. I liked it and would try a fresh version when I find myself at Sarawak next time.


dinner at the restaurant by the bridge

For dinner, we took a short walk from the resort and settled upon the little restaurant by the bridge that connects town center and the resort. The vegetable was okay, spicy squid rather tasty, and the venison somewhat tough and forgettable.

We sat under the sky with a gentle breeze brushing our hair, waiting for the next day’s diving excursion at Mabul and couldn’t care less if dinner wasn’t exactly impressive. It was less than RM10 per pax anyway.

Next up – Mabul island.

Answer to Lynn’s quiz: A mosquito can fly but a fly cannot mosquito!