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Review: The St. Regis KL opens up for dine-in with a new Malaysiaku menu inspired by traditional Malay wedding

Malaysiaku: A Reimagined Malay Heritage Menu will be available at The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur from now until 16th September 2021.

Remember the folklore-inspired menu that narrates ancient myths and legends reimagined by The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur last year? If you do, you’ll be excited to know that the Malaysiaku: A Reimagined Malay Heritage Menu is back with a brand new theme — Rites & Rituals.

In conjunction with the spirit of Merdeka and Malaysia Day, The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur invites you on a journey through the 14 states of Malaysia via one thing that brings all of us Malaysians together — food. The six-course menu draws inspiration from the rites of passage and the celebration of traditional Malay wedding rituals.

This dining experience will not only tickle your tastebuds, but it take you on the six significant rituals of matrimony in the Malay culture — ‘adat merisik’ (the courtship), ‘meminang’ (the proposal), ‘bertunang’ (the engagement), ‘malam berinai’ (the bachelorette party), ‘akad nikah’ (the wedding), and ‘bersanding’ (the reception); which will end with the ‘bunga telur’ (wedding favour).

“I want to reignite the beautiful memories of the traditional Malay wedding through the menu. My team and I have put together dishes that stem from traditional recipes but reimagined with a modern twist. These are legacy and iconic flavours that not only bring symbolic meaning to the hosts, the bride and the groom, but also their family and guests,” opens Chef Norazizi Taslim.

The Malaysiaku menu is served as an immersive dining experience that continues to evolve year after year. Conceptualised by the creative kitchen team, the menu unveils a gastronomic heritage of generational Malaysia cuisine — a play between nostalgia and familiar flavours.

Fancy a love letter?

Adat Merisik — The Courtship

During the rite of courtship, the family of the groom pays a visit to understand the background of both families and formally enquire the women’s interest. All about first impressions, the opening number takes the thrill of receiving love letters with a literal interpretation of a letter box. Inside sits a piece of homemade fish cracker “Keropok Lekor” that’s simply wrapped in paper. The cracker has all the makings of the perfect snack thanks to its savoury body elevated with perennial spices. It is paired with the foie gras terrine “Hati Itik Bunga Ros” that is served with “Sambal Geragau”. With the sambal, it adds a hint of spiciness that balances the umami from the krill.

More than just a ‘tepak sirih’, the amuse bouche is precisely arranged to mimic the traditional way of assembling this traditional Malay offering. 

Adat Meminang — The Proposal

The second course — the amuse bouche — is a beautiful play on the “tepak sirih”, a traditional Malay offering in a form of a box that symbolises the beginning of a pleasant exchange. Traditionally, a “tepak sirih” consists of betel leaves, Areca nuts, slaked lime, tobacco and a nutcracker; and these are carefully arranged in a precise manner. In that order, the kitchen team has put together a quartet of intricate flavour bombs comprising “Bidor Duck Cara Berlauk” (the traditional kuih cara with grated gambir and duck), “Lempeng Udang Kara” (a lobster crepe with strong crustacean ‘umami’ notes, wrapped in a silken crepe wrapper for extra mouthfeel), “Tenggiri Asam Gelugor” (tamarind-flavoured mackerel in a sandwich, lightly salted with ikura and perfumed with garnishes of julienned betel leaves), and “Sabak Salai” (smoked beef with pomegranate gelee and grated Areca nuts that deliver an explosion of flavours, leaving you rather gobsmacked in a good way).

If you’ve had sirih before, the nuances are familiar. But if it’s something new to you, it is an intimate introduction of flavours to your palate — packed with texture, fragrance, and harmony (while leaving you with a sliver of astringency, like eating sirih) — all subtly captured in these small morsels.

Put on the ring, why not?

Bertunang — The Engagement & Malam Berinai — The Bachelorette Party

As the ‘entourage’ walks over with a tray of ‘thingamajigs’, chef presents the ring — “Sambal Doughnut with Caviar and Gold Leaves” — served in a velvet box. On the side is “Kerabu Sotong” served in a whole passion fruit, topped with passion fruit dressing and selom dust.

