Revisiting Malaysian Folklore & Fairytales At The Brasserie, The St Regis Kuala Lumpur
Thanks to Walt Disney's widespread influence, the story of Cinderella and her evil stepsisters is seared into our memories. That being said, how many can recount the tale of Bawang Putih and Bawang Merah, sisters with an equally fraught relationship?
Aiming to put local folklores at the forefront of our consciousness, The Brasserie recently unveiled a limited menu that will only be served thrice: on August 20th (Awal Muharram), August 31st (Independence Day) and September 16th (Malaysia Day). This is not the first time that The Brasserie is hosting a fairytale-inspired feast, but you'll be hard-pressed to find fantasy-driven Malay dishes elsewhere in the country.
The tale of Puteri Gunung Ledang is set in lush natural surroundings, hence our tree-like hors d'oeuvres stand.
In the legend of Puteri Gunung Ledang, the eponymous heroine offered the Sultan her hand in marriage in exchange for seven ludicrous gifts. Not even the world's billionaires could meet the said demands, which range from seven trays of mosquito hearts to a vat of virgin maidens' tears. Nevertheless, The Brasserie cooks up creative ways to represent each item by way of hors d'oeuvres—anchovy dust for mosquito hearts, silver anchovies for a bridge made of silver, chilli jam for a cup of blood, and so forth.
"The tale of Puteri Gunung Ledang is set in lush natural surroundings, hence our tree-like hors d'oeuvres stand," explains executive sous chef Norazizi bin Taslim. Better known as Chef Azizi to his colleagues, the zealous chef continues: "If you dissect the seven small bites that serve as your starters, you will understand why I've used specific ingredients."
Orchestrated by hotelier Carmen Chua, the "Malaysiaku" menu does more than delve into local folklore and folksongs; The Brasserie's brigade of chefs have worked recipes and ingredients from all 14 states of Malaysia into the ambitious 6-course menu, making it a lesson in regional food specialities. This is how we learn of Selangor's gula merah production, Sarawak's status as the biggest supplier of duck in the country, and the proliferation of taufu sumbat (stuffed bean curd) vendors in Melaka. History and geography have never been so palatable.
Suffused with first time experiences, even for the seasoned fine dining enthusiast, the "Malaysiaku" menu boasts particularly strong plating. Picture extracting caviar from the centre of a sunflower, eating kerabu dumplings off a papaya 'plate', and being presented with your very own fun-sized grill.
Most impressive of all is the knowledge that particular dishes called for carpentry. Specific instructions were relayed to a professional woodworker who realised the aforementioned hors d'oeuvres stand and barbecue grill.
Roughly the same size as a trinket box, the latter is part and parcel of our favourite dish of the evening.
"What you see smoking on the small 'satay grill' is beef served with a sour and sweet chilli sauce, sambal hijau, and briyani," says Chef Azizi, puffing up with pride.
But where is the briyani? I wonder, before slicing open a small hand pie, which immediately emanates tendrils of steam. Puff pastry stuffed with aromatic briyani is a hedonistic pleasure everyone should experience but once in their lives.
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Moral values form the bedrock of myths and legends, and the tale of Si Tanggang is no different. A self-made sailor who rejects his poverty-stricken mother out of shame, Si Tanggang is turned into stone for showing insolence. The Brasserie's culinary rendering of the tale is significantly less dismal; each diner is equipped with a miniature mallet and a chocolate rock. Fun and laughter ensue.
Providing an immersive experience, Malay music complements our meal. After all, music is a means of continuing oral traditions, and our petit fours underscore this fact. Served atop a partially chocolate gramophone (also customised by The St Regis KL's ever reliable carpenter) are bonbons so sculptural they might pass off as contemporary baubles. The entire showpiece, an homage to the Malay folksong Rasa Sayang, points at the kind of exuberance and attention to detail that makes The Brasserie one of Tatler Dining's Top 20 Restaurants in 2020.
WHAT: Malaysiaku: A Reimagined Malay Heritage Menu – Of Folklore & Fairytales
WHERE: The Brasserie at The St Regis Kuala Lumpur
WHEN: (Sit-down Dinner) August 20 and 31and September 16, 2020; (Takeaway or Delivery) August 8 - September 15, 2020 (excluding August 31) with 24 hours advance notice
PRICE: RM 322+ per pax
ORDER: Call +603 2727 6666 or email email@example.com.
- Photography The St Regis Kuala Lumpur