Friday, 20 November 2015

Rare, Residence by Uga, Colombo, Contemporary Sri Lankan Flavours

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Rare, Contemporary Sri Lankan Cuisine, Residence by Uga, Colombo
Residence by Uga, Colombo

*** We've moved! Please come find us in our new home at: theyumlist.net

A grand old colonial bungalow in the centre of Colombo houses what must soon become one of Sri Lanka’s hippest restaurants. Rare, part of Residence by Uga, is one of the newer elegant dining eateries in the city, and the team here is doing things with food that will elevate the corners of the mouths of even the most jaded gourmets. 

Rare, Contemporary Sri Lankan Cuisine, Residence by Uga, Colombo
Private Dining Room

Local ingredients are treasured and the chefs go to great effort to source produce that is so steeped in history that some of the younger culture might not even be aware of them. The kitchen crew believes that by honouring diverse native ingredients, the rich culinary heritage of the country will live on. International cooking techniques, which focus on gentle preparation methods and respect for each component’s discrete flavour, showcase much potential for a fine dining experience that could potentially have people traveling to Sri Lanka solely to partake.

But… many great stories begin in the bar, so that’s where we start.

Rare, Contemporary Sri Lankan Cuisine, Residence by Uga, Colombo
The Bar

Meeting our gracious host, Ashan, we’re informed that local fruits, ambaralla and veralu (local olive), are used to make Residence by Uga’s signature cocktails. Veralu (900) combines its namesake shaken with vodka, green apple and lemon juice, in a conical glass. Memories of my grandma come flooding back with the contrast of the salt rim against the crisp apple – she used to sprinkle salt on granny smiths (much to my own mother’s annoyance, but my childhood delight), demonstrating a positive launch. Raw Mango (900) features blended gin, green mango, ambaralla, and lemon juice in a whisky snifter, proving a refreshing combo. And, brandy provides the base of the Wood Apple (900), which is mixed with fruit and mint and poured in a margarita glass. The distinctive taste of brandy comes to the forefront evoking resemblance to a Brandy Alexander, but with a cooler edge. Overall, we’re impressed with the cocktails – not a hint of sugar syrup, no soft drink top ups, just alcohol and natural fruits – yums up!

Rare, Contemporary Sri Lankan Cuisine, Residence by Uga, Colombo
Pre Dinner Cocktails

“Uga Escapes believe in giving experiences of a lifetime and an essential part of that is the food element,” says Ashan with an obvious belief in the property’s philosophy. Hubby notes that the cocktails feel ‘healthy’ (a good thing in hubby’s mind) with the simplicity of raw fruits and liquor. Ashan quickly jumps in unapologetically saying that the restaurant is not healthy, “we want you to indulge.” And so we continue…

Wine

A mouthful of fruit finishing with oak is found in the Las Moras Chardonnay from Argentina (950), which hubby chooses as his grape of choice to accompany the meal. The fresh acidity of my White Rhino Chenin Blanc from South Africa (850) pairs well with our seafood selections. Hints of guava and passionfruit linger in the mouth and the delicate prolonged ending goes well with food, but also makes easy drinking on its own.

Rare, Contemporary Sri Lankan Cuisine, Residence by Uga, Colombo
Las Moras Chardonnay


A tray of warm breads baked in house is placed along with the wine. The aromas are saliva inducing, and although we try hard to resist, I succumb to the temptation to try something new. Sesame wholewheat, rye polenta, curry leaf, and roasted tomato breads are partnered with butter dusted with paprika.

Starters

A roll of Squid (850) infused with arrack is presented on a long black slate platter. The marinade of onion, garlic and celery is still visible on top, and “the squid is best eaten warm,” hubby pesters as the camera eats first. Local pala, or mukunuwenna greens and red bell pepper coulis give colour to the dish. Delicious.

Rare, Contemporary Sri Lankan Cuisine, Residence by Uga, Colombo
Squid

Vegetable Patties (700) feature a trio of small balls: polos (young jackfruit), sweet potato, and pumpkin rounds, are crowned with a green curry sauce made with spinach, basil and mint. A stripe of beetroot purée underneath contributes vibrancy and we condone them a tasty vegetarian selection.

