* Guest post by Kevin since I’m in Singapore for the All That Matters 2014 digital/music/social conference.
It’s that time of year again when waistlines inadvertently expand and weighing scales precipitously veer over to the scary side of the line. It’s also the same time of year for some decidedly festive cheer – hey, that rhymes – and some sinfully good grub. For this year, the Latest Recipe restaurant at the Le Méridien Hotel cooked up quite a storm for their Ramadhan buffet spread.
They’re featuring all their usual classic continental favourites from across the globe and, for the season of Ramadhan, are complementing it with an array of mouth watering dishes courtesy of celebrity Chef Zubir who has made a return to Le Méridien to share his masterful renditions of authentic Malay cuisine.
If you’re a couch potato, you’ll likely have encountered him on TV as a judge on the Masterchef Malaysia cooking competition series, so there’s quite a high bar here to surpass indeed.
We were one of the early birds in, just as they were preparing the final stages of all the food counters though most were already prepped up and ready for guests.
Buffets, like anything, are often approached differently depending on who you’re asking.
Some prefer to just head for the good stuff – the big ticket items – and ignore the rest while others pick a smorgasbord of delights just to sample a bit of everything. Fortunately, we’re part of the latter group since we wanted to try everything offer though try as we might, the cornucopia of culinary delights on offer were of such variety and of such diversity that it was a daunting task to even work halfway through the menu on offer!
The local stations that offered familiar renditions of international cuisine were our first stop.
The Japanese cuisine station featured a selection of made-to-order sushi hand rolls along with premade sushi as well as an absolutely huge tray of fresh sashimi – tuna, butterfish and salmon lined in neat beautiful rows, glistening in the light – and octopus for diners.
Right next to it was a teppanyaki station where the staff on hand were briskly pan frying strips of beef, chicken and fresh shrimp on demand.
The fresh slices of tuna were eaten with a dab of wasabi and soya sauce. As expected,they were impeccably fresh with a lingering sweetness to the palate.
Stopping by the teppanyaki station yielded forth a sampling of all the three menu items on offer and the chicken and beef were tender and savoury. The prawns were of note, yielding a delightful sweet and buttery flavour along with a crisp bite to their flesh. Top marks here for taste and freshness.
The Chinese station was the next stop and it served up a selection of dimsum and Hainanese chicken rice. The chicken was prepared in one of three different ways – boiled, roasted and slathered in a rich honey sesame glaze. We opted for a sampling of siew mai, har gau (prawn dumplings) and a small helping of the fragrant chicken rice along with a thickly cut slice of roasted chicken breast.
In chicken rice, the most important aspect, well, important in comparison to the rice and chicken of course, is the chilli.
The chef on hand explained that it was a traditional recipe and an initial experimental dip into it yielded a piquant, tangy, almost sourish flavour that blended well with the tender chicken breast meat we sampled.
The rice was fragrant, moist and clumped well together, serving as an excellent counterpart to the chicken meat while the dim sum was delicious if fairly standard fare.
Of course, with a baseline suitably established, we went forth and sampled the real reason why we’re here -the delightful limited edition cuisine offered by celebrity Chef Zubir.
For the Ramadhan buffet, they’re featuring a selection of authentic Malay cuisine for a limited time only. Diners can swing by and savour the Malay Kerabu station where you could enjoy a lip-smacking selection of local vegetable salads, fruit acar and spring rolls glazed with a spicy sauce.
Discerning diners can pick from such local delights as Kerabu Ayam, Tauhu Sumbat ( stuffed bean curd), Kerabu Daging Bakar and much more. The smorgasbord was staggering in its variety and we sampled a bit of each. The Kerabu Ayam yielded a tangy, sourish and savoury bite that made for an excellent appetiser while the Tauhu Sumbat, served up with a selected of stuffed vegetables within a sliced and fried piece of chilled tofu served as a neutral palate cleanser of sorts before we moved on to the next course.
Taking pride of place was a goreng goreng station that served up an array of Malaysian fritters that include goreng pisang, fried sweet potato, yam and more. It was certainly a mesmerising sight as battered fruits went into the hot oil and emerged crisp, golden brown and resplendently puffed out.
Getting the batter right is always a difficult challenge but they’ve done it right here with a delightful crisp bite yielding to the tasty filling beneath it without that overly greasy aftertaste associated with poorly done fritters.
That’s not all of course. The Latest Recipe also features other celebrated dishes courtesy of Chef Zubir like the Ayam Mask Gulai Merah Lengkuas and the Masak Lemak Cili Padi Daging Salai Bersame Rebung that hallmark examples of authentic Malay cuisine. For those who’re making a return visit, you ought to note that there’s also a special dish of the day on a rotating menu.
This time around, we sampled the Protuguese-style baked fish while on other days, you may encounter Balinese baked fish; roasted turkey galatine with fruit chutney; wok fried seafood with spicy chili bean sauce or roasted chicken with kuzi gravy stuffed with mixed nuts. The fish itself yielded forth tender chunks of firm flesh.
We slathered some of the gravy surrounding the fish on it and it added a slight spicy bite to the fresh taste of the fish. This is good stuff.
For desserts, there’s an array of both Western and traditional delights on offer. Those with a sweet tooth will love the selection of pastries and cakes on offer as well as the putu mayam, putu piring and, for gourmands, the durian custard with pancake roll. Traditionalists will love the range of ice creams on offer as well as the sinfully delicious chocolate fountain that took pride of place on the dessert counter, gurgling away contentedly even as it dispensed forth sinfully sweet chocolate bliss to any who’d approach it.
Throughout the meal, diners can enjoy a free flow of your choice of soya bean milk, sugar cane juice, sirap bandung or date juice. We opted for the sugar cane and it was served up the way it was meant to be – fresh, neat and chilled such that each sip was a delight.
Suitably stuffed, we’d have to say that there was something for everyone and especially for Malay cuisine gourmands – the excellent selection of cuisine complemented by the unique novelty of sampling Chef Zubir’s culinary delights were top notch.
The buffet dinner is available from 29 June to 27 July 2014 at the Latest Recipe at RM138++ per person (from Monday to Friday) and RM128++ per person for Saturday and Sunday. Children between 4 and 12 years of age are entitled to a 50% discount.
A 50% discount is applicable for senior citizens on Saturday and Sunday only.
SPG members get a 20% off bonus off the total food bill. If you’re fast, you can snag early bird vouchers at RM100 nett per person from now until July 20th.
For reservations and to find out more, swing by www.discoverlemeridien.com or e-mail: [email protected] or call Dining Reservations at +603 2263 7434.