Review: Nostalgia Nipah Ramadan Buffet @ Hotel EQ Kuala Lumpur

As one of the first luxury hotels in Kuala Lumpur, Hotel Equatorial was an iconic landmark in the city, right up until it was closed in 2012 for redevelopment. Rather than refurbish the dated interiors to keep up with the times, the owners decided to pull down the entire place and build a brand new hotel in its place. So it is that after seven long years, the brand new five star EQ Hotel opened its doors to the public in March of this year – featuring modern yet elegant interiors, contemporary rooms, top notch facilities and creative dining concepts.

Old timers will remember Equatorial’s legendary Nipah Restaurant as a place where they might have had their first date, celebrated family gatherings, had birthdays or socialised with friends. EQ has retained part of this rich heritage with their very own Nipah Restaurant, which pays tribute to the well loved recipes and dishes that made the old place such a popular dining establishment. As the new hotel celebrates its first Ramadan, guests and diners are welcome to take a trip down memory lane with their Nostalgia Nipah Ramadan Buffet dinner.

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The spacious dining area has various seating arrangements for different groups, be it an intimate table for two or a comfortable booth with couch-like seats. The design is elegant and contemporary, the use of ambient lighting lending it a warm, cosy feel. The food has also been arranged for maximum efficiency and convenience, with a dessert island, salad counter, main buffet spread with a view of the open kitchen, and an outdoor area housing live cooking stations and a noodle bar.

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The fresh seafood, salad and ulam counter was laden with humongous shellfish and sizable shrimps, alongside a variety of sauces and condiments to go with the greens. For when you wanna eat ‘healthy’ but who does when you’re at a buffet ? lol

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The spread features a nice variety of traditional Malay favourites, popular Malaysian dishes and some Western fare, like thin-crust, oven baked pizzas,  and a pasta counter where you can have your pasta cooked to order in your sauce of choice. Some of the other main dishes to look out for include Briyani Gam, Daging Salai Masak Lemak, Ayam Goreng Berempah, Sambal Udang Petai, Ayam Tikka Masala, Ikan Kukus Pedas and many more.

Don’t forget to try the signature curry noodles, the recipe of which was created by one of the hotel’s pioneer chefs in the 1980s, where he insisted on using the shells of tiger prawns, together with heads so the roe would melt into the stock. Together with dried shrimp and a blend of secret herbs and spices, the broth is then put on a slow simmer for four hours to create a rich gravy, with a consistency similar to hearty seafood chowder.

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I try to steer clear of carbs (ie rice and noodles) because they’re usually filling and you won’t get your money’s ‘worth’ – but Nipah’s Hainanese Chicken Rice – another old recipe handed down from Equatorial – was so delicious everyone went for seconds. The chicken needed a bit more flavour although it was tender and juicy enough, but the rice was crazy tasty. Fragrant, buttery and flavourful, it seemed to have been cooked in  chicken fat – you can even eat it on its own, it was that good.

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The noodle bar is where you can customise your noodles; next to the Ais Kacang counter. Diners will also find perennial Malaysian favourites, from oxtail, beef, chicken or mutton soup, to the popular Roti Canai, Murtabak Ayam, Popiah Basah, or Rojak. 

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No Ramadan buffet is complete without a whole roasted lamb, smoky and dripping in juices. The version at EQ has been tenderly massaged with spice rubs for exquisite flavour.

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The thing about buffets: even trying a bit of everything is enough to make you full!

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But of course, there’s always a separate stomach for desserts! I loved the fact that they had warm, sweet bread pudding, as well as a variety of traditional Malay kueh-mueh and Western-style cakes, tarts and pastries. Some looked too pretty to be eaten. Ice cream is also on the menu, and you can customise it however you want – drizzled over with chocolate sauce, sprinkled with chocolate chips or marshmallows.

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Nostalgia Nipah is available daily from 6 May until 2 June 2019, 6.30pm to 10.30pm, priced as follows:

  • Selera Warisan @ RM178nett for dinner buffet at Nipah Restaurant
  • Sajian Kasih @ RM188nett for exclusive dinner at EQ’s brand new function room for 50 pax and above.

A special discount may be considered for reservations made during the first and last week of Ramadan. Children aged 6 to 12 dine at 50%. For reservations and/or enquiries, call + 60 (3) 2789 7777.

EQ Kuala Lumpur 

Plaza Equatorial, Jalan Sultan Ismail,  50250 Kuala Lumpur

website

Review: Buka Puasa @ Garden Grille, Hilton Garden Inn Puchong This Ramadan

Salam Ramadan Kareem to all my Muslim friends and readers! Today marks the first day of Ramadan – the holiest month in Islam – where Muslims observe a month of fasting and spiritual reflection.

For those in Malaysia, buka puasa (the breaking of fast) in the evenings is a lively affair, with people flocking to Ramadan bazaars or hotels to enjoy their iftar (evening meal). If you’re looking for a taste of traditional Malay fare at an affordable price, there’s the ramadan buffet at the Garden Grille @ Hilton Garden Inn Puchong. Themed ‘Selera Desa’, the hotel’s nostalgic spread will transport diners to the quaint Malaysian countryside, with dishes prepared the traditional way.

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The spacious setting, which feels comfortable and inviting, offers panoramic views of the surrounding neighbourhood on one side, and the outdoor pool on the other.

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Kickstart the meal with some light bites and healthy snacks from the salad bar. Of particular note are the tuna hors doeuvres, which are rich, creamy and slathered onto crunchy bread in generous amounts. Or go traditional at the ulam corner, where you can take your pick from a variety of garden herbs and greens, tossed with pickled vegetables, roots and spices.

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Moving on to mains, tuck into hearty Malay comfort food such as Ayam Masak Merah, Pari Asam Pedas, Paru Berlado as well as the usual staples of lemang and rendang. While the selection is mostly Malay, they’ve got a couple of international dishes as well. The Korean corner surprised me – the two dishes for our preview (tteokbokki and chapchae) were both excellent.

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If you’re not up for spicy dishes, they have items such as Chinese-style stir fried vegetables as well.

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The pasta station sees chefs whipping up fresh orders, whether it’s carbonara or bolognese sauce. My penne pasta was done al dente, although I felt like the sauce was a little too cloying.

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Choose from a variety of thirst quenchers, from soya bean to sugar cane juice and air mata kucing. 

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Head outdoors to where a whole roast lamb sizzles on the grill, juices and fat dripping. They also have satay on the menu, and an ais kacang corner where you can add your own condiments.

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Old school ice shaver.

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Last but not least, indulge in the desserts section where one will find Western style sponge cakes and flavours such as red velvet and butter, alongside traditional Malay kueh mueh the likes of kueh lapis, kuih ketayap and kuih seri muka.

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Hilton Garden Inn’s Selera Desa Ramadan buffet is available from 13 to 31 May from 7PM – 9.30PM, priced at RM80 nett per person. Early bird bookings before 6 May is priced at RM69 nett per person. For reservations, call +60380841299 or email kulpu_fb@hilton.com.

HILTON GARDEN INN PUCHONG 

Jalan DM2, Desa Millennia, 47150 Puchong, Selangor