Rare, Contemporary Sri Lankan Cuisine, Residence by Uga, Colombo
Vegetable Patties

Beef Tenderloin (1200) has hubby in moans of praise. Paper-thin slices of beef mirror Italian carpaccio in a graceful fan across the plate. Smoked sea salt and sesame oil season leaves that resemble rucola, but are grown locally: gotukala (centala) and mukunuwenna. A dot of porcini mushroom purée, aged balsamic and a drizzle of green pesto oil each donate their own detail in taste and adornment.

Rare, Contemporary Sri Lankan Cuisine, Residence by Uga, Colombo
Beef Tenderloin

Perfectly cooked Octopus (850) is presented as a beautiful trio of legs on a mash of yellow bell pepper and carrot. Green wedges of avocado, Campari soaked lychee and tiny dots of balsamic reduction make for a pretty composition both for the eye and the tongue.

Rare, Contemporary Sri Lankan Cuisine, Residence by Uga, Colombo
Octopus

Soups

Our host and chef have difficulty recommending just one soup to try as we suggest, so we end up with a trio of the most popular choices on the menu. Mutton (850) soup features a pumpkin curry base infused with arrack, with the meat as the garnish. It’s wonderfully thick and satisfying. Lemongrass (550) is roasted with tomato to provide a hearty soup with the familiar taste of Europe, but a slight intrigue of the exotic with a lemongrass underlay. Scallop (950) ends up being our favourite with the local vegetable, “drumstick” leaf  (not chicken but leaves of the murunga plant), providing the curry base and supporting the seafood garnish. The soup enters the mouth creamy and departs with a sharper note – we like this amusement and keep scooping ‘til game over.

Rare, Contemporary Sri Lankan Cuisine, Residence by Uga, Colombo
Scallop Soup

Mains

My vegetarian picking is Innalla (1100). Local yam is layered with cream to form a delicious tower with a velvety interior encased in crispy walls. Hubby’s not so fond of the stickier outer layer, but it reminds me of paella (or claypot rice) and scraping the edges of the dish to get the bits that have been caramelised and hence the richest of the grains. A legume red curry and bitter gourd salad seasoned with salt, pepper, olive oil, tomato and grated coconut balance out the account with bitter, creamy, salty and sweet.

Rare, Contemporary Sri Lankan Cuisine, Residence by Uga, Colombo
Innalla

Kalu Pol (3800), or shoe lobster, is barely recognizable in the salty black rub that coats its entirety. Roasted coconut resembles a dry risotto base and thick slices of roasted bread cushions it all. Powerful and smoky, it’s one of the restaurant’s fastest moving dishes.

Rare, Contemporary Sri Lankan Cuisine, Residence by Uga, Colombo
Kalu Pol

Hubby’s Lamb (3600) is plated in small mounds along a dark platter. It’s been sous vide for many hours so is soft and flaky. A smoked sweet potato mash, kohila leaves, onion jam and polos (jackfruit seeds) gift a tremendous complexity of flavours, making this another tasty recipe.

Rare, Contemporary Sri Lankan Cuisine, Residence by Uga, Colombo
Lamb

Sides

Tempered Sweet Potato Mash (500) is right up my alley. This is the type of food I could happily spoon up instead of popcorn as a satisfying movie-viewing snack. Chili, garlic, onion, olive oil and turmeric add savour to the root mash. Rare Fries (500) are wedges of potato seasoned with the chef’s own seasoning featuring curry leaf, chili, cumin, salt and pepper. They’re first blanched and then deep-fried ensuring a fluffy middle and brittle surface. Our green veg, Beans with Maldivian Fish (500), is finished off table side with the creamy stock of onion, celery and garlic poured atop in front of us. These too, I’d order again.


Rare, Contemporary Sri Lankan Cuisine, Residence by Uga, Colombo
Tempered Sweet Potato Mash
Rare, Contemporary Sri Lankan Cuisine, Residence by Uga, Colombo
Green Beans with Maldivian Fish

Desserts

I should have predicted trouble when we left the ordering of dessert in the hands of our host. A conversation between Ashan and the chef manifested individual opinions on which house made ice creams (550) were the most adored and the various merits of numerous sweets … so… we ended up with five ice creams plus two desserts! To be fair however, I do understand their indecision. When the menu offers over 20 desserts and more than a dozen house made ice creams… choosing is no easy task We could easily return for a dessert sampling alone and have more than enough to feature in an article (or three!).

