The return of Malaysia Mondays!
It’s been almost 5 months since my epic Malaysia holiday. This wasn’t even my first visit to Malaysia but somehow particular this trip triggered in me a great love and craving for the fiery local cuisine (traveling with 3 obsessed foodies may have also contributed a little to this love), writing about all of the food we devoured for 9 consecutive posts really didn’t help to curb me of this obsession either!
Coming back home I slowly came to realise that finding the same foods I’d loved and dreamt about was going to be a little hard. As part of the Crave Sydney International Food Festival celebrations this year, the Grace Hotel is putting on a Malaysian Food Festival, a buffet style feast.
Was it going to live up my memories? We’re about to find out!
The set up for the Flavour of Malaysia dinner is actually in the form of a buffet. There are a number of closed containers that make me more than a little curious, it only takes us a few minutes to crack and soon Helen and I find myself roaming the lanes and peering curiously below each lid. Each container has a mini label placed neatly nearby with the name and description of the dish hidden within, the scent of the spices is unbelievably alluring and my stomach is grumbling after a photos.
For the people who believe in starting a meal healthily, there’s a salad bar tucked away at the start of the buffet line. The salads are a refreshing range of pickled vegetables, seafood pasta and flaked fish, there’s an enticing DIY Rojak which I take a small serving of but I only have eyes for the curry!
Fried Eggs. The moment the lid opens to reveal these strange ovals (yeh I stepped around that one) that have been deep fried to perfection I know I’m coming back for this dish! My first bite I suddenly remember that Malaysian food is spicy. It’s deep fried eggy goodness that sends me searching for a glass of water and suddenly the night seems that bit spicier.
The brilliant yellows and browns have mixed together on my plate to create a brilliant sauce on my plate that threatens to burn away my palate (in a good way). My favourite is probably the Daging Masak Kicap, a thickly sweet soy based dish made with large cubes of beef that I can’t stop munching on.
We’ve got front row seats of the chefs in action tonight, they’re hard at work making Roti and Roti Jala to order, the Roti Jala is created using a multi funneled cup that drips the batter in a lace-like pattern onto the grill, before being rolled up and served.
The chefs are also making up bowls of Mee Rebus to order, the soup is actually a potato-based gravy. It’s deceiving to the key as the orange-red soup is actually sweet rather than chili, with the soup clinging to the noodles.
The satay sticks are a hot commodity, with the warming trays empty minutes are fresh batches are put down. It’s not until my last return to the buffet that I manage to snag a few of the Beef Satay sticks, sadly they’ve been in the warming containers a little too long and are a little tough to eat. Nothing a lot of satay sauce won’t fix!
Rounding off the savories are a a few dinner staples of rice and noodles. The Char Kway Teow is served up in a massive warming container, the mildly sweet noodles are a welcome counterpoint to all the chili we’ve been consuming.
As the initial rush for food begins to die down a little, the chefs are free to let out their hair. They jokingly bend down behind the warming containers as I make my rounds with the camera and are more than happy to pose for a mug shot! They’ve been flown in directly from Kuala Lumpur for the feast, and have been working with the Grace chef’s on the menu for tonight.
There’s only been one real thing on my mind all night.
The dessert table is conveniently placed directly in my line of sight and the lit up trays of bite sized morsels have been taunting me all night with their bright colours and even worst, the sight of quickly emptying plates. The next restock sends me hurrying over to fill up a plate with a mix and match of almost everything available, noticeable highlights being the sweet mung bean filling of the Ang Koo and the coconut layer of the Kueh.
Helen however only has eyes for the Onde Onde.
It’s our last run at the buffet tables and I’ve put six of the Onde Onde on my plate (for us to share!), but Helen is the Devil on my shoulder with a quickly whispered, ‘Take eight!’. A quick look around and suddenly there are eight on my plate before we disappear with a laugh.
The Onde Onde are a one-shot necessity, the Pandan balls are filled with a Palm Sugar syrup that squirts into your mouth at the first bite, making second changes a messy impossibility. I’m nearly comatose after all this sweetness, but revived when we realise that we haven’t had any Ice Kechang yet.
It’s a rosy pink parfait glass that comes floating towards our table filled with rice, jelly all on a base of corn kernals. Unfortunately for this round team Rose Syrup has won out, and the sweet scene of rose dominates. It’s a little too sweet for my tastes but somehow after chatting with the people at our table I suddenly find my glass mostly empty!
We’re left with a single Onde Onde left on our table and no stomach space between the two of us to fit it in. Considering that between us we’ve probably tried every dish available at the buffet I’m calling it an honourable defeat.
eatshowandtell was a guest of Grace Hotel at the Malaysian Food Festival
Level 2, 77 York Street,
Sydney, NSW, 200
Phone: (02) 9272 6636
Malaysian Food Festival
Date: 7th-29th October, 2010
Available: Lunch, Monday-Friday and Sunday (12pm-2pm)
Dinner, Friday-Saturday (6pm-9pm)