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Monday, July 15, 2013

Food: Ramadhan Buka Puasa Buffet @ JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur

The month of Ramadhan is also known as the month of fasting, when our Muslims friends fast during the day. Fasting from food amongst other things is not easy at all, but there's plenty to look forward to during 'buka puasa' - the breaking of fast! Last week, we were invited to attend a preview of the JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur's buka puasa buffet for this month of Ramadhan.

Dinner was hosted by the pool, which we thought was lovely - it gave it quite an atmosphere. Fighting our way through the daily rush hour jam, it seemed like the party was in full swing by the time we arrived, being greeted by a lively kompang performance by a group of merry gentlemen dressed in their finest traditional gear. 

But performances aside, JW Marriott brings back its long-standing tradition of serving 138 of nenek’s traditional recipes and more for its buka puasa buffet this holy month of Ramadhan. Traditional recipes are a staple in this buffet, and these precious recipes have been passed down from the chef's grandmothers themselves. Of course, some of the chefs' flair have also been put to the other dishes. Geared towards preserving the tradition of a Malay kampong celebration in the middle of the city, this buffet will allow you a nostalgic homely throwback, a buka puasa amidst a close-knit, lively village community.

And lively it was! The grand feast features a colourful collection of gerai - wooded stalls decked out in old-school kain and fairy lights, serving specialities such as Satay Kampong and Ikan Panggang (grilled fish) as well as heartier meat curry and rendang dishes.

Ikan Panggang & Satay Kampong, ready for grilling

The Satay Kampong in particular deserves a special mention, because of how tender and juicy each stick was, whilst not containing too much fat! The ratio was perfect, and the sweet glistening char on each stick was most enjoyable. :D

The chefs could hardly keep these coming out fast enough, since people were taking at least two handful of sticks every round. It took me three tries to get some satay and some pictures because the pot was empty each time I got there. A must-try!

But if the satay was a commendable highlight, I'd say joining it in a tie for first place had to be the lamb, skewered over charcoal-fuelled fires and quickly depleting as the sun went down. This was just as popular as the satay, if not more.

Adam was consistently hovering over the chef, who couldn't slice up lamb quick enough for everyone that night. But when we finally got our hands on some, we thought it was excellent. A beautiful shade of pink, and very juicy, not gamy in the very least. This alone will keep meat-lovers happy. JW Marriott chefs certainly know how to do lamb!

Ikan panggang, ripe for the picking

But apart from the grilled items and the more common malay food, the extensive spread will also feature some traditional yet rare dishes like the Rendang Kerang and the Daging Salai Masak Lemak dengan Bachang. Honestly we hadn't tried some of those dishes before, so JW Marriott's Ramadhan Buffet became a good learning opportunity. 

On the left is the Dhal Sayuran with lots of softly-cooked vegetables, while on the right is the cockle-packed Rendang Kerang. I tried a bit of the Rendang Kerang, which is great for cockle lovers! Not many people know how to appreciate a dish with only 'see hum' (cockles), so this was plentiful throughout the night. The cockles were fresh, although not the very large variety. Still, quantity does compensate for quality in this case. =D

Something that evoked memories of our trip to Bandung; Tempe Goreng Bercili! Tempe everywhere in Bandung when we were there, so it's not surprising to see it featured here during a Ramadhan buffet. This tempe is fried with chili, so expect a spicy 'kick' to it.

Kupang Masak Sambal Kacang & Daging Masak Kima

The Terung Sambal, albeit a bit oily, was good for eggplant fans like me.

There was also a seriously potent Sambal Udang with Petai, though we had none of the pungent greens, just the prawns, but we still found outselves burping up petai essence later. The sambal was pretty good though the prawns could have been fresher.

Ayam Masak Merah

Surprisingly, the Daging Lada Hitam was one of my favourites, despite it not really tasting like a traditional Malay dish. There was just enough black pepper to the stew and the beef was very tender.

The Ikan Pari from the grilled fish section was also good, big thick chunks of fleshy meat. Great dipped into the spicy-sour dip.

The Gerai Sup, amongst them Sup Kambing & Sup Ekor with an array of neatly cubed carrots & potatoes and shallots to throw into your soup.

Sup Ekor - a bit too oily IMO

Bubur Lambuk - a traditional rich rice porridge that has chicken, vegetables and coconut cream

Of course, what's a Ramadhan buffet without the ulam section? Lots of fresh crunchy greens on spread here, and I daresay it actually was one one of the more popular counters at the buffet.

Fruit Rojak and Keropok (crackers) was also on offer, two items I would ordinarily make a beeline for, but we were just too stuffed after all the curries and rice, unfortunately. 

There was a good variety of local fruits; I even saw some tables having mata kucing, but we were pretty late by the time we went for fruits, so I think there were none left!

If I had a complaint though, it would be the dessert section. I didn't think much of the bread pudding nor the pengat pisang pictured below. The bread pudding was too mushy while the banana chunks were quite the opposite, they weren't thoroughly cooked till soft like some other pengat pisangs I've tasted and liked.

The dry dessert section, comprising of some dodol, bahulu and some other traditional Malay kuih. I did thoroughly enjoy the dodol though.

Rose syrup is served at every table, but sirap bandung and teh tarik were also available near the dessert section and were our ideal drinks to accompany dinner.

The buffet - in full force!
The buffet advertises over 130 traditional recipes, but I think there were about 30-40 main dishes that I counted. Though some of the curries were good, I did wish that some of the curries could have been kept a bit warmer and replenished faster. The excellent lamb & satay more than made up for it though. Definitely our favourites of the night! :)

The Ramadhan Buka Puasa buffet at JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur is reasonably priced at RM 75++ by the poolside pictured above and RM 65++ at the 4th Floor of the Starhill Conference Centre. We haven't been to the conference centre, but I personally think the poolside was very lovely and quite ideal for a buka puasa buffet, especially on a cool evening.

We'd also like to take this opportunity to wish our all Malay friends and readers a blessed Ramadhan al-Mubarak and smooth preparations for Hari Raya Aidilfitri ahead!


Ramadhan Buffet @ JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur | Site
No. 183 Jalan Bukit Bintang,
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Price: RM 75++ at the Poolside (or RM 65++ at the 4th Floor Starhill Conference Centre)
Half price for children ages 6-12
Tel (for reservations): +6 03 2719 8666
Email: [email protected]
Duration: Daily 7pm-10:30pm, from Wed, 10th July until Hari Raya Aidil Fitri eve

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