Of the ice creams (which I do recommend you sample), Passionfruit Chili is the favourite of the boys. Clearly holding a penchant for sweet, this version elicits broad smiles from both. Black Pepper and Green Olives is intriguing: enticing me to keep digging back in for more to decide whether or not I love it or hate it. I get to the end and am still undecided. Seeni Sambol and Sprats (dried salted fish) is the Sri Lankan version of the controversial European pepper and olive. It fills the mouth with savoury and sweetness at the same time. Extremely rich, I only manage a spoon or two. The Salted Peanut has a fantastic texture with the crumbled nuts, and the Jaggery and Sesame is fabulously creamy in the mouth, realised even more so in contrast with the rich nutty sugar rocks – much like crushed peanut brittle. I think this one is my jewel in the line-up.

Rare, Contemporary Sri Lankan Cuisine, Residence by Uga, Colombo
House Made Ice Creams

Carrot Cheesecake (600) has a base made from the jackfruit seed (again showing the versatility of this fruit). The hub is creamy with a mild strain of carrot through it, and a treacle topping drizzled across the crown makes for spectacular presentation. While hubby and our sweet tooth host Ashan both lapped up the dessert with huge grins of childhood glee, in a reorder I’d ask for the syrup on the side to allow the core taste to lead.

Rare, Contemporary Sri Lankan Cuisine, Residence by Uga, Colombo
Carrot Cheesecake

Billin Tart (550) with coconut ice cream, uses slices of the billin fruit (belimbing asam in Malaysia, or cucumber tree in English), which have been stewed with sugar to reduce their acidic bite. It’s naturally very sour so matches well with the saccharine meringue topping. The coconut ice cream showered with crisp grated coconut acts as support, but could easily be elevated to protagonist.

Rare, Contemporary Sri Lankan Cuisine, Residence by Uga, Colombo
Billin Tart

We began in the bar, so ending there too seems to make sense: finishing with a post dinner sup to ease our stomachs before bedtime. Sri Lanka has a long history of arrack (coconut liquor) production and as we’re on the local trail, it would appear to be the most adept way to conclude. Ceylon Arrack is one of the more refined products on the market so we’re sure to sip this one at a leisurely pace as we contemplate the extraordinary programme we’ve just feasted on as our introduction to Sri Lanka and its bounties.

Rare, Contemporary Sri Lankan Cuisine, Residence by Uga, Colombo
Ceylon Arrack

Reasons to visit: contemporary cuisine with distinctively Sri Lankan ingredients; great vibe; be sure to have a cocktail in the bar before or after dinner (or both); Beef Tenderloin Starter; Scallop Soup; Tempered Sweet Potato Mash; Lamb; Jaggery and Sesame, and Passionfruit and Chili Ice Creams.

Rare at Residence by Uga



Thursday, 19 November 2015

Malkey Car Rental, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Jaguar XF


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Setting foot in a new country for the first time mostly fills me with excitement. A mild apprehension of the unknown however can sometimes hinder my full enjoyment. A sure way to allow the pleasure of travel to take full helm for me is having a prearranged airport transfer. Knowing someone will be expecting me at the arrival hall, with plans to get me to my first destination safely, sets my mind at ease.

After some web investigation into the best airport transfer companies in Sri Lanka, Malkey Car Rental kept surfacing to the top of the list. They have over 40 years in the industry, one of the largest and most varied fleets (more on that in a moment) in the country, and is the only Sri Lankan company to be a ISO 9001:2008 Certified Vehicle Rental Company (which I later discover means they have an internationally recognised quality management system in place). Vehicles undergo regular safety inspections and service is fully guaranteed. Replacement vehicles and drivers are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the event of an emergency. I’d say that gifts peace of mind.

Diverse would be an understatement in describing the vehicles under Malkey Car Rental’s service. From luxury cars, to family sedans, 30 seater buses, 4WDs and the classic and vintage fleet, there’s something for all predilections. Hubby eyes the restored Austin A40 Devon and the red Skoda Roadster (1950) Open Top with envy, while I smile at the flower paintwork on the Beetle Van while browsing their website. Cars are available both for self-drive, or with a chauffeur.

We’ve reserved an airport transfer and our first trip is with a Toyota Land Cruiser Prado. A driver awaits our arrival at the airport with a name-board. I’ve also been given in advance his name and handphone number in the case of any confusion. All was arranged on line, and prices are transparent with a clearly defined list. Everything is communicated clearly and upfront, leaving no surprises.