The dish excels visually and taste-wise. Generous portion of perfectly poached squid, grated coconut, lime, chilli and thinly sliced kaffir lime leaves, tossed together for the perfect balance of texture, spice, tang, acidity, sweetness and freshness. It’s interesting to have local herbs like daun selom incorporated into the menu — a way of celebrate the fresh produce from our backyards.

Chef reveals that he infuses the soup with a dash of henna.

The squid salad is quickly followed by “Spiced Lamb Soup” served with “Henna-marinated Roasted Lamb Rib Tandoori”. This comforting soup takes you back to Penang Road and its famous sup kambing typically served with roti Arab. Find joy in every sip as you reminisce your last visit to the Penang Island.

And yes, henna is edible in a tiny amount. If you’re wondering what henna tastes like — nothing prominent but it gives a vibrant colour to the marinade on the lamb.

Our personal mini buffet served on a platter.

Akad Nikah — The Wedding

You may be experiencing palate fatigue by now but let all your eyes (and phone) do the work right now as the main dish is being served. As the most anticipated event of the journey, the wedding represents the official start to the newlyweds’ life when two become one.

Like a kid in a candy store, this dish makes the eye wander in amazement — seven elements, each intricately composed with so much attention to detail — truly a feast to the eyes and the palate. From green lollipops “Lamb Kofta” to finely rolled pickled white radish “Jeruk Lobak Putih”, yellow glutinous rice “Pulut Kuning, Serunding Ayam” to golden potato balls “Saffron-boiled Potatoes with Sambal Bilis”, the platter is beautifully platted like a personal buffet for you to enjoy all by yourself.

But the winning factor for me is the “Biryani Gam Rice”, a traditional Johorean recipe that is reinterpreted in such a unique and modern way. While last year’s rice dish was served in a pastry, this year’s comes in a long-ish parcel. Biryani rice is wrapped in a spring roll wrapper, and deep fried — resulting in a crispy texture that complements the usually ‘heavy’ dish.

And the death touch is the side of sambal that brings all the flavours together. But attempt with caution as it can be a tad bit too spicy for those with low tolerance to heat.

A work of art on the plate is the perfect reason to rest from palate fatigue.

Adat Bersanding – The Reception

The word ‘wajik’ has gotten me excited from the start. As a half Peranakan from Malacca, wajik is a traditional sweet treat, that when perfectly executed, enwraps emotions to nostalgia. For the uninitiated, wajik is made of glutinous rice, palm sugar and coconut milk.

“Traditionally, wajik is sticky and soft with textures of uncooked rice. As I reimagined this dish, I want to ensure that diners are able to enjoy the flavours of this traditional dessert through and through,” explains Chef Norazizi.

The cherry on the cake, this dessert introduces elements of fun and theatrics to the ‘reception’ with a sugar dome encasing the beautiful garden of dehydrated raspberry and mago, sponge and sugar fondant shaped in rose petals, surrounding a quenelle of vanilla ice cream. All of these are gingerly placed on a super thin chocolate disc that sits on top a pebble-sized ‘Wajik’.

And as the finale, “Bunga Telur” is served as the petit four. Four pieces of delectable treats is served on a trophy like structure decorated with handcrafted rose made out of sugar. The chefs flex their artistry and creativity here with a presentation that leaves you with five minutes of being in awe. 

Verdict

Dining out again is going to be something truly special, and the team at The Brasserie KL doubles that exhilaration by offering more than just great food but a sensorial experience that journeys through Malaysia in a beautifully interpretive way. This is our third Malaysiaku experience and let us assure you that it only gets better.

The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur‘s Malaysiaku: A Reimagined Malay Heritage Menu —  Of Rites & Rituals” is priced at RM388++ per person and will be available for dine-in at The Brasserie on 31st August and 2nd, 10th, and 16th September 2021. For those who wish to takeaway, the menu is available throughout the promotional period from now until 15th September 2021 (except for 2nd and 10th September). You’re recommended to order 24 hours in advance. 

Martin Teo
Editor
Martin has a bent for history and food culture, especially of the Peranakan heritage. Since the pandemic, he finds joy in plant parenting and continues to expand his collection of Philodendrons, Anthuriums, and Syngoniums. He's now on a lookout for the elusive Philodendron Florida Beauty to add to his urban garden.