It is customary for Chinese-owned businesses in Malaysia to have a ‘closing dinner’ or ‘Sau Goong Jao’ before the Chinese New Year, where all the employees gather to have a meal – it’s like the company’s thank you for all the work done in the past year. We had ours at Makan Kitchen at DoubleTree by Hilton, Kuala Lumpur, a posh hotel in the heart of the city. Even though that meant we had to brave rush hour traffic on a Friday, it was worth it. 😀
Makan Kitchen offers a buffet dinner from 6.30pm – 10.30pm. The restaurant on the 11th floor is spacious and divided into three sections offering Chinese, Indian and Malay cuisine. We had tables booked at the Chinese section, but guests can move about freely between the areas.
First order of the day was to take photos lol.
The Chinese section had a small selection of ‘dimsum’ – fried chicken wantons, deep fried sesame balls with lotus paste or red bean filling, vegetable and flour crackers. There was also roast chicken, crispy duck and chicken chasiu, but photos were too blurry .
Round 1 from the Chinese section.
The dumpling was crisp and crunchy with juicy minced meat filling. Super addictive! I also liked the roast chicken and duck, which was tender and had a thin crackly skin like suckling pig. The steamed chicken in salted fish was simple, comfort food.
Noodles were cold and meh. Flavour of the Beef in black pepper was okay but the meat was tough and overcooked.
It wouldn’t be CNY without Yee Sang! Literally translated to ‘raw fish’, the dish is a salad of sorts with peanuts, crackers, pomelo, shredded carrot/turnip/other veges and sashimi slices (usually tuna or salmon) mixed together and poured over with thick fish sauce and calamansi. I didn’t like it when I was a kid, but lately I’ve been enjoying the taste (signs of getting old?)
We’re supposed to mix it up with chopsticks; the higher the better as we speak aloud of good tidings and hopes for the new year.
Did you know that Yee Sang is only available in Malaysia and Singapore? The tradition was started here among the local Chinese so you won’t be able to find this in China. 🙂
The crab meat and scallop soup was great, although a bit starchy. I had two bowls! 🙂 Stomach warming, the rich broth was chock full of ingredients. Some like it with a dash of vinegar.
Moving on to the Malay section, there was various ulam (Malay-style salads) – tossed with seafood like shrimp and mussels.
Noodle station. A server will cook your choice of noodle with soup, but guests can customise the condiments.
Accompaniments: veges, mushroom, fishballs/chicken balls/tofu, seafood on skewers
Freshly Grilled fish
Chicken and beef satay. These were really good; meat was tender but the beef was chewy. I think they were marinated beforehand because there was a lemongrass flavour, and the baste was sweet and caramelly. The peanut sauce for dipping was quite oily though.
Grilled fish and chicken. They also had spicy stuff like gulai, curries and rendang.
The Indian section had a naan /chapatti station where they make the breads fresh to order. Little elephants lined the counter along with other decorations.
Elephant with garlic wreath and a huge bowl of crunchy poppadom crackers made from pureed lentils + flour and deep fried.
Dried chilli tower!
A small bread counter. No Western fare is served (except this and desserts).
My Round 2: a mix of food from both the Malay and Indian sections. Other than satay, I had a spicy oyster mushroom curry (which had a hint of bitterness). The sambal sotong (squid) was very spicy and salty; had to keep gulping water down but the seafood was fresh and springy. The chicken curry was well done, but the real star was the fish. Cooked in coconut cream and yoghurt, it had a sour but appetising tang, and the texture was melt in the mouth.
We were pleasantly surprised when the waiters came to our table and served us two extra dishes that were not on the buffet lineup: deep fried chicken lollipops. Salty and crunchy with a strong flavour of curry leaf, these lollies were everything that fried chicken should be.
Beef rendang was equally amazing: chunky but melt off the bone in tender strips, topped with a mash of herbs like lemongrass, chillies, ginger, galangal, turmeric, garlic, etc that have been blended too a fine paste. You know it’s gonna be a party in the mouth!
We can’t go to a buffet and not have dessert – and I have to say Makan Kitchen has a much better selection of desserts than their other sections lol. We were quite stuffed by then so had to take it slow. (Above) Cherry and banana crumble.
Butter sponge cakes on sticks.
Traditional Malay desserts called ‘kueh’.
Angku, a Chinese dessert consisting of a chewy, bouncy exterior made from glutinous rice flour and red bean/lotus paste filling. Since I like chewy stuff, this was my favourite.
Made from all sorts of local ingredients; peanuts, glutinous rice flour, tapioca, etc.
Ais kacang counter where you can make your own shaved ice. It’s like a Malaysian version of the Filipino halo-halo, jellies, nuts, etc.
Western-style desserts: cheesecake, mango mousse cake, chocolate tarts, and tiramisu.
Loved the chocolate mousse cake, topped with sweet maracons and fruits. The mousse was fluffy and soft, and the chocolate had just the slightest hint of bitterness.
Red velvet cakes were good too. Fluffy, rich and topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.
Last year was a year of changes and upheaval, what with me changing jobs and everything. But I’m glad it’s working out so far. Here’s to a great 2016!
- Doubletree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur (Level 11), The Intermark. 348 Jalan Tun Razak, 50400 Kuala Lumpur,Malaysia
- Phone: +6 03 2172 7272
- Dinner: 6.30pm – 10.30pm
Price: Didn’t get to ask because it was boss’s treat (!) but I’m guessing it’s above Rm100, considering that it’s a fancy hotel in KL.