Prado

As we exit the terminal and are enveloped by the crowds and touts offering a variety of promises, we’re filled with gratitude for our Malkey Car Rental driver who whisks us through the throngs and swiftly into a pristinely kept Prado. We’re not only impressed with his skill and attention to safety on the road (all western conventions of road rules followed – including indicators and the avoidance of tailgating), but too the quality of the highway from the airport to Colombo. For a country recently recovering from internal turmoil, it apparently has been working hard to get some quality infrastructure in place.

Crowds at the Airport

Dropped off safely to our hotel, we follow with a whirlwind 36 hours of exploration, tasting and sipping in Colombo. The evening before we leave, I again receive a message indicating the pick-up time, driver’s name, and contact for our departure. It too goes off without a glitch, only this time our ride is a Jaguar XF.

Jaguar XF

The driver pulls up to our seaside location and the blue of the ocean seems to reflect off the shiny white paintwork. We’re happy we have a midday flight so that we can appreciate the sleek design of this set of wheels. We’re grateful too for Malkey Car Rental who’ve started and ended our Colombo trip in safety and style.

A Safe Return Journey

Reasons to reserve: over 30 years experience in the industry; high safety standards; prompt and efficient communication; a comprehensive range of vehicles to choose from.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Loama Resort Maldives at Maamigili, Raa Atoll

luxurious accommodation maldives
Loama Resort Maldives at Maamigili

Culture, heritage, the arts and a true taste of and respect for local Maldivian tradition is what we find at Loama Resort Maldives at Maamigili. With a profusion of luxurious accommodations in the region, all offering stunning locations, superb service and top-notch facilities, it’s difficult to select which one will receive your hard earned cash. If you’re looking for a property however that tells a unique story, one in which domestic customs are celebrated and valued, Loama Resort Maldives at Maamigili puts forward a compelling contender. 

the maldives
Loama Resort Maldives at Maamigili

Location

Isolation keeps the Maldives in the pristine state that it’s known for but also makes arriving an adventure to cherish. Once reaching the international airport guests can either choose to take a 30 minute domestic flight to Ifuru Domestic Airport followed by a 20 minute speedboat ride, or a scenic 45 minute seaplane ride directly to the island with Trans Maldivian Airways. 

loama resort maldives
Isolation

The Maldives is one of the few destinations in the world where acreage includes coral reefs, and at Loama Resort Maldives at Maamigili over 100 hectares of pristine coral reef takes up more space than dry land mass. Chalky sand, so white, that you need sunglasses to view it when the sun is at its peak; iconic palm-lined beaches that stereotype tropical paradise; and aquamarine lagoons that we once thought only real in postcards compose the utopian image that is this teardrop shaped island in the Raa Atoll.

loama resort maldives
Pristine Beaches

Accommodation

The man-made structures on the island cleverly blend into the surrounds: white umbrellas and pale blue cushioned beach chairs mirror the ocean and the shore; coconut-thatched roofs and natural wood make up the villas; and whether situated over the water or on the beach, accommodation merges organically into the natural setting.

loama resort maldives maamigli
Ocean Villas

Guests can choose from 105 beachfront or ocean villas and suites ranging in sizes catering for a couple, a family or a truly luxurious suite. All have contemporary décor with four-poster beds, rain showers and stand-alone bathtubs. Walk out of the beach villa and find your feet in the sand, or take a dip in the ocean directly from the patio of the water villa. 

Our Sunset Ocean Villa is 72sqm of blissful space with pretty scenery from every outlook. White linens and walls are brightened with touches of aquamarine hues in cushions and throw-overs. But really, I have to make myself pay attention to the décor for note taking as my eyes are constantly drawn to the beauty on our doorstep. 

loama resort maldives
View from Sunset Ocean Villa

From the bed, daybed, deck chairs, outdoor table, or over-water hammock there’s nothing but a multitude of shades of blue to be seen. Get a little closer and we realise no snorkel is needed to view the life under the sea either. A rainbow of colours parades through the waters, occasionally rippling the surface, and then darting at various angles back down underneath. And it’s not just the sights that vie for recognition either. The soft lap of waves around our personal dock, harmonise a melodic rhythm encouraging meditative breathing and deep sleep.  

loama resort maldives
Direct Sea Access from Our Patio

Back inside we’ve got a bathtub and rain shower, with bath salts and loofah to match. Cotton linens and towels gift that freshness that only natural fabrics can provide, and we’re grateful that both air-conditioning and ceiling fans complete the furnishings. We often prefer just the use of the fan, so with doors agape can appreciate the sea breeze. 

Loama Resort, Raa Atoll, Maldives
Bedroom
Loama Resort, Raa Atoll, Maldives
Bathroom

While the rooms breathe an air of rusticity and mesh with the natural environment, they are also well equipped technologically. DVD player, 40 inch IPTV with movies, iPod docking station, Wi-Fi, Illy coffee machine, electronic safe, cordless phone and refrigerated bar – close the curtains and we could be in any 5 star hotel world wide. 

Knowing room service is only a call away, we could well remain in our villa not returning to the mainland for the rest of the stay. Venturing out for a dip directly from our private dock, splashing away the day in our encircling water garden, having whatever we desire delivered – it takes some effort to explore the rest of the island, but when we do we’re glad for the undertaking.

raa atoll
Beautiful Stretches of Beaches

Facilities

Surprising finds on this tiny island are those of a museum and art gallery. Featuring artefacts dating back to the 16th Century and local artists, we were pleased to be enriched with a bit of culture, adding diversity to our fun. On a guided tour we discover an ancient bath and traditional house and hear of plans for the area to soon be filled with local craftspeople sharing their skills and way of life with guests. If we’d like to take some local inspiration home with us, there’s a handcrafted jewellery store and fashion boutique as well.

loama maldives
Extremely Knowledgable Cultural Guide, Umer

Staying trim and healthy is easy with a fully equipped fitness centre, yoga and meditation pavilion and 30 meter infinity pool. Hubby’s happy to find the Dive Centre, which offers both SSI and PADI diving courses. The water sports club has motorized equipment available for hire, and non-motorised activities are complimentary. Although we don’t find any children during our visit to the island, Dhondhooni Kids Club promises that the young ones will have just as much fun as older family members. 

loama resort
Boat in the Lagoon
Loama resort
Bean Bags in the Sand

And then… there’s Loama Spa. Private spa villas are accessed by a wooden walkway over the water and are positioned so that each window looks out over the sea. We’re happy to fall for the illusion that the ocean is ours and ours alone. Glass panelled floors cause a very pleasant conflict while lying face down on massage beds: do I close my eyes and relax fully into the treatment or keep them opened and be mesmerised by the trance of the marine diversions below?

loama maldives
Spa Villas
loama resort maldives
From a Spa Villa

Activities

For many, lazy days, relaxation in, on and by the crystalline water, sleep, and a complete break from routine distractions are purpose enough in the Maldives. For others though, who need constant stimulation, there are numerous recreational activities to join. Cooking classes, boat excursions, sunrise and sunset fishing, scuba diving, dolphin watching, cultural tours, private island picnics, snorkelling and sunset cruises are just some of the pursuits that can be arranged. 

Loama resort maldives
Snorkelling Trip

We sign up for a snorkelling excursion reaching our destination in a traditional Maldivian dhoni (hand crafted wooden fishing boat) and are astonished by the beauty and isolation found on an uninhabited island. On another morning we take a speedboat to a nearby island and are welcomed and charmed by the locals to partake in their daily tasks. Hubby snatches up the offer to catch his own meal and heads out at sunset on a fishing boat. He returns with two beautiful specimens – a red and a white snapper – and the chefs back at the resort barbecue them for our dinner. There’s more than enough here to fill a few days, but personally I could spend all of my time contemplating the many wonders of nature that fill this aquatic paradise.




Nature

From the moment we step off the seaplane to the second we hop back on, we’re enthused and surprised by the biodiversity we find on the island. Our first sighting coinciding with our arrival is an eagle ray viewed through crystal clear water from the boardwalk. From then on we’re astounded by a medley of creatures we encounter up close, without even searching. Fish of course, in an incredible gamut of shapes, sizes and colours, are spied from the water’s edge, not even a snorkel needed. Walking to the spa we encounter an enormous purple jellyfish and are late for our appointment as we can’t help but ponder the beauty and uniqueness of this intriguing organism (and capture it all on film). Hermit crabs amuse us with their choosing of shells at breakfast. At dusk we watch a flurry of birds squawking over a school of flying fish, and in the evening we coo over a baby turtle, just hatched running for the sea. Fluorescent plankton illuminates the shore later at night, mirroring the Milky Way clearly visible in the heavens, in their abundance and twinkle. 

loama maldives at maamilgili
Hermit Crab

Dining

Despite an incredibly dream-like setting, differing food experiences can quickly turn a vacation into a less than average memory, or an unforgettable story to be told over and over again. For a small island, the team at Loama Resort Maldives, does its best to ensure guests constantly have their mouths watering anticipating the next meal.

loama maldives
View from the Breakfast Table
loama resort maldives at Maamigli
Thundi Thai Restaurant

Iru Café specializes in Italian cuisine with handmade pasta and gourmet pizzas being popular orders. Meyzu takes advantage of the fruits of the sea with its sushi bar and sizzling teppanyaki grill. The all day dining venue, Fazaa, furnishes guests a table with their feet in the sand and a long list of international dishes. A private sandbank at Athri Club is the spot to head for an intimate seafood barbecue, and Thundi is a beautiful open-air Thai restaurant offering a fine dining experience and wine paired menus. Cocktails are whipped up at Marha Bar, which also provides a taste of local tea-time culture with a complimentary afternoon tea. Our most memorable dining experience however, is the Maldivian lunch.

loama maldives
Maldivian Afternoon Tea

About all we previously knew of Maldivian food was that the locals like to eat tuna, tuna and more tuna! And why not? They have some of the most beautiful examples in the world pulled from the waters of their own island nation. The chefs at Loama Resort Maldives at Maamigili however, introduced us to flavours and local produce that we’ve had nowhere else. Follow this link to find the surprising dishes we discovered. 

loama resort maamigili
Maldivian Salad

Our palates have been gratified with the local cuisine, but so too have our hearts and minds with the respect given to and celebration of Maldivian culture. Bringing together the natural environment with the people who have taken care of it for so many years is a trump card in my mind. Loama Resort Maldives at Maamigili gifts a true taste of local, and that is the story which bestows distinctive character to this resort amongst the many other luxurious options.

loama resort maldives
Footprints in the Sand

Reasons to visit: paradisiacal island getaway; Maldivian lunch; incredibly warm and friendly staff; a unique resort celebrating the local culture, heritage and arts and making a fine effort to ensure these valuable traditions are preserved for future generations to come. 

Loama Resort Maldives at Maamigili
Raa Atoll
Republic of Maldives
+960 658 8100


Tuesday, 17 November 2015

British Super Brunch at the Hilton Kuala Lumpur

British Super Brunch at the Hilton Kuala Lumpur
Words by Louise Miller, Photos by The Yum List (Monica Tindall)

Monica’s invitation to join her at the Hilton’s British themed Super Brunch was shortly followed with her enquiring, with what I interpreted as more than a soupcon of skepticism,  as to whether we Brits actually have enough iconic dishes to fill the promised 1000 square metre spread! Ok, so whilst I concede that my country’s cuisine is not what put the ‘Great’ in Great Britain, we do have some seriously delicious gastronomical fare so I was brimming over with excitement to be culinarily transported back home for the afternoon and to see Monica eat her Yorkshire Puds along with her words.

No sooner had I stepped foot in the hotel’s foyer than I encountered the comforting familiarity of Britishness: a classic red telephone box and letter box faced a proudly parked Union Jack decorated Mini Cooper and the whole scene was overlooked by cardboard cutouts of Premiership football players. The set-up just begged for some silly selfies! Needless to say, I was in my element before even glimpsing the food.

Time for Some Silliness

I took a preliminary tour of the buffet: a reccy at these kind of events is, after all, essential to start strategizing over what to eat and in what order. I was overwhelmed with choices but opted to start with a classic: the Fish & Chips station displayed pretty little newspaper print cones filled with beautifully battered English plaice, a mound of freshly fried chips, a line-up of malt vinegar bottles, tartare sauce and a bowl of peas, more pureed than mushy but delicious all the same. I was impressed by the fish - the super light and crispy batter had obviously preserved the plaice’s delicate flavour and texture during the frying process and had provided a delicious opener to my feast.

Fish and Chips

A walk around the various stations revealed the many international influences omnipresent in the modern British diet. If those less familiar with GB’s love of Indian food were surprised to see a curry station feature in this British themed spread, they would have been further taken aback by the fact that Chicken Tikka Masala has been our official favourite dish for many years now. Yes indeed, overtaking the more traditional meat pies and Sunday roasts, the richly spiced Indian offering is what we Brits officially prefer and the Hilton’s take on this did not disappoint. We were served up tasty bite size portions of succulent chicken tikka morsels to complement the extensive range of delicious curries on offer in the buffet. These were so good that I couldn’t resist returning for a second helping despite wanting to leave room for much more. 

Indian Station

Around the corner from the curries was the Lamb Doner Kebab station, another potentially surprising component of a British themed buffet but one whose place was fully deserved in my opinion since this Turkish skewered and sizzling lamb meat tower has come to be symbol of weekend indulgence particularly at the end of late night partying. 

In addition to these well loved culinary imports, it was great to see that the Hilton’s restaurants were showcasing some of their menu’s highlights so for those who weren’t as overcome with excitement as I was at the idea of sampling some of the best of Blighty’s dishes, there were plenty of other options such as Chambers Bar and Grill’s tantalising grilled skewers, Chynna’s Peking duck pancakes and Iketeru’s sumptuous sushi spread. As tempting as these were though, I was heading back to more familiar territory for my fourth course. 

Japanese BBQ

I’d hovered around the Roast Beef station for long enough, drooling over the enormous joint of meat. Executive Chef and fellow Brit, Warren Brown, informed me that this Australian Wagyu leg had weighed in at a staggering 47.5kg, had been roasted for 10.5 hours and was unsurprisingly the biggest whole leg of beef ever cooked in Malaysia. I couldn’t wait any longer to try it. I asked for some nice pink slices, accompanied them with roast potatoes, vibrant veggies, rich gravy, creamy and punchy horseradish  sauce and Yorkshire puddings. Ahhhhhh! There is something so very comforting about this Sunday classic: the meat was melt-in-the-mouth tender and flavourful;  the roasties perfectly crisp on the outside and fluffy within; the Yorkshire Puddings, which, for the uninitiated are a British staple made from batter and usually judged on the height of their rise in the oven. Originally conceived, it is thought, to fill the stomach with low cost ingredients so that one would not eat so much of the expensive meat, these fluffy beauties make great receptacles for gravy.

Wagyu Leg
Roast Beef

I was starting to feel quite full at this point and still had so much to cover but such is my commitment that I ploughed on, this time with a visit to the cheese station. Like everything else, the presentation here was just stunning - huge cakes of Stilton, Parmesan and all manner of Cheddars, smoked cheeses and creamy goats’ cheeses were accompanied by an impressive range of homemade breads including grossini, ciabatta, pure rye and multi-seed varieties. I would have made many return visits if I hadn’t needed to somehow fit in dessert.

Stilton
Cheese Glorious Cheese

Before making my way to the huge spread of sweets, I took a detour via the crumpet station where the chef on duty was making crumpets on demand. I drizzled a few of these with butter and strawberry jam and took them back to our table to share with Monica who agreed with me that they were the lightest and most delicious crumpets we’d tried.

Crumpets

All that remained now was the desserts. Well, I say ‘all’ but actually this area of the Super Brunch spread was quite overwhelmingly well stocked. Amongst the abundance of mini lemon curd tarts, blueberry cheesecakes, London themed cupcakes and shortbread sandwiches, lay a couple of  two metre long cakes. The first was Almond and Apple in flavour and the second, a Super Moist Chocolate Cake lived up to its name courtesy of the mayonnaise that had been used in the sponge base - an unusual ingredient in a chocolate cake but please trust me when I say that this worked!

Two Metre Long Cake!

In addition to the cakes already mentioned, there were, as you might expect, a couple of fruit crumbles, a chocolate and plain Bread & Butter Pudding,  eight different ice-cream flavours, Trifle and Eton Mess, so beautifully presented in little shot glasses that its name seemed highly inappropriate. 

Eton Mess

And at the end of all of this indulgence, I was very happy but in need of a lie down! Now brace yourself for some bad news… the British themed super brunch (RM199 nett) was actually a one off event to culminate the month long British food festival which also featured an audience with British celebrity Michelin star chef Gary Rhodes, a Twinings Tea Dinner and an English afternoon tea buffet and Bond extravaganza. The good news is that the Hilton are planning more Super Brunches in the future. I pleaded with Executive Chef, Warren Brown to repeat this fantastic British spread some time soon as I know so many people who would have loved the experience as much as I did. I guess we’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed and check their website for upcoming events. 

Reasons to visit: a fantastic spread full of great features the ultimate highlights being roast beef and crumpets. Great service and a lovely ambience in which to spend a leisurely and indulgent three